Beyond Gangster Blackface ~ A Critical Analysis Of Gangster Rap

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The documentary “Beyond Gangster Blackface: A Critical Analysis Of Gangster Rap” explores the psychological and sociological impact of Gangster Rap; a subgenre of Hip Hop music that continues to promote physical violence, male criminality, disrespect of women, and negative male/female relationships. Given the destabilizing effect of such programming it is essential that parents and children are equipped with the intellectual tools needed to protect their subconscious minds from negative media indoctrination.

In the late 1980’s the Compton-based rap group N.W.A brought forth what has been dubbed as “gangster rap”; their lyrics shining light on the ills facing many African-Americans who lived in the impoverished communities of South Central Los Angeles. N.W.A “Niggas Wit Attitudes” released their first album in 1987 and went on to release 3 more albums of music.

25 years after N.W.A’s first album was released the group was re-introduced to the world stage through their film biopic “Straight Outta Compton”. The film premiered in Los Angeles on August 14th, 2015 and was a box office success. The film biopic “Straight Outta Compton” promoted N.W.A as a socially conscious rap group whose lyrics spoke out against police brutality. But was social activism the primary theme in N.W.A’s lyrics?

In this documentary we will take a critical look at N.W.A’s lyrics. We will ask critical questions about the influence that their lyrics have had on society in general, and on the African-American community in particular.

Lyrics can have a positive or a negative effect on a person’s mentality, language, behavior, and self-identity. This being the case we should each ask ourselves, “What is the quality of the lyrics that I am listening to?” Parents should ask, “What is the quality of the lyrics that my children are listening to?” These critical questions can be asked about any genre of music and can also be applied to television programming, movies, the internet, and all other forms of global media. We will now focus on the rap group N.W.A while asking questions about the sociological impact that their lyrics have had on society in general, and on the African-American community in particular.

A critical analysis is a detailed examination of the merits and faults of the elements or structure of something. While researching for this documentary I conducted a critical analysis of N.W.A’s lyrics. My critical analysis included both the lyrics that can be heard in the foreground of N.W.A’s music and the subliminal lyrics and conversations that can be heard in the background. The methodology for my critical analysis consisted of the following steps:

Step 1: Repeatedly listen to N.W.A’s complete discography

Step 2: Write down the common words and phrases that are used in N.W.A’s lyrics

Step 3: Write down how often each common word or phrase is used

Step 4: Identify the major themes present in N.W.A’s lyrics

Step 5: Compile a list of common words, phrases, and major themes for each N.W.A album

Step 6: Calculate the per minute average at which each common word, phrase, or major theme appears in each N.W.A album

Step 7: Compile a list of common words, phrases, and major themes that appear in N.W.A’s complete discography

Step 8: Calculate the per minute average at which each common word, phrase, or major theme appears in N.W.A’s complete discography

The process of critical analysis that we have outlined throughout this documentary can be applied to any Hip Hop artists, any genre of music, to any book, magazine, movie, television show, website, etc. In applying this process of critical analysis you will be able to determine whether or not what you are listening to, what you are viewing, and what you are reading, is in your best interests. You will also be able to determine whether or not what your children are listening to is in their best interests. Critical thinking, asking questions, and a clear process of critical analysis is one of the most important skill sets that you can develop in your life.

To ask critical questions about the quality of the lyrics that you are listening to will help you to determine whether or not those lyrics are in our best interest. For you parents it is vitally important that you are aware of the messaging present in the lyrics that your children are listening to. You must be the first line of defense with respects to your children’s mental, emotional, and moral development. I sincerely hope that this documentary has helped you to develop the intellectual tools needed to better protect yourself and your children from the negative media programming.

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