Week of April 22nd: West Coast and Gangsta Rap

Updated Monday 4/22 with Wednesday’s listening and the assignment sheet for the paper
NWA-Straight-outta-comptonFor this week’s classes, we move back to Jeff Chang’s Cant Stop/ Won’t Stop and Amos Wilson’s Black on Black Violence to look at the West Coast to see the rise of Gangsta Rap, Los Angeles, and the back story of N.W.A., Ice-T, and Ice Cube.

For Monday 4/22, read Chapter 14, “Geography, Generation, and Gangsta Rap” in Can’t Stop. Skim pages 307-314 (on the background to the development of LA’s Black community). Read Chapter 6 “Self Alienation” in Wilson, pages 94-104. Wilson’s tough going, so read slowly and carefully. Think about how Wilson’s idea of self alienation relates to some of what we see in the music. Listen to Toddy Tee’s “Batterram” (1985), Ice-T’s “Six in the Morning”, and N.W.A.’s “Fuck Tha’ Police”, “Gangsta, Gangsta”, and “straight Outta’ Compton” from the 1988 Straight Outta’ Compton album (1988) Ruthless Records. If you’re listening on Spotify or elsewhere, be sure to watch the “Straight Outta’ Compton” video below.

For Wednesday 4/24, read Chapter 15, “The Real Enemy” in Can’t Stop. This chapter shifts to Ice Cube, who splits from N.W.A. Also review/ re-read the chapter in Amos Wilson on “Self- Alienation.”

Also watch the following clip from the 1991 film Boyz N’ the Hood, which Ice Cube starred in as a gangbanger.

Optional: I’ve uploaded an interview Black Feminist cultural critic bell hooks did with Ice Cube for her Outlaw Culture book to the Readings page. Not officially assigned, but worth a look if you’re interested, particularly given the various feminist readings and critiques of hip hop. For more on early LA hip hop history, Davey D’s post on this on his blog is worth a read. He goes into more depth on KDAY radio than we could in class.
Finally I handed out the assignment for the one paper we’re doing this semester (MS Word document:S_13_HH_Paper). If you missed class or lost yours, here it is.