Some people view gangsta rap negatively because it is catchy and it promotes sex, drugs and violence amongst youth in America. And I would say the same, except I would say this in praise rather than in assault on rap. I know it makes me have sexual, violent, and drug taking urges, and from working in an inner city school, I can see that that’s one of it’s effects on young kids today. But unlike concerned teachers and parents I defend and even applaud rap music for this (as long as I never encounter it personally). I think this is evidence of one of the philosophies of rap and hip-hop taking form, particularly gangsta rap. In other words these rap artists have decided to stop fighting unfairness, corruption, and “the man,” with their own hands and feet, and decided to create something that would instigate a much larger group of other people to do it for them, while becoming famous and making tons of money doing it, all of which gives them a more powerful voice. If rap can create an army of young rebels to cause friction to the system—any system, be it the school system, political system, our social expectations for sexual expression, or social acceptance of drugs, etc. then those artists’ hands need to be shaken (as artists) because they really did their job. They created an army to challenge and fight the status quo. Sure many of these kids aren’t creating any new solutions for the roots of these problems, but it’s still honorable, and needed for someone out there to simply, to cause friction for the system, so that the system becomes self-conscious or aware of itself. Because once the system starts to reflect on itself this will lead to change, and new solutions. Of course I don’t want my kids to be like that, but I do want someone’s kids to be like that, and frankly that’s what’s going to help cause change as dangerous as it sounds.
It’s a pretty clever way to fight the man, or the system if you think about it. It works well with how commercialized rap has become in our capitalist society. The rapper sells his music to “the Man,” and “the Man” sells his music to the public. He is essentially selling weapons against himself, and negative propaganda, but he will do this no matter what values the music preaches as long as he can get rich doing it. And if he doesn’t do it, the next man will. So really it’s him that’s making the choice, but someone making the choice to release this danger into our society at such a scale is inevitable. It’s great though that he sells something that he is probably in complete opposition to. Whether rappers think about it like this or not doesn’t matter, what matters is how their music functions and what philosophy it creates or fits under. Perhaps it went beyond punk rock in terms of figuring out how to become part of the system and exploit it, rather than completely reject it.