About a week ago, Bobby Shmurda came home from prison to much fanfare. After almost seven years inside, with no new music, the rapper maintained relevancy just based on his exemplary loyalty. And on the outside, Shmurda is continuing his good behavior.
From getting picked up in a jet by Quavo to being gifted jewels and designer clothes, Bobby Shmurda’s first day out was truly out of the ordinary. Yet, despite his near-mythic return, Shmurda kept that mask on. As the most-watched homecoming of rap, fans couldn’t help but notice the rapper’s commitment to Covid-19 rules and his decision to stay masked at all times.
While it absolutely shouldn’t be necessary to glorify celebrities for simply following life-saving guidelines in a global pandemic, after the year we’ve had it’s incredibly refreshing to see someone of Shmurda’s caliber take the pandemic seriously. Especially when we’ve spent the majority of a year stuck at home watching the biggest celebs throw parties, travel, and live their best maskless lives.
Just this month, Kylie Jenner – fresh from vacation – ignored LA’s quarantine rules and Covid-gathering ban and threw her daughter a massive birthday party. Or how about City Girls, Diplo, 50 Cent, and Bow Wow packing venues for live performances. While the US reels from 2.5 million deaths, a devastated healthcare system, and a pandemic that is far from over, this has become our new normal: watching celebrities and their maskless cohorts throw up the middle finger to the rest of the world.
Bobby Shmurda has been in prison for nearly a decade and even he knows better than to go out without a mask. Perhaps this is precisely why he’s so conscious of Covid-preventive measures. For the millions incarcerated in the USA, Covid-19 is a death sentence. Overcrowded and without proper sanitation, the largest Covid-19 outbreaks in the country have been in prisons and jails. According to the National Commission on Covid-19 and Criminal Justice, the Covid-19 mortality rate in prisons was twice as high, with four times as many positive cases overall. And despite being hotspots for the virus, prisoners are expected to be the last in line to receive the vaccine.
Shmurda witnessed Covid-19 in the carceral system firsthand, so that might explain his understanding of the importance of Covid guidelines. Also, with the world watching, the 26-year-old rapper seems acutely aware of wielding his influence responsibly. Speaking in his first post-prison interview for GQ, Bobby revealed that while he was in prison “a six-year-old girl wrote to me; she said I was her favorite rapper… That just let me know the kids are watching me, and I have to be a role model.”
It’s strange to see someone wield their celebrity with reverence. If Covid has done one thing for the rich and famous it has made glaringly obvious how ill-equipped many are at handling their influence. Ever since the world went pretty much into lockdown in March, we have been offered an embarrassment of riches. Whether it’s Ellen DeGeneres bemoaning that being trapped in one of her many multimillion-dollar mansions was “like being in prison,” or Gal Gadot uniting Hollywood for a gruesome all-star medley of “Imagine,” we’re reminded at every turn that “the talent” is in a different pandemic to the rest of us.
That being said, some stars have truly stepped up during the crisis. From John Krasinski, who created a “good news” YouTube show offering a virtual prom for high schoolers to Timbaland and Swizz Beatz who brought us Verzuz battles while we were stuck at home, these kinds of rigorous selfless approaches seem to have defined just who stays in our good graces and has the qualities to last. Bobby Shmurda belongs to the latter category.
For Shmurda, whose music and cultural impact have hardly faded – we’re still doing the shmoney dance, sharing cap memes, and screaming “about a week ago!” seven years later – beyond that, it’s his character that has inspired widespread admiration from fans. He’ll always be the level-headed guy who wouldn’t snitch and took a longer sentence so his friends wouldn’t have to. And now he’ll also always be the only guy in the club with his mask on. Be like Bobby, wear a mask.