Art imitates death: Kool J Muhammad and DJ Malvo "Born To Kill"

It all started when DJs Squeeze and Mike Brie (founding members of the Kobra Kai battle DJ crew) came across a hard-to-find record by West Coast gangster rapper Eazy E.

Around the same time, the infamous sniper shootings near D.C. were going into the twentieth day, and news stations were providing extensive coverage. Fear and paranoia in the general public were reaching hysteria stage.

Brie (who currently resides in Charlottesville) and Squeeze noticed a parallel between the lyrics of Eazy E and the possible motivations of someone who would commit such acts of violence. The combination of the media barrage of updates on the sniper and the new piece of vinyl gave the two DJs an idea.

They began splicing together hip hop songs– to represent the thoughts going through the head of the snipers– with various audio clips from television news– to help tell the story of what was being felt and heard at the time.

Brie and Squeeze carefully chose songs and verses that wouldn't glorify the violence of the situation, but at the same time would represent the severity of it. The album plays like the "best of" hard core hip hop from 1989 to the present. In order to complete the concept, the two assumed the names of Kool J Muhammad and DJ Malvo and dubbed the compilation "Born To Kill."

The cover of the disk features a picture of the two suspected snipers grinning in front of a backdrop of sparkling jewelry and piles of money. The cover is made to mimic the covers of platinum-selling southern rapper Master P and his No Limit collective. No Limit Records has been criticized for their morally bankrupt and expletive-packed music. No songs from the label made the compilation.

Following through with the project obviously took some serious nerve. "It's bold, but it's something you see everywhere. We're just giving back what we see in the media and hear in songs," Brie told me as we listened to the intro to the disk, which consists of dozens of fear-inciting news clips.

"People have a tendency to blame the music for what happens in life. [Hip hop] didn't cause the snipers to do what they did– it's the music telling the story of what goes on in life."