Colorlines: Why We Need (Real) Gangsta Rap Right Now

This is a pretty good article penned by long time journalist Eric Arnold where he talks about the deliberate de-politicization of  rap and the rise of gangsta rap..It was in response to an erroneous article that came out a a couple of months back where the writer claimed gangsta rap had gone mainstream..-Davey D-

Eric k Arnold

The story is an all-too-familiar one: On Labor Day weekend, a Guatemalan immigrant named Manuel Jamines was shot in the head and killed by LAPD officers. The police claim the man charged at them with a knife, but at least one eyewitness says he was unarmed. The killing has inflamed long-simmering tensions between the police and immigrant and minority communities in Los Angeles, resulting in protests and arrests. Adding fuel to the trash-can fires are reports that the officer was involved in at least two previous shootings.

Jamines’ story comes as part of what seems an unending line of police violence against black and brown folks, from Oscar Grant in Oakland to Aiyana Stanley-Jones in Detroit to systematic racial profiling in Brooklyn. At a time like this, when calls for police accountability are rumbling from grassroots activists coast to coast, our movement for justice needs a soundtrack. It needs music created from the same inner-city streets whose residents have borne the brunt of police brutality since before Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale formed the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. It needs gangsta rap.

Some critics have hastily written gangsta rap’s obituary. But in 2010, the genre remains a commercial force; what has declined is its gravitas as protest music. Once outspoken on the subject of police violence, in recent years, hip-hop broadly has been all but silent on politics of any sort, at least from a mainstream perspective. Back in the days, gangsta rappers faced off against label executives in corporate boardrooms over freedom of speech; now they entertain marketing meetings over energy drink endorsements.

This change didn’t happen overnight. And it didn’t happen on its own. The de-fanging of gangsta rap has paralleled the corporatization of hip-hop—and the resulting de-politicization of what was once an inherently political art form.

continue reading this article over at Colorlines.

12 comments on “Colorlines: Why We Need (Real) Gangsta Rap Right Now

  1. I’ve thought these sentiments fa years now. I remember when you could actually learn shit from gangsta rap. These rappers of today are coons in a minstrel show, in it fa the money and glorification and nothing else. I shake my head when I see my people following and stanning fa these types of dudes, “trap” rappers. Dumb niggas…

  2. HipHop is a form of association where self infatuated idiots go to wallow in thoughts that lead to nothing.

    Anyone who disagrees is either paid off this bullshit or living in some past reality that has nothing to do with the hard reality of the present.

  3. lol.. this is based on what? opinion? facts? stats? show some evidence.. and what exactly do u do to improve the conditions of ur community that others in Hip Hop do not?

  4. This is what Pimp C was talking about. Their isn’t any social commentary in hip hop these days. Just Sex, Money, and Murder. No one talks about the other side of the game.

  5. thanks for posting this dave…stay tuned, i have a follow-up which expands on this topic coming in the Washington Post.

    i’d just like to add that contrary to what some commenters are saying, this article is NOT intended as an attack on gangsta rap artists for the lack of social and political commentary in their music these days.

    Rather, it’s more of an analysis of how we got to this point , as well as a reminder that at its inception, so-called gangsta rap was inherently political, especially on the issue of police brutality.

    what i’m saying, in a nutshell, is that the lack of substance in commercial rap music these days is the result of two decades of concerted efforts by the powers that be to dumb down the content while exploiting the commercial viability and popular appeal of street-identified artists.

    This did not happen by mistake, and it’s particularly galling because police accountability has remained a relevant issue which affects underserved communities in urban areas, along with the prison-industrial complex and the criminalization of the young black (and Latino) male, as evidenced by serious racial disparities in the so-called justice system and ongoing economic disparities in American society.

    Rather than criticize artists who do have mainstream audiences, we need to encourage them to be emboldened to speak out on issues which affect their communities and core constituencies, in their music as well as outside of the recording studio.

    We also need to question the role of the media in perpetuating stereotypes and affecting disinterested or condescending attitudes when artists do speak out.

    Finally, we, as members of the hip-hop generation, need to remember our own history and not accept factually-inaccurate accounts of it from those outside the culture, who never participated in it.



  6. “lol.. this is based on what? opinion? facts? stats? show some evidence.. and what exactly do u do to improve the conditions of ur community that others in Hip Hop do not?”

    Personal experience. I could say the same about white trash bikers.

    The point isn’t what I do or don’t do, the point is that being in a white trash biker environment doesn’t help facilitate as much “good” as not being in that environment in the first place. This isn’t to say that there aren’t white trash bikers that do “good” just like there aren’t Hippity hoppers that do good.

  7. Yeah, I agree with some of the posters in that the social commentary just isn’t there anymore with so-called gangsta rap as well as the reasons why it got this way.

  8. Chamillionaire made ‘riding dirty” talking about police profiling, got a lot of press for it, his career seemingly took off nationally; and we ain’t heard from him since.

  9. Conscious rap has become synonymous with a victim and crank pot conspiracy outlook. Gangsta rap is synonymous with a trashy bully mentality. Both are just a form of psychology to game the shit out of a stupid populace …and offer nothing of any real value in the process. The real winners are the people that realize all these cultural trends, draw a box around them and exploit the entire absurd thing from a distance.

    Which is a good thing.

    Fuck these people.

  10. Hey. I’m not trying to “plug” my album. i am just looking for like minded people and giving a refreshing listen to those of you on here who are losing faith in intelligence and wisdom and honor in gangsta rap nowdays. i have a song called “real gangsta” That I think you would love. if you Google “Grizzly Live Life” My music will come up. Listen to track 8 Real Gangsta. i think you’ll appreciate it. hit me up on Facebook at Grizzly Sacramento, or just type and I can send you the song for free. Much love to all who read this and let’s Link up and better lives for uor people! Grizzly

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