Hip Hop and the Crack Epidemic

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It was during the mid-1980s that the emergence of a new smokable form of cocaine, called crack, had been introduced to the United States. Crack, was highly-addictive and swept through impoverished areas of cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Oakland, and Miami. In the end it caused devastating effects for black and Latino Americans. As crack cocaine was becoming a grim and rising epidemic, hip hop was evolving alongside it. It was in the 1980s that crack cocaine and hip hop became the two leading fundamentals of urban street culture. It is not suggested that hip hop caused the crack epidemic, or vice versa. But, it can be argued that both fed off each other, particularly hip hop off the crack culture itself. Crack cocaine quickly gained popularity among users in the 1980s due to its cheap cost, and the quick, intense high it left. Compared to freebase cocaine, which involved a complicated ritual involving Ether, crack cocaine had become simplistic and easier to manage. The drug was “made from powder cocaine, but because its production [did] not require the use of flammable solvents, it [was] safer to make than freebase cocaine” (Watson). It had been poverty stricken, Donnell “Freeway Ricky” Ross, who learned how to simplify the free basing process by using baking soda instead of Ether. Ross became legendary for spreading the idea linked with the formation of “ready rock”, which allowed the drug to be smoked instantaneously (Planet Rock). In reality, crack cocaine had been a drug first used among rich, Caucasian, Americans due to its high selling price. With the creation of “ready rock”, the drug was no longer strictly used among the wealthy. It was in the 80s when crack cocaine was able to stray away from the faces it once knew, and move into inner-city, urban areas. The mass production of “ready rock” put a whole new twist on the drug game (Planet Rock). Crack cocaine soon brought violence and tragedy to the streets of America. Louis Freese...
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