7 Things We Just Learned About “The X-Files” Season 11

There’ll be backstory on the Cigarette Smoking Man, but Scully still won’t have a desk.

On Sunday at New York Comic-Con, The X-Files creator Chris Carter was joined by cast members Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and Mitch Pileggi to talk all things Season 11.

On Sunday at New York Comic-Con, The X-Files creator Chris Carter was joined by cast members Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny, and Mitch Pileggi to talk all things Season 11.

Anthony Behar/Fox/PictureGroup

But first, of course, they debuted a brand-new trailer.

Fox / Via youtube.com

Just in case you didn’t catch the younger version of him in the trailer, Carter revealed that viewers will be getting some backstory on the Cigarette Smoking Man in the Season 11 premiere.

Just in case you didn't catch the younger version of him in the trailer, Carter revealed that viewers will be getting some backstory on the Cigarette Smoking Man in the Season 11 premiere.

Larry Watson / Fox

Another big change for Season 11, as seen in the trailer, is more of Pileggi’s character, Skinner, including an episode all about his backstory.

Another big change for Season 11, as seen in the trailer, is more of Pileggi's character, Skinner, including an episode all about his backstory.

The Skinner-centered episode will be directed by former X-Files script supervisor Carol Banker.

Fox

Karin Konoval, who played the mother under the bed in the iconic Season 4 episode “Home,” has an episode this season where she’ll be playing four parts — two of whom are male.

Karin Konoval, who played the mother under the bed in the iconic Season 4 episode "Home," has an episode this season where she'll be playing four parts — two of whom are male.

Gordan Dumka

And speaking of “Home,” the eighth episode of Season 11 is co-written by James Wong, who wrote “Home.”

And speaking of "Home," the eighth episode of Season 11 is co-written by James Wong, who wrote "Home."

Carter promises it will be fucked up.

Fox

The cast just finished shooting Episode 5, which will be written by fan favorite Darin Morgan, who cast an actor that’s his doppelgänger for the lead.

The cast just finished shooting Episode 5, which will be written by fan favorite Darin Morgan, who cast an actor that's his doppelgänger for the lead.

Episode 5 is also the first time Pileggi has gotten to work with Morgan.

Monica Schipper

Season 11 of The X-Files will be 10 episodes (an upgrade from the six last season) and is broken down as eight standalone episodes and two mythology episodes.

Season 11 of The X-Files will be 10 episodes (an upgrade from the six last season) and is broken down as eight standalone episodes and two mythology episodes.

Fox / Via giphy.com

And no, Scully will still not have a desk this time around.

And no, Scully will still not have a desk this time around.

Fox / Via mulder-pls.tumblr.com

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The Campus Free Speech Wars Are Dramatically Changing What It Means To Be A College Republican

Milo Yiannopoulos is escorted away from the Berkeley campus last month.

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

A new generation of Republicans is being raised on the terms of a debate set by Milo Yiannopoulos.

Here’s how it’s happened the last few years: Some campus group, often a College Republican organization, will invite the right-wing provocateur — known by his first name and for his racist stunts and social media trolling — to campus. Offended classmates will plan protests. Wary administrators, citing security concerns, will roll out the red tape. And Milo will become a rallying cause for young conservatives eager to paint their liberal counterparts as free-speech hypocrites.

The popularity of Milo and others like him in this regard is the manifestation of years of frustration uncorked by students almost always in the minority among their peers. Their rebellion coincides with a national GOP uprising led by President Donald Trump, and with a moment in US politics when even grown-up Republicans define winning by their ability to antagonize the other side.

The fight against politically correct campus culture has energized College Republicans like never before, many activists told BuzzFeed News. But the energy is not always positive. Where Milo and other far-right figures go, the threat of dangerous confrontations is likely to follow. (One protester was shot earlier this year during the demonstrations surrounding Milo’s visit to the University of Washington.)

There also are unavoidable questions about what happens when an emerging crop of Republican leaders is focused on the free speech issue above all else, and whether these organizations can end up, intentionally or not, harboring outright racists.

Notably, some of the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer turned out to be…College Republicans.

One participant has since resigned his post as president of the Washington State University chapter. Another attendee, photographed among the torch-wielding mob, brought unwelcome publicity to the chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno, where months earlier he was photographed with club members and Sen. Dean Heller.

“Our current College Republican chapter has kind of gone into hiding because of these last one-and-a-half months,” said Miranda Hoover, chairwoman of the Nevada Young Republicans and former president of the College Republicans at UNR.

After Charlottesville, one UNR student wearing a College Republicans shirt was heckled as she walked to class, Hoover said. Now other members don’t want to wear their shirts. “It’s just been really bad,” she added.

At Washington State, the new College Republicans president is trying to distance the organization from his predecessor: “Nothing that he did, alleged or otherwise, was as a representative of the club,” said Amir Rezamand. “Anything he does on his private time is him as a citizen.”

But not everyone is in hiding or on the defensive. On many campuses, there remains an appetite for an in-your-face free-speech fight, one that stems from years of feeling like outcasts in institutions filled with liberal administrators, liberal professors, and liberal classmates.

“Over my four-year tenure, I did see that it got worse,” said Alex Smith, who this year finished a stint as head of the College Republican National Committee. “College Republicans and other conservative groups have always faced what I call an institutional bias on campus.”

“It was almost comical,” Smith added. “Whenever there was any gathering of College Republican leaders, you could count on a good administration-screwed-me-over story.”

No one can pinpoint when, precisely, this became a defining issue for College Republicans. Over the last five years, debates over language — the words we use to describe identity and politics, who can use those words, what should be a fireable offense — have dominated college campuses and the ever-accelerated social conversation. There are some sharp generational divides about free speech, and particularly around the concept of physical space: Should a university host a certain kind of speaker? As that dynamic has become more prevalent, more and more college conservatives have reacted strongly.

Smith’s successor at the CRNC, Chandler Thornton, for instance, attributes the shifting dynamics to “the rise of trigger warnings and safe spaces” — two relatively recent watchwords. “Those words were not really used in the last 10 years before, to my knowledge,” Thornton said.

Into this charged situation came Milo, a colorful character with Breitbart credentials and shock value, an openly gay avatar of the alt-right who frequently uses that aspect of his identity as a cudgel to say whatever he wants.

And Milo has been complicated for a long time. Twitter permanently suspended him more than a year ago after he helped lead a harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones, who is black. He came to internet prominence through Gamergate, and has written fairly extensively about the alt-right. Pushback against Milo, for example, has intensified over the last year, especially after he appeared to condone pedophilia.

A report published Thursday — based on emails and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News — detailed the close ties and communication Milo has kept with alt-right figures. The story featured a previously unreleased video of Milo performing “America the Beautiful” at a karaoke bar as a crowd that included white nationalist Richard Spencer raised their arms in Nazi salutes. The story also notes emails that make mention of Milo passwords that were apparent allusions to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

None of that has really stopped his popularity as a speaker, at least not yet. His Dangerous Faggot Tour has led to dozens of invitations, usually from College Republican groups. Last fall, students at Florida State University even favored Milo over Trump when voting on who their guest speaker should be.

“It was overwhelming, people really wanted to hear Milo,” the FSU College Republicans president told the student newspaper at the time. “Milo has a lot of popularity, not necessarily because people 100% agree with him, but over the last couple of years we've been trying to get behind the idea of free speech.”

The idea for a prospective college hosting a speaker like him: There’s the promise of scandal, there’s some built-in mystery about what Milo’s really about, there’s the lofty idea that it’s technically in service of free speech, and then there’s the reality that, frankly, Yiannopoulos is more relevant for a campus Republican than a think tank fellow or a Reagan appointee. He’s interested in the battles on campus — feminism, political correctness, social justice — that are more salient than, say, entitlement reform.

“I think that one of the most appealing things about him is … he speaks like people in the 18-to-25 age range speak,” said Rezamand, the College Republican leader at Washington State, where in January a Milo speech was canceled due to bad weather. “I’ve heard many, many very well-regarded conservative speakers and libertarian speakers that are pretty much universally respected, and I love it. I live for this type of thing. But for your average slightly right-leaning guy, maybe he’s interesting for an hour, he’s interesting for the first time. Someone like Milo is such a charismatic figure and such a well-spoken and entertaining figure.”

(Rezamand, who made those comments before the Thursday story by BuzzFeed News, declined to comment on the record Friday when asked if the report changed his thinking.)

Others see Milo more as an imperfect messenger for a righteous cause.

“Candidly, I never found Milo to be helpful,” said Smith, the former CRNC chief. “What I will say, though, is I think the appeal to some of these College Republicans is that he was just a giant middle finger to the kind of escalating illiberal attitudes that were pervading campuses.”

These fights aren’t new obviously: The 1960s saw an explosion of campus activism and clashes, sometimes violent, from the free speech movement in California and anti-Vietnam War activism to a significant outpouring of conservative energy following Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. All of that significantly affected politics in both parties for decades. Fifty or so years later, with campus battles ebbing and flowing in the interim, Trump’s win last year has only escalated the tension of recent years.

And while Republicans actually control everything in Washington and have long dominated statehouses across the country, the college campus is one of the few domains they haven’t conquered, a political reality that motivates young conservatives and liberals alike.

“The left is no longer in power, and they’re reacting,” said Niraj Antani, a former Ohio State University College Republicans leader who, at 26, is the youngest state lawmaker in Ohio. “They’re reacting in places where they’re in power — on college campuses.”

A police officer stands behind a barricade at the University of Utah, where conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke last month following massive protests when he spoke at the University of California.

George Frey / Getty Images

Cancellations seem to be just as common as invitations these days, though. Trump joined the fray in February, suggesting on Twitter that federal funds be withheld from the University of California, Berkeley, after officials there nixed a Milo event because of violent protests. “I mean, shoot,” said Alex Guerrero, treasurer of the University of Washington College Republicans, “after Trump got elected, it seemed like every week there was protesting that Republicans are racists.”

Michael Moroz, codirector of the editorial board for the University of Pennsylvania College Republicans, sees a connection between university officials taking public stances against Trump’s policies — such as hardline immigration positions — and university officials throwing up roadblocks to conservative speakers on campus. Even if not everyone in the College Republicans loves Trump (and on this point, many of the Republicans who spoke with BuzzFeed News repeated the same mantra about a diversity of opinions), the perception that everything is one way gets the College Republicans up in arms.

“As long as the university is trying to create a monopoly on ideology on campus, you’re going to have speaker shutdowns,” Moroz said. “You’re going to have a trend against free speech. It’s simply inevitable.”

Others, like Paul-Anthony Cuesta of the New York Federation of College Republicans, report a tougher time receiving budget approval for things such as trips to CPAC, the huge annual gathering of conservative activists.

And it's obviously not only Milo who is drawing protests. A recent speech at Berkeley by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro — hardly a provocateur in Milo’s mold — turned into a scene.

Rick Santorum, the conservative former senator and two-time presidential candidate, “was shouted down the whole time” during a speech at Cornell University after last year’s election, said Olivia Corn, then-president of the College Republicans chapter there. “I was screamed at when I tried to introduce him.” (Corn found Santorum preferable to Milo: “I don’t think he really provides valuable commentary.”)

Gavin McInnes — the Vice Media cofounder and self-styled anti-feminist, or “proud boy,” as he calls those that hold his views — caused an uproar during his February visit with College Republicans at New York University. Eleven people were arrested as a result of protests and clashes outside an NYU building upon his arrival. McInnes was drowned out by student protests during his talk and called an administrator a “dumb liberal asshole” before leaving early.

Some College Republican leaders say it’s time to shift their priorities.

Elena Hatib, president of the NYU chapter, said the club has decided to change its invitee selection in favor of less incendiary personalities. “I think going forward,” Hatib said, “we’re going to focus on free speech, but I want speakers who — instead of being provocateurs, instead of speakers who just want to put on a show, we’d rather have speakers of substance.”

Guerrero, whose University of Washington organization has hosted Milo, has a similar goal. He said he would like to bring “more relaxed” or “conventional” speakers to campus. He mentioned Jordan Peterson, the conservative Canadian academic, as one possibility.

“Last year was sort of the coming out moment,” Guerrero added. “Kind of like, ‘Hey, Republicans exist on this campus, too, and we deserve a right to bring in our speakers.’ So this year is more of the year where we’re like, ‘Hey, conservatives are here to stay’ and we’re sort of, like, normalizing conservative culture on campus.”

But Milo remains in demand: He has a Halloween event scheduled at Cal State Fullerton and had been scheduled to speak two days before that at San Diego State University, but College Republicans there say administrators canceled the event, citing extensive security demands.

If senior Republicans are worried about what Milo's prominence means for their party’s future or have any advice for their juniors, they’re not sharing these thoughts publicly. BuzzFeed News reached out to more than a dozen GOP officeholders, operatives, and activists. The list included prominent former College Republicans (tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist, strategist Karl Rove, and House Speaker Paul Ryan); Trump critics (Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse); and officials with the Republican National Committee. Nearly all declined to comment or did not respond to requests. And in the case of the RNC, a spokesperson showed interest before suggesting interviews with two College Republican leaders.

Ed Brookover, a GOP strategist who worked on Ben Carson’s presidential campaign last year and was an Otterbein College Republican leader in the 1970s, was a rare exception.

“I don’t think so,” Brookover said when asked if party leaders should be concerned about the influence Milo might have on young Republicans. “I think that most folks make their own decisions on their own sets of issues. This has not led either party or side into a rabbit hole.”

Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, believes the alt-right has had minimal impact on young conservatives.

“I think the appeal is just the outrageousness and having the right sort of enemies,” Lowry said. “It’s just sort of a way to poke a stick in the eye of the other side and maybe generate some publicity for him and for your club. That’s not a very elevated rationale.”

Lowry believes College Republicans should seek to host more informative, sober individuals rather than entertaining provocateurs who happen to lean right. “If you want to make a point about free speech,” he said, “you don’t need to go the route of just being outrageous for outrageousness’ sake.”

But to many, making a point is the point.

“If our audience shows a hunger for Gavin McInnes or a hunger for Milo Yiannopoulos, then I will make an honest effort to bring them,” Washington State’s Rezamand said.

“That is the hill that we die on.” ●

The Campus Free Speech Wars Are Dramatically Changing What It Means To Be A College Republican

Milo Yiannopoulos is escorted away from the Berkeley campus last month.

Josh Edelson / AFP / Getty Images

A new generation of Republicans is being raised on the terms of a debate set by Milo Yiannopoulos.

Here’s how it’s happened the last few years: Some campus group, often a College Republican organization, will invite the right-wing provocateur — known by his first name and for his racist stunts and social media trolling — to campus. Offended classmates will plan protests. Wary administrators, citing security concerns, will roll out the red tape. And Milo will become a rallying cause for young conservatives eager to paint their liberal counterparts as free-speech hypocrites.

The popularity of Milo and others like him in this regard is the manifestation of years of frustration uncorked by students almost always in the minority among their peers. Their rebellion coincides with a national GOP uprising led by President Donald Trump, and with a moment in US politics when even grown-up Republicans define winning by their ability to antagonize the other side.

The fight against politically correct campus culture has energized College Republicans like never before, many activists told BuzzFeed News. But the energy is not always positive. Where Milo and other far-right figures go, the threat of dangerous confrontations is likely to follow. (One protester was shot earlier this year during the demonstrations surrounding Milo’s visit to the University of Washington.)

There also are unavoidable questions about what happens when an emerging crop of Republican leaders is focused on the free speech issue above all else, and whether these organizations can end up, intentionally or not, harboring outright racists.

Notably, some of the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, this summer turned out to be…College Republicans.

One participant has since resigned his post as president of the Washington State University chapter. Another attendee, photographed among the torch-wielding mob, brought unwelcome publicity to the chapter at the University of Nevada, Reno, where months earlier he was photographed with club members and Sen. Dean Heller.

“Our current College Republican chapter has kind of gone into hiding because of these last one-and-a-half months,” said Miranda Hoover, chairwoman of the Nevada Young Republicans and former president of the College Republicans at UNR.

After Charlottesville, one UNR student wearing a College Republicans shirt was heckled as she walked to class, Hoover said. Now other members don’t want to wear their shirts. “It’s just been really bad,” she added.

At Washington State, the new College Republicans president is trying to distance the organization from his predecessor: “Nothing that he did, alleged or otherwise, was as a representative of the club,” said Amir Rezamand. “Anything he does on his private time is him as a citizen.”

But not everyone is in hiding or on the defensive. On many campuses, there remains an appetite for an in-your-face free-speech fight, one that stems from years of feeling like outcasts in institutions filled with liberal administrators, liberal professors, and liberal classmates.

“Over my four-year tenure, I did see that it got worse,” said Alex Smith, who this year finished a stint as head of the College Republican National Committee. “College Republicans and other conservative groups have always faced what I call an institutional bias on campus.”

“It was almost comical,” Smith added. “Whenever there was any gathering of College Republican leaders, you could count on a good administration-screwed-me-over story.”

No one can pinpoint when, precisely, this became a defining issue for College Republicans. Over the last five years, debates over language — the words we use to describe identity and politics, who can use those words, what should be a fireable offense — have dominated college campuses and the ever-accelerated social conversation. There are some sharp generational divides about free speech, and particularly around the concept of physical space: Should a university host a certain kind of speaker? As that dynamic has become more prevalent, more and more college conservatives have reacted strongly.

Smith’s successor at the CRNC, Chandler Thornton, for instance, attributes the shifting dynamics to “the rise of trigger warnings and safe spaces” — two relatively recent watchwords. “Those words were not really used in the last 10 years before, to my knowledge,” Thornton said.

Into this charged situation came Milo, a colorful character with Breitbart credentials and shock value, an openly gay avatar of the alt-right who frequently uses that aspect of his identity as a cudgel to say whatever he wants.

And Milo has been complicated for a long time. Twitter permanently suspended him more than a year ago after he helped lead a harassment campaign against Saturday Night Live and Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones, who is black. He came to internet prominence through Gamergate, and has written fairly extensively about the alt-right. Pushback against Milo, for example, has intensified over the last year, especially after he appeared to condone pedophilia.

A report published Thursday — based on emails and documents obtained by BuzzFeed News — detailed the close ties and communication Milo has kept with alt-right figures. The story featured a previously unreleased video of Milo performing “America the Beautiful” at a karaoke bar as a crowd that included white nationalist Richard Spencer raised their arms in Nazi salutes. The story also notes emails that make mention of Milo passwords that were apparent allusions to Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany.

None of that has really stopped his popularity as a speaker, at least not yet. His Dangerous Faggot Tour has led to dozens of invitations, usually from College Republican groups. Last fall, students at Florida State University even favored Milo over Trump when voting on who their guest speaker should be.

“It was overwhelming, people really wanted to hear Milo,” the FSU College Republicans president told the student newspaper at the time. “Milo has a lot of popularity, not necessarily because people 100% agree with him, but over the last couple of years we've been trying to get behind the idea of free speech.”

The idea for a prospective college hosting a speaker like him: There’s the promise of scandal, there’s some built-in mystery about what Milo’s really about, there’s the lofty idea that it’s technically in service of free speech, and then there’s the reality that, frankly, Yiannopoulos is more relevant for a campus Republican than a think tank fellow or a Reagan appointee. He’s interested in the battles on campus — feminism, political correctness, social justice — that are more salient than, say, entitlement reform.

“I think that one of the most appealing things about him is … he speaks like people in the 18-to-25 age range speak,” said Rezamand, the College Republican leader at Washington State, where in January a Milo speech was canceled due to bad weather. “I’ve heard many, many very well-regarded conservative speakers and libertarian speakers that are pretty much universally respected, and I love it. I live for this type of thing. But for your average slightly right-leaning guy, maybe he’s interesting for an hour, he’s interesting for the first time. Someone like Milo is such a charismatic figure and such a well-spoken and entertaining figure.”

(Rezamand, who made those comments before the Thursday story by BuzzFeed News, declined to comment on the record Friday when asked if the report changed his thinking.)

Others see Milo more as an imperfect messenger for a righteous cause.

“Candidly, I never found Milo to be helpful,” said Smith, the former CRNC chief. “What I will say, though, is I think the appeal to some of these College Republicans is that he was just a giant middle finger to the kind of escalating illiberal attitudes that were pervading campuses.”

These fights aren’t new obviously: The 1960s saw an explosion of campus activism and clashes, sometimes violent, from the free speech movement in California and anti-Vietnam War activism to a significant outpouring of conservative energy following Barry Goldwater’s 1964 campaign. All of that significantly affected politics in both parties for decades. Fifty or so years later, with campus battles ebbing and flowing in the interim, Trump’s win last year has only escalated the tension of recent years.

And while Republicans actually control everything in Washington and have long dominated statehouses across the country, the college campus is one of the few domains they haven’t conquered, a political reality that motivates young conservatives and liberals alike.

“The left is no longer in power, and they’re reacting,” said Niraj Antani, a former Ohio State University College Republicans leader who, at 26, is the youngest state lawmaker in Ohio. “They’re reacting in places where they’re in power — on college campuses.”

A police officer stands behind a barricade at the University of Utah, where conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke last month following massive protests when he spoke at the University of California.

George Frey / Getty Images

Cancellations seem to be just as common as invitations these days, though. Trump joined the fray in February, suggesting on Twitter that federal funds be withheld from the University of California, Berkeley, after officials there nixed a Milo event because of violent protests. “I mean, shoot,” said Alex Guerrero, treasurer of the University of Washington College Republicans, “after Trump got elected, it seemed like every week there was protesting that Republicans are racists.”

Michael Moroz, codirector of the editorial board for the University of Pennsylvania College Republicans, sees a connection between university officials taking public stances against Trump’s policies — such as hardline immigration positions — and university officials throwing up roadblocks to conservative speakers on campus. Even if not everyone in the College Republicans loves Trump (and on this point, many of the Republicans who spoke with BuzzFeed News repeated the same mantra about a diversity of opinions), the perception that everything is one way gets the College Republicans up in arms.

“As long as the university is trying to create a monopoly on ideology on campus, you’re going to have speaker shutdowns,” Moroz said. “You’re going to have a trend against free speech. It’s simply inevitable.”

Others, like Paul-Anthony Cuesta of the New York Federation of College Republicans, report a tougher time receiving budget approval for things such as trips to CPAC, the huge annual gathering of conservative activists.

And it's obviously not only Milo who is drawing protests. A recent speech at Berkeley by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro — hardly a provocateur in Milo’s mold — turned into a scene.

Rick Santorum, the conservative former senator and two-time presidential candidate, “was shouted down the whole time” during a speech at Cornell University after last year’s election, said Olivia Corn, then-president of the College Republicans chapter there. “I was screamed at when I tried to introduce him.” (Corn found Santorum preferable to Milo: “I don’t think he really provides valuable commentary.”)

Gavin McInnes — the Vice Media cofounder and self-styled anti-feminist, or “proud boy,” as he calls those that hold his views — caused an uproar during his February visit with College Republicans at New York University. Eleven people were arrested as a result of protests and clashes outside an NYU building upon his arrival. McInnes was drowned out by student protests during his talk and called an administrator a “dumb liberal asshole” before leaving early.

Some College Republican leaders say it’s time to shift their priorities.

Elena Hatib, president of the NYU chapter, said the club has decided to change its invitee selection in favor of less incendiary personalities. “I think going forward,” Hatib said, “we’re going to focus on free speech, but I want speakers who — instead of being provocateurs, instead of speakers who just want to put on a show, we’d rather have speakers of substance.”

Guerrero, whose University of Washington organization has hosted Milo, has a similar goal. He said he would like to bring “more relaxed” or “conventional” speakers to campus. He mentioned Jordan Peterson, the conservative Canadian academic, as one possibility.

“Last year was sort of the coming out moment,” Guerrero added. “Kind of like, ‘Hey, Republicans exist on this campus, too, and we deserve a right to bring in our speakers.’ So this year is more of the year where we’re like, ‘Hey, conservatives are here to stay’ and we’re sort of, like, normalizing conservative culture on campus.”

But Milo remains in demand: He has a Halloween event scheduled at Cal State Fullerton and had been scheduled to speak two days before that at San Diego State University, but College Republicans there say administrators canceled the event, citing extensive security demands.

If senior Republicans are worried about what Milo's prominence means for their party’s future or have any advice for their juniors, they’re not sharing these thoughts publicly. BuzzFeed News reached out to more than a dozen GOP officeholders, operatives, and activists. The list included prominent former College Republicans (tax-reform advocate Grover Norquist, strategist Karl Rove, and House Speaker Paul Ryan); Trump critics (Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, and Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse); and officials with the Republican National Committee. Nearly all declined to comment or did not respond to requests. And in the case of the RNC, a spokesperson showed interest before suggesting interviews with two College Republican leaders.

Ed Brookover, a GOP strategist who worked on Ben Carson’s presidential campaign last year and was an Otterbein College Republican leader in the 1970s, was a rare exception.

“I don’t think so,” Brookover said when asked if party leaders should be concerned about the influence Milo might have on young Republicans. “I think that most folks make their own decisions on their own sets of issues. This has not led either party or side into a rabbit hole.”

Rich Lowry, editor of the conservative National Review, believes the alt-right has had minimal impact on young conservatives.

“I think the appeal is just the outrageousness and having the right sort of enemies,” Lowry said. “It’s just sort of a way to poke a stick in the eye of the other side and maybe generate some publicity for him and for your club. That’s not a very elevated rationale.”

Lowry believes College Republicans should seek to host more informative, sober individuals rather than entertaining provocateurs who happen to lean right. “If you want to make a point about free speech,” he said, “you don’t need to go the route of just being outrageous for outrageousness’ sake.”

But to many, making a point is the point.

“If our audience shows a hunger for Gavin McInnes or a hunger for Milo Yiannopoulos, then I will make an honest effort to bring them,” Washington State’s Rezamand said.

“That is the hill that we die on.” ●

19 Reasons “Waiting For Guffman” Is The Most Underrated Movie Ever

It’s the day of the show, y’all.

When Corky St. Clair recounted his past acting experiences.

When Corky St. Clair recounted his past acting experiences.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When he showed off his dance moves.

When he showed off his dance moves.

Maybe he learned them when he was fresh off a destroyer with nothing to his name but a dance belt and a tube of chapstick.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when he practiced his Cockney accent.

And when he practiced his Cockney accent.

“Ello! Ow are oo?”

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Sheila Albertson described Ron’s acting coaching technique.

When Sheila Albertson described Ron's acting coaching technique.

She's just trying that less-is-more kind of acting where when you're talking to someone, you close your eyes.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via ceylonguidance.com

When Libby Mae Brown fanned a single chicken wing cooking on the grill.

When Libby Mae Brown fanned a single chicken wing cooking on the grill.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Ron and Sheila fucking nailed their audition.

When Ron and Sheila fucking nailed their audition.

🎶 Midnight at the oaaaasissss 🎶

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when Libby Mae knocked hers out of the park, too.

And when Libby Mae knocked hers out of the park, too.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When the Raging Bull audition left Corky completely speechless.

When the Raging Bull audition left Corky completely speechless.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Libby Mae got the part and started dreaming of life in New York.

When Libby Mae got the part and started dreaming of life in New York.

It's an island, is really what it is.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Corky got some bad news and did NOT take it very well.

When Corky got some bad news and did NOT take it very well.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via giphy.com

When the whole cast showed up to Corky’s house to make him feel better.

When the whole cast showed up to Corky's house to make him feel better.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when Libby Mae saw all of her dreams come crashing down.

And when Libby Mae saw all of her dreams come crashing down.

There's always a place for her at DQ.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When everyone got their shit together and the big day came.

When everyone got their shit together and the big day came.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via tumblr.com

When Corky really embodied the spirit of a pioneer man.

When Corky really embodied the spirit of a pioneer man.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via giphy.com

When the cast got down to the singin’ and dancin’.

When the cast got down to the singin' and dancin'.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when they belted their hearts out to “Stool Boom”.

And when they belted their hearts out to "Stool Boom".

From the parlor to the pool room!

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Dr. Pearl’s casting was really spot-on.

When Dr. Pearl's casting was really spot-on.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Steve Stark was really blown away by the cast’s talent.

When Steve Stark was really blown away by the cast's talent.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via buzzfeed.com

And when Dr. Pearl’s wife couldn’t deal with the sudden fame.

And when Dr. Pearl's wife couldn't deal with the sudden fame.

Castle Rock Entertainment

Never change, y’all.

Never change, y'all.

CORKYYYY!!!

Castle Rock Entertainment

19 Reasons “Waiting For Guffman” Is The Most Underrated Movie Ever

It’s the day of the show, y’all.

When Corky St. Clair recounted his past acting experiences.

When Corky St. Clair recounted his past acting experiences.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When he showed off his dance moves.

When he showed off his dance moves.

Maybe he learned them when he was fresh off a destroyer with nothing to his name but a dance belt and a tube of chapstick.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when he practiced his Cockney accent.

And when he practiced his Cockney accent.

“Ello! Ow are oo?”

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Sheila Albertson described Ron’s acting coaching technique.

When Sheila Albertson described Ron's acting coaching technique.

She's just trying that less-is-more kind of acting where when you're talking to someone, you close your eyes.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via ceylonguidance.com

When Libby Mae Brown fanned a single chicken wing cooking on the grill.

When Libby Mae Brown fanned a single chicken wing cooking on the grill.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Ron and Sheila fucking nailed their audition.

When Ron and Sheila fucking nailed their audition.

🎶 Midnight at the oaaaasissss 🎶

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when Libby Mae knocked hers out of the park, too.

And when Libby Mae knocked hers out of the park, too.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When the Raging Bull audition left Corky completely speechless.

When the Raging Bull audition left Corky completely speechless.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Libby Mae got the part and started dreaming of life in New York.

When Libby Mae got the part and started dreaming of life in New York.

It's an island, is really what it is.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Corky got some bad news and did NOT take it very well.

When Corky got some bad news and did NOT take it very well.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via giphy.com

When the whole cast showed up to Corky’s house to make him feel better.

When the whole cast showed up to Corky's house to make him feel better.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when Libby Mae saw all of her dreams come crashing down.

And when Libby Mae saw all of her dreams come crashing down.

There's always a place for her at DQ.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When everyone got their shit together and the big day came.

When everyone got their shit together and the big day came.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via tumblr.com

When Corky really embodied the spirit of a pioneer man.

When Corky really embodied the spirit of a pioneer man.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via giphy.com

When the cast got down to the singin’ and dancin’.

When the cast got down to the singin' and dancin'.

Castle Rock Entertainment

And when they belted their hearts out to “Stool Boom”.

And when they belted their hearts out to "Stool Boom".

From the parlor to the pool room!

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Dr. Pearl’s casting was really spot-on.

When Dr. Pearl's casting was really spot-on.

Castle Rock Entertainment

When Steve Stark was really blown away by the cast’s talent.

When Steve Stark was really blown away by the cast's talent.

Castle Rock Entertainment / Via buzzfeed.com

And when Dr. Pearl’s wife couldn’t deal with the sudden fame.

And when Dr. Pearl's wife couldn't deal with the sudden fame.

Castle Rock Entertainment

Never change, y’all.

Never change, y'all.

CORKYYYY!!!

Castle Rock Entertainment

This New Series Was Made For Stephen King Diehards

Hulu’s Castle Rock takes place in King’s most notorious small town.

Hulu’s upcoming series Castle Rock puts Stephen King’s titular town front and center.

youtube.com

The plot of the horror series is still under wraps — and the new teaser trailer doesn’t reveal much — but it seems to be an original story that, according to the press release, “combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works.”

The plot of the horror series is still under wraps — and the new teaser trailer doesn't reveal much — but it seems to be an original story that, according to the press release, "combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King's best-loved works."

Hulu

It is, however, part of the “Stephen King multiverse,” and this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the small town of Castle Rock onscreen. It’s also where The Dead Zone took place.

It is, however, part of the "Stephen King multiverse," and this isn't the first time we've seen the small town of Castle Rock onscreen. It's also where The Dead Zone took place.

Paramount Pictures

And Cujo.

And Cujo.

Warner Bros.

And Stand By Me.

And Stand By Me.

Columbia Pictures

And The Body, as King’s novella was titled.

And The Body, as King's novella was titled.

Castle Rock was also the setting of Needful Things, The Dark Half, and several short stories.

Penguin

The town has also been mentioned in dozens of King works, including It, The Stand, and Under the Dome.

The town has also been mentioned in dozens of King works, including It, The Stand, and Under the Dome.

blumhouse.com

We know we’re getting at least one well known King character: Alan Pangborn from The Dark Half and Needful Things.

We know we're getting at least one well known King character: Alan Pangborn from The Dark Half and Needful Things.

He'll be played by The Leftovers' Scott Glenn. Michael Rooker played Alan Pangborn in the Dark Half movie, and Ed Harris took on the role in the 1993 Needful Things movie.

Hulu

The Castle Rock cast also includes Moonlight‘s André Holland.

The Castle Rock cast also includes Moonlight's André Holland.

Hulu

And Melanie Lynskey.

And Melanie Lynskey.

Hulu

Plus a couple faces that should be very familiar to Stephen King fans. Like Bill Skarsgård.

Plus a couple faces that should be very familiar to Stephen King fans. Like Bill Skarsgård.

Hulu

(Yep, that’s Pennywise from the recent It movie — with a lot less makeup.)

(Yep, that's Pennywise from the recent It movie — with a lot less makeup.)

Warner Bros. / Via giphy.com

And Carrie White herself, Sissy Spacey.

And Carrie White herself, Sissy Spacey.

Carrie was actually the very first King film adaptation.

Hulu

And while it’s unclear how many familiar faces and characters will pop up, this car from Shawshank Prison is a good reminder that everything is connected.

And while it's unclear how many familiar faces and characters will pop up, this car from Shawshank Prison is a good reminder that everything is connected.

Hulu

Narco Rap Is Hip-Hop’s Most Dangerous Game

When Big Los was deported from Texas to the Mexican border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 2015, he was worried.

He’d released a rap track a few months before, “Alto Calibre,” boasting of the exploits of the Chilango, an incarcerated member of the Gulf Cartel. The man behind bars had been a major figure in the Mexican city of Reynosa, which is roughly 50 miles inland from Matamoros. The two cities have long been bastions of factions of the Gulf Cartel, and while those groups sometimes get along, they sometimes don’t.

Ruje un pinche Corvette ZR1 / se bajá él chilango anda armado hasta él culo / Bien paletoso trae un reloj julbo / Con la pinche super dice ábranse o los fumo.

A fucking Corvette ZR1 engine roars / The Chilango steps out armed to the teeth / Real dapper, wearing a flossed-out watch / With the fucking gat he says, “Open up or I’ll smoke you.”

Big Los is a recognizable figure, known as much for his gruff voice and gun-toting music videos as his massive physique, reminiscent of Big Pun or the Notorious B.I.G. After arriving in Matamoros, Big Los immediately felt he’d be a target for the rival clique who controlled the city, so he said he called someone connected to the cartel, “a friend of a friend.”

Big Los

Nathaniel Janowitz

“I told him, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in the streets, man, everyone seems to know me,’” said Big Los in February. “‘I don’t want to get picked up because I did a song for a certain guy over there. And there’s an internal war between you guys.’”

The rapper was no stranger to Matamoros: He’d actually been born there before his family illegally migrated across the border to Brownsville, Texas, when he was a child. As a teenager, growing up in a rough part of Brownsville, he sold drugs and eventually ended up in jail. After release, he found rap music, and used it as a way to leave the streets. (He was deported to Mexico in 2015 after he tried to apply for US citizenship.)

While many rap artists look at the money and fame that comes from their music as an escape from the hardships of their lives, narco rap is an exception. The primary feature of the Spanish-language hip-hop subgenre is that drug cartel members pay rappers to make songs about their lives, called “dedications,” thus actually inviting hardship in. Big Los, one of the pioneers of narco rap, admits he regularly gets death threats via social media from people claiming to be contrarios — members of enemy cartels.

Starting in the ’80s and ’90s, artists combined the accordion-filled traditional corrido genre with this practice of telling boastful tales of drug traffickers in Mexico, and narcocorridos are still wildly popular today. However, in the last decade, a modernization of the practice has flourished in rap music, specifically concerning the Gulf Cartel along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, in tandem with cartel infighting and the Mexican government’s crackdown on gang violence and drugs. And now narco rap is spreading rapidly to other criminal groups throughout Mexico, like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, and the MS-13 in El Salvador. It’s also cropped up in Spanish-speaking communities in the US with narco rap songs delivered in English for the Latin Kings in Chicago and the Sureños in Los Angeles.

Big Los made it clear he isn’t a member of the Gulf Cartel, nor does he actually know the majority of the people he makes songs about. He receives messages through social media or text message explaining what the people want him to say about them; he checks that the songs have been approved by cartel bosses; then he makes the tracks for a fee.

And as one of the biggest-name narco rappers in the biz, Big Los makes the most money per song: around $3,000, and another $3,000 per video. Rapper 5050 (pronounced in the Spanish Cincuenta Cincuenta) charges $500. Lirik Dog, a Reynosa-based narco rapero, told me, “I’m one of the cheap ones,” charging $200 per dedication.

“You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is.”

“I can have it done in an hour. I can write a song in 15 minutes,” said Lirik Dog, smiling. With a price so low and a velvety flow, he has no problem staying busy, claiming he doesn’t know how many songs he’s written. He knows one producer of his has at least 900 of his tracks; he estimates he’s done at least 1,000. “If I did anything for another group, the people here would fuck me up. So I never do it, I only do it for the same group.” Like the others, he says threats like “they’re gonna cut out my tongue” are common.

Big Los also said tensions rise when the cartel members want more “heavy shit” out of the rappers who rhyme about them mostly threats toward contrarios. So he has to hedge his bets and his words whenever it comes to his subjects and their enemies. “You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is,” he said. He insisted that his benefactors understand he’s simply looking out for himself, as they need to do as well during these violent times.

With the song “Alto Calibre” he faced a similar issue. He released what he called “the dirty version” with his brother and fellow rapper Chino in which he warns that when the incarcerated member leaves prison, “sé los va a cargar la verga” — which could be translated, approximately, as “he’s going to fuck you all up.” Because “Alto Calibre” was about a guy in Reynosa, “I had to go talk to the main boss over there in Matamoros and present myself,” Big Los said, sitting in his home studio in McAllen, Texas, while he rolled a joint. He also asked permission to perform a concert and to live there. The boss obliged, and after that, Big Los said life in Matamoros was “lovely.” He went on to film what may be his most popular solo video for “Alto Calibre” — a six-and-a-half-minute epic that would make Ron Isley proud, featuring speaking scenes of a madrina, or madame, and her stable of sex worker surrounded by high-calibre weapons — and he removed the offensive line.

After a year in Matamoros, Big Los said, he was smuggled back into the United States in 2016 through a special transit point where only high-level cartel members cross the border. He’s back in Texas, trying to sort out his legal status, continuing to make songs for the Gulf Cartel. But while in Matamoros, Big Los recorded one of his biggest hits with another narco rapero, 5050.

The song wasn’t a dedication, but rather a hood love ballad called “Amor Malandro.” Both artists, Big Los and 5050, have appropriated the word “malandro” — which translates best as “thug.” Big Los released an album of dedications, called Dedicaciones Malandros. 5050 has “Flow Malandro” tattooed on his neck and chest in bold letters.

5050, “Malandro Graduado”

Ando alterado con El Kike por un lado

Negro el mercado de droga lo tengo saturado

El celular sonando, mi gente conectando

Y me siguen llamando, más dinero estoy contando

I roll wild with my homie Kike by my side

The black market, I overflowed it with the drugs

My phone’s ringing, my people are connecting

They keep calling me, I keep stacking cash

One of 5050’s most well-known narco rap songs is 2016’s “Malandro Graduado” (“Graduated Thug”). Although this song is another dedication, it could easily be a metaphor for 5050 himself, whose life has never been far from the cartel.

5050 grew up in a tough part of Matamoros while his mother worked for meager wages in one of the city’s numerous maquiladoras, factories that produce cheap exports mostly destined for the US. At 16 he went to work in a maquiladora as well, lasting only six months before he decided to hit the streets like his friends in 2007. He spent two years working as a puntero — a corner boy.

After two years, he took over a punto. It was during this time he began rapping and recorded a song about life on the streets. A friend of his heard it and asked him to make his inaugural dedication in 2010. “The first song I did was for one of my homies that worked with me,” said 5050. “But this kid’s dead now … He was an assassin.”

The song was “Escorpion 41,” which was his friend’s code number in the Scorpions, a military-styled cell of the Gulf Cartel that controlled Matamoros at the time.

“Then I started to do songs for heavier people, higher-ups,” he said, claiming he’s made 340 songs since then, 250 of which were dedications, many of which live online on YouTube, “from the bosses of the plaza to the guards, from the highest guys to the lowest.”

The customized gold-plated handgun of Jaime Gonzalez Duran, a.k.a. “Hummer”, founder of a group of hitmen called the “Zetas”, shown to the press at the hangar of the Federal Police in Mexico City, on November 7, 2008. Gonzalez worked for drug trafficker Osiel Cardenas Guillen, a.k.a. “El Mata Amigos” (The Friends' Killer).

Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

The Gulf Cartel is one of the oldest gangs in the country, with origins tracing back to the Prohibition era; it expanded into cocaine in the ’80s and ’90s. But the Gulf Cartel is perhaps most infamous for drug lord Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, whose reign turned Tamaulipas into arguably the most dangerous state in Mexico.

When Cárdenas took control of the cartel in the late ’90s, he recruited a number of Mexican military deserters to form his own army-like death squad, known as the Zetas. After Cárdenas was arrested in 2003 and extradited four years later, the Gulf Cartel faced an uncertain future, as 2007 was also the same year then-president Felipe Calderón began using the Mexican military to battle organized crime. In the 10 years since Mexico’s government declared war on the country’s drug cartels, more than 150,000 people have been murdered and roughly 28,000 people have disappeared.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things.”

By 2010 the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, now controlled by Cárdenas’s brother, Antonio Cárdenas aka Tony Tormenta, who created his own death squad called the Scorpions. The Zetas and Gulf Cartel went to war over Tamaulipas, the military was at war with both; Tamaulipas was a war zone.

When the military gunned down Tony Tormenta in an eight-hour firefight on November 5, 2010, in Matamoros, 5050 had already released several tracks about the Scorpions and the Gulf Cartel — a death sentence if he were ever found by the Zetas.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things,” said 5050, fidgeting uncomfortably at a Matamoros restaurant. “There’s people that hate me, they won’t forget. So I can’t leave.”

It took two days to track down 5050 after he missed our initial meeting, ignoring repeated phone calls and text messages. When we finally met, days later, his eyes were bloodshot, and he talked a mile a minute about problems in his personal life as he steered through the nighttime Matamoros traffic in his PT Cruiser. Hours later, eating tacos on the outskirts of the city, he’d admit he’d been lost in a three-day bender on cocaine, crack, and crystal meth.

5050

Nathaniel Janowitz

But in Matamoros, 5050 has struck a chord with the city’s young population, as a self-admitted hood malandro hollering out street ballads, a local 2Pac. At the restaurant, people called out his name; walking through the city’s historic center after midnight two young men came running down the street after 5050 asking for a photo. Even with his local fame, he feels unable to leave the city even to Reynosa, let alone another state.

“I’m trying to make other kinds of songs, so that I can leave to be a commercial rapper, but it’s really difficult,” said 5050, who along with soulful street dedications like “La Vida Es Un Riesgo” and “Mi Testamento,” also makes club trap ballads such as “Ando En La Disco.” “They’re always going to see my songs on YouTube, and consider me a narco rapper.”

Narco rap can be traced back to the song “El Tigre” by MC Babo, a member of Mexico’s most well-known gangster rap clique, Cartel de Santa: It’s believed to be the first dedication for a member of the Gulf Cartel, released around 2009. Although Cartel de Santa has stayed away from making additional narco rap tracks, the genre was quickly taken up by hip-hop duo Cano and Blunt in Reynosa, and Mexican Boy in Matamoros, who all began the proliferation of dedications around 2010. However, the most famous and popular rappers to emerge on the scene are Big Los and 5050.

youtube.com

Unable to leave the city without looking over his shoulder, 5050 remains in Matamoros as the Gulf Cartel he raps for has become less and less powerful. “After the señores were taken down, things destabilized,” said 5050. “There were bosses who knew how to control the crime, there was less violence, less kidnappings.”

Soldiers surround a burned car pictured in front of Televisa TV network after a car bomb exploded with no casualties, early Friday in the northeastern city Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state on August 27, 2010. The Gulf of Mexico drug cartel has been engaged in a bitter turf war for control of Tamaulipas smuggling routes into the United States with the Zetas drug cartel. AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

The fragmentation of the Gulf Cartel is a prime example of the failure of the Mexican government’s two-pronged strategy for combating organized crime; taking down high-level old-school señores, while deploying federal security forces to areas where the violence is out of control.

As narco rap began in the region, so did the violence — the Mexican government claims that between 2010 and 2016, more than 4,900 people were murdered in Tamaulipas and the state led the nation in the number of people disappeared as the Gulf Cartel fractured into various warring cliques, as well as fought off its hyper-violent offspring nemesis, the Zetas. The government numbers are widely believed to have been underestimated as well, as atrocities accumulated in the state, such as the mass murder of 193 people in the town of San Fernando in March 2011, and the discovery of numerous makeshift graves throughout the state. Local journalists hardly report on the violence any longer due to threats to their lives, and not many sane observers of the Mexican drug war would argue Tamaulipas isn’t the country’s most silenced state.

And while the death of Tony Tormenta eventually led to the end of the Scorpions, they didn’t become extinct; they’ve morphed into the Cyclones, a clique still affiliated with remaining members of the Cárdenas Guillén family that controls Matamoros.

The September 2011 death of Samuel Flores Borrego, aka Metro 3, in Reynosa is considered the end of the Gulf Cartel’s old-school capos. An iconic figure within the Gulf Cartel, he is mentioned repeatedly in narco rap songs. The circumstances of his death, believed to be a double-crossing between Matamoros and Reynosa, caused a split within the Gulf Cartel still felt today.

Lirik Dog, “Comando X”

Bien encapuchados y vestidos de negro

Con lanzagranadas, R's y chingo de cuernos

Comando X limpia el terreno

El cartel del golfo donde quiera es el bueno

Hooded up, and dressed in black

With grenade launchers, assault rifles, and a fuck ton of AK-47s

Commando X is cleaning up the land

The Gulf Cartel, wherever it is, it’s the good one.

Narco Rap Is Hip-Hop’s Most Dangerous Game

When Big Los was deported from Texas to the Mexican border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 2015, he was worried.

He’d released a rap track a few months before, “Alto Calibre,” boasting of the exploits of the Chilango, an incarcerated member of the Gulf Cartel. The man behind bars had been a major figure in the Mexican city of Reynosa, which is roughly 50 miles inland from Matamoros. The two cities have long been bastions of factions of the Gulf Cartel, and while those groups sometimes get along, they sometimes don’t.

Ruje un pinche Corvette ZR1 / se bajá él chilango anda armado hasta él culo / Bien paletoso trae un reloj julbo / Con la pinche super dice ábranse o los fumo.

A fucking Corvette ZR1 engine roars / The Chilango steps out armed to the teeth / Real dapper, wearing a flossed-out watch / With the fucking gat he says, “Open up or I’ll smoke you.”

Big Los is a recognizable figure, known as much for his gruff voice and gun-toting music videos as his massive physique, reminiscent of Big Pun or the Notorious B.I.G. After arriving in Matamoros, Big Los immediately felt he’d be a target for the rival clique who controlled the city, so he said he called someone connected to the cartel, “a friend of a friend.”

Big Los

Nathaniel Janowitz

“I told him, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in the streets, man, everyone seems to know me,’” said Big Los in February. “‘I don’t want to get picked up because I did a song for a certain guy over there. And there’s an internal war between you guys.’”

The rapper was no stranger to Matamoros: He’d actually been born there before his family illegally migrated across the border to Brownsville, Texas, when he was a child. As a teenager, growing up in a rough part of Brownsville, he sold drugs and eventually ended up in jail. After release, he found rap music, and used it as a way to leave the streets. (He was deported to Mexico in 2015 after he tried to apply for US citizenship.)

While many rap artists look at the money and fame that comes from their music as an escape from the hardships of their lives, narco rap is an exception. The primary feature of the Spanish-language hip-hop subgenre is that drug cartel members pay rappers to make songs about their lives, called “dedications,” thus actually inviting hardship in. Big Los, one of the pioneers of narco rap, admits he regularly gets death threats via social media from people claiming to be contrarios — members of enemy cartels.

Starting in the ’80s and ’90s, artists combined the accordion-filled traditional corrido genre with this practice of telling boastful tales of drug traffickers in Mexico, and narcocorridos are still wildly popular today. However, in the last decade, a modernization of the practice has flourished in rap music, specifically concerning the Gulf Cartel along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, in tandem with cartel infighting and the Mexican government’s crackdown on gang violence and drugs. And now narco rap is spreading rapidly to other criminal groups throughout Mexico, like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, and the MS-13 in El Salvador. It’s also cropped up in Spanish-speaking communities in the US with narco rap songs delivered in English for the Latin Kings in Chicago and the Sureños in Los Angeles.

Big Los made it clear he isn’t a member of the Gulf Cartel, nor does he actually know the majority of the people he makes songs about. He receives messages through social media or text message explaining what the people want him to say about them; he checks that the songs have been approved by cartel bosses; then he makes the tracks for a fee.

And as one of the biggest-name narco rappers in the biz, Big Los makes the most money per song: around $3,000, and another $3,000 per video. Rapper 5050 (pronounced in the Spanish Cincuenta Cincuenta) charges $500. Lirik Dog, a Reynosa-based narco rapero, told me, “I’m one of the cheap ones,” charging $200 per dedication.

“You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is.”

“I can have it done in an hour. I can write a song in 15 minutes,” said Lirik Dog, smiling. With a price so low and a velvety flow, he has no problem staying busy, claiming he doesn’t know how many songs he’s written. He knows one producer of his has at least 900 of his tracks; he estimates he’s done at least 1,000. “If I did anything for another group, the people here would fuck me up. So I never do it, I only do it for the same group.” Like the others, he says threats like “they’re gonna cut out my tongue” are common.

Big Los also said tensions rise when the cartel members want more “heavy shit” out of the rappers who rhyme about them mostly threats toward contrarios. So he has to hedge his bets and his words whenever it comes to his subjects and their enemies. “You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is,” he said. He insisted that his benefactors understand he’s simply looking out for himself, as they need to do as well during these violent times.

With the song “Alto Calibre” he faced a similar issue. He released what he called “the dirty version” with his brother and fellow rapper Chino in which he warns that when the incarcerated member leaves prison, “sé los va a cargar la verga” — which could be translated, approximately, as “he’s going to fuck you all up.” Because “Alto Calibre” was about a guy in Reynosa, “I had to go talk to the main boss over there in Matamoros and present myself,” Big Los said, sitting in his home studio in McAllen, Texas, while he rolled a joint. He also asked permission to perform a concert and to live there. The boss obliged, and after that, Big Los said life in Matamoros was “lovely.” He went on to film what may be his most popular solo video for “Alto Calibre” — a six-and-a-half-minute epic that would make Ron Isley proud, featuring speaking scenes of a madrina, or madame, and her stable of sex worker surrounded by high-calibre weapons — and he removed the offensive line.

After a year in Matamoros, Big Los said, he was smuggled back into the United States in 2016 through a special transit point where only high-level cartel members cross the border. He’s back in Texas, trying to sort out his legal status, continuing to make songs for the Gulf Cartel. But while in Matamoros, Big Los recorded one of his biggest hits with another narco rapero, 5050.

The song wasn’t a dedication, but rather a hood love ballad called “Amor Malandro.” Both artists, Big Los and 5050, have appropriated the word “malandro” — which translates best as “thug.” Big Los released an album of dedications, called Dedicaciones Malandros. 5050 has “Flow Malandro” tattooed on his neck and chest in bold letters.

5050, “Malandro Graduado”

Ando alterado con El Kike por un lado

Negro el mercado de droga lo tengo saturado

El celular sonando, mi gente conectando

Y me siguen llamando, más dinero estoy contando

I roll wild with my homie Kike by my side

The black market, I overflowed it with the drugs

My phone’s ringing, my people are connecting

They keep calling me, I keep stacking cash

One of 5050’s most well-known narco rap songs is 2016’s “Malandro Graduado” (“Graduated Thug”). Although this song is another dedication, it could easily be a metaphor for 5050 himself, whose life has never been far from the cartel.

5050 grew up in a tough part of Matamoros while his mother worked for meager wages in one of the city’s numerous maquiladoras, factories that produce cheap exports mostly destined for the US. At 16 he went to work in a maquiladora as well, lasting only six months before he decided to hit the streets like his friends in 2007. He spent two years working as a puntero — a corner boy.

After two years, he took over a punto. It was during this time he began rapping and recorded a song about life on the streets. A friend of his heard it and asked him to make his inaugural dedication in 2010. “The first song I did was for one of my homies that worked with me,” said 5050. “But this kid’s dead now … He was an assassin.”

The song was “Escorpion 41,” which was his friend’s code number in the Scorpions, a military-styled cell of the Gulf Cartel that controlled Matamoros at the time.

“Then I started to do songs for heavier people, higher-ups,” he said, claiming he’s made 340 songs since then, 250 of which were dedications, many of which live online on YouTube, “from the bosses of the plaza to the guards, from the highest guys to the lowest.”

The customized gold-plated handgun of Jaime Gonzalez Duran, a.k.a. “Hummer”, founder of a group of hitmen called the “Zetas”, shown to the press at the hangar of the Federal Police in Mexico City, on November 7, 2008. Gonzalez worked for drug trafficker Osiel Cardenas Guillen, a.k.a. “El Mata Amigos” (The Friends' Killer).

Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

The Gulf Cartel is one of the oldest gangs in the country, with origins tracing back to the Prohibition era; it expanded into cocaine in the ’80s and ’90s. But the Gulf Cartel is perhaps most infamous for drug lord Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, whose reign turned Tamaulipas into arguably the most dangerous state in Mexico.

When Cárdenas took control of the cartel in the late ’90s, he recruited a number of Mexican military deserters to form his own army-like death squad, known as the Zetas. After Cárdenas was arrested in 2003 and extradited four years later, the Gulf Cartel faced an uncertain future, as 2007 was also the same year then-president Felipe Calderón began using the Mexican military to battle organized crime. In the 10 years since Mexico’s government declared war on the country’s drug cartels, more than 150,000 people have been murdered and roughly 28,000 people have disappeared.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things.”

By 2010 the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, now controlled by Cárdenas’s brother, Antonio Cárdenas aka Tony Tormenta, who created his own death squad called the Scorpions. The Zetas and Gulf Cartel went to war over Tamaulipas, the military was at war with both; Tamaulipas was a war zone.

When the military gunned down Tony Tormenta in an eight-hour firefight on November 5, 2010, in Matamoros, 5050 had already released several tracks about the Scorpions and the Gulf Cartel — a death sentence if he were ever found by the Zetas.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things,” said 5050, fidgeting uncomfortably at a Matamoros restaurant. “There’s people that hate me, they won’t forget. So I can’t leave.”

It took two days to track down 5050 after he missed our initial meeting, ignoring repeated phone calls and text messages. When we finally met, days later, his eyes were bloodshot, and he talked a mile a minute about problems in his personal life as he steered through the nighttime Matamoros traffic in his PT Cruiser. Hours later, eating tacos on the outskirts of the city, he’d admit he’d been lost in a three-day bender on cocaine, crack, and crystal meth.

5050

Nathaniel Janowitz

But in Matamoros, 5050 has struck a chord with the city’s young population, as a self-admitted hood malandro hollering out street ballads, a local 2Pac. At the restaurant, people called out his name; walking through the city’s historic center after midnight two young men came running down the street after 5050 asking for a photo. Even with his local fame, he feels unable to leave the city even to Reynosa, let alone another state.

“I’m trying to make other kinds of songs, so that I can leave to be a commercial rapper, but it’s really difficult,” said 5050, who along with soulful street dedications like “La Vida Es Un Riesgo” and “Mi Testamento,” also makes club trap ballads such as “Ando En La Disco.” “They’re always going to see my songs on YouTube, and consider me a narco rapper.”

Narco rap can be traced back to the song “El Tigre” by MC Babo, a member of Mexico’s most well-known gangster rap clique, Cartel de Santa: It’s believed to be the first dedication for a member of the Gulf Cartel, released around 2009. Although Cartel de Santa has stayed away from making additional narco rap tracks, the genre was quickly taken up by hip-hop duo Cano and Blunt in Reynosa, and Mexican Boy in Matamoros, who all began the proliferation of dedications around 2010. However, the most famous and popular rappers to emerge on the scene are Big Los and 5050.

youtube.com

Unable to leave the city without looking over his shoulder, 5050 remains in Matamoros as the Gulf Cartel he raps for has become less and less powerful. “After the señores were taken down, things destabilized,” said 5050. “There were bosses who knew how to control the crime, there was less violence, less kidnappings.”

Soldiers surround a burned car pictured in front of Televisa TV network after a car bomb exploded with no casualties, early Friday in the northeastern city Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state on August 27, 2010. The Gulf of Mexico drug cartel has been engaged in a bitter turf war for control of Tamaulipas smuggling routes into the United States with the Zetas drug cartel. AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

The fragmentation of the Gulf Cartel is a prime example of the failure of the Mexican government’s two-pronged strategy for combating organized crime; taking down high-level old-school señores, while deploying federal security forces to areas where the violence is out of control.

As narco rap began in the region, so did the violence — the Mexican government claims that between 2010 and 2016, more than 4,900 people were murdered in Tamaulipas and the state led the nation in the number of people disappeared as the Gulf Cartel fractured into various warring cliques, as well as fought off its hyper-violent offspring nemesis, the Zetas. The government numbers are widely believed to have been underestimated as well, as atrocities accumulated in the state, such as the mass murder of 193 people in the town of San Fernando in March 2011, and the discovery of numerous makeshift graves throughout the state. Local journalists hardly report on the violence any longer due to threats to their lives, and not many sane observers of the Mexican drug war would argue Tamaulipas isn’t the country’s most silenced state.

And while the death of Tony Tormenta eventually led to the end of the Scorpions, they didn’t become extinct; they’ve morphed into the Cyclones, a clique still affiliated with remaining members of the Cárdenas Guillén family that controls Matamoros.

The September 2011 death of Samuel Flores Borrego, aka Metro 3, in Reynosa is considered the end of the Gulf Cartel’s old-school capos. An iconic figure within the Gulf Cartel, he is mentioned repeatedly in narco rap songs. The circumstances of his death, believed to be a double-crossing between Matamoros and Reynosa, caused a split within the Gulf Cartel still felt today.

Lirik Dog, “Comando X”

Bien encapuchados y vestidos de negro

Con lanzagranadas, R's y chingo de cuernos

Comando X limpia el terreno

El cartel del golfo donde quiera es el bueno

Hooded up, and dressed in black

With grenade launchers, assault rifles, and a fuck ton of AK-47s

Commando X is cleaning up the land

The Gulf Cartel, wherever it is, it’s the good one.

Narco Rap Is Hip-Hop’s Most Dangerous Game

When Big Los was deported from Texas to the Mexican border city of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, in 2015, he was worried.

He’d released a rap track a few months before, “Alto Calibre,” boasting of the exploits of the Chilango, an incarcerated member of the Gulf Cartel. The man behind bars had been a major figure in the Mexican city of Reynosa, which is roughly 50 miles inland from Matamoros. The two cities have long been bastions of factions of the Gulf Cartel, and while those groups sometimes get along, they sometimes don’t.

Ruje un pinche Corvette ZR1 / se bajá él chilango anda armado hasta él culo / Bien paletoso trae un reloj julbo / Con la pinche super dice ábranse o los fumo.

A fucking Corvette ZR1 engine roars / The Chilango steps out armed to the teeth / Real dapper, wearing a flossed-out watch / With the fucking gat he says, “Open up or I’ll smoke you.”

Big Los is a recognizable figure, known as much for his gruff voice and gun-toting music videos as his massive physique, reminiscent of Big Pun or the Notorious B.I.G. After arriving in Matamoros, Big Los immediately felt he’d be a target for the rival clique who controlled the city, so he said he called someone connected to the cartel, “a friend of a friend.”

Big Los

Nathaniel Janowitz

“I told him, ‘I don’t feel comfortable in the streets, man, everyone seems to know me,’” said Big Los in February. “‘I don’t want to get picked up because I did a song for a certain guy over there. And there’s an internal war between you guys.’”

The rapper was no stranger to Matamoros: He’d actually been born there before his family illegally migrated across the border to Brownsville, Texas, when he was a child. As a teenager, growing up in a rough part of Brownsville, he sold drugs and eventually ended up in jail. After release, he found rap music, and used it as a way to leave the streets. (He was deported to Mexico in 2015 after he tried to apply for US citizenship.)

While many rap artists look at the money and fame that comes from their music as an escape from the hardships of their lives, narco rap is an exception. The primary feature of the Spanish-language hip-hop subgenre is that drug cartel members pay rappers to make songs about their lives, called “dedications,” thus actually inviting hardship in. Big Los, one of the pioneers of narco rap, admits he regularly gets death threats via social media from people claiming to be contrarios — members of enemy cartels.

Starting in the ’80s and ’90s, artists combined the accordion-filled traditional corrido genre with this practice of telling boastful tales of drug traffickers in Mexico, and narcocorridos are still wildly popular today. However, in the last decade, a modernization of the practice has flourished in rap music, specifically concerning the Gulf Cartel along the Texas-Tamaulipas border, in tandem with cartel infighting and the Mexican government’s crackdown on gang violence and drugs. And now narco rap is spreading rapidly to other criminal groups throughout Mexico, like the Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, and the MS-13 in El Salvador. It’s also cropped up in Spanish-speaking communities in the US with narco rap songs delivered in English for the Latin Kings in Chicago and the Sureños in Los Angeles.

Big Los made it clear he isn’t a member of the Gulf Cartel, nor does he actually know the majority of the people he makes songs about. He receives messages through social media or text message explaining what the people want him to say about them; he checks that the songs have been approved by cartel bosses; then he makes the tracks for a fee.

And as one of the biggest-name narco rappers in the biz, Big Los makes the most money per song: around $3,000, and another $3,000 per video. Rapper 5050 (pronounced in the Spanish Cincuenta Cincuenta) charges $500. Lirik Dog, a Reynosa-based narco rapero, told me, “I’m one of the cheap ones,” charging $200 per dedication.

“You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is.”

“I can have it done in an hour. I can write a song in 15 minutes,” said Lirik Dog, smiling. With a price so low and a velvety flow, he has no problem staying busy, claiming he doesn’t know how many songs he’s written. He knows one producer of his has at least 900 of his tracks; he estimates he’s done at least 1,000. “If I did anything for another group, the people here would fuck me up. So I never do it, I only do it for the same group.” Like the others, he says threats like “they’re gonna cut out my tongue” are common.

Big Los also said tensions rise when the cartel members want more “heavy shit” out of the rappers who rhyme about them mostly threats toward contrarios. So he has to hedge his bets and his words whenever it comes to his subjects and their enemies. “You gonna be right there in front of me when they’re shooting me? No, motherfucker. So it is what it is,” he said. He insisted that his benefactors understand he’s simply looking out for himself, as they need to do as well during these violent times.

With the song “Alto Calibre” he faced a similar issue. He released what he called “the dirty version” with his brother and fellow rapper Chino in which he warns that when the incarcerated member leaves prison, “sé los va a cargar la verga” — which could be translated, approximately, as “he’s going to fuck you all up.” Because “Alto Calibre” was about a guy in Reynosa, “I had to go talk to the main boss over there in Matamoros and present myself,” Big Los said, sitting in his home studio in McAllen, Texas, while he rolled a joint. He also asked permission to perform a concert and to live there. The boss obliged, and after that, Big Los said life in Matamoros was “lovely.” He went on to film what may be his most popular solo video for “Alto Calibre” — a six-and-a-half-minute epic that would make Ron Isley proud, featuring speaking scenes of a madrina, or madame, and her stable of sex worker surrounded by high-calibre weapons — and he removed the offensive line.

After a year in Matamoros, Big Los said, he was smuggled back into the United States in 2016 through a special transit point where only high-level cartel members cross the border. He’s back in Texas, trying to sort out his legal status, continuing to make songs for the Gulf Cartel. But while in Matamoros, Big Los recorded one of his biggest hits with another narco rapero, 5050.

The song wasn’t a dedication, but rather a hood love ballad called “Amor Malandro.” Both artists, Big Los and 5050, have appropriated the word “malandro” — which translates best as “thug.” Big Los released an album of dedications, called Dedicaciones Malandros. 5050 has “Flow Malandro” tattooed on his neck and chest in bold letters.

5050, “Malandro Graduado”

Ando alterado con El Kike por un lado

Negro el mercado de droga lo tengo saturado

El celular sonando, mi gente conectando

Y me siguen llamando, más dinero estoy contando

I roll wild with my homie Kike by my side

The black market, I overflowed it with the drugs

My phone’s ringing, my people are connecting

They keep calling me, I keep stacking cash

One of 5050’s most well-known narco rap songs is 2016’s “Malandro Graduado” (“Graduated Thug”). Although this song is another dedication, it could easily be a metaphor for 5050 himself, whose life has never been far from the cartel.

5050 grew up in a tough part of Matamoros while his mother worked for meager wages in one of the city’s numerous maquiladoras, factories that produce cheap exports mostly destined for the US. At 16 he went to work in a maquiladora as well, lasting only six months before he decided to hit the streets like his friends in 2007. He spent two years working as a puntero — a corner boy.

After two years, he took over a punto. It was during this time he began rapping and recorded a song about life on the streets. A friend of his heard it and asked him to make his inaugural dedication in 2010. “The first song I did was for one of my homies that worked with me,” said 5050. “But this kid’s dead now … He was an assassin.”

The song was “Escorpion 41,” which was his friend’s code number in the Scorpions, a military-styled cell of the Gulf Cartel that controlled Matamoros at the time.

“Then I started to do songs for heavier people, higher-ups,” he said, claiming he’s made 340 songs since then, 250 of which were dedications, many of which live online on YouTube, “from the bosses of the plaza to the guards, from the highest guys to the lowest.”

The customized gold-plated handgun of Jaime Gonzalez Duran, a.k.a. “Hummer”, founder of a group of hitmen called the “Zetas”, shown to the press at the hangar of the Federal Police in Mexico City, on November 7, 2008. Gonzalez worked for drug trafficker Osiel Cardenas Guillen, a.k.a. “El Mata Amigos” (The Friends' Killer).

Alfredo Estrella / AFP / Getty Images

The Gulf Cartel is one of the oldest gangs in the country, with origins tracing back to the Prohibition era; it expanded into cocaine in the ’80s and ’90s. But the Gulf Cartel is perhaps most infamous for drug lord Osiel Cárdenas Guillén, whose reign turned Tamaulipas into arguably the most dangerous state in Mexico.

When Cárdenas took control of the cartel in the late ’90s, he recruited a number of Mexican military deserters to form his own army-like death squad, known as the Zetas. After Cárdenas was arrested in 2003 and extradited four years later, the Gulf Cartel faced an uncertain future, as 2007 was also the same year then-president Felipe Calderón began using the Mexican military to battle organized crime. In the 10 years since Mexico’s government declared war on the country’s drug cartels, more than 150,000 people have been murdered and roughly 28,000 people have disappeared.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things.”

By 2010 the Zetas broke away from the Gulf Cartel, now controlled by Cárdenas’s brother, Antonio Cárdenas aka Tony Tormenta, who created his own death squad called the Scorpions. The Zetas and Gulf Cartel went to war over Tamaulipas, the military was at war with both; Tamaulipas was a war zone.

When the military gunned down Tony Tormenta in an eight-hour firefight on November 5, 2010, in Matamoros, 5050 had already released several tracks about the Scorpions and the Gulf Cartel — a death sentence if he were ever found by the Zetas.

“I’ve said a lot of things, unforgivable things,” said 5050, fidgeting uncomfortably at a Matamoros restaurant. “There’s people that hate me, they won’t forget. So I can’t leave.”

It took two days to track down 5050 after he missed our initial meeting, ignoring repeated phone calls and text messages. When we finally met, days later, his eyes were bloodshot, and he talked a mile a minute about problems in his personal life as he steered through the nighttime Matamoros traffic in his PT Cruiser. Hours later, eating tacos on the outskirts of the city, he’d admit he’d been lost in a three-day bender on cocaine, crack, and crystal meth.

5050

Nathaniel Janowitz

But in Matamoros, 5050 has struck a chord with the city’s young population, as a self-admitted hood malandro hollering out street ballads, a local 2Pac. At the restaurant, people called out his name; walking through the city’s historic center after midnight two young men came running down the street after 5050 asking for a photo. Even with his local fame, he feels unable to leave the city even to Reynosa, let alone another state.

“I’m trying to make other kinds of songs, so that I can leave to be a commercial rapper, but it’s really difficult,” said 5050, who along with soulful street dedications like “La Vida Es Un Riesgo” and “Mi Testamento,” also makes club trap ballads such as “Ando En La Disco.” “They’re always going to see my songs on YouTube, and consider me a narco rapper.”

Narco rap can be traced back to the song “El Tigre” by MC Babo, a member of Mexico’s most well-known gangster rap clique, Cartel de Santa: It’s believed to be the first dedication for a member of the Gulf Cartel, released around 2009. Although Cartel de Santa has stayed away from making additional narco rap tracks, the genre was quickly taken up by hip-hop duo Cano and Blunt in Reynosa, and Mexican Boy in Matamoros, who all began the proliferation of dedications around 2010. However, the most famous and popular rappers to emerge on the scene are Big Los and 5050.

youtube.com

Unable to leave the city without looking over his shoulder, 5050 remains in Matamoros as the Gulf Cartel he raps for has become less and less powerful. “After the señores were taken down, things destabilized,” said 5050. “There were bosses who knew how to control the crime, there was less violence, less kidnappings.”

Soldiers surround a burned car pictured in front of Televisa TV network after a car bomb exploded with no casualties, early Friday in the northeastern city Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas state on August 27, 2010. The Gulf of Mexico drug cartel has been engaged in a bitter turf war for control of Tamaulipas smuggling routes into the United States with the Zetas drug cartel. AFP PHOTO/Ronaldo Schemidt

Ronaldo Schemidt / AFP / Getty Images

The fragmentation of the Gulf Cartel is a prime example of the failure of the Mexican government’s two-pronged strategy for combating organized crime; taking down high-level old-school señores, while deploying federal security forces to areas where the violence is out of control.

As narco rap began in the region, so did the violence — the Mexican government claims that between 2010 and 2016, more than 4,900 people were murdered in Tamaulipas and the state led the nation in the number of people disappeared as the Gulf Cartel fractured into various warring cliques, as well as fought off its hyper-violent offspring nemesis, the Zetas. The government numbers are widely believed to have been underestimated as well, as atrocities accumulated in the state, such as the mass murder of 193 people in the town of San Fernando in March 2011, and the discovery of numerous makeshift graves throughout the state. Local journalists hardly report on the violence any longer due to threats to their lives, and not many sane observers of the Mexican drug war would argue Tamaulipas isn’t the country’s most silenced state.

And while the death of Tony Tormenta eventually led to the end of the Scorpions, they didn’t become extinct; they’ve morphed into the Cyclones, a clique still affiliated with remaining members of the Cárdenas Guillén family that controls Matamoros.

The September 2011 death of Samuel Flores Borrego, aka Metro 3, in Reynosa is considered the end of the Gulf Cartel’s old-school capos. An iconic figure within the Gulf Cartel, he is mentioned repeatedly in narco rap songs. The circumstances of his death, believed to be a double-crossing between Matamoros and Reynosa, caused a split within the Gulf Cartel still felt today.

Lirik Dog, “Comando X”

Bien encapuchados y vestidos de negro

Con lanzagranadas, R's y chingo de cuernos

Comando X limpia el terreno

El cartel del golfo donde quiera es el bueno

Hooded up, and dressed in black

With grenade launchers, assault rifles, and a fuck ton of AK-47s

Commando X is cleaning up the land

The Gulf Cartel, wherever it is, it’s the good one.

Taylor Swift Has Been Stalking Fans On Instagram And The Screenshots Are Wild

Look what they made her do.

You may have heard about the tragic passing of ~Old Taylor Swift~ back in August, when it was revealed that she couldn’t come to the phone because she was dead.

You may have heard about the tragic passing of ~Old Taylor Swift~ back in August, when it was revealed that she couldn't come to the phone because she was dead.

Big Machine

But the New Taylor Swift is here to stay — and according to some screenshots that have just surfaced, she’s been spending a lot of time Insta-creeping on her fans.

But the New Taylor Swift is here to stay — and according to some screenshots that have just surfaced, she's been spending a lot of time Insta-creeping on her fans.

Twitter: @steffyswiftie

Now, Taylor RARELY does interviews or public appearances these days, which makes these screenshots all the more intriguing — they’re the only glimpse we have into TSwift’s life right now.

Now, Taylor RARELY does interviews or public appearances these days, which makes these screenshots all the more intriguing — they're the only glimpse we have into TSwift's life right now.

ABC

She joined one fan’s livestream…

She joined one fan's livestream...

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

…And made the girl completely freak out with a simple emoji.

...And made the girl completely freak out with a simple emoji.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

She’s watched and commented on a BUNCH of people’s livestreams, actually.

She's watched and commented on a BUNCH of people's livestreams, actually.

Twitter: @TSwiftNZ

Twitter: @wonxerlandswift

She had to work extra hard to get one fan’s attention.

She had to work extra hard to get one fan's attention.

Twitter: @TSwiftNZ

She slid into this fan’s DMs.

She slid into this fan's DMs.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

She viewed this fan’s Insta story.

She viewed this fan's Insta story.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

…And actually responded to it.

...And actually responded to it.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

She did the same with another fan. First she viewed the story…

She did the same with another fan. First she viewed the story...

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

And promptly sent an emoji back.

And promptly sent an emoji back.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

Taylor’s also voted in some of her fan’s polls, like this one about her upcoming album Reputation:

Taylor's also voted in some of her fan's polls, like this one about her upcoming album Reputation:

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

(She voted “yes,” naturally.)

(She voted "yes," naturally.)

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

She also voted “hell yes” when a fan asked followers if they should invite their crush to homecoming.

She also voted "hell yes" when a fan asked followers if they should invite their crush to homecoming.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

And like any good Instagram creeper, she’s liked a bunch of pics as well.

And like any good Instagram creeper, she's liked a bunch of pics as well.

Twitter: @TSUpdatesNY

Say what you want about Taylor, but the girl loves her fans!

Say what you want about Taylor, but the girl loves her fans!

Vevo

New Group Promises Real Money For Local Candidates Who Commit To Sweeping National Progressive Goals

Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University in June.

Michael Campanella / Getty Images

A leading development economist, a former Democratic state senator from New York, and a young entrepreneur and scion of the Pritzker family are converging to form a national network of state legislators committed to a package of far-sweeping goals for 2030.

The organization, a nonprofit set to launch Monday under the name Future Now, is one its cofounders describe as an antidote to a moment where fraught partisan battles shape political debate, where lawmakers often resist the center, and special interests steer policy outcomes — though many of the proposals outlined align with policies and programs that liberals and progressives favor.

The group’s first investment, totaling $160,000, will support 10 candidates in the Virginia House of Delegates races — all Democrats who have pledged to work toward “America’s Goals for 2030.” Ahead of races across the country next year, Future Now will also seek Republican candidates willing to commit to the goals, a list of seven benchmarks on infrastructure, energy, education, and health care.

The goals were formed in large part by Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Columbia University who studies economic development, poverty, and health and environmental policy. Early this spring, he partnered with a former student, Adam Pritzker, the CEO of Assembled Brands and the grandson of the Hyatt hotel creator, on ideas to implement the goals; a number of Pritzker family members have been active in Democratic politics, especially in recent years. Together, Sachs and Pritzker approached Dan Squadron, a state senator representing parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, and in August, in a decision he described as “one of the hardest things I have ever done,” Squadron stepped down from his seat to work full-time on the new venture.

“I’m really the observer in this group, watching the conversation play out between a state senator and a development economist,” the 33-year-old Pritzker said during an interview with the three co-founders this week.

“One thinks about this very large over-arching framework, and the other thinks about the day-to-day blocking and tackling and tactical implementation of policy, of getting things done at a local level or in a district. To hear the push and pull between them, I think that's when we all knew that there was something here.”

The framework for Future Now recalls some elements of past projects that have attempted a similar goal-oriented approach, and sputtered out. No Labels, a bipartisan project formed in 2010 as an answer to Washington gridlock, promised to wield influence ahead of last year's presidential election with a list of four overarching goals branded as a “National Strategic Agenda,” unveiled in 2014. The election they envisioned, with major candidates signing onto No Labels goals for the federal budget and Social Security, was far from the one that played out on the left and right, where Bernie Sanders rose as an ideological progressive icon and Donald Trump as the messenger for a growing anti-establishment sentiment.

Future Now's co-creators see the group as distinct in its approach, and its definition of each goal. “There's no single path to implementation,” said Squadron, the 37-year-old former New York state senator. “There's no single policy that is required. We have a 50-state idea and there might be 50 different paths to these outcomes.”

“That focus really on values and outcomes over a period of time is an important addition to the conversation,” Squadron said.

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty Images

The goals were designed by Sachs, 62, as “wholistic,” overlapping “package deal,” he said, meant to be measurable from state to state and against other countries.

Each goal outlines a number of specific benchmarks, many of which reflect policies unlikely to see support from Republicans for fiscal reasons.

The list moves from “Good Jobs” (“paid family, vacation, and sick leave for 100% of jobs”), to “Affordable Quality Health Care” (“universal, affordable health coverage with a cap on out-of-pocket expenses”).

The other categories include “Investing in Children” (“a 100% completion of quality K-12 education”), “Empowering People Over Special Interests” (“limit corporate special interest spending in politics”), “Equal Opportunity for All” (“equal pay for equal work regardless of gender or race”), “Sustainable Infrastructure, Resilience, and Innovation” (“100% of roads, bridges, railways, airports, sea ports, levees in good repair”), and “Clean Air, Water, and Energy” (“new energy investments in clean, safe energy”).

Other goals range from “personal control for everyone over their private online data” to “freedom from ethnic and racial profiling for everyone.”

Sachs cast the list as more a set of values than policy prescriptions.

“There are a set of set values, and there are a set of shared ways to measure whether we've gotten there. It's how we get there that everything has broken down,” he said.

“My own view, working on these issues for decades, is they're gonna find out if you really want to do this, there isn't as much as a gap as you really think. Even if at the beginning people sign on because they think there really are different approaches — more market approaches from Republicans, more government-oriented from Democrats — if we're really gonna get the job done, my strong sense is it's going to have to be a convergence over time.”

The candidates who commit to the Future Now agenda will “have access to a donor pool focused on setting and achieving goals,” said Pritzker, who is helping fund the project and described the group at multiple points as a sort of donor network.

The co-founders declined to name other donors supporting Future Now, and to detail any plans for future investments, but said they will voluntarily disclose a list of contributors on a regular basis. The organization is structured as a 501c4, an entity able accept unlimited funds and is not required to make its donors public.

The 10 Democrats the group will support in Virginia are candidates committed to moving toward the Future Now goals, and willing to be measured against those goals. Sachs said they will partner with a think tank dedicated to measurement strategy and make data collection and analysis a large component of the project.

The Virginia House of Delegates candidates, each slated to receive a portion of the $160,000 ranging from $9,000 to $20,000, include Elizabeth Guzman, Karrie Delaney, Donte Tanner, Hala Ayala, David Reid, Schuyler Van Valkenburg, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Kathy Tran, Cheryl Turpin, and Chris Hurst.

This Is The Guy Who’s Playing Betty’s Long-Lost Brother On “Riverdale”

I’m starting the Veronichic ship right now. Just because.

Last spring during the season finale of Riverdale, Betty’s mom dropped a MAJOR bomb.

Last spring during the season finale of Riverdale, Betty's mom dropped a MAJOR bomb.

YES. Just like her daughter Polly, Alice found out that she was pregnant in high school. She was sent to a convent and, after her son was born, arranged for a quiet adoption.

The CW

Now, we don’t know too much about Hart just yet. But, I think it’s safe too assume that he’ll have no trouble playing Chic. I mean, just look at him.

(Apparently, he's had guest roles in the film Fun Mom Dinner, and the show Lethal Weapon.)

instagram.com

And according to my super secret spy skills (aka stalking on social media), it looks as if Denton is already in Vancouver filming with the rest of the cast.

And according to my super secret spy skills (aka stalking on social media), it looks as if Denton is already in Vancouver filming with the rest of the cast.

And last time I checked, they were working on their Christmas episode. So, perhaps a little holiday reunion is in the works?

Instagram: @http://bit.ly/2wGJ8U5

It’ll probably be a while before we actually see Hart/Chic in Riverdale, but since I’m sure you’re impatient like me, here are a few photos to enjoy in the meantime. Here’s his “The Sun’s In My Eyes, But I Make It Work Anyway” look.

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And his “Getting Ready For The Ball” look.

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The “Am I Actually James Dean?” look.

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And finally, the “I Look Better Than Archie In A Letterman” look.

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*Me rn* Welcome to Riverdale!

*Me rn* Welcome to Riverdale!

The CW

Vice President Mike Pence Leaves NFL Game Saying Players Showed “Disrespect” Of Anthem, Flag

Vice President Mike Pence left Sunday's game between the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts after players on the field knelt during the national anthem.

Pence tweeted that he had left the game, saying that he would not “dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem.”

A spokesperson for the Colts did not immediately return a request for comment.

Pence's decision to leave Lucas Oil Stadium adds another dimension to the ongoing saga between the NFL and Trump.

At an event for Luther Strange in Huntsville, Ala. last month, Trump said that he thought owners would let go of players who knelt during the national anthem. During Trump's tirade, he called such a player a “son of a bitch” setting off yet another round of protests from players, and backlash from the entire NFL community who defended the players right to freedom of expression and panned Trump's comments as inappropriate.

His office sent an expanded statement saying that “everyone is entitled to their own opinions.”

“At a time when so many Americans are inspiring our nation with their courage, resolve, and resilience, now, more than ever, we should rally around our Flag and everything that unites us,” the statement reads. “While everyone is entitled to their own opinions, I don’t think it’s too much to ask NFL players to respect the Flag and our National Anthem. I stand with President Trump, I stand with our soldiers, and I will always stand for our Flag and our National Anthem.”

Before leaving, Pence tweeted an image of himself and Second Lady Karen Pence. After a whirlwind few days in which Pence visited Puerto Rico, St. Croix to survey hurricane damage, and Las Vegas to comfort victims of the mass shooting from a week ago.

With their protests, players on the 49ers have sought to bring attention to racial inequality and police brutality. Last year, the team's starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, started the demonstration.

Leslie Jones Played Wonder Woman On SNL Last Night And We’re Gonna Need A Full Movie By 2019

Give the people what they want!

OKAY Y’ALL. We need to talk about something PRETTY DAMN SPECIAL that happened on last night’s SNL: Leslie Jones as Wonder Woman.

OKAY Y'ALL. We need to talk about something PRETTY DAMN SPECIAL that happened on last night's SNL: Leslie Jones as Wonder Woman.

NBC

How perfect is this shit???

How perfect is this shit???

NBC

Gal Gadot was the host of the show, so Leslie made a surprise appearance in her opening monologue as Wonder Woman. And it was…extremely good.

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Okay, TECHNICALLY Leslie was “Times Square Wonder Woman” — one of those actors who stands out on the street and charges you $$$ for selfies. But ya know what?

Okay, TECHNICALLY Leslie was "Times Square Wonder Woman" — one of those actors who stands out on the street and charges you $$$ for selfies. But ya know what?

NBC

LESLIE DESERVES BETTER! I want a full-blown, 120-minute, $500-million budget superhero movie starring Leslie Jones. AND I WANT IT BY SUMMER 2019.

LESLIE DESERVES BETTER! I want a full-blown, 120-minute, $500-million budget superhero movie starring Leslie Jones. AND I WANT IT BY SUMMER 2019.

DC Comics / NBC

DC Comics, you writing this down???

DC Comics, you writing this down???

NBC

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

NBC

An icon.

An icon.

NBC

What Pill-Popping In Hip-Hop Means For Mental Health

Flip through rap radio in the last couple years, and patterns emerge. Between the bars of Future’s viral hit “Mask Off” — “Percocets / Molly, Percocets” — there might be Logic’s hit “1-800-273-8255,” describing suicidal thoughts, the title of the song itself the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline phone number. Lil Uzi Vert’s “XO Tour Llf3” details Xanax addiction and being pushed “to the edge” where he might “blow my brain out.” XXXTentacion raps about suicidal thoughts and simulated his own hanging in a recent video, as did rapper Father in his clip for “Suicide Party.” Mac Miller, Schoolboy Q, Isaiah Rashad, and Kevin Gates also have tracks dealing with narcotics abuse and the emotional woes caused by their indulgences.

Drug use and self-harm are hot topics in popular rap songs by chart-topping artists, and their simultaneous emergence is no coincidence, with each topic bearing a long history in a genre that’s typically dominated by black men.

“Self-medication is the name of the game in the culture of young black men in hip-hop,” Vic Mensa told BuzzFeed News in September. The Chicago emcee fought his way back from drug addiction after a season of depression and suicidal thoughts — which were brought on by prolonged use of pills among other substances. He raps about it in “There’s a Lot Going On.”

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Kid Cudi wrote a letter to his fans in 2016 describing his own mental health issues and why they led him to rehab. “My anxiety and depression have ruled my life for as long as I can remember and I never leave the house because of it,” Cudi wrote. “I can’t make new friends because of it. I don’t trust anyone because of it and I’m tired of being held back in my life. I deserve to have peace. I deserve to be happy and smiling. Why not me?”

Joe Budden has been open about his addictive personality, and struggles with drug abuse on top of his own mood disorder. “As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more,” he said during Complex’s Everyday Struggle, an online show that he cohosts. “We’re so powerful as a culture … we move things. Enough of us have died from mental health issues for us to look into it. Most of these rappers are telling us what they’re going through and I try to listen for it.”

“As somebody who’s been suicidal and battled depression, I would like to see hip-hop address it more.”

From heroin and cocaine in jazz and R&B, to acid in funk, to marijuana and Ecstasy in hip-hop, narcotics have been a not-so-silent partner to the sound and the subjects in black music. In contemporary popular hip-hop, however, popping prescription pills like Xanax, Oxycontin, benzodiazepines, and MDMA along with lean — a mixture of soda and Actavis syrup (if you can find it) — have become a badge of honor in contemporary hip-hop as well as on mainstream radio. Songs like these highlight the connection between music, artists, and fans and how each reflects the other.

Hand in hand with the pill name-drops are health conditions — addiction, depression, chronic pain — that some prescription drugs are actually engineered to treat. The pill rap wave dovetails with the growing heroin epidemic on top of suicide becoming the number two cause of death in teens ages 15 to 19, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Hip-hop has moved from selling drugs to using drugs as a point of pride, and that arc tracks with amplified numbers of suicide and mental health concerns among hip-hop’s target audience. The tandem rise isn’t a quirky coincidence: It’s a serious cause for concern, if not only for the performers but also for fans. Hip-hop has more than a minor ailment — the culture’s got an addiction and it’s driving us mad.

Vic Mensa, Logic, Schoolboy Q, Mac Miller, Kid Cudi.

Rich Polk, Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Bennett Raglin / Getty Images

Drinking, smoking weed, and selling cocaine became staples in hip-hop — lyrically, and in practice — beginning in the mid-1990s, epitomized in albums like Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt and Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. Tales of South American suppliers, coke bricks, and depictions of grimy dealers in the trap — a colloquialism for a drug and/or stash house — pumped from speakers in songs like “Can’t Knock the Hustle.” By the late ‘90s and early 2000s, rappers like Ja Rule and 50 Cent moved on to include Ecstasy as a party drug in their lyrics, though the inclusion of pills rarely budged beyond that.

The affordable low-risk high of lean made the drink a drug of choice with Texas artists like DJ Screw, a pioneer of the “chopped and screwed” style that fit nicely with the beverage’s propensity for slowing down the world. Lean — aka “dirty Sprite,” “drank,” “syrup,” “sizzurp,” “purp,” and “barre” — started making its way into rhymes down South, evidenced by hits like Three 6 Mafia’s “Sippin on Some Sizzurp” and Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin’” featuring UGK in 2000 (the same year Screw died from codeine-related conditions). Lean’s popularity in the black music community began long before the age of hip-hop, as retired University of Texas Health Science Center professor Ronald Peters told Noisey: In the 1950s, Houston blues musicians mixed cough syrup with beer and wine coolers to get the high of Benadryl today without garnering police attention.

But all along the way in hip-hop’s history, there’s been the counternarrative about drugs, prescription or not. Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five told a cautionary tale about rap and drugs in 1984 with “White Lines (Don’t Don’t Do It),” and in 1988 and Public Enemy’s followed up with “Night of the Living Baseheads.” Cash Money Records founder Birdman’s (formerly Baby) regional 1993 track “I Need a Bag of Dope” with the 32 Golds celebrated his love for snorting heroin but then getting sick if he couldn’t score: “I started snortin’ and scratchin’ and throwing up.”

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Southern hip-hop’s rise arguably crystallized in the national popularity of Baby’s protégé Lil Wayne around the release of 2004’s “Go D.J.” Along with his gravelly delivery, the rapper brought a lean-filled cup and a penchant for the rockstar lifestyle; as Wayne recorded his 2008 album Tha Carter III, that cup became a mainstay in his interviews. The unauthorized documentary The Carter revealed his escalating narcotic dependence and the havoc it caused. Musically, while other rappers rhymed about indulging in weed and Ecstasy and privately snorted cocaine, this film shows Wayne giddily mixing lean as his manager exasperatingly dealt with his artist in the grip of addiction.

Elsewhere, Lil Wayne cuts like “Me and My Drank” and “Viva La White Girl” blatantly described the New Orleans MC’s predilections — and it sounded great, unfortunately. Wayne also spoke to his lean dependency during an interview with MTV News in 2008, saying, “Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy. … feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that shit.” (Lil Wayne declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

OxyContin

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Then came pills. In 1996, sufferers of chronic pain started getting prescriptions for a new drug called Oxycontin. A physician, Dr. Roneet Lev, chair of San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Medical Task Force, told to Fox 5 San Diego that when Oxycontin hit the market, its parent company Purdue Pharma told doctors that only 1% of patients became addicted and furthermore that they were cruel if they didn’t prescribe it. In reality, addiction was much more prevalent, and ultimately helped to lead to America’s current opioid crisis, President Trump declaring it a national emergency in August. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the crisis was caused by three main variables: the huge jump of scripts written; “aggressive marketing” by pharmaceutical companies; and “greater social acceptability for using medications for different purposes.”

Elsewhere, Xanax, also known as happy pills, can be used to take the anxiety-ridden edge off other drugs like Ecstasy and soothe depression and unhappy feelings, making it a choice party drug. And thanks to pill mills, establishments where doctors loosely doled out prescriptions, drugs like Oxy, Vicodin, Percocet, and others weren’t too tough to get as long as one had the money. Users could cycle through several pill mills in one day to maintain their supply for personal use or for sale.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News, Ebro — host of New York’s Hot 97 morning show and Apple’s Beats 1 — wanted to clarify: Hip-hop didn’t start the pill-popping epidemic, that pills’ entry into rap’s vernacular is a reflection of whatever was already happening in United States specifically with youth culture.

Lil Wayne in “The Carter” documentary / Via vimeo.com

As artists like Lil Wayne rose in ranks in the mid-aughts, they “broke away from hood-centered paradigms in hip-hop culture,” said Langston Wilkins, ethnomusicologist and program officer with the State Humanities Council of Tennessee in Nashville. They brought with them “different cultural influences, whether it was Wayne’s skateboarding and pseudo-rock thing or Kanye’s high-fashion experiences. They also attracted different audiences and with them came different ways of partying or escaping your problems, like popping pills or tabs of Xanax and other drugs.”

Atlanta emcee Gucci Mane broke onto the larger hip-hop landscape in 2006 with “Pillz,” boasting a chorus asking “Is you rolling?” and him responding, “Bitch, I might be.”

“I was high as hell when I made ‘Pillz,’ and the next day when they played it, I was like, ‘Don’t do that,’ because it’s like I’m telling on myself!” said a now-sober Gucci during a recent event for YouTube in New York, speaking on his new book The Autobiography of Gucci Mane. “At the end of the day, I made millions but I was tripping.”

By 2011, Future debuted with his Dirty Sprite mixtape, directly shouting out lean, continuing on his career trajectory by touting drug use. As for his most recent summer hit “Mask Off,” he said in 2015 that all of the drug lingo is just for show. “I don’t have to do it all the time. I am sober,” he told Clique TV. “I’m not like super drugged out or a drug addict.” He raps about drugs, not because it’s his personal habit but “because I feel like that’s the number one thing everybody likes to talk about. … It's the number one seller.” (Future declined BuzzFeed News’ request for comment.)

Future, Gucci Mane, Lil Uzi Vert, Kevin Gates, Chance the Rapper.

Kevin Winter, Bennett Raglin, Christopher Polk, Rachel Murray, Frazer Harrison / Getty Images

The CDC lists suicide as the #2 cause of death for teens in the US, sandwiched between homicides and unintentional injuries, which can include accidental overdoses. Historically, black people don’t often see therapists or doctors as much as we should, and like our ancestors who often took their issues to the Lord in prayer, rappers take theirs to the recording booth. Artists like Kendrick Lamar and Gates, who’ve both fought depression, have called music their therapy; however, it might also be good to also talk with a professional.

“There is something to be said for creative expression, but I wouldn’t say that’s enough,” said Inger Burnett-Zeigler, professor and clinical psychologist in Northwestern University’s department of psychiatry. “Therapy is really about identifying dysfunctional thoughts and how your feelings can be a product of that, and you need someone else to step in and identify that.”

According to the Handbook of African American Psychology, anxiety is the “most prevalent class of mental disorders in the United States” in terms of mental health for people of all ethnicities; 28% of people experience it at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder includes “panic disorder, specific phobias, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD),” demonstrated by persistent and debilitating fear. Anxiety is often flanked by depression and drug abuse, born as a way to tackle uncomfortable feelings. More than a few music artists may be exposed to nonprescribed medication when they’re on the road and maintaining a pace that allows them to consistently perform in front of thousands of screaming fans. But that pattern can be a slippery slope to unhealthy and addictive self-soothing habits.

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