Urban Music in the Year 2000
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,
mother*censored*ers get roasted if you *censored* 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
Sadly, life goes on and many people in the ghetto think there is only
one answer to these problems: retaliation.
Now in 1998, the feud is somewhat better. No Limit Records, which is
the number one West label after Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight got
nine years for probation violations is doing fine and remarkably without
violence. 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.
I dedicate this report to Tupac and Biggie in hopes that the violence
in rap will end. We should all be able to live together. In Peace……