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Michael Eric Dysin - Gangsta Rap and American Culture

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Jazzlin Cunningham

Special Topics Hip Hop

Gangsta Rap and American Culture

This week we talked about Michael Eric Dyson and his article on Gangsta Rap. The article basically starts off telling about how political figures such as Bob Dole and William Bennet were attacking the entertainment industry, mainly gangster rap. It also pointed out that it was the government that was making it harder on the black community which eventually led to what we know as gangsta rap. Hip hop during this time was a representation of what black communities were going through at this time and the government didn't like that it was being publicized in such a crude manor Gangster rap had major impacts things that people during this time thought and did. Women were being publically disrespected by being called bitches and hoes, while the gays were looked down upon also. Dyson said that it was painful for black women who have fought valiantly for black pride to be called a bitch. In gangsta rap male and female bodies are turned into commodities. There was no affection and love, just sex. What I found interesting is that rappers such as Dre, Snoop, and Pac said that these were roles. Gangster Rap fed into the stereotypes that were set for young black men during this time. They were viewed as the black face of white desire to distort the beauty of black life. It was said in the text that white record executives during the time discouraged positive rap and reinforced the desire for lewd expression and packaged as a cultural and racial authenticity. Some people may question the legitimacy of Gangsta rap because the rappers were "middle class blacks faking home boy roots" It made searching whites and naïve backs feel as they were seeing apart of a ghetto life when they were being served colorful exaggerations. I found it interesting that gangsta rap kind of shunned positive or "conscious" rap because people were so into it. WE discussed that many people don't feel like gangster rap is artistic and that it is just based off racial and sexual taboo. In my opinion they should have cared more about the perception that they were giving the world. They made our men seem violent and ignorant, when in fact that may have not been the case at all. People have sued rappers for their lyrics because of the crude language and negative attitudes towards gays and women. In all its negative aspects it does have some good. Gangster rap points out the complex dimensions of ghetto life ignored by many Americans. The argument was brought up that if the government wants to attack the rappers they must also address the church. Dyson says artist is used as scapegoats. That attacking them and record companies is the easy way out.

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