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Hip hop refers to both a musical and a cultural genre that was developed predominantly by African Americans and Latinos (primarily of Puerto Rican ethnic heritage) in urban communities in the United States starting in the 1970s.
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- I think it’s unconstitutional when art is used against an artist to implicate them in a crime. The First Amendment provides that people have free expression, and I think with Black men the lens — we’re evaluated almost exclusively through a criminal lens. And so what would be art in the eyes of, or at the creation of, one person becomes a crime when it’s created by a young Black man. Again, it’s good that the judges pushed back against those attacks on 2Pac’s artistry and his constitutional right, but we’ve seen that since that time, prosecutors have continued to use rap lyrics to try to chill free expression.
- Paul Butler as quoted by Alec Banks, “The Oakland Police Lawsuit, the Gangsta Rap Defense, & Chokeholds”, Rockthebells.com
- Rap music is the only vital form of music introduced since punk rock.
- Kurt Cobain, as quoted by Karen Bliss, M.E.A.T. Magazine (September 1991).
- So if I act like a pimp ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I call you a nappy headed ho ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I shoot up your college ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
If I rob you of knowledge ain't nothin to it gangsta rap made me do it
- But as with yesterday's comic books, the fact that future generations will snicker at gangsta rap's glorification of violence and over-the-top misogyny doesn't mean that Bill Cosby is wrong to deplore it today - and the fact Americans seem to cope with the steady coarsening of our popular culture by becoming steadily more jaded about just about everything ought to be cause for concern, rather than complacency.
- Ross Douthat, “Yesterday's Culture Wars”, The Atlantic, (April 17, 2008)
- The only trend I do not like in rap right now is the message rap. I consider the message rap the equivalent of what strings were to rock 'n' roll in the late '50s - a capitulation to the adult norm who can't accept the music on its own terms. The people who considered "Sixty Minute Man" by Billy Ward and the Dominoes, "Annie Had a Baby" - as the pinnacles of '50s R&B now are super uptight over the - in quotes - hotel/motel lyrics of rap. Rap is definitely as true to the essence of rock 'n roll as anything that's out there today.
- [T]he hip hop nation is wonderful. Surely there are those who would demonize this group of young people, but they are only doing what our ancestors have always done: used what they have to get where they need to go.
- The history of conscious hip-hop is interesting. The best MCs in the world have always — when I first came in the business — always needed to have something conscious, something dealing with the community, something uplifting, something positive. Even if the majority of the content was negative, you had to have that. And that changed over time.
You had Tupac and Biggie came out, and then you had Jay-Z. And the best rapper became about who was the tough guy, you know? Who's busting they gun off or something like that. And now you have Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Wale, J. Cole. They're talking a lot about partying; you know, sex, having fun. And those are the guys who are considered the best. People consider conscious rap now, in hip-hop circles, to feel condescending or feel like not a part of the mainstream. So the challenge for me is, "How do I be as good or better than these rappers out here?" and "How do I stay relevant with my music still being considered conscious?"
- Talib Kweli, "Talib Kweli On Mainstream Hip-Hop And Honoring The Old School", The Record, NPR, (April 24, 2013).
- These artists talk about 'ho this, bitch this, skank this' and all the other stuff. They're talking about all our mothers, all our sisters. They're talking about their own mothers, grandmothers. You have to have knowledge of self and knowledge of history. Because if you had that you would not use that terminology. You would not even be in that mindset. And we're in a time when young black boys and girls want to be pimps and strippers, because that is what they see. . . . Something is definitely wrong.
- Spike Lee, Ryerson University speech in "Spike Lee derides gangsta rap lyrics in T.O. speech" by CTV.ca (Canadian Press), (March 15, 2005); as quoted in The Free Radical.
- Young black kids didn't grow up wanting to be a pimp or a stripper like they do now. You might think I'm making generalizations, but I don't think I am. That's how serious this stuff is. When I was young, cats going to college got as much (love) as the ones who could rap or play ball.
- Huey: Who cares about what Hip-Hop is supposed to be? I’m talking about what it is. Most of rap music is violent and stupid, and that ain’t the media’s fault!
- Caesar: But most entertainment across the board is violent. You don’t see people attacking Robert De Niro for being violent in movies!
- Huey: But in movies, everyone acknowledges it’s fake!
Robert De Niro doesn’t kill someone in a movie, then look at the audience and go, “Bobby D. Fool, what?!”
- Caesar: But, man it’d be cool if he did, though, right?
- Huey: Look, rap, for the most part, has been stuck in the “Gangsta Rap” era for over ten years now – mostly because it sells so well to white kids.
But rap doesn’t clearly draw the line between fact and fiction. The whole point seems to be to make people believe that made-up gangster tales are true.
- Caesar: Now waitaminute – I know you’re not trying to imply that Ja Rule isn’t really a killer. Me and you ‘bout to fight.
- Huey: Never mind.
- New music is often popular for the very fact that earlier generations find it shocking; this was "our" music, misunderstood by others. What most people heard was just a loud of shouting and swearing; they thought the music appealed because of its shock value. They couldn't have been more wrong. These rappers were bright, street smart, and articulate. Their rhymes encapsulated the experiences of being young, male, and black in a way that simply didn't exist elsewhere in the media. This was a time when banana skins were still being thrown at black players at football matches, when Nelson Mandela was still in prison, and when the beating of Rodney King by the LAPD was about to send shockwaves around the world. The sense of disenfranchisement, that you couldn't rely on the state for help, was very real.
- Maajid Nawaz, Radical: My Journey out of Islamic Extremism (2013), p. 21
- The potential for [rappers] to deliver a message of extraordinary power, that gets people thinking [is there]. The thing about hip-hop today is it's smart, it's insightful. The way they can communicate a complex message in a very short space is remarkable.
- Barack Obama, BET interview; as quoted in "Barack Obama, first president to come of age in hip-hop era", Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, (November 09, 2008).
- This is hip hop. Hands up, if you're forever a fan of hip hop. I wake up hip hop, go to sleep hip hop. Dream about hip hop, because I am hip hop.
- Many black rappers--including Ice-T and Sister Souljah--contend that they are being unfairly singled out because their music reflects deep changes in society not being addressed anywhere else in the public forum. The white politicians, the artists complain, neither understand the music nor desire to hear what's going on in the devastated communities that gave birth to the art form.
- Chuck Philips, (July 19, 1992). "Cover Story: The Uncivil War: The battle between the Establishment and supporters of rap music reopens old wounds of race and class". LA Times.
- Rap — so many words, so little said. What rap did that was impressive was to show there are so many tone-deaf people out there. All they need is a drum beat and somebody yelling over it and they're happy. There’s an enormous market for people who can't tell one note from another.
- Because most rappers started out with a DJ playing records for musical accompaniment (no live musicians), many rap records are based around the chords and bass lines of popular songs.