Hip Hop Culture Essay

1353 words - 5 pages

Rap culture has become the largest influence on youths regardless of race or class. Hip hop records dominate the charts and music channels as well as films and music awards. The earlier hip hop was characterized with break dancers, "two turn table and a microphone" and lyrics that described having a good time to the sound of music. The hip hop that is on the radio today is violent and controversial, raising issues of gangs, poverty, violence against women and drug abuse. The gangster dangerous life is glamorized through the use of jewelry and women that appeal to the fans. Gangsta rap is a culture that expands the negative realities of life, exposing listeners to controversial and offensive material.Hip hop music traces its roots back to century old African, Proto Rico, and Jamaican musical traditions. In the early 70's, hip hop started to get airtime in nightclubs and after hour bars in major cities in America. Since the early mid 90's, hip hop has undergone changes that purists would consider degrading to its culture. (www.b-boys.com) At the root of these changes is commercial hip hop, more commonly known as "gangsta rap". Commercial hip hop has deteriorated what many artists in the 80's tried to build- a culture of music, dance, creativity and artistry that would be a musical avenue to express and deliver a positive message to listeners. Gangsta rap is a reflection and product of the violent lifestyle of American inner cities afflicted with poverty and the dangers of drug use and drug dealing. The glamorization of the outlaw at the center of much gangsta rap appealed to rebellious suburbanites as well as to those who have first hand experience of the harsh realities of the ghetto. Gangsta rap first came to prominence on the East Coast. Scoolly D, of Philadelphia, presented graphic tales of gangs and violence in the album "PSK [Park Side Killers]-What Does It Mean? (1985) Also Boogie Down Productions, formed in New York City by DJ Scott LaRock and KRS-One offered hard-hitting depictions of crack-cocaine related crime on Criminal Minded (1987). But gangsta rap became a national phenomenon in California, where a distinct school of West Coast hip hop began with Easy E's Lost Angeles group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude). It was N.W.A.'s controversial album Straight Outta Compton that shifted hip hop's geographic center. The most distinguished characteristic of N.W.A.'s approach was the very plain way that violence was essayed. "As plain as it occurred in the streets Compton [south-central Los Angeles]" argued member Ice Cube. As N.W.A splintered, the group's importance multiplied with each solo album. Ice Cube's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990) employed Public Enemy's production team, the Bomb Squad, and introduced New York City listeners to the West Coast sound. In 1992 N.W.A. producer and rapper Dr. Dre released the California rap scene's most influential and definitive record The Chronic. The violence that had been confined to songs began to spill...

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