GANGSTA: The Steroids Of Hip Hop?
Living in America makes it always time it pull out the race card. I really smell race stench on the MLB back turning on Barry Bonds this year as he passed the Babe. Not so much in the media itself , but in the atmosphere they fester in their big payback to BBs so called 'career surliness' toward them. The media kind of lets the average sports ( usually white) working class male pull the pin to the grenade they plant, and step back and witness the perfect storm. Fed right into a millennium lynch mob. The Babe will always be a hero, regardless of how much pork was in some of those ingested hot dogs, liquor binges, and chick orgies in his career and especially the year he almost overdosed in all that excess.
It's much of the same demographic that has supported the posturing of gangster rap. Who am I to argue? As I named the group Public Enemy off what I knew was a fascination of 1930's Capone era lifestyle. In the depression era , the gangster was blown up by the media to the largely skeptical Americanation. It was like modern day Robin Hood fantasies come to life or at least the big screen when that aura was passed from the Capones' and Schultzes' to the Edward G Robinsons and George Rafts depicting them. Escapism in rough times.
Like a sport. As with war and cowboy westerns, television era brought guns to the living room during the baby boom. The first eleven years of my life were Vietnamed with violence. Cartoons were laced with bombing, lasers, and thunderous blows in fights, at least the ones I dug. During the depression era of R&B (Reagan and Bush) the imagery of the updated Robin Hood came in rap music. Somehow crack and guns were in post disco black neighborhoods while kept outside of the white privileged Rubelled fueled cocaine laced Studio 54. Its the 80's and as presented by NWA ...surprise niggers, uh I mean niggas..yeah..WTF?
At college radio WBAU around 1985, KING TEE painted a picture to us in the east first depicting that life wasn't all 'soul train dancers and palm trees in the left coast. Better Get A Gun was the name of the record. Caught my attention. ICEburg T brought the tales of that life to the wax , depicting the details of the good, bad, and the ugly. The South Bronx escapism from the reality of thuglife 1980 style was peace, love, unity and having much fun rather than witnessing the broken glass everywhere. Nobody there wanted to hear no depressing sht. It was already right thurr. By 1987 Scott LaRock and blastmaster KRS ONE brought that reality to east coast rap wax with Criminal Minded. Well the answers were no where to be found on who was gonna fix the ghetto. Not Reagan, Nor the next prez Bush. PE found a way to flip all this gun fare and criminality in the air and morph it into black nationality on the remembrance edges of militancy.
By that time white kids invited to the hip hop party through the portals of FLASH, RUN-DMC and The BEASTIES had to walk gingerly on the black paper rug laid down of afrocentricity. It was a entrance fee of respect beyond the registers of retail.
NWA and the POSSE one upped the lyrical pictures of ICE T with a super team of emcees along with a west coast master of records named DR DRE, who produced with the WRECKING CREW and made early mixtapes of largely East coast rap joints sold at the swap meets( I clearly remember a swap meet outside in the parking lot of the San Diego Sports Arena in 1987, where the ever intimidating ERIC B single handedly confiscated every tape he saw with his music on it from sellers he placed fear upon). I think back then it was the good and evil that balanced upon the shoulders of NWA, the righteousness that made DRE say he wouldn't give into the drug-game at the time so easily when he claimed he didn't smoke weed or cess. Crack and mo guns spread to the cities in 1987-1990, the media bias considered everything outside NYC lines the suburbs, and thus called it that way.
The cable privileged side of YO MTV Raps swelled up at the bravado of the black gangsta though. Black guns, style and maybe some ass in the living room on the sneak tip. Besides the nationalism was a bit too much of a price to pay , where maybe NATIVE TONGUE style invited those to the peace, love, unity and having fun thing as BAM intended. The other flip was that the spread of urban reality into the first Bushsht years, brought the aspect of gangsterism as escapism. The Source immediately praises the gangsta black life because the numbers of fascination were higher, and they never knew it existed in the first place. Black folks in the east were tired of the reality of gangsta life. But something was sold under the counter. Maybe via Viacom. Possibly dragging along everything in its path as well. The key balance of conscious ICE CUBE defected to the east keeping the balance, while NWA spiraled to being 'Niggas for the rest of their lives to white amerikkkas praise.
By this time it was about numbers and the quantity was king over the quality of the issues at hand. There was no looking back as one year the Source claimed that everything that sprouted from the Straight Outta Compton existence had generated into tens of millions of records, white the PE, BDP-XCLANish stuff only resulted in a couple million. The numbers were staggering al the way up to these Get Rich Or Die Trying times. Through the murders of PAC, BIG, BIG L, MAC DRE etc , the style was the dominant identity praised by the media. The films followed path of the modern day rapper classic 'SCARFACE' ( which by the way I think is the most mis-followed movie of all time. The world is never his and people ignore his wackass ending...hello? .. there's a message here..)
Seventeen years stemmed from the seed it could've went either way. Taking the reality and making a better situation from it. But the numbers don't lie. It is what it is. 'Die nigger Die' is amerikkkas longest running profitable horror flick. But its a horror flick to my constituency, possibly a chitlin western porno, possibly comedy to the Barry Bonds hating crowd. A sad documentary, in fact, not a friendly game of baseball as MAIN SOURCE said. It might be what it is Amerikkkan like baseball, hot dogs and big apple pie,but let's check the bat and the blood, before it splinters and splatters into the basics of what was originally intended to do. Balance yall.