Stop Snitchin'

Rapper Cam'ron: Snitching Hurts His Business, "Code Of Ethics"

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The truth is, people having been walking away for years. In 1996, rapper Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas; the crime remains unsolved. So does the 1997 shooting of the rapper Notorious B.I.G.

Rap star Cameron Giles, known as Cam'ron or "Killa Cam," got shot in both arms in 2005. The shooting occurred in front of members of Cam'ron's entourage, but to this day, neither they, nor he, have cooperated with police.

Asked why, Cam'ron tells Cooper, "Because with the type of business I'm in, it would definitely hurt my business. And the way that I was raised, I just don't do that. I was raised differently, not to tell."

"If I was shot, I would want to know who did it. I would want the guy to get caught," Cooper remarks.

"But then again, you're not going to be on the stage tonight in the middle of, let's say, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, with people with gold and platinum teeth and dreadlocks jumping up and down singing your songs either," Cam'ron says. "You know what I'm saying? We're in two different lines of business."

"So for you it's really about business?" Cooper asks.

"It's about business but it's still also a code of ethics," Cam'ron replies.

Asked if he thinks there is any situation when it's okay to talk to the police, Cam'ron tells Cooper, "Yeah, definitely. Say 'Hello, how you feel, everything alright?' Period."

"That's it?" Cooper asks.

"There's nothing really to talk about with the police, I mean, for what?" Cam'ron says.

"If there's a serial killer living next door to you, though, and you know that person is, you know, killing people, would you be a snitch if you called police and told them?" Cooper asks Cam'ron.

"If I knew the serial killer was living next door to me?" Cam'ron asks. "No, I wouldn't call and tell anybody on him. But I'd probably move... But I'm not gonna call and be like, you know, 'The serial killer's in 4E.'"

If you think Cam'ron is kidding, he's not. Maintaining street cred sells record - just watch his movie "Killa Season," or his rap videos, and you'll quickly learn about his drug-dealing past. He wears it as proudly as his jeweled chains.

In a recent video, which was viewed more than a million times on YouTube, Cam'ron engages in what has become a standard attack on a competitor rapper's brand. He accuses rapper 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, of being a "snitch" for allegedly cooperating with a police investigation.

"You don't need someone destroying you when your own people are the worst messengers possibly," Canada says. "And this is what black people in America have not come to grips with. If we had a bunch a people in robes saying this stuff, there would be a movement all over America to shut this thing down. That it's young black millionaires, we are doing nothing."

Cam'ron acknowledges that he is a millionaire and drives "a couple" of Lamborghinis. On the streets of Harlem, he is idolized. A few years ago when he started wearing pink clothing, kids in inner city schools across the country started wearing it too.

"Whatever they dish out, we eat it up," a teenager named Victoria tells Cooper. "They could dish out the nastiest thing in the world, but we still will eat it up."

Cooper met Victoria, Alex, Derrick, Darnell, and Tess through a church-based organization called Uth Turn. They're 14 through 19 years old, and they told 60 Minutes the "stop snitchin'" code doesn't just apply to rappers.

"A snitch is a tattletale, a rat, somebody who goes around telling other people business instead of minding they own," Alex tells Cooper.

Asked if he believes that, Alex says, "Yes.

"Anybody who comes forward and talks to the police about something they witnessed, a murder or a crime, are they a snitch?" Cooper asks.

"Yes... It's a crime, remember, in our community, to snitch," says Tess.

Most of these kids had witnessed at least one violent crime but had not helped the police identify the culprits. Victoria saw someone get shot a few years ago; she says she was scared to talk to the police then, and she wouldn't identify the shooter if the same thing happened today.

Asked why, Victoria says, "Because that's the rules."