Who Stole Rap?

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What was the most important thing accomplished in the almost two-decade success of the “gangsta� rap industry?

The record industry was able to take political dialogue away from rap artist and replace it by putting a divisive, then-illiterate, ghetto-thinking bully in charge of the most infamous rap record label there was; Death Row Records.

The man in question, Marion “Suge� Knight seemed to leave a trail of blood or bad blood every time he made a public appearance. Whether or not he realized that’s what the suits wanted him for is not known, he simply took the animosity of the ghetto from the street corners and public housing developments of the inner cities and put its hostile hate talk in the studio.

Former Nation of Islam head Minister Louis Farrakhan recently said that crimes that Black people commit against other Blacks come from Black hatred. This implies there is a special animus that is present when blacks are in confrontation with each other that is missing when members of other ethnic and racial groups are in confrontation with members of their own groups.

One of “gangsta� raps' least discussed influences is how it’s given young Black men a false ego, a false conscience; essentially the industry has created a legion of men who want to be recognized as “bad� even if it results from committing impulsive cowardly acts to do it. It was Knight’s job to bring out the dormant thug in many of us. 

Reportedly Knight vowed to make Death Row “the Motown of the ‘90’s.� The Music of Knight, Sean Combs and Russell Simmons become our funeral dirge. Poor Black boys chose sides and fought over land we don’t own (so-called East Coast vs. West Coast) in ’95 and the rappers called C. Delores Tucker “narrow-minded.�

We lost Tupac and Biggie during this cultural confusion. Motown? Nothing but heartaches. Some Motown artist had their problems, but this infantile behavior and hanging with the worst elements from their old block wasn't among them. Trust me on this one. Stevie Wonder fans didn't shoot it out with Edwin Starr fans. Supreme fans and Marveletes fan weren't "beefin," I swear G, no lie. Just thought you might wanna know.

As of late, efforts to get objectionable words banned from the studios and airwaves have been stepped up. Even Russell Simmons has ceased his ridiculous-sounding bad lyric enabling. Simmons has made tens of millions off of this style of rap. Say what you will about the money factor, the hard-core or “gangsta" rap industry was born of racism.

I remember being at the home of some white friends of mine years ago when a couple of young white kids stopped over. They looked to be brothers, one was around seven, the other was probably between 12 to 15. They asked me questions about some very controversial lyrics by a new rap group that was making waves at that time; Public Enemy. PE’s second album was out and shocking the music, radio and talk-radio industry for reasons other than vulgarity believe it or not. Back then PE didn’t waste expensive studio time.

When I told these young white suburban boys that it was indeed true, as PE said, that the ancient Egyptians were indeed Black, we just had a really great discussion. Now if these kids asked me about these lyrics, imagine what they --and millions of other like them -- might have asked their parents. That's not the type of African history they wanted their children to learn. It’s not surprising that soon after, the real vulgarity began.

It may have been at some dinner table that the demise of conscious rap was planned and the onslaught of "gansta" rap was pegged to replace it.

Black Star News contributor Stevenson is a columnist for the Buffalo Criterion, Contact him at pointblankdta@yahoo.com

To subscribe to or advertise in New York’s leading Pan African weekly investigative newspaper, please call (212) 481-7745 or send a note to Milton@blackstarnews.com


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