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From cool jazz to Chicago blues, gospel to R 038; B, reggae, and gangsta rap. For a century, African-Americans, Blacks, Negros and or Niggas, or (what ever label or category is decided this millennium), have been in the vanguard of recorded music in every style imaginable. Raps origins stretch far back to African oral tradition; it has a more immediate predecessor in the spoken-word expressionism of 60 s activists like the Last Poets, or Le Roi Jones (later known as Amiri Baraka), who performed activist poetry over the New York Art Ensembles free jazz. But, it was in the early 70 s, in New Yorks inner-city neighborhoods in the Bronx and Brooklyn, that mcs began rapping spoken rhymes about street life to the beat of dj-manipulated drum machines and turntables. Break dancers and graffiti artists provided a dramatic and colorful visual style to accompany the beats and narratives, and a subculture was born. In 1979, the Sugar hill Gangs Rappers Delight, produced its first hit single and rappers havent left the charts since.
From the late 80 s and into the early 90 s, Hip-hop was off and running. No, this is not the history of Rap/Hip-hop. However, it is about the significant history of how a young black artistic male communicated verbally and non verbally to the world through poems, music, and film. Rap and hip-hops quotations evolved into an even more highly coded communications called Gangsta Rap.
Dr. Dre (n? e Andre Young) founded the Death Row label and released his seminal solo outing, The Chronic. Dre, with his colleague Snoop Doggy Dogg, blanketed the nation with gangsta attitude. The rapping of this era is often edgy and political with grim stories, fanciful and true, about urban life and crime.
Living in the hood, neighborhood, or evolved environments, is the focus of gangsta rap. Developed in the late 80 s as an offshoot from hard-core rap, gangsta raps hard and antagonistic sounded especially lyrics became the most commercially successful. So began, the West Coast/East Coast dispute that, however inflated, would come to symbolize and tragically enact a particularly violent era in raps history. In particular, the raucous Tupac Shakur, with his verbal communication of Thug Life and street crime, and the Notorious B.
I. G. , with his bittersweet, dead-eye narratives of sex, drugs, and violence, were Gangsta Rap most emblematic performers and its most tragic losses. Tupac Shakur was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1971, the son of Afeni Shakur and Billy Garland. Afeni Shakur (born Alice Faye Williams in North Carolina), was like everyone else in the early 60 s and watched the civil rights movement on television. A member of the notorious Disciples gang as a teenager, Afeni points to two primary factors that channeled her frustrations in a political direction: The historic Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, parent-student Strike (where her nephew was a student) in 1968, and the formation of the Black Panther Party in New York City. Afeni courted two men, Legs a straight-up gangster (He sold drugs, he did whatever he needed to make money), and Billy, a member of the Party.
She had previously been married to Lumumba Shakur, one of her co defendants who remained incarcerated. When he found out she was pregnant, he divorced her. Early in his life, Tupac moved to Baltimore, MD, where he attended the Baltimore School for Performing Arts. At this school, Tupac left a lasting impression on his teachers and was tremendously showing potential. Unfortunately, Tupac was unable to continue his training. He moved to Oakland, California with the rest of his family.
Thats when Tupac began to, as they called it, Hang with the wrong crowd. Actually, Tupac Shakur grew up a troubled and precocious child. His home life was unstable, and he ended up moving from one inner-city community to another. Because of that instability, Shakur sought to assert himself through gangs. Life wasnt quite simple for Tupac Amaru Shakur. Named after an Inca chief, Tupac Amaru means shining serpent, referring to wisdom and courage.
Shakur is Arabic for thankful to God. Although he was shaped by many of the problems of inner-city youths growing up in post-civil-rights America-poverty, fatherlessness, constant Relocating Tupac's story began even before he was born. Not held back by his lack of formal education, Tupac joined the rap group Digital Underground as a dancer. Not long before the group achieved award winning success, Tupac released his own album 2 pacallypse Now, which was also a success.
His stunning talent also gained him a roles in motion pictures such as, Juice, he appeared in Poetic Justice, the movie Above the Rim. Tupac also completed work on two other films, one entitled Gridlock. Tupac's rising career was snagged. By the time he was twenty, Shakur had been arrested eight times, even serving eight months in prison after being convicted of sexual assault charged by a woman he met in a nightclub. In addition, he was the subject of two wrongful-death lawsuits, one involving a six-year-old boy who was killed after getting caught in gang-war crossfire between Shakur's gang and a rival group. In 1993, he recorded and released Strictly 4 My N.
I. G. G. A. Z. , an album that found Shakur crossing over to the pop charts. Unfortunately, he also found himself on police blotters, when allegations of a violent attack on an off-duty police officer arose.
November of 1994, Tupac was robbed at gun point, he was shot five times during the robbery in which thieves made off with $ 40, 000 worth of his jewelry. Shakur miraculously recovered from his injuries to produce an impressive artistic accomplishment. 1995 s Me Against the World, which sold two million copies. Me Against The World, Arguably Tupac's best album. He verbally communicated all of his anger, dreams, pain and passion into this Album, as well as non verbally communicating with his acts of violence and with his hit singles Dear Mama, So Many Tears and Temptations (all about the struggles facing Young Black Males). Tupac was eventually released from prison. After his release, Tupac answered his critics by releasing his best album, All eyes on me.
All eyes on me has currently sold around 6 million copies. While on his way to a charity dance after watching a Mike Tyson fight with Death Row Records president MarionSuge Knight. Tupac Shakur was assassinated by the bullets of unknown gunmen on September 13, 1996. During his short life, Tupac Amaru Shakur (a. k.
a. 2 Pac) became a living symbol of his generations frustration and rage. As a rapper, his songs often detailed the misery, desperation, and violence of ghetto life. As a personality, he easily embodied the false bravado and urban nonchalance that reflected a tough, unforgiving upbringing. As an actor, he was good-looking and charismatic, and his appearances in five feature films suggested he had great potential on the big screen in a variety of personas.
But Shakur never had time to realize any of these embodiments. Shakur himself often said that he expected hed die by the sword before he reached thirty. He died at the age of twenty five. Following his passing, Shakur's label released an album, The Don K illuminati, under the pseudonym Makaveli.
The cover depicted Shakur nailed to a cross under a crown of thorns, with a map Of the countrys major gang areas superimposed on it. Shakur was upfront about his troubled life in the 1995 release Me Against The World, a multi-million-selling album that contained the ominously titled tracks If I Die 2 Nite and Death Around The Corner. With lyrics like It aint easy being me will I see the penitentiary, or will I stay free? , These lyrics came loudly from my now 22 year old sons room and car, concerned me. Was he being upfront about his troubled life through 2 Pacs music? It was my son who introduced me to Gansta Rap and as I begin to listen to Tupac Shakur's music I Found Shakur was not just the fury, expletives and anger of songs like Fuck the World.
He could be Poignant like with (It was hell hugging on my mama from a jail cell) and both sympathetic and critical of young black men trying to become gangstas with lyrics as such (You could be a censored ing accountant, not a dope dealer, you know what Im saying) Tupac's verbal communication to the world and to his generation is, its all about addressing the problems that we face in everyday society. Police brutality, poverty, unemployment, insufficient education, disunity and violence, black on black crime, teenage pregnancy, crack addiction. I also understand his lyric as pointing out the concept behind this is the same concept behind Harriet Tubman, to get all young black men who might be into drug dealing or whatever it is thats illegal or who are disenfranchised by todays society, to get them back into life by turning them onto music. It could be R 038; B, hip hop or pop, as long as he got them involved. His messages continued on about the Young-black male identity crisis in America today, about the troubling contradictions inherent in the Hip hop, Gangsta Rap culture. Tupac seemed a fitting symbol, a lightning rod, in fact, for many of these issues.
Yeah, I found him to be an angry young black man. Why was he so angry? I asked myself, is my son as angry? What compiled Tupac Shakur to say and do the things that hed done? What compels my son to say and do the things that he does? The multiple tattoos, the shaved head, the baggy pants.
Were the cases pending against Tupac Shakur merely coincidences, part of an elaborate setup, as his lawyers would have us believe, or was he communicating a deeper problem? Is my son the symbolic young black man shackled by the system, or an individual young black man out of control? When I heard Tupac's music before, he seemed to be part screaming, part preaching, part talking censored . The music was dense and, at times, so loud it drowns out the lyrics. You cannot dance to it.
Perhaps that is intentional to enable one to listen to his message. Ive received a valuable lesson by listening to Tupac Shakur's Gangsta Rap if you will, which enabled me to understand my son and his message he was communicating through Tupac's lyrics. During a congenial conversation with my son about Gangsta Rap, we both agreed throughout his life, Tupac has been struggling to define himself: First as the son of a radical political activist, then as the son of a gangster, then as an outcast in Marin City, and, finally, as a rapper and movie star living the self-described Thug Life. Like many young black men, his struggle has been outright rebellion both internal and external against a life he sees as stacked against him. My son accorded, he has not encountered this in his life. As I looked at my son I saw myself, my brothers, all the young black men Ive ever encountered, trying to prove ourselves to the world.
We both agreed he (my son) didnt have to prove himself to anyone but himself. Yeah! thats right, he didnt even have to prove himself to me, his father. I wondered why Tupac's efforts to validate his existence were so destructive.
I d heard several periods, where the media reported one violent incident after another, I asked myself, Is Tupac on a self-destructive mission? Does he have a death wish? Is he crazy? Ultimately, though, those are the easiest questions to ask. The tougher ones are about race and class in America, no one wants to think about those questions.
No one speaks about pain like Tupac in their lyrics. I separated him from all other rappers. All the pain hes speaking about in his rap, you can see it. All too clearly sometimes.
apparently, it is not just something he works out. In his music or in his acting its something he carries into his relationships with women, with his peers, with authority figures. He seems incapable of separating art from life. I relate to Tupac Shakur as I do Vincent Van Gogh. Because no one appreciated Vincent's work until he was dead. Now his work is worth millions.
If rap is really an art form, then it has to be true and rappers have to be more responsible for their lyrics. Should someone die because of what is said, it doesnt matter that you didnt kill them dead, what matters is that it wasnt someone you saved. Tupac was once quoted as saying I might just be my mothers child, but in all reality, Im everybody's child. You know what Im saying?
Nobody raised me; I was raised in this society. I believe Tupac's intentions and my sons, were always in the right direction. They both needed to show everyone their true intentions, and their true heart. Today Tupac Shakur's Gangsta Rap is enjoyed by black, white, Asian all creeds and colors and also, by all ages. which exhibits music does not have any color or age lines. The lesson learned through listening with a tentative ear help me realize my son was really asking for direction in his life.
He received those directions, thanks to a young black artist, thanks to MAKAVELI (Gangsta Rap). I leave you with yet another quote from Tupac: I see me dying getting shot up for a white kid. In my death, people will understand what I was talking about. That I just wasnt on some black-people-kill-all-the-white-people censored .
Since Tupac was a notable poet I also leave you with a poem: And Tomorrow by Tupac Shakur Today is filled with anger, fueled with hidden hate. Scared of being outkast, afraid of common fate. Today is built on tragedies which no one wants to face. Nightmares to humanity and morally disgraced. Tonight is filled with Rage, violence in the air. Children bred with ruthlessness cause no one at home cares.
Tonight I lay my head down but the pressure never stops, knowing that my sanity's content when Im dropped. But tomorrow I see change, a chance to build a new, build on spirit intent of heart and ideas based on truth. Tomorrow I wake with second wind and strong because of pride. I know I fought with all my heart to keep the dream alive.
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