“Being” and “Telling” Narratives in the Compton Based Gangster Rap
Unlike their late 70s and early 80s colleagues, who rapped about “knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as well as peace, unity, and having fun” (Johnson 1); the late 80s and 1990s rappers sung about the streets and the realities of living in a ghetto, as well as the hardships many African-Americans faced in a country where they felt they had no opportunities. Hence, it comes as no surprise how rap evolved to become a paragon of the gangster culture. Likewise, the streets of Compton, known as one of the most dangerous neighborhoods at the time, gave the performers a myriad of symbols to draw from and create a picture of the “hood” they lived on. In 5 Grams Crack Cocaine, Rap Music, and the War on Drugs, Dmitri Bogdazianos signals how most of these rappers lacked opportunities and perspectives of living a decent life, which made them disregard life, choosing to execute the premise of “live fast and die young”, not caring to go to prison or even dying as those were the images they saw in their neighborhoods. (Bogdazianos 1).
These images can be viewed in both Straight Outta Compton by NWA and Gangster’s Paradise by Coolio, where the singers rap about what they see and do. A clear example of the “being” narratives where the performers speak about their first-hand experiences with the street gang violence. However, while the members of NWA seem t…
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