Obscenity With a Beat | Letters | Chicago Reader

Obscenity With a Beat 

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In the interest of full disclosure, I'll admit that I have not read Michael Eric Dyson's book, Between God and Gangsta Rap; perhaps I should, but just based on the information given in the article about him [March 16], I don't think I need to in order to express my opinion on the subject.

My opinion? Well, as much as I agree that we should not alienate our children, I do not think that we need to give any validity to rap and hip-hop, not as it stands today; and as Mr. Dyson's own son expressed in the article, "The substance is going down; it's all about glitz and glamour."

That is a rather tempered statement, I think. It seems more to me that modern-day rap/hip-hop has sold out and gone into minstrelizing itself in order to pander to the lowest common denominator of human behavior. To put it another way, it has degraded into a bizarre amalgam of pornography and Stepin Fetchit. And the finest example of that is the presence and success of Eminem. I don't understand why Dr. Dre hasn't painted him with burnt cork yet, but I don't think it's too far off. You can also almost predict what you will hear/see in the music or video, that is how formulaic it has become, and the worst part of it is that it tends not just to show negative, destructive behavior, but to glamorize it.

There was a time when black Americans tried to keep the "street" outside their homes; oh, we knew it was out there, and we didn't try to pretend that it didn't exist, but you didn't let it in the house. Now it comes in through the radio, the television, you name it, and since it's "making money" it seems to have gained approval. Set obscenity to a beat, and somehow that sanitizes it for consumption.

As I said before, I do not think we should alienate our children, but there is a limit to everything; I'm not prepared to leap into a cesspool to conduct a dialogue with anyone. We'll talk later, and only when you get out and clean up a little. At the outset, he related his experience with being robbed by a "gangsta"; in my opinion, they are still robbing us.

Michael Reese

Chicago

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