Boom, boom! Boom, boom! The kind of bass that drains batteries and the kind of lyrics that unload clips, these are the sounds that rap music produces. I chose this topic because I am extremely interested in rap music and I want to explore the violent aspect of the industry.
I have never had a chance to look at the violent side of it and I plan to find answers to questions I have in my search. Tupac Shakur is one of my favorite artists and when he was shot and killed I really started to take notice of the violence. People were getting killed because of an image that was being set. What I really want to know, however, is why rappers feel compelled to graphically describe the violence.In my search I plan to find out reasons behind the deaths of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.
G. Was there some kind of connection between both of their deaths? I believe that rap music was never violent until “gangsta” rap came about. What sparked this change and who was behind it? I want to explore “gangsta” rap from the beginning until now. I want to research the major players in the rap game, who they are and what some of their lyrics are saying. Today our society is bursting at the seams with violence.
There is fighting in other countries like Kosovo, shootings in schools, and violence on television. In my opinion, though, nothing has a greater effect on the youth of America than rap music. However, this isnt a new issue, there has been violence in rap music for years. Such as, gang violence, references to drive-by shootings and homicides in songs. Since this is such a broad topic I will explore the violent side and history of the industry, the lyrics, as well as the artists.Page 2In 1986 an unknown rap group came “Straight Outta Compton” and they called themselves N.
W.A ( Niggaz With Attitudes). Eazy-E (Eric Wright) started this group along with four friends Dr. Dre (Andre Young), MC Ren (Geronimo Pratt), Ice Cube ( O Shea Jackson) and DJ Yella and they soon became the most controversial group ever to hit the industry. In 1989 they released the album, Straight Outta Compton, and a wave of fear was sent over the country, it was an instant classic. With disturbing song titles ranging from “F*ck Tha Police” to “Gangsta, gangsta” caused the FBI and the LAPD (Los Angeles Police Department) to investigate them. Hopping on the anti-gangsta rap bandwagon politicians began to show interest in the rap industry, but not in a positive way. Hip-hop wasnt a new form of music in 1989, in fact it started in 1982 with Run DMC, but nobody was ready for this form.
The police and politicians didnt like what N.W.A was saying in their lyrics, but all of the things they were rapping about were things that were going on around them on a daily basis. They were seeing people being shot, drug deals going down, and women being called b*tch*s. “I remember when Straight Outta Compton came out, where I lived we could all relate to what they were rapping about because it was our lifestyle.”(Wilson. Interview).
So basically art was imitating life. But as the decade took a turn into the 90s, so did things for N.W.A. (Tha Biography of Tha E) Ice Cube left to pursue a solo career (Ice Cube- Westside Times) and after him Dr.
Dre left to start Death Row Records with Marion “Suge” Knight in 1992. (The Untouchable Death Row Records)From the beginning Death Row Records was like a family, according to Dr. Dre. With acts like Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, and Warren G, Death RowPage 3was a dominant force in rap music. Suge Knight, a former college football player for U.N.L.
V (University of Nevada Las Vegas), used his 325 lb. frame as a scare tactic. A former employee of Knight, Vanilla Ice ( Rob Van Winkle) recently said in an interview that Knight held him by the ankles over a hotel balcony demanding rights to the song “Ice, Ice Baby.” Knight and one of his employees–Mario Lavelle Johnson who helped write the song– wanted in on the success that Ice was having with the song. Since Vanilla Ice wasnt dumb he agreed to Knights demands. In 1993 Dr. Dre released his solo debut, “The Chronic” which besides spending 8 months on the Billboard charts was full of violent lyrics and intensified the newfound rivalry between him and Eazy-E. “.
.So strap on ya Compton hat, your lochs and watch your back cuz ya might get smoked yo” (Dr. Dre). This lyric from the song “F**kin Wit Dre Day” refers to him leaving Ruthless Records and the bad blood that was formed between him and Eazy-E. It was rare that Eazy-E was seen not wearing a black Compton hat, so this was a message for him to watch out. Dre was a businessman and it seemed that he started acting the part as a gangsta, it now looked like life was beginning to imitate art. In retaliation for this Eazy-E made the album Its On (Dr.
Dre) 187um Killa. On the inside covers there were pictures on Dre in eye-liner and lipstick. The lyrics were worse than the ones on The Chronic though, “Motherf**k Dre! Motherf**k Snoop! Motherf**k Death Row! Yeah, and here comes my left blow.” Not only was Eazy smacking Dre in the face with this lyric, but Snoop, and the entire Death Row family. “And at Death Row I hear ya gettin treated like boot camp, gotta follow your sergeants directions or get your *ss punked with this Smith and Wesson, learn a lesson Page 4from the eazestay in your place and dont step to real muthafu**in gs.
” (Eazy-E). Most of the violent lyrics that came from Dr. Dre and Eazy-E were just out of their feelings for each other.
Kaboom!! Only four years after the debut of N.W.A rap music exploded and started crossing the line.
The point of gangsta rap was to show the day-to-day realities of the harsh life in South Central, Los Angeles. On August 25, 1993, Death row rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg ( Calvin Brodaus) was arrested with his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, for the killing of a rival gang member, Philip Waldermariam. Before hitting it big Snoop was part of the Crips, a LA based gang. Snoop was only used to one lifestyle and nothing changed even after becoming famous. Both he and his bodyguard were charged with murder and in the midst of all this he released the song, “Murder was The Case,” depicting him going to jail for murder. However, they were both found not guilty of murder. (Snoop Doggy Dogg Biography).
“I think that the only reason they were found not guilty was because witnesses were reluctant to step forward. Suge Knight was seen everyday at court and his reputation wasnt a secret.” (Wilson. Interview). Recently in 1998, Snoop did the same thing to Death Row that Dr. Dre did to Ruthless Records. He left and went to No Limit Records, rap tycoon Master P (Percy Miller) lured him away with a sweet contract.
Murder continued to be a major part of gangsta rap, infact, Suge Knights next move dropped a bomb on the rap industry and the world. In 1995 Suge Knight paid 1 million dollars in bail money to have Tupac Shakur released from jail on assault charges and in return Tupac signed a three album deal with Death Row Records. In 1993 Tupac Page 5arrived to court for sentencing on assault charges in a wheelchair. Days before he was shot five times during a “robbery” in Manhattan. In 1995 after Suge Knight took him under his wing, they instantly became friends and were always seen together.
Tupac was put right into the ongoing West coast/ East coast battle between Suge Knight and Sean “Puffy” Combs of Bad Boy Records, a New York based company. Tupac claimed that his former friend Christopher Wallace ( The Notorious B.I.G) was responsible for his 1993 shooting. Tupac was easily one of the most controversial rappers of our time. His lyrics gave us clues about his lifestyle. In his song, “Hit Em Up” he criticizes Bad Boy, blames them for his shooting, and says he had sex with Faith Evans Biggies wife.
“This is how we gonna do this, f*ck Mobb Deep! F*ck Biggie! F*ck Bad Boy as a staff, record label, and as a motherf*ckin crew!and if you wanna be down with Bad Boy then f*ck you too! Chino XL f*ck you too! All yall mothrf*ck*rs f*ck you die slow motherf*ck*r my 44 makes sure all yall kids dont grow.”(Tupac) It is obvious how strong his hate was for Bad Boy, he didnt beat around the bush at all. That lyric has some very strong language and is only part of the song, if the whole song was put in this paper the * button would be broken. (The Tupac Tribute Page)Gangsta rap received one of its harshest blows yet. In September of 1996 the rap world lost one of its best talents when Tupac was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Everything began to swing full circle and life really did imitate art. There are many myths surrounding his death and he could still be alivehe was pronounced dead on Friday the 13th, seven days after he was shot. His next album that was released after his death was under the name Makaveli, and was called the seven day theory.
Seven is a very Page 6suspicious number in this case. Tupac lived for seven days after the shooting until he died, he was pronounced dead at 4:03 (4+3=7), he was 25 years old at this time (2+5=7). Tupacs album All Eyez On Me was released Feb. 13, 1996 and he died Sept. 13, 1996, exactly seven months apart. There were never any pictures of Tupac in the hospital, he was cremated right after he died, but its illegal to be cremated of buried especially after being murdered without an autopsy being performed, and the press was supposed to be able to come to the funeral but they were called and it was canceled for some reason. (Is Tupac dead???).
Those are just some of the myths, “I think Tupac is still alive, I have no proof but with all the myths I have a gut feeling.” (Wilson. Interview). Not long after the “death” of Tupac rival rapper the Notorious B.I.G was killed March 9, 1997 in Los Angeles, California. The only suspicious thing around Biggies death is the fact that his first album was called Ready to Die and the album that was released near the time of his death was called Life After Death.
At least when Eazy-E and Dr. Dre fought, they used their music as a tool and nobody died. Recently in 1999 Suge Knight was named as a suspect in Christopher Wallaces death. (Notorious B.I.G.
– Rest In Peace). With the deaths of the east coasts and west coasts most influential rappers, gangsta rap has essentially died with it. Today there is still violence in rap music, but things arent as bad as they were. There is still lots of references to killings and gang violence, but things have calmed down and things arent so tense around rap music anymore.In my search I have learned a lot about N.W.A, for instance I never knew that there was so much controversy surrounding them when they first came on the scene. I Page 7learned a lot about artists lyrics, a lot are just due to rivalries that were formed.
From the myths that I read concerning Tupacs death I have a really strong feeling that he is still alive. In retrospect I fell that I am ahead of where I wanted to be at the end of this paper. I have such a good knowledge of gangsta raps roots until now and who the major players are.
The one thing that surprised me was when I found out the F.B.I and LAPD investigated N.W.
A. I think that was a little bit of overreacting . I felt that I made good progress on this paper, I found information that I needed and my interviewee was very cooperative. I really enjoyed doing my search, it was a topic I chose myself, so I had fun conducting it.