Hip-Hop Had a Dream

But it was the changing of them words from ‘Pastime’ to ‘Gangsta’ that explained where they come from and someone’s own involvement in society at the time, which is still relevant today. While Roi disliked the obscenity in rap music, he did take time to explain why he appreciated Coolio’s remake. Roi would state that: “when I hear someone singing about gangsta’s paradise, and I am going to say something that is very topical and very controversial; I understand my history, I understand who is a pirate, who is a slave trader; and when you want to talk about gangsters then I know who controls the economic power of this planet. And I know the divisions between the North and the South. So this is why when I talk about slavery to people I don’t talk about colour of skin; I talk about system. Because this is the crook of the matter of understanding the manipulation of popular culture in serving the interest of those who have own their invested interest. It is very political.”

Of course Roi is right; yes gangsta rap does reflect the gun culture and violent gangsterism greatly that a lot of critics focused on. And ever since the emergence of gangsta rap and an artist’s effort to express gangsterism, critics tend to put a tag on where they think or believe the majority of gun violence and crime are coming from via the Black (and Latino) community. But 20 years after gangsta rap’s prime during the 1980s, which discussed the harshness and violence of inner cities, white film-maker and member of the NRA (National Rifles Association) Michael Moore, released his controversial documentary Bowling for Columbine in 2001. It is based on the horrific and tragic events that took place at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999; and other tragic events that shook a nation because of their own obsession and viciousness with armed weapons. Moore himself wanted to observe and research why the gun culture in contemporary America is so extreme, and where the fascination and violence with guns in American culture originally came from. The results were scandalous, especially to a culture in retrospect of years of media coverage on the matter, especially within Hip Hop culture. Moore’s findings were that guns were found more in the white middle class suburbs of America, and not in the inner cities. Moore’s research (including interviews from the public and politicians) all falls down to media frenzy that promotes the fear of African-Americans to a wide mass audience. I argue that from Moore’s documentary it shows that the majority of guns come from the suburbs because of ‘protection’ and ‘fascination’, but the mass media with the exploitation of Hip Hop had managed to overcome the certainty with propaganda in their effort to utilize a particular culture. Compton, Los Angeles [home of gangsta rap group/artists N.W.A, C.M.W, The Game], and the program Cops were particularly focused on in Moore’s documentary, and the changes in social bearing that had changed since the 1980s and 1990s. Moore’s findings showed that even after the L.A riots of 1992, Compton is not as extreme as the media has portrayed it to be over years of media coverage and frenzy; although, Compton may still have disadvantaged Blacks and Latinos, just like other areas of the United States of America. I doubt nothing has changed in regards to that. But in 2006, research and publishing company Morgan Quitno Corporation rated Compton as the most dangerous city in the United States of America with a population of 75,000 to 99,999, and fourth most dangerous overall. The city is notorious for gang violence, which can be argued to be primarily caused by the Bloods, the Crips and Hispanic street gangs. But regardless of these so called facts – you have to go deeper into what causes gang violence in the first place; and that is oppression overall. Now that is politics. through Hip Hop mainstream, Blacks may look uncivilized on how they make use of violence and the gun culture in America, but Moore’s research does show that Hip Hop’s acceptance of guns is held accountable to American society – period. So I argue that for Blacks or Latinos to own or glamorize guns through music, films or real life, is not to say they glamorize it more in America society, or glamorized it first. Guns were glamorized way before gangsta rap and gangster films were around. Since the near genocide of Native America, white Americans had glamorized guns as a way of life – the American way – so you cannot blame a genre of music for expressing the reality that is part of American culture, especially without looking at the main source of this argument. If the American Constitution has it in the Second Amendment to allow the right of the people to ‘bare arms’ (meaning anything from guns to even nuclear weapons if possible), this is more of a threat within American culture because of the people that run the country and create these Amendments especially when you concentrate clearly on Ronnie Edleman’s letter [on behalf of President Clinton] stating that the Second Amendment only protects the right of ‘private citizens’ to hold firearms of any type. When discussing ‘private citizens’, Michael Moore also unveils the reality of Charlton Heston, the President of the National Rifles Association (NFA) between 1998 and 2001, who glamorized and expressed the appreciation of guns in America. This is an organization of ‘private citizens’ that is well supported by many middle/upper classes of white America, but also follows controversy. It was the forefathers of the United States of America that first fed the imagination, and now the people who are apart of the NFA can know no better.

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