December 23, 2003



From Jonathan Gold's piece on Eazy-E in the LA Weekly.

It's 1988, and "[i]t is possible to read a profile of a performer without coming across the phrase 'surrendered to police.'" You see, NWA is going to ruin all this. It helps to forget Fatty Arbuckle, Keith Richards, Jerry Lee Lewis and dozens of white people when you write loaded sentences like this.

Gold goes on to recreate the moment when NWA played "Gangsta Gangsta" for their label, allegedly changing LA forever. He makes some good points about consumer identity, ("The moment an audience stops wanting to be M.C. Hammer is the moment that they stop buying M.C. Hammer’s records") but then catches some "gotta finish the piece" vapors:

"Ice Cube left the group and became the voice of his generation as both a musician and a screenwriter. Dre developed a stable of platinum rappers for Eazy’s label, invented what would be called New Jack Swing, then left to form another label, where he developed a second stable of platinum rappers, including Tupac and Snoop Doggy Dogg, and left again to form yet a third company that brought us 50 Cent and Eminem. Eazy, before he became arguably the first major rapper to die of AIDS, nurtured a gangsta–cum–corporate wax war with his former colleagues that was almost operatic in its complexity."

A) Ice Cube stopped being the voice of his generation when he became an actor. B) The creation of New Jack Swing is attributed by everyone other than Gold to Teddy Riley. It is one of the only genres that can be plausibly linked to one producer, and it ain't Dre. C) When Dre signed Tupac, he was fully "developed" and solidly popular. D) The Eazy E/Ruthless dispute was much like any other contract breakdown. What was "operatic" about it? E) Straight Outta Compton is more responsible than any other album for the creation of the gangsta aesthetic, but "Gangsta Gangsta" is kind of an odd tune to single out. It does have the word "gangsta" in the title, though. F) Eazy E was the first major rapper to die of AIDS. What's the arguable part?

Posted by Sasha at December 23, 2003 07:03 AM | TrackBack