Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Jeff Chang on Rap and the LA Riots of 1992

Courtesy: Los Angeles Review of Books.

it was Dr. Dre's The Chronic, released 10 days before Christmas, that became the quintessential post-riot album...Against the backdrop of the reintensified culture wars and the patently empty promises to "Rebuild LA," The Chronic seemed a heaven-sent balm, a handshake extended by capital to the kids... Dre's songs spoke less explicitly than Kam's, but no less powerfully, to the atmosphere of the truce parties, the ecstatic freedom of rolling down the street without having to worry, for once, about cops or enemies... 

But separated from the prospect of a potential war between armed united gangs and the LAPD — for which authorities were at one point reportedly preparing — The Chronic could also be heard as the beginning of a guiltless, gentrified gangsta: no Treaties, rebuilding demands, or calls for reparations: just the party and bullshit. It was the product that finally and seamlessly closed the gap between the vanilla exurbs and the chocolate inner-cities: a brand-conscious "G" Thang ready for easy consumption.

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