Hip Hop: A Vehicle for Positive Change (plus ticket giveaway!)

We recently posted an editorial criticizing the negative cultural effects of gangsta rap’s bravado and glamorization of thug life (“The Game’s Game Is Lame”).  There are, however, always two sides of the coin.  With that in mind, we wanted to draw some attention to the ways rap and hip hop are acting as a positive force in society.  Additionally, we’re giving reader a chance to win tickets to see a high-quality hip hop performance from Del The Funky Homosapien!

Read on for just a few of how hip hop is making the world a better place…

Editorial: The Game’s Game is Lame

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Reading Rich Albertoni’s preview of The Game’s Madison performance made it sound like the rapper had turned emo, scarred inside and out by the horrors of thug life. Albertoni implied this supposed sensitive side was due to the 3-month bit The Game recently served for packing heat in a school district.

If that were indeed the case, one would think The Game’s lyrics would be chock full of cautionary tales, a loud and clear denunciation of all things gangsta, and that the artist himself was busy doing voluntary community service warning inner-city youth not to follow in his footsteps.

If that’s so, the evidence is lacking. Despite Albertoni’s cut and paste attempt to put a positive spin on The Game’s new release, anything but a cursory listen to the lyrics reveals repeated threats of violent gunplay and constant shout-outs about his Phantom Rolls Royce, his Rolex, and his mansion in Beverly Hills. True to form, The Game is big on braggadocio, battering his audience with endless boasts about being a true, and decidedly unrepentant, gangster:

“It ain’t a movie dawg, hell yeah this is a real fucking Uzi dawg”

Gangsta rap is The Game’s game, and accordingly he trades on black on black violence, exploiting the ongoing tragedy of America’s racist legacy. He’s done well with this dead-end game, and The Game makes sure you know it. One might add the music industry doesn’t seem to mind a bit – rapping about killing niggaz makes for a nice bottom line.

I recognize the need to be cautious when criticizing an entire art form, moralizing being the gateway to censorship. But being cautious does not mean ignoring the obvious: gangsta rap is post-modern minstrelsy, black culture grossly caricatured for the entertainment of predominantly white audiences.

Albertoni’s short preview pointedly ignored the big local picture – the ongoing controversy in Madison about hip hop. To wit, many, particularly the police, routinely paint all hip hop with a broad brush. This simplistic reaction conveniently ignores the many powerful voices found in the underground “conscious” hip hop movement, a divergent art form that stands in direct opposition to mainstream commercial hip hop and its dominant mode of celebrating thug life.

This won’t do. We just elected Barack Obama and his message of hope, a message that includes a riveting critique of greed and short-sighted materialism. It is time for a change, and that alone makes gangsta rap look woefully passe´.

None of this was touched on in the Isthmus’s whitewash of The Game’s repugnant oeuvre. One would think, in light of the current moment, Madison’s Alternative Weekly would dig just a little deeper.

– Tag Evers

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