N.W.A Didn’t Kill Hip Hop or the Black Community

Straight Outta Compton, the movie documenting the rise and fall of gangster rap groupN.W.A, came out this weekend to much success. Round about numbers suggest that the movie made somewhere between 40-50 million dollars (or even more than that). I went to see the movie myself. Being that I grew up in the height of N.W.A’s popularity, a lot of the story line was pretty familiar territory. Many people went to see the movie for the sake of nostalgia and entertainment.


n.w.a-straight-outta-compton_1_660xYet, there are going to be detractors to movies that has central characters of a more infamous nature. Sadiki Kambon called for the boycott of the film over a year ago. Truth Minista Paul Scott notes that the group is totally misogynistic, the music industry is corrupt, and Jerry Heller is a “war criminal who should be brought up on charges of war crimes against the African American community for his role in our genocide.” Oh, and don’t forget the Black-man-hater supreme Christelyn Karazin even had to make a video about it all. So yes, people aren’t going to want this movie to be successful.

My response to this: yawn.

These people are boring and there is a reason why nobody listened and nobody cared.

N.W.A and the Negativity

I mean, let’s get real: N.W.A did make music with a lot of negative situations. If you ever took the time to listen to tracks like “Findum, Fuckem, and Flee” and “I’d Rather Fuck You”, anyone would see the wild sexuality and misogyny dripping from the rap canvas. And I don’t even have to make an account of the songs that were violent and harsh against anybody that stood in their way. Your proof: “Appetite for Destruction” is enough to see the issues that people had with their music. The negativity of the music is there and not much search is needed.

N.W.A Still Catches a Bad Rap

While nobody is really trying to make any euphemistic picture of what N.W.A’s music was all about, I do actually see a lot of people wanting to blame the music and not the conditions. And to me, this is laughable at best. Especially when many don’t note that N.W.A came out during a time of apparent diversity in rap music.

N.W.A 1

One problem with blaming N.W.A, and any other negativity highlighted in music, is that no one actually approaches any real causes. It is almost as if Black people weren’t dealing with crime, violence, or the mistreatment of (Black) women before gangster rap. Yet, there was violence during the 1960’s and ‘70’s when most popular music was about love. Also, Franklin Zimring of the University of California, Berkeley, found that crime rates across all major cities declined in the “gangsta rap” 1990s to levels more closely resembling those of the big-band era. Let us not forget the issues that plague inner cities (poverty, lack of resources, schools under trepidation, etc.). So, is N.W.A the real cause of the issues we had back then and even today?

Another problem is that, even in the legal sense, it would be hard to blame music for the cause of violence. There has been quite a few court cases where rap music was used as a scapegoat for someone’s criminal actions. Hell, they failed at using 2Pac “Soulja’s Story” as a scapegoat for Ronald Howard’s killing of Officer Billy Davidson in Texas back in 1992. In truth, the only time music was successfully used against a rapper was when it was their own music highlighting their own crimes. As such, the only legal use of music being a cause for violence happens when the rapper is the criminal.

N.W.A vs. Everybody

How can we honestly keep trying to pin the blame on music when the reality existed beforehand? As much as life imitates art, art actually imitates life even more. Blaming rap music for the ills of inner city society has been tried and true for decades. However, whatever protesting and disagreement put out in the world hasn’t done much. And it hasn’t done much because the focus is on the byproduct of the real problems. In the end, blaming N.W.A for situations that existed before them (and they talked about) is scapegoating at its best; at worst, its ignoring problems that existed before and after their influence.

It is always wise to find the cause of a problem instead of blaming the byproduct.


[Originally posted at Chocolate Covered Lies]