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Thursday, October 20, 2005

I love rap...do you?

Judging from the overwhelming silence about the rap lyrics that I've made a weekly post, this may be the last one I do. To those who are interested in creating dialogue about the violent, materialistic, borderline mysogynistic lyrics of many of today's most popular rap songs that dominate both urban and mainstream radio and television and are deeply influencing young people from North Philly to Newton, Compton to Cicero, Bed-Stuy to Beverly Hills : I'm sorry. No comments usually means no interest and I want to get you all typing away in those comment sections.

Anyway, this week's lyrics come from one of the biggest up and coming rappers in the music business right now: Young Jeezy. I love the snowman. Really, I do. Nevertheless, some of his lyrics need to venture further than selling drugs, having lots of diamonds, and taking new women home from the club everynight. Here is the first verse from his song "Go Crazy": (more in expanded post)

Guess who's back? You can still smell the cocaine in my clothes,
like Krispy Kreme donuts I was cooking ounces of cocaine,
like Horse Shoes I was distributing these cooked up ounces of cocaine--commonly known as crack,
when it was time to visit the person that gives me the cocaine I had to turn in the drug money and use that to get fronted more cocaine,
it's as if I'm emotional, the way I "hug" (frequently stand on) the street corner where I sell crack,
I'm so emotional, I love my Glock (a type of gun),
cash is the king of the world I dwell in so what is more real?,
I'm all about the money, you can call me a surreptitious killer,
it's a bit hard to be drug free,
when Georgia Power, the company that controls the electric utility in Atlanta, won't give an ignorant person their electrical services free,
I switch means of slyly getting money from people, and I've been doing well ever since,
it's a good thing to tell the truth, friend, it only makes sense.

WHAT!?! Comment, please!


At 9:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Slugger, I think the primary reason that no one has responded to these posts is that your point is well made and well taken. Who in their right minds would defend this as speech that is healthy for young people (or anyone) to listen to? Who would deny that it is a product of a hopeless, disempowered culture that has fallen into drugs and materialism as a mechanism to regain some form of "manliness"?

I love these posts, so I hope they keep coming, I'm just not sure people really know how to react other than saying "yeah, that sucks when you think about it."

At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's bullshit. if people want to spit ignorant shit that's their business. leave rappers alone.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ppl aren't commenting because it's not a controversial issue anymore. rap music is one of the predominant forms of music today, hugely profitably and widely listened to. it's understood as meaningful, part of the hip-hop culture that came from funk<-soul<-gospel. ppl know that while some of the music is offensive and largely commercially oriented, many of the other songs have a message.

so jersey, why are you fighting battles already fought? why are you living in the 1980's? can't you see that rap has been hugely empowering for the black community and several of it's leaders, be it dre, jayz, pdiddy, russel simmons, kanye, financially as well?

and yes, there are ppl who don't know this. but it doesn't get you anywhere trying to make ppl who don't know listen when they don't want to.

At 6:05 PM, Blogger deborah ho said...

I guess my question would be, what do we do about this? The girls I work with in Dorchester and now Allston are girls (8-11 years old) who think I'm cool because I can dance hip hop and sing those songs with them. They hear what their parents and siblings listen to and soak it up like sponges. They repeat the Ying Yang twins to me and say things they don't even know the meaning of, or think about, but they're absorbing it just the same. So what do we do? Subject matter is hardly going to change from the top, but how do we deal with the effects?

At 4:35 AM, Blogger Jersey Slugger said...

To Anonymous at 9:10: Every time fans (including me) supports one of these artists but buying their album, attending one of their live shows, requesting their song on the radio, or even singing it and spreading the filth to others we implicitly help the music continue. Again, I am highly impliccable in this but I am aware of what I'm listening to and not just taking it as is at face value like so many others. Hip-hop music (a.k.a. rap) and culture saddens me in that its power is SOOOO far-reaching that it could influence tons of positive change from big rappers like 50 Cent, Jay-Z, and Snoop if they only spread positivity (don't sell crack, crack is WACK!...or something).

Hip hop is a disempowered culture in certain ways but the most powerful culture in other ways (i.e. touching everyone from the slums to burbs regardless of race/gender/religion/etc. to a large extent so it has access to all parts of society).

To Anonymous at 10:18: I'm a strong proponent of freedom of expression. This blog is an example of that. I'm not a fan of people's words negatively impacting communities and perpetuating (or exaggerating) a false picture of inner-city minority life to the world. Neither am I fan of having those same people content with receive crumbs as the corporations they work for reap millions and billions of dollars in profit off of selling Black pain, struggle, and hardship without those dollars being used to end it. This isn't to discount the non-profits that rappers are starting up like record labels these days but I guarantee that The Game's cars cost more collectively than the annual funding for his non-profit arm of Black Wall Street. Rappers have far to much potential energy (that's by and large not being used for good) to be left alone.

To Anonymous at 1:48: I'm continuing to fight battles already fought because, anonymous, the battle obviously hasn't been won. The lyrics in the past posts from two of the nation's most popular rappers attests to the battle still needing to proceed.

Rap empowering Black communities? Kinda. Moreso with Public Enemy and less so with Puff Daddy. Again, the financial benefits from rap music could REALLY infuse positive things into neighborhoods that need them. However, rappers get out of the hood and only slide a small morsel of sustenance off their plate to the have-nots still in the neighborhoods they were raised. Pointing to those genre leaders you named is pointless. Yes, those individuals have received financial "success" personally, but their people have not. I am of the field of thought where unless we progress as a people, individuals progress means little. I don't want to live in Newton while everyone else I grew up with remains in Roxbury (just an example). I want to improve Roxbury until it's not a bad neighborhood and people don't care whether they live there or in Newton. That's social justice. That's the absence of large residential, social, political, and financial rifts. That's what we should be working for.


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