Enter the Babylon System

Unpacking Gun Culture from Samuel Colt to 50 Cent

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A docu-style investigation of our fascination with the gun, from the perspective of the hip-hop generation.

The 2003 shooting death of Toronto community-centre worker Kempton Howard put the spotlight on hip hop’s fixation with guns. Media and police soon blamed rap music and its tales of gang life on bullet-ridden US streets for the rising use of firearms in Canadian crime. Were these songs artful accounts of a terrible truth, or a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Rodrigo Bascunan and Christian Pearce have interviewed many of the major players in the hip-hop world. As publishers of an award-winning magazine of urban culture, they’d watched rap music become a scapegoat for society’s much older and widely spread fascination with guns. What follows is their international adventure to deconstruct modern gun culture in all its manifestations. Bascunan and Pearce seek out hip-hop artists, illegal gun runners, firearms aficionados and manufacturers, museum curators, academics, politicians, video-game creators, activists, victims of gun violence and the family and friends left behind.

Somewhere between Fast Food Nation, No Logo and a Michael Moore documentary, featuring sly sidebar material and original artwork, Enter the Babylon System is part outrageous journalistic pursuit and part passionate cri de coeur for sanity in the face of a society’s obsession.

From the Hardcover edition.



The cops don’t know where the killer came from, or where it’s gone since. Maybe it sits at the bottom of some river running beneath a bridge, or perhaps police will find it only after it has killed again. All we know is that it found its way into the hands of a young man with a...
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“Fascinating. . . . unlike any other book recently published, because the two young Canadians do not seek to whitewash the harmful side-effects of the culture they write about.”
National Post

“Passionate and illuminating. . . . Bascuñán and Pearce, adamant believers in hip-hop’s positive ‘political and cultural voice,’ are also honest and sincere reporters.”

“Bascuñán and Pearce have used their industry credentials to gain access to some of the major players in the multi-billion-dollar hip-hop industry and in the multi-billion-dollar gun industry. . . . They give us the Canadian angle without losing the scope of the broader global issues at hand.”
The Gazette (Montreal)