The Almighty Gangsta MCs

Thinking about Miller's celebration of the 50th anniversary or rock 'n roll made me think of something: Rapper's Delight came out 25 years ago. Now it should go without saying that Rapper's Delight did not mark the beginning of hip-hop, but it was the first rap record to achieve major sales. As such, I don't think it's entirely out of line to say that it's the beginning of rap as a commercial genre. In the intervening quarter century, hip-hop has undergone a couple major paradigm shifts and several other smaller adjustments. I tried to do a general overview in my posts on the hip-hop generation gap, 1 and 2. Neither of those was completely exhaustive. There are lots more factors to be accounted for and reconed with in order to paint a completely accurate picture. However, suffice it to say that nobody involved in making Rapper's Delight could have possibly imagined that hip-hop would be the global behemoth that it has become. For the longest time, rap was condemned as a fad. Nay-sayers predicted its demise every year for the first 10 years. It's still here and stronger than ever. How strong is it? It's gone from being a passing fad to carrying the blame for the ills of society. How's that for a passing hoax? In his poem, "The Domino Theory (Snoop Dogg Rules The World)", Kenneth Carroll puts the game in the proper perspective:
[...] snoop dogg started the transatlantic slave trade doc dre was captain of a slave ship & easy motherfuckin e led the south to secede it is all so clear let the pundits come forth let the congressional hearings begin we have found the enemy & they are dressed in chinos & plaid shirts & county blues gangsta rap did it tupac was responsible for jim crow it was ice cube not gov. Wallace that tried to deny us equal rights it was som forty oz drinking jheri curl wearing indo smoking low riding conspirators that pulled off watergate will someone call NOW gangsta rappers, screaming bitch, ho, skeeze defeated the equal rights amendments will someone call c delores tucker tell her we have found the enemy recording on death row records backed by a funky ass george clinton groove it wasn't capitalism, racism, sexism, homophobia hell naw it was ice-t & ice cube & just ice & all them refrigerated gangsta niggas that screwed up america spice 1 imported all the cocaine to america, elect ollie north! it was the south central cartel that traded for guns in nicaragua before he died eazy e bashed in nancy kerrigans knee killed nicole simpson & ronald goldman & caused the peso to plummet let the pundits come forth call jesse jackson gangsta rappers are threatening affirmative action call dick gregory gangsta rap causes obesity & malnutrition call ralph nader gangsta rappers invented the corvair, the chevette, & the pinto [...] (c) Kenneth Carroll
Not bad for 25 years, huh? Only thing is, that poem is 10 years old. Gangsta rap had accomplished all that in just 15 years. Since then, we have uncovered 50 Cent's role in Three Mile Island, Eminem's spreading of the smallpox virus to the Indian population, and Jay-Z's connection to Al Qaeda. The Blueprint did drop on 9/11/01. Hmmm.... Of course, the gangsta/hustler paradigm of hip-hop is problematic and I'm gonna fully explore that in the coming week. (I don't know exactly what I'm gonna do for day 1 of averytooley.com, but it's gonna be hot. At least, that's what I'm hoping.) Either later on today or tomorrow, I'm gonna try to get at misogyny in hip-hop. But for right now, just reflect on those lines. Did gangsta rap really do it? And if it didn't, why do we try to lay the blame at its feet?