Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

Synopsis

In the late 1980s, gangsta rap music emerged in urban America, giving voice to -- and making money for -- a social group widely considered to be in crisis: young, poor, black men. From its local origins, gangsta rap went on to flood the mainstream, generating enormous popularity and profits. Yet the highly charged lyrics, public battles, and hard, fast lifestyles that characterize the genre have incited the anger of many public figures and proponents of "family values." Constantly engaging questions of black identity and race relations, poverty and wealth, gangsta rap represents one of the most profound influences on pop culture in the last thirty years.

Focusing on the artists Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, the Geto Boys, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur, Quinn explores the origins, development, and immense appeal of gangsta rap. Including detailed readings in urban geography, neoconservative politics, subcultural formations, black cultural debates, and music industry conditions, this book explains how and why this music genre emerged. In Nuthin'but a "G" Thang, Quinn argues that gangsta rap both reflected and reinforced the decline in black protest culture and the great rise in individualist and entrepreneurial thinking that took place in the U. S. after the 1970s. Uncovering gangsta rap's deep roots in black working-class expressive culture, she stresses the music's aesthetic pleasures and complexities that have often been ignored in critical accounts.

Excerpt

In 1986, the San Francisco–based brewer McKenzie River Corporation launched a new brand of malt liquor, a kind of high-alcohol beer, called St. Ides. Two years later, struggling to find a market niche, the brewer dramatically reoriented St. Ides’s brand image by dropping the soul group Four Tops as endorsers and turning instead to rap artists. Rather than employ the services of more established rappers, McKenzie River approached the underground, burgeoning rap scene in Los Angeles to market its product. The brewer signed up producer DJ Pooh (Mark Jordan), who was entrusted with production of the commercials. McKenzie River almost totally relinquished creative control, giving Pooh great latitude in production decisions. The underground producer laid down the tracks and recruited rap performers who would write their own odes to St. Ides in commercials that were aired on radio and television. The marketing coup that McKenzie River pulled off was quite extraordinary. It had tapped into the beginnings of West Coast gangsta rap before the genre term gangsta had even been coined. DJ Pooh was making a living producing records and deejaying as part of LA’s Lench Mob, affiliated with the Uncle Jam’s Army crew. The campaign’s debut rapper was King Tee . . .

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