Wednesday, January 10, 2007

"Like Short Sleeves I Bear Arms"

Idle gun chatter in Hip-Hop really began to take shape in the early nineties, after all the partying and afrocenticity began to fade (or was phased out, take your pick). I didn't really hear much gun talk until NWA's Straight Outta Compton hit the streets when the word "gat" was introduced to my vocabulary. I don't promote the use of fire arms by any means although I do respect the constitutional right to bear arms. (I mean, if rogue cops can pack heat and use them indiscriminately against innocent and unarmed people, I don't see why the public shouldn't be able to protect life and property if need be. Like KRS once said, "Who protects us from you?" Exactly.)

My point is that Hip-Hop is the only musical genre that openly describes the use of guns with such fervor - metaphorically, figuratively and literally. I'm fascinated at how much gun talk is used by rappers as means of lyrical intimidation and egotistical manhood considering how much gun violence has devastated their communities. The phenomenon can most likely be attributed to the beginnings of the crack epidemic. You can probably check the statistics on the correlation between drug-related crimes and gun violence and find that gun related deaths began to show a sharp increase when crack started to make it's way into the more vulnerable inner cities. During this period, Hip-Hop's music began to take on a more grave and violent tone where gang violence (see NWA) and crack dealer tales and imagery (see Wu-Tang) really started transforming the content of the music and the message.