Total Propaganda: From Mass Culture to Popular Culture

By Alex S. Edelstein | Go to book overview

11
RAPPROP Telling It Like It Is

A more angry music than rockprop is seeking its apotheosis in our popular culture; its tone sometimes violent and obscene, rapprop carries the deep imprint of oldprop. Although it has not yet led its racial, ethnic, and youthful segment of a generation to the promised land, its vernacular will continue to tell it like it is. Its tone, form, content, and instrumentation nonetheless have expanded the dialogue between the races as a newprop of inclusion.

As an art form, rapprop has hallowed traditions. It traces its musical heritage to West Indies celebratory reggae and a hip-hop in rhythm. But in late 1968, a trio of Black poets established a precedent for The Last Poets to weld revolutionary politics, incendiary street language, and jazzy musical accompaniment into a polyrhythmic genre of rap music. Mainstream rap retains that exuberance, but it protests the infliction of pain on generations who have been excluded from the popular culture. Where it describes exclusion from the popular culture and proposes steps toward inclusion it aspires to newprop, and with its success, it is not simply "talkin' and talkin,' it's talkin' and walkin.' "

A quarter of a century after The Last Poets, Dr. Dre commanded worldwide attention as one of hip-hop's angriest young men, a one-time member of the N.W.A., the California group that put gangsta rap on the charts with imagery of an urban landscape bristling with blood and bullets, profanity, misogyny, and potent beats.1

Despite the smutty lyrics of Snoop Doggy Dogg, mentored by Dr. Dre, and Ice-T, oldprop became somewhat subdued by the mid-1990s. Even Ice-T

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