An open letter to Rappers… Leave the guns to the professionals.


While it’s not a new trend, more and more successful Hip-Hop stars these days have been arrested and in many cases convicted of firearm related charges. What I learned from is that you should stand out from the crowd thanks to your music, but not thanks to weapon. While there are definitely two sides to every story, and sometimes the media gets it’s facts wrong when reporting breaking news, I also believe that these successful public figures do more harm than good by putting themselves in a position where they have to “be their own bodyguard”. If you can afford a Lamborghini, you can afford personal security. If you can “make it rain” in the club every night with thousands of dollars, then you can afford to have an Executive Protection PROFESSIONAL . In short, leave the guns to the people who know when, and more importantly, when NOT to use them.

That’s not to say that some of these artists do not have legitimate threats to their person. In my  18 years in the industry I have worked with several who upon doing a risk assessment, found that there was a high probability that someone known or unknown wished to do them harm. However, electing to protect yourself by obtaining a firearm and carrying it around publicly –especially illegally, may not be the best way to solve the problem.

Hip-Hop music is a very aggressive art form, and the culture that gave birth to it is one that has one foot planted firmly in urban streets. However there comes a time when, just as you need an accountant to balance the check book, you need professionally trained security to deal with any potential threats. In some cases that security might need to carry a LICENCED AND REGISTERED firearm, but frankly speaking, a big brain will always need to accompany a big gun.

To the artist, managers and record companies: Evaluate the security staff you have in place or plan to hire. If simply being “big” makes you perfect for a job, then we would have a lot fewer bodyguards and a lot more professional football players (it pays better). Instead, check credentials, call references, conducted background check and above all sit down with the security staff and flat out ask “what would you do if…” The answers that you get may be surprising but if it saves you (or your artist) a felony gun charge, it’s worth it.

Elijah Shaw


Icon Protection, Inc.

9 thoughts on “An open letter to Rappers… Leave the guns to the professionals.”

  1. Isn’t this the truth. Too many hip-hop artists think they are there own bodyguard in many situations. Then we see all this negative press about them. IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY FOR ALL THE TOYS AND FAME. PLEASE HIRE A TRAINED EXECUTIVE PROTECTION SPECIALIST TO DO THE JOB.


    Rick Knowles
    Executive protection specialist

  2. Elijah,

    Every day your website keeps on getting better and better. Being a South Sider I am very proud to see a home town bro doing quite well!

    Why is the M-4 in the photo unloaded? Is the other weapon a Remington 870? Were these photos taken in conjunction with your recent PSD training? What is your opinion of Blackwaters PSD training program?

    I asked because my agency’s executive protection detail has used Blackwater because they offer a tightly compressed schedule. Thus guys/gals are not being locked into a heavy duty month or two month course as is the case with two other courses offered by two well known government agencies. The first agency has a course perfect for small details but it is a very lengthy course. The second agency has a great curriculum with lots of bells and whistles but it is more suitable if you are going to have a detail that can shut down streets, obtain helicopters, and have a quick reaction force available to address every contingency.

    I’m looking at paying to attend a course with my own money and maybe write off it on my taxes. I am a bit concerned about spending my money on Blackwater because they have received a lot of negative press that questions their methodology. Perhaps you can recommend another training course. I hope by completing a good PSD course it will give me a leg up on competing for one of the Supervisory slots that are available on my agencies executive protection detail.

    Take care and all the best.

  3. I agree with you Elijah on this article. It is unfortunate to see theses type of occurrences in the hip hop industry. Theses artist should realize the importance of professional security especially in the hip hop industry today where there often seems to be much friction between other hip hop artists.Hip hop has come a long way but it’s status today is not what it was or stood for in the beginning. I feel that some of theses artist have theses weapons in their procession just to show off or just because they know someone else who have them and can’t think of anything other logical ways to spend their money.Then there are some who get caught up in the mix and would really use them. The circumstances are their careers as artists ends, most of the money they have goes towards legality fees, their families suffer and they spend have their lives in jail. IT’s a shame but it is reality and unfortunate it makes a bad name for the hip hop community and the artist who are trying to keep it positive. True, theses artist spend money on many unnecessary things that would put their lives in danger than spending it on security that could save their lives.

  4. Elijah,

    The comments you made in your article sums it up. I wonder if these artists are thinking about the possible jail time they can recieve on some of there actions. Not to mention rather they like it or not, there are people that look up to them. The best option is to hire ICON. Point blank.

  5. The 2 weapons on the table are loaded (even though the 5.56mm ammunition magazines have been removed) treat them as if they were loaded, in fact treat all weapons (even toy guns) as if they were loaded, period. There are several examples of people who were injured or killed because the weapon involved was “supposed to be” empty or cleared.

    The Rapper element & culture thrives on a false bravado macho attitude, views people who hire PROFESSIONAL SECURITY (bodyguards) as weak. It views wearing protective clothing as unworthy or feeble and admires the individual who has done hard time in a correctional institution and developed a prison hardened physique. The rapper will show off his tattooed body in a t-shirt even if he is 98 pounds, in an attempt to show how hard he is.

    The word on the street is, “Get a vest if you scared”. So although you, I and others in the professional security industry know better, we are basically trying to sell our services to people who don’t know they need them. Or basically sell life preservers & lifeguard vests to people who can’t swim for lack of a better analogy. I have had a client ask me, “How much they pay me to protect him”, and then throw that amount of money up in the air to make it rain.

    The older Hip-hop generation has a lot more respect for Professional Security and what we do, but the new & younger generation would carry an Illegal, Unregistered Firearm, with a body on it, rather than pay decent money for Professional Protective Services.

    When I am finished with the Diplomatic Protective Services (DoS) I am providing in Iraq, I would love to network and fellowship with ICON and continue my advancement within this community.

    Be safe out there!

    Mr. Bilal
    Executive Protection Specialist

  6. I wrote a white paper on this very topic some years ago addressing the need for professional security services in the urban entertainment/music segment of the industry and how history might tell a different story had Biggie, Tupac, Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes and Aliyah might all still be with us had they been educated ont he importance of having seasoned and well trained protection specialist in their employment.

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