Manipulation of Black Art
According to the Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary, gangsta rap is defined as “rap music with lyrics explicitly portraying the violence and drug use of urban gang life and typically expressing hostility toward whites, women, and civil authority” This definition could disturb many that attempt to find a clear understanding of a culture wrongfully portrayed. Gangsta rap was originally a form of expressing inequalities in society and has changed the way the social psyche is expressed in young people. Through the use of race, gender, violence, and freedom of expression, gangsta rap as it is portrayed contributes to the evolution in black culture. In looking at the portrayal of gangsta rap through the perspective of author Michael Eric Dyson, he points out that “If the fifteen-year evolution of hip-hop teaches us anything, it’s that history is made in unexpected ways by unexpected people with unexpected results”(P. 391). Gangsta rap is used as a method to discuss racial inequality, whether it be twenty years ago or in the present time. The unity is its way of expressing issues affecting black culture in a publicized and at times ridiculed manner. In a world where African Americans have been oppressed into a life of slavery and are still considered a minority, gangsta rap assists in representing the issues that are greatly affecting a culture from expanding successfully. As is stated on page 391, “This is the world hip-hop would come to “represent”: privileged persons speaking for less visible or vocal peers”. Through lyrics, the story told is a real one full of positive and negative aspects of everyday life. At the essence or core of hip-hop, there is an encounter of racism, which is expressed through the voice of fame. The rapper represents the survival of an everyday war of overexposure of drugs, prostitution, and violence. There is a social critic of how racism is portrayed as it often depends on the rapper in “power”. As the author states, “He was not hip-hop's most gifted emcee. Still, [Tupac] Shakur may be the most influential and compelling rapper of them all, he was more than the sum of his artistic parts” (p. 392). The unique style of Tupac in the 1990’s told a degrading story of how he was a witness to the everyday calamities of the neighborhood he lived in. As a witness and victim of racism, he was able to prove that his lyrics were real to many minorities and more important to those who believed rappers where portraying a role for money. As the overexposure of rappers continues daily, the author expresses concern with the record companies who are profiting from at times young rappers who do not know the value system of what they should be receiving. They can be exploited “pawns in a ‘chess game of material dominance where their consciences are sold to the highest bidder” (p. 392). In essence, rappers can be manipulated by the amount of money they have never seen to put out a hit as opposed on focusing the issues that made them rap to begin with. It seems like a distortion of the black culture to a certain extent. Although some can be manipulated, other rappers are street savvy and are able to maintain a realistic view as well as producing a record worth listening to. What seems of importance is the balance of following the rules of a genre and reaping its rewards as well. One of the ways in which rappers play into stereotypes is through the portrayal of women in music videos. Often time’s women are seen as tall, curvy, sexy women who are held by a man’s money or fame. Many of the women seen today are usually half naked in music videos and hardly ever have a role worth focusing on. As Mr. Dyson emphasizes, “It is doubly wounding for black women who are already beset by attacks from outside their communities to feel the thrust of musical daggers to their dignity from within” (p. 392). At the same token, the lyrics stated to express a woman’s portrayal is often...
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