“I don’t know what kind of album ‘The Chronic’ would have been without the riots,” – Kurupt

While searching for news, I came across a fantastic article out of the Los Angeles Times by Ernest Hardy and August Brown about the LA riots and their relationship with West Coast rap. It only seems appropriate to link the read as the riots happened a decade ago.

If you like, you can read the entire story here but, if not, check out a few select excerpts from the piece below.

On West Coast rap foreshadowing the riots:

The L.A. riots of 1992 arrived with its soundtrack in place. Sanctioned police brutality, a grim job market, gang life, a decimated school system, the toll of crack on poor neighborhoods and racial tensions were all being documented by West Coast rappers long before Rodney King’s beating by Los Angeles Police Department officers was documented on tape.

“Even before the riots … voices in L.A. hip-hop were foretelling what was to come,” said director John Singleton, whose 1991 film “Boyz n the Hood” was one of the first empathetic looks at South L.A. life for many Americans. “So many people who didn’t grow up black and poor couldn’t understand why it happened. You can live in a different part of L.A. and never understand that frustration. But if you listen to ‘F— tha Police,’ you hear where they’re coming from.”

On the rise of West Coast after the riots:

The riots gave marginalized music from the hood a global stage and sudden mainstream legitimacy. The music born of the very conditions that precipitated the riots now transcended South L.A., and major labels began signing and promoting West Coast artists like Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. For better or for worse, the Southland style that became known as gangsta rap changed the trajectory of pop music by becoming the ’90s definition of cool.

On how West Coast rap’s (d)evolution:

Major record labels began to cash in on this new twist on the rap narrative, and that gave rise to a new breed of superstar MC in the form of Snoop and Tupac. But like most music co-opted by the mainstream, the style dubbed “gangsta rap” quickly devolved into very profitable self-parody while claiming to “keep it real.” Enter MTV’s”Cribs,” “Pimp My Ride” and Ja Rule’s gold-toothed grill.

It also paved the way for a far more commercial style of hip-hop that largely dropped the subject of social ills in favor of bragging about bling. Still, that early West Coast rap alerted the mainstream — and a post-civil rights generation — that all was not well in America.

Again, you can (and should) read the whole article here.

via the LA Times

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