How Scott La Rock's Murder Led to One of Hip-Hop's Biggest Songs

In 1987, hip-hop experienced its first major tragedy—the death of Boogie Down Productions member Scott "La Rock" Sterling.

Though sadly, it would not be the last time hip-hop experienced a massive loss due to gun violence, Scott La Rock's death kickstarted a new awareness in the hip-hop community, giving birth to the Stop The Violence Movement. The movement ultimately led to one of hip-hop's most notable tracks to date, "Self-Destruction."

Alongside KRS-One, Scott La Rock was the co-founder of Boogie Down Productions. In 1986, the BDP was among the most formidable new hip-hop acts in New York City, launched into the spotlight their now-infamous "Bridge Wars" with the Juice Crew. Early singles like "The Bridge Is Over" and "South Bronx" established BDP as a crew to contend with, and Scott La Rock was a significant part of those early successes.

When Scott La Rock Scott was killed on August 27, 1987, shot from a nearby building while riding in a Jeep through the Highbridge Gardens projects in the Bronx, it didn't just rock BDP, but all of hip-hop.

"We just lost the leader of the group over some bullshit," D-Nice told Combat Jack in 2014. "Knowing that it was over nothing was crazy."

After Scott La Rock's tragic death, BDP released their sophomore album, By All Means Necessary, which featured the song, "Stop the Violence," in response to Scott's murder.

"'Stop the Violence' was a freestyle," KRS shared in 1988. "Because every time we went to do a show, somebody would start acting stupid. We would have something to say, even as that was going on, because the music never stopped."

But things came to a head in September 1988, when a fan was killed while attending the Dope Jam Tour in New York's Nassau Coliseum.

"It was the show of shows for that...time," KRS would explain. "The security had quit on the tour. When they quit, we had no security at Nassau Coliseum. You had Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, Bronx, Long Island, Jersey--in the house. They started buggin.' This kid got killed over a gold chain. Out of all the many things that went on that night, that seemed to be the zenith of the ignorance. He died because of his gold chain. Stabbed in the heart, I think it was."

The incident prompted KRS to start the Stop the Violence Movement, recruiting some of the genre's biggest acts, including MC Lyte, Stetsasonic, Just-Ice, Heavy D, Public Enemy, Kool Moe Dee and Doug E. Fresh, to bring anti-violence awareness to the community.

And in 1989, the collective delivered one of hip-hop's defining tracks, "Self Destruction." The track honored Scott La Rock and promoted peace and unity in the community. Overcoming Self-Destruction—the Making of the Self-Destruction Video accompanied the song.

The song was huge, as the biggest rap acts of the time—BDP, Stetsasonic, MC Lyte, Kool Moe Dee, Just-Ice, Heavy D, and Doug E. Fresh—came together over the D-Nice, Hank Shocklee and KRS-One production. All proceeds from the song went to the National Urban League.

"Self Destruction" debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Rap Singles and became a memorable moment for hip-hop and the influence that it had on culture and young people in particular.