Ray Davies from The Kinks and acclaimed rapper 50 Cent are not two characters who seemingly have anything in common. Davies, from outside looking in, doesn’t appear to be the connoisseur of hip-hop. However, a life event made the singer unexpectedly understand the rapper on a more profound level.
In 2004, Davies was in New Orleans when his life almost ended after he was shot. The singer was frequenting the French Quarter area and had just left a restaurant with a female friend when the incident took place. After they finished dining, a passing car stopped by the couple, and a gunman jumped out of the vehicle. They demanded the woman’s purse before running off.
Davies instinctively chased the men, one of whom retaliated by shooting him in the leg. Remarkably, police chief Eddie Compass pointed the blame towards The Kinks frontman. He commented: “I’m sorry for what happened but Mr Davies showed poor judgment in running after the individuals”.
Following the incident, a 25-year-old man named Jerome Barra was arrested and charged with armed robbery and aggravated battery. However, Davies didn’t return to New Orleans for the trial, and the perpetrator didn’t receive any punishment.
The news of the shooting was treated jovially by the press, and sympathy for Davies was minimal. However, the incident has, understandably, had a lasting impact on him. The bullet fractured his thighbone, and the singer required a titanium rod placed in his leg. To this day, he still feels the pain that the incident induced.
Another artist working in music that has been on the receiving end of a gunshot is 50 Cent. Speaking to The Guardian in 2006, Davies opened up about the affection he felt with Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ after the haunting episode.
“I was shot in New Orleans in January 2004 – an experience that made me re-evaluate people like 50 Cent,” he told the publication. “He’s meant to have been shot nine times. Anything that makes people use language must be good and I have no problem with rap itself, but I have problems with the culture, especially with the way women are treated.”
Adding: “A lot of the kids down there were playing real instruments; they were continuing a tradition that Louis Armstrong was a part of. I saw it as a cheap shot for them to make a rap record because it puts them back into the culture they’re trying to get out of.”
Davies’ comments show that he doesn’t truly understand the culture, however seemingly, having a brief exposure to the pain that 50 Cent has been through allowed him to connect with his seminal album.
Not everyone needs to go through a potentially fatal experience to develop a taste for hip-hop, but astonishingly, that’s what it took for The Kinks frontman. The topics that 50 raps about once seemed otherworldly to Davies, but being shot showed him that another world exists.