West Coast Rap as social commentary

Ever since hip-hop was created in 1970’s South Bronx, it became part of culture with the individuals that produced hip-hop music and those who consumed it. NWA was a group of 5 to 6 rappers that joined to make a hip-hop group, but they made sure to use their music to create a conscious, whether or not the listeners were ready to hear the content of the songs. One of their most famous songs that was released in 1988 is “Fuck Tha Police,” since it was written about the police department and their racial profiling that leads to unneeded arrests of African American males. Ice cube, a member of NWA, raps “You’d rather see, me in the pen/ than me and Lorenzo rolling in a Benz-o,” which was a violent critique of the police and the United States’ corrupted political system. NWA strategically wrote the song as if each rapper was preaching their side of their story to a jury, and ultimately the judge decides to give the verdict of the police officer getting arrested. The policeman that was described as corrupted, harsh, and racist throughout the song was then pleading for justice for himself when all along he was convicting the rappers unjustly because of their race. “Fuck Tha Police” was the first song to publicly express how African American males felt about the ongoing racism in the political system, which is why the song is still praised for it’s social consciousness that continues to be analyzed by generations after generations.

            Recently, hip-hop is still holding on to its origins and artists are focusing more on relevant social topics, instead of producing songs about glamorizing money, sex, and drugs. Kendrick Lamar is one of the recent artists that has been praised because of his lyrics by critiques and fellow hip-hop legends. Dr. Dre from NWA first signed Kendrick Lamar to his label, Aftermath Entertainment, after listening to one of his first mixtapes because Dr. Dre related to Kendrick Lamar’s lyrics. Kendrick Lamar’s “ADHD” on his Section.80 mixtape shows how Generation Y is the product of technology and how fast it is to get what you want to get to the next notion, which makes us have short attention spans like the symptom of having Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Kendrick Lamar raps, “Who gives a fuck? We never do listen/Unless it comes with an 808/a melody and some hoes,” which describes that individuals only listen to what their music says and particularly if they have videos with explicit content and women in skimpy outfits to catch their attention. Kendrick Lamar is writing lyrics like this to make the listener snap out of the technological trance and realize that there are serious issues that are ongoing around them.

Besides writing about the technological culture that we are living in, he also writes about what happens to individuals when they get “too much of a good thing”. In his breakout single “Swimming Pools” it seems as if he is rapping about drinking and getting heavily intoxicated with a grand amount of liquor that he metaphorically calls a “pool full of liquor”, when in reality it is about how alcoholism ran rampant in his family. Kendrick Lamar raps, “Now I done grew up Round some people living their lifes in bottles Granddaddy had the golden flask Back stroke every day in Chicago,” which people misuse alcohol as an escape from real-life problems and drag others down in their overindulgence. He also raps, “Why you babysitting only two or three shots I’mma show you how to turn it up a notch First you get a swimming pool full of liquor then you dive in it”, about the overuse and the disregard for limits that people exercise when drinking. This song is relatable to any age group, whether it is witnessing alcoholism in your family at a young age like Kendrick, picking up the bottle for the first time as a teen, or being an adult and not being able to establish your limits. The theme of overindulgence in “Swimming Pools” can be analyzed literally to alcoholism, or can be extended to explain any overindulgence in life and how having too much of anything isn’t ideal.

How much freedom is too much?

The internet has become a very prominent part of our society and our generation as a whole over the past decade, so much that it is as much part of my daily routine as brushing my teeth or using the bathroom. I wake up, look at my phone, check my Twitter and Instagram feed, check the ESPN app for scores, then I proceed with my day. Judging from what I just wrote, you can clearly see I use the internet for more recreational purposes as opposed to practical ones, which brings me to my argument. The internet is no longer simply just a tool used to make life easier for us but instead it serves for more malevolent purposes these days. This is where I pose my question: How much freedom is too much?

For example, during Halloween earlier this year a woman by the name of Alicia Ann Lynch posted a picture of her Halloween costume which was her dressed a victim of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Obviously this was incredibly insensitive considering that a year hadn’t even passed since the bombings occurred, but there’s no Internet Police that can just take your post down and give some kind of sanction. Sure you can flag something as inappropriate on both Twitter and Instagram but for the most part you’re free to post what you please. So I ask, should there be some kind of self-regulation that we as individuals should exercise in order to prevent postings like that?

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Now, due to the vast size of the internet and the infinite amount of outlets where you can post and share media like this, the image naturally spread like wildfire and sparked outrage all over the country. Most of these offended individuals also exercised their freedom to post in a very hateful manner that shows us the two way street that is internet freedom; freedom as poster and freedom as a critic. Some go as far as using the vast information of the internet to obtain her and her parents’ addresses in order to send death threats.

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Do I think that self-regulation when posting is a realistic solution to excessive internet freedom? No. Do I think that some people should be completely banned from owning a camera and a twitter account? Probably. Was a line crossed by both parties? Completely. Situations like these prove that people don’t know how to conduct themselves when given too much freedom, myself included.

My next example is a website by the name of World Star Hip-Hop, as the name suggests it is a site where the latest hip-hop music videos and interviews are shared and posted. However, what this website is famously known for is its frequent postings of explicit content, often violent fights and most frequently “twerk” videos. I will focus more on the fight aspect. This website updates daily, in addition, there is a weekly fight compilation video posted where violent hits that usually result in unconsciousness are glorified and even made humorous  with sound effects. Image

This website is best known for being the source of the infamous Cleveland bus driver video, in which a Cleveland bus driver punches and then chokes a woman that spits and curses at him repeatedly. This video went viral within a few short days because from this website it was shared to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. They just became mediums for this video to gain notoriety. The bus driver lost his job, the victim was on the news for a few interviews but now I ask: where are they now? The answer, who knows, including myself, after their so called “15 minutes of fame” that the internet provides for many “stars” of viral videos such as these, the two have gone back to being ordinary citizens while the internet awaits the next best viral video.

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/boston-bombing-victim-costume-sparks-outrage-threats-online-article-1.1505395

http://www.worldstarhiphop.com/videos/