Picking the wrong fight

Nothing ever changes. Twenty years ago, the right and the newspaper columnists were blaming satanic messages in heavy metal albums for suicides; nowadays, they’re blaming violent criminal youth culture on gangsta rap. I really think it’s time the record was set straight here, given that the high-and-mighty middle class journalists (that like to pretend they’re working class in order to pretend to be socialists) obviously have no idea what they’re talking about.


Yes, there’s been a rise in youth violence and gun crime and, yes, the people involved are buying records by American rappers. But to say that the two are linked that closely is putting two and two together to make five. The thing is, anyone who deals with teenagers on a regular basis (like yours truly – let’s face it: I am one for the next six months) would be able to tell you, if they thought about it, that gangsta rappers are not the people they’re emulating. The rap-buying demographic are mostly the baseball cap and tracksuit wearing part of the population – and they wear those clothes in a not-very-gangsta way. Their cheap tracksuits are offset by cheap jewellery. They don’t walk with a gangsta swagger; instead, they have a sort of skulking hunch to their gait. The white guys who listen to rap and r’n’b are the followers in the movement, compared to the leaders who are black and asian. And the black and asian people these tracksuit-monkeys are emulating hail not from America, but from the poor areas of London.


Take the population of Birmingham. The wander around in caps and tracksuits and greet anyone they meet with the words, ‘safe, geez.’ They even say it with a London accent, sometimes eschewing their natural midlands tones entirely for a poor imitation of the estuary. And the artists who really inspire their behaviour don’t make records in big L.A or New York studios and don’t really have anything to fear from an assassin’s bullet, but make their records in their bedrooms in the council estates they grew up in and fear only the occasional knife attack when a drug deal goes wrong. Gangsta rap is not the enemy, no more that metal ever was. The real bad influence is the council estate culture of ‘make a quick tenner’ that glorifies general antisocial behaviour in the name of being young and pretending to be black. If we want to rail against a music style, then let’s attack the London hip-hop scene; that’s what’s really producing the scummish behaviour we’re increasingly seeing on the streets.


~ by Scary Rob on 23 January, 2005.

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