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Counterpunch

Gangsta Rap Is Deferring the Dream

March 07, 1994|ERIC TAYLOR | Attorney Eric Taylor is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the University of Virginia School of Law. and

The dream of many prominent African Americans from Frederick Douglass to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King Jr. had begun to materialize in many respects over the past three decades. Yet, even as generations of African Americans were laying the first rungs of the ladder for newer generations to climb and surpass, another movement was emerging within the same community that quickly began tearing away at epic civil advancements. It labeled many blacks who have endured systemic obstacles to take part in the American Dream as "sell-outs." Ironically, this movement has found a voice and, to some, legitimacy in gangsta rap music.

A few weeks ago, I watched the American Music Awards ("It's Whitney's Night to Say Thanks at Music Award Show," Calendar, Feb. 9). Like most, I endured the less popular awards, anxiously awaiting the "big acts": Toni Braxton (big time), Whitney Houston (big big time), then Snoop Doggy Dog. . . . I watched him and his DJ (Dr. Dre) take a classic R&B track, strip out the lyrics and rhythmically proceed to tear the heart from the black community.

Snoop Dog, who is facing trial for murder, was the top-billed black male performer that night. Dressed in what has commonly become known as gang attire, he rapped about how he has no love for women, whom he refers to as "freaks." In his song, he tells a young woman that he and his buddies each has "a pocketful of rubbers" and asks her "what (she's) gonna do."

Meanwhile, he and his group chant to an international television audience a chorus that glamorizes "sippin' on gin and (orange) juice," while smoking indigo marijuana and driving. He adds that his only concern is his money--with no concern for what his act is doing to our community.

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As a proud African American man, a professional and a person who simply cares about the future of our society, the minority communities and our children, I am saddened by what is happening. While the big record companies continue to thrust Snoop Dogs, Too Shorts and other gangsta rappers out onto the airwaves, pay these young black men thousands, if not millions, of dollars to convey this type of message to the general public, I am watching a 300-year-old dream disappear just as it may have had a chance to reach its fruition.

I am watching a generation of black Americans being deafened into ignorance and self-destruction, and most certainly, sealing the fate of generations to come. At its lead is a very small group of "artists," as true to the streets as the Pied Piper, truly selling out its own at a ridiculously modest price.

"Whoomp, there it is!" Your children hear it. Do you?

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