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Listen to the Rappers

March 05, 1994

Years ago Woody Guthrie used the traditional format of the "Talking Blues" to create "Talking Dust," "Talking Merchant Marine," "Talking Constitution" to express his anti-Establishment views. Later, Vern Partlow wrote "Old Man Atom," which ended with ". . .peace on the Earth or the Earth in pieces." Since then, many folk singers have used the format to express their own critiques of society--the Vietnam War, the population explosion--with great effect. Notably, these songs have been absent from the airwaves as "subversive" and "radical."

Now we have a new genre called rap, with its more extreme gangsta rap as an expression of the black ghettos ("Rap Finds a Supporter in Rep. Maxine Waters," Feb. 15), where the failure of society to address the real problems such as poverty and dysfunctional families has led to rage, violence and the widespread use of drugs. Is it any wonder that gangsta rap has developed as an expression of frustration?

Rather than ban it from the airways and record stores, wouldn't it be much more effective to listen to what its practitioners are trying to tell us and address the root causes of poverty, inadequate education and lack of opportunity? Wouldn't this channel the energy and rage of young people constructively? Banning gangsta rap will not make the problems it exposes go away!

DORIAN KEYSER

Tarzana

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