NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Neighbors in North Nashville say the signs for Killah Calico’s new single are sending all the wrong messages, especially for young people.
We spotted one sign on Clarksville Pike near 18th Avenue, but Ruchaine Mattadeen says these signs can be found all around the neighborhood.
Mattadeen just happens to own Ire Nash Jamaican Cuisine across the street and says some days, it’s all his customers talk about. The sign itself isn’t much bigger than what you expect during campaign season, but its message gets across all the same.
Written next to two cartoon caricatures of the artists are the words, “it still ain’t kool 2 snitch.” A lighthearted attempt at what Mattadeen says is an issue this community is still working to overcome. At least in the last five years, he’s noticed neighbors becoming more aware that we need people to step up for justice to prevail.
“It could be your family. When something happens to yours, you want the law to be on your side, you’re calling everyone to find out. When it happens to someone else, you keep to yourself? Everybody is trying to protect themselves. It’s 2021. There’s no time to protect anything,” Mattadeen said.
Mattadeen chose this slice of Nashville for a reason. He sees new customers every day and people moving from all over the city. He says that’s the sign we should focus on because “it’s not like it was five years ago.”
“They’re trying to make the neighborhood what it used to be, but there’s a change going on right now,” Mattadeen said.
Just down the road off Buchanan Street is Clemmie Greenlee’s office with Nashville Peacemakers. “Pissed off” is how she described her thoughts after hearing about the signs for the first time. As a mother still waiting for answers on the death of her son 12 years later, she says these signs do more harm than these artists will ever know.
“It’s time for us to quit teaching our kids this old gangster ritual that didn’t work for them. What makes you think it’s going to work for us,” Greenlee said.
Greenlee has worked for several years between the Nashville Peacemakers and Mothers Over Murder to put snitching in perspective. She makes the same point as Mattadeen that when it’s you who needs the help, you want to know the community is there with support.
“I need the community to hear themselves. Hear what you’re saying when you turn the other cheek. You’re saying it’s okay to put a bullet in my kid’s head,” Greenlee said.
Greenlee says she wants to hear from the artists and get their take on the song. We reached out to the artists behind the signs and heard back from a manager who said they would have the artists call directly. They haven't called back.