Songstress Offers Controversial View on ‘Gangsta Rap’
Alicia Keys, the talented Grammy-Award winning songstress, graces the May, 2008, cover of Blender magazine. One of the more original and talented artist in recent memory, Keys has always raised eyebrows. However, on this occasion it’s not for another spectacular performance, but her conspiracy theories.
Keys, a Super Bowl XLII pre-game performer tells Blender “Gangsta Rap was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. ‘Gangsta Rap’ didn’t exist,” she continued.
The 27 year old mentions wearing a golden AK-47 charm around her neck to symbolize “strength, power, and killing ’em dead,” and has become an avid reader of Black Panther autobiographies.
In the midst of a heated Democratic race, Keys willingness to openly express her political theories has provided a new debate.
“It may have been a ploy but a ploy by whom?” asks Mercia Williams-Murray, the metro editor of Howard University’s Hilltop. “Blacks wanted to speak on violence as they knew it as a part of the storytelling,” Williams-Murray explained. “Gangsta rap is a form of rebellion-maybe not as positive or political as, but similar to the teachings of the Black Panthers.”
With attributions to the “government and the media” in the interview, Keys continued her theories, expressing that the deaths of Hip-Hop greats Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. were incited to “stop another great Black leader from existing.”
The mid-nineties blaze between the east and west coast roar throughout all the major media outlets, and tragically waged on until the music industry lost two prominent figures. Over ten years removed, their unsolved murders still resonate.
“Music created by artist like Tupac and Biggie was honest and truthful,” noted Brad Wete, a contributing writer for Vibe Magazine. “Once their styles and stories are popularized, music label execs encourage their acts to do the same,” Wete continued.
“Add parents who don’t teach their children not to admire the crime life and news mediums that criticize what they don’t understand,” explained Wete, describing a genre that has received heat from the likes of the F.B.I. “Suddenly Alicia’s theory doesn’t seem so crazy.”
With violence prevalent in movies, television, and video games, people question the government involvement in ‘Gangsta Rap
” It’s funny that people still point the finger at black music for every problem in the black community,” said Anwar Daniels, founder of The Soul Sample website. ” It would be weird if George Clooney said that grunge music was a ploy to convince white people to commit suicide.”
Compton-based rap group N.W.A., whose Straight Outta Compton album marked the beginning of the ‘Gangsta Rap’ era, faced heat from the F.B.I for advocating violence.
“N.W.A. just called themselves rappers or artists. Our government and media outlets were the ones who put the negative spins on their movements and labeled them “gangsta rappers,” noted Wete. Universally recognized for relationship-centered records like “Fallin” and “If I Aint Got You”, Keys said that she would be looking to explore more political issues in her music. “I have to find a way to do it myself,” said Keys, referring to the increased global outlets artist have today.