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Rap: Violence in Rap

Violence in Rap
In the world of retail gangsta rap, the fetishism of the gun beats the cult of the book every time. Violence is both the genre's primary commodity and its currency of choice.

That's not changing as long as an easy buck can be made from spewing ignorance and depravity. The "capitalist migraine" has become the raison d'etre of an entire industry.

Gun shots seem inevitable - that's what happens when two gangsta rap crews bump each other.

Is rap music just a genre based on money and blood?

Whether music negatively affects behavior has been debated from Elvis to Eminem. Now, a Canadian study has found that, when it comes to rap music.

Certain sub-genres of hip-hop are associated with different troubling behaviors.

Teens who spend more time watching the sex and violence depicted in the "reel" life of "gangsta" rap music videos are more likely to practice these behaviors in real life, suggests one of the first studies to specifically explore how rap videos influence emotional and physical health.

Of course there are some research to investigate how these and other rap videos may influence behaviors across other racial, gender and socioeconomic lines. Although gangsta rap videos depict tough inner-city "street" life, their largest viewing audience is white suburban youth, who have better access to cable television channels such as MTV and BET (Black Entertainment Television).

And this isn't the first time that rebellious music has been blamed for society's ills. From Elvis to Columbine, the songs of music-obsessed youth have often been blamed for anti-social behavior. But rap - and in particular, the especially violent and sexually-explicit gangsta variety - has raised special concern.


Shots ring out in South Central Los Angeles. A man screams in horror. This man has been shot in a heated gang war. This is everyday life for gang members. Gang members are used to cold blooded murder and most attend at least 5 funerals a week. Similar situations occur in Harlem, New York and in other places around the country.

Why is this happening? Many people think that rap music is making kids more violent. They think that rap music is just a glorification of violence. All rap music is doing is to show how horrible and inhuman life is in the ghettos across the country. This is what's really happening out there. It's not fake.

Right now, there is a major conflict between West Coast and East Coast rappers. East and West are fighting in a vicious battle that leaves hundreds of poor, helpless people dead in the street. There's no reason for this to be going on.

Back in the early '90's, when rap was beginning to become popular, the East/West war wasn't quite there yet but it was slowly becoming more and more obvious that there was a conflict between rappers. Part of the reason that the war started was that West Coast rap dominated and nobody questioned their supremecy. Ice Cube, Ice T, and Eazy E were the rappers of the moment. The war slowly worsened when East Coast rappers began to get more publicity. West Coast rappers were upset that they weren't 100% in the spotlight so they started to make fun of East rappers in their music proclaiming that East Coast rap was fake and couldn't top West Coast. Then, East Coast rappers fired back obscenities at West Coast rappers and it kept up like that until someone decided that the other coast had gone too far.

In 1993, Sean Combs started Bad Boy Entertainment in New York and for the first time ever, East Coast sales surpassed West Coast rap sales. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere came the peak of the West/East feud. Smaller gangs in cities took the example of the "big playaz" and followed what they said. Before, local gangs killed for affiliation whether you were a Blood or a Crip. Now, gangs were killing for West and East. In some cities it was so bad that you could be killed for living on the wrong side of the neighborhood.

The war went on for awhile and started getting worse. The big feud was West Coast Death Row Records against East Coast Bad Boy Entertainment. Their were some personal feuds though. West rapper Tupac Shakur had a personal problem with East rap mogul The Notorious B.I.G. They often rapped about each other and were very personal. In one song Tupac claimed to have slept with Biggie's wife and the Notorious B.I.G. retaliated in his music by saying "Stupid niggaz mess wit Big Poppa, motherfuckers get roasted if you fuck wit B.I.G. These words became extremely important later.

Then, on September 7, 1996 West rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was shot to death in a drive by shooting in Las Vegas. His murder remains unsolved and will probably never be solved. There were over 100 possible witnesses but only 1 agreed to testify. Many gang members believe that the police can't do anything so they refuse to cooperate. And, after the funeral the gang members settle the score themselves. And almost always it is bloody. Members of Tupac's entourage thought the only way to make things better was to kill an East rapper. And in my opinion, that's exactly what they did.

On March 3, 1997 East rapper Christopher Wallace aka Notorious B.I.G. was shot to death. Sound familiar? It should because that's the same thing that happened to Tupac Shakur six months earlier. Both murders are unsolved so no one except the killers know why these senseless deaths happened.

Sadly, life goes on and many people in the ghetto think there is only one answer to these problems: retaliation. There are still blatant attacks on East rappers in the music but for now their have not been any more rap murders.

Rap is a way of expressing how life is on the streets and yes there is violence in the streets. But, the violence can be stopped. We are all human beings and there's no reason for us to hurt each other.

Does rap cause violence, or do people who happen to listen to rap cause violence? Of course there's no real answer, but one can deduce that there often seems to be violence at big rap-related events.

Anyway, this brings us full circle: People get upset at the idea of beefing up security and police for hip-hop and rap events, citing racism and unfairness - but at a number of these events, things do happen. What do you think should be done?
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