Philadelphia Police Commissioner's Grandson Raps About Killing and Breaking Laws

This is a rush transcript from "The Big Story With John Gibson," August 21, 2007. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

JOHN GIBSON, "BIG STORY" HOST: The "Big Issue": His grandfather calls him Stevie, but he's known on the street as "S-Five." He's a member of Philadelphia's first family of law enforcement, but he is also a member of the hood.

Twenty-seven-year-old Steven Johnson Jr. is a reformed drug addict and a former convict who now raps about breaking "every damn law in the book, pumping bullets into people and silencing snitches." It's quite an interesting background for the grandson of the police commissioner of Philadelphia. Grandpop is Commissioner Sylvester Johnson. His dad works for Philly's sheriff's office and his uncle works for the FBI. The father of two little girls now tours with rapper KRS-One and against granddad's wishes performs songs with violent lyrics like the one you're about to hear.


S-FIVE: "I'm a mother [beep] gangster. I ain't speaking no lies. Daytime, I wear a suit and tie. At night, I transform to the boy S-Five, ready for war, .45 and a sword, screaming out (bleep) the law. You heard it before. Some say, 'Why he gotta speak like that? Ain't his grandpa this and his grandpa that?' But let me tell you one thing, I'm a grown-(bleep) man, got guns that don't jam."


GIBSON: S-Five is with me now. So S-Five, I have read about you and I know you're very proud of and you're very close to your grandfather. Your grandfather is the chief law enforcement officer of the city you're in. And your father is a sheriff's deputy and your uncle is a FBI agent. How can you be talking about these things that seem to compel young people to go out and do the things your grandfather would want them to not do?

S-FIVE, GANGSTA RAPPER: Well, basically, I'm not compelling anybody, anyone to do anything. I'm an emcee. I was labeled as a gangsta rapper, but I'm not even a rapper. I'm an emcee and there is a difference. A rapper speaks about himself. An emcee basically speaks about what the crowd wants to say, but they can't say it because they don't have a mike in their hand. I represent a whole community. I represent West Oakland and I represent Philadelphia. I come from a battle. I'm a battle rapper. Actually, a battle emcee and I battle other emcees. When you come from Philly and you're a battler, you have to be, you know, one of the hardest ones in the street to do this. You have to make sure that you embarrass the next person that you're against. That's what I do.

GIBSON: All right now, Stevie, if you don't mind, let me put this up. Isn't it true that these kinds of lyrics can be viewed as disrespecting your grandfather?

S-FIVE: Well, it all depends on the person. Some people view my lyrics as being controversial. Some people love my lyrics. They wake up in the morning, get in the shower, put their radio on and they listen to S- Five.

GIBSON: OK, and that's good. I mean, we all hope you're a big success. But even though — I understand there is a difference between being an emcee and a rapper.

S-FIVE: Right.

GIBSON: Do you reject the notion that talking about these things empowers some kids to go do them? Let's say "don't snitch." I mean, your dad has a huge stake — your granddad has a huge stake in people coming forward in the black neighborhoods and saying so and so committed a murder. I saw it happen. You're telling them don't tell my grandfather when you have seen a crime committed.

S-FIVE: Actually, I'm not telling them not to tell my grandfather anything. What I'm basically doing is acknowledging, like I said, a neighborhood, a hood. When you come into the hood, there are rules that you have to abide by or you're going to get sucked up. I know the police have the best interests at heart of the victim, or the victim's family. But sometimes when you see something you have to realize if you say something, you and your family might be in jeopardy as well. I'm not promoting not snitching or snitching, because I believe it's a good and a bad thing. I don't think that anybody should be committing crimes anywhere, but you know it's a thing that happens in the world every day. We can't really stop that.

GIBSON: Steven Johnson Jr., thanks very much. Appreciate you coming on. Good luck with your career.

S-FIVE: Thank you.

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