Posted on August 27, 2010 ·
Just the other day, I was tweeting about my love for Rick Ross’ new album “Teflon Don” when this interaction occurred:
I didn’t mind the comment at all, instead, it triggered a further contemplation of “coke” aka gangsta rap for me. I’m a person who takes pride in the fact that I don’t know every song on the radio, or care what the instructions are for the latest dance craze to hit the clubs. I am, however, more proud of the fact that I don’t discriminate when it comes to music. From “progressive” rap to “gangsta” rap, I love it all. Although I prefer the more advocate-derived music for my motivation, I find a piece of gold in just about every sub-genre of hip hop. I mean, I can simultaneously be inspired by Lupe Fiasco, Erykah Badu and Nas while knowing a bit of Jeezy’s snowman references, Lil Wayne’s cup infatuation, and the overall blissful ignorance of Lil’ Bossie.
No, of course no one should be endorsing drugs. But yes, more of us are in jail for selling than using–so what does that mean? No, we shouldn’t be carrying around illegal guns. But yes, many impoverished neighborhoods are flooded with them–so where do they come from? Coke rap is not the opposite of progressive rap… it’s just different.
What I’m saying is this—we as a people are contradicting ourselves because the lifestyle we are raised in is a contradiction to man. Why should I pay for water when it’s a necessity for life and to “be free” is always associated with the natural Earth? Why are we so easy to submit to the police when the entire “objective” of their existence is to serve us? What then, is wrong with rapping about drugs and guns when it’s a constant aspect of some of our daily lives, whether we choose it to be or not?
Gangsta rappers, for all I’m concerned, are the most important musicians for our mental and spiritual uprising. Who hasn’t listened to an old school NWA track and wished you could break someone’s face? And not just for any reason, but due to frustrations, hurt, confusion… Are they not the most feared? Have you ever wondered why? Is it not time for people to get angry? Have we not had enough Oscar Grants and Sean Bells? I can sit and listen to Freddie Gibb’s “National Anthem (Fuck The World)” ten times back-to-back because what he raps about isn’t only selling drugs and busting guns, but why. The violence in our streets isn’t going to resolve itself by ignoring them.
Opinions are always weak from those who categorize “gangsta rappers” as ignorant artists contributing to the downfall of our society, because they’re based upon skewed facts. If anything, they’re the key to finding a forum for these larger issues in society. With every gangsta rapper comes politics because no matter what you do–you can’t escape it. Yes, there’s awful artists in every genre, but true artists cover all aspects of the lifestyle. This is evident in artists from Ice Cube to The Game, Vado to Nipsey Hussle…
Look, You a blood,I’m a crip/You a Tre, I’m a O/If you was raised off Slauson, You would be one too/Ya homeboys get low when they see me come through/And they say that I ain’t got crack/And that would be untrue, but every now and then I figure we can get back to/That black shit instead of killing and banging for crack shit/
Let the people speak until the people react. If you’re tired of hearing about drugs, find out why so many sell them. If you’re sick of hearing about killing and shooting, find out why so many people are angry. Rick Ross’s“Tears of Joy” featuring Cee-Lo is my favorite track on the album because he speaks about overcoming the need for dependency of a criminal lifestyle. We have so many kids seeking this feeling today that it’s rare to meet an impoverished black boy under 16 who isn’t aspiring to be a rapper or athlete.
This music is necessary, not progressive. Each needs each other or else the argument will disappear and the problem will forever remain the same. Until both worlds can function as one, let’s reach for understanding to make the changes we need to see. We’re all responsible.