In a famous biblical passage, Christ praises God, “because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” This phrase referring to the perception of sagacity rings true to both the devout and the irreligious.
Yet, it finds its living expression in 9-year-old Brooklyn rapper Amor “Lilman” Arteaga.
This week, the Flatbush-raised youngster — who first gained media attention over the summer with his anti-sagging song “Pull Ya Pants Up” — dedicated his latest opus “Stop Da Violence” to the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.
Revealing a social concern far beyond his years, in “Stop Da Violence” and its accompanying video, Amor recites thoughtful lyrics about the impact of abuse and the easy access to guns on our communities.
Although the song had been in the works since the fall according to a report by New York’s Daily News, “I decided to dedicate my song to the Sandy Hook victims when I saw that what was going on was a part of gun violence,” Amor told theGrio in a phone interview. “What happened there that day was a real tragedy for everyone. I just wanted to show them how I care about what happened there.”
His song is a fitting response to the horror of the shooting, during which 26 victims in Newtown, Connecticut — mostly young children like Amor — were killed one week ago today.
“People, people, we need to change our ways,” he sings on the hook of the track. “There’s too much violence in our world today.”
Between stanzas, Lilman raps, “Put the guns down, put the guns down/Stop the violence/Stop the violence.”
This linking theme led the emerging artist to sympathize with Newtown.
“I’m trying to stop all violence,” the talented tyke explained. “I hope that the result of people viewing my new video will be for people to just try to come together… just by trying to help each other out once in a while.
“We also need to try to make it harder for people on the streets to get guns that easily,” Amor added.
Hoping to take his platform of change across the country in a school tour next year, and eventually to the White House, Lilman also has a message for President Obama.
“I would talk to him about how I want to make it harder for people on the streets to get guns,” Amor said. “I [also] think in schools there should be counseling and help for each kid, the ones that are being bullied and the ones that are bullies.”
Where does he get his broad perspective and deep concern for both the victims and perpetrators of hurtful deeds? “I basically get all my thoughtfulness through the violence I see on the news, in newspapers, and in different places in my neighborhood,” Amor said. When asked if that is what inspires him to tackle such difficult subjects, he responded in a serious tone, “Yes, it really does.”
Amor’s father Juan Arteaga is weary of his son’s willingness to take on controversy.
“For me it’s an awesome feeling, but at the same time, sometimes it gets kind of scary,” Juan said of having such an outspoken offspring. “When he did ‘Pull Ya Pants Up,’ it was kind of like he was going against what all these kids in the community are doing. But you have to support him. He took on a more powerful issue with bullying, gun violence, and domestic violence. From the adults, you know what is going to be the reaction. But from the younger kids, if they are into doing bad things, they’ll be like, ‘Well, who are you to tell us what to do?'”
Despite the possible consequences of his son speaking out, Mr. Arteaga is dedicated to supporting Amor. “I have to encourage him in whatever he’s doing,” he told theGrio. “It just makes me proud to know he takes on these types of issues, and tries to do something that makes his community better. That was the whole point of him doing the song in the beginning. It was just to make his community a better place, and all communities throughout the country.”
It has been quite a whirlwind time for the little man, who has struck a nerve with a public eager to hear positive solutions during troubling times. Since the release of his first single, “Pull Ya Pants Up,” Amor’s professional life as an artist has really heated up — and he’s not only rapping for the kiddies. “They want to bring me to different parties at different venues, so that I can perform for them, and it’s really fun, and awesome to give them my message as well.”
As debates surrounding gun control and school safety intensify nationally in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, Amor’s message in “Stop Da Violence” might be a soothing mantra for many: “The world is hurting, we all need healing/No more guns, what a wonderful feeling.”
Follow Alexis Garrett Stodghill on Twitter at @lexisb.