Hip-hop star Kangol Kid of UTFO, penned this open letter on the world of celebrity in wake of the apparent suicide of Chris Lighty:
If you are a Celebrity, or know a Celebrity or wish to someday become a Celebrity, I urge you to read this somewhat lengthy letter which I passionately wrote on behalf of my Celebrity friends under pressure. I hope I don’t lose your attention but these are a few things that Celebrities want to tell you but don’t know how. I pray that I represent them correctly in this letter:
I am deeply saddened by the loss of Chris Lighty. One never knows what another is truly going through. I need everyone to stop believing popularity/celebrity status shields an individual from common hurt. If anything, such titles magnify the hurt and/or the punishment. I am speaking as a celebrity and I’m sure other celebrities will relate. As much as “Common Folk” sometime wish they were us…we often wish we were them.
This is not coming from a place of arrogance or the belief of one feeling like they are better than the other. This is coming from an individual that has experienced both sides of the coin (Popular-Not Popular, Famous-Not Famous, Known-Not Known,…), whatever title doesn’t offend you because that is NOT my intention. My intention right now is to educate. Only certain individuals can totally appreciate what I am writing today.
I remember when I was “common folk” in Brooklyn and I would freely hang out with my boys in Kings Plaza Mall Theater. I also remember when I was no longer recognized as “common folk” and was NICELY asked to leave Kings Plaza Mall Theater simply because too many fans wanted my autograph. The Theater Manager decided I was an “outcast” and NICELY asked ME to leave the theater because of the safety hazard my presence was creating. That was my first experience with this form of prejudice. As a “common folk” I lived across the street from a KFC and I ate there occasionally. When I later visited KFC as a celebrity, I was told (by a customer) I’m too popular to eat here and I should be eating at a five-star restaurant, not in KFC. That was my second experience. I share this with you to describe the line in the sand drawn by society and to describe the pressures celebrities endure.
If a commoner is witnessed doing something commonly unflattering, he or she is dealt with accordingly. But when a celebrity does the same unflattering act, he or she is made an example of as he/she appears online, in magazines and television accused of common acts like: having a bad hair day, wearing unattractive attire or God forbid, the horrible crime of tripping and falling somewhere. In other words, society revoked our “Common Card” and placed us in a bubble that shames us from ever trying to escape the title of “Star”.
So if we’re groomed to feel this way about our little problems, imagine what we go through with problems like money woes, divorces or brushes with the law. This is tremendous pressure on us. Now let me say, some of us wanted and chose this lifestyle without knowing what we were truly getting into. The sad truth is most of us just wanted to make that hit recording or become a success in whatever field. None of us ever saw this as a bad tattoo… until it became exactly that.
I’m sorry but Chris’ death upsets me terribly. I can both imagine and remember how I felt when my pressures mounted. There was no one I could speak to. My non-celebrity friends would say, “You know Diddy, Russell, LL or Latifah right? Just call them.” They actually believe it’s that simple. Or this one: “All these rappers today wouldn’t be where they are if it wasn’t for you. They should give you all some of their millions.” How ridiculous is that? What I want to say in return is, “Dr. Martin Luther King did a lot for you too but I don’t see you writing his family a check.” What makes these people think Drake or Nicki needs to write me a check? We, as celebrities deal with our issues and have to deal with the uneducated masses (who think they’re helping but adding more pressure) while we smile and pretend they’re saying something intelligent. Please understand, we really have nowhere to go with our issues. As for sharing our issues with other celebrities… that’s a No-No. People only give to those who got. A bank will give you money after you present proof that you don’t need their money. It’s true. When I was making crazy dough I’d go to a restaurant with friends and I’d prepare to pay the three-four hundred dollar bill with ease and the owner would say, “No need, it’s on the house and it’s an honor to have you eat at my restaurant.” Today they say, “That will be $78.67 and 15% gratuity. In other words, the more money you make, the less money they make you spend. So ain’t no celebrity (or anyone for that matter) giving you money unless you can prove you can make them money. There is no such thing as financial homage in this world of entertainment. You don’t have it in your world. What makes you think it exists in our world?
I just had to get some of this off my chest for my brother Chris, for my fellow popular individuals and most importantly to the people that say, “He had everything, How could he do that?” Hopefully, those people are a little more educated today than they were yesterday. Maybe now people will stop saying, “I wish I was you.” You Can’t Be Me!!! No normal person can withstand what we endure and/or tolerate.
“The race is not given To the swift, nor to the strong But to the one That endureth Until the end.”
For every 1 visible successful project, there is 50 failed projects that you all don’t know about. How many of you can fail 50 times a month at the same job and maintain that same position for years? There is some level of insanity that exists to do what we do. While you envy us for taking such risks, we envy you for resisting the urge.
I’m so saddened and angry right now because I know those demons that haunted Chris and I thank God for the support system I’ve been blessed with to help me fight them. I suck at solving my problems but I’m great at solving other people’s problems and it makes me feel significant when someone benefits from my efforts. This is why I’ve dedicated my energy to do exactly that. I wish Chris could have found something to make him fight harder. He has done some incredible things on this planet for some incredible people. This made him a Super Hero to most. Unfortunately, only a Super Hero can save a Super Hero. Therefore, I charge all my Super Hero friends with responsibility to find a Super Hero in need of your assistance… and save them. PLEASE. They are NOT going to ask you for your help, so use your Super Hearing to hear their cry.
Good Bless the Lighty Family and their friends.