1991-1999 In Violent Hip-Hop Lyrics: A Rhetorical Analysis
1991 - Public Enemy: Shut 'Em Down
This song is about life in the hood. A guy owes a ton of dough on loan to a bank. He cops a rap sheet and goes to court. Now he owes the bank, the court and lawyers. He starts slinging drugs to pay off his debts. The people can't take the situation anymore. He says that if the police beat up anymore innocent people, then his neighborhood will get violent and, "shut it down." Black community and police relations are at a boiling point in this music video from 1991.
"Dey gotta give up the dough
To da town
We gotta shut 'em down"
1992 - Ice Cube: Now I Gotta Wet 'Cha
This song is a commentary on the outcome of the Rodney King police brutality case. Ice Cube goes in deep, using a wet t-shirt as a metaphor for someone who has been shot in the chest. Cube goes on to say that violent retribution for police brutality is justified and should be aimed at white supremacists and the officers who brutalize his black countrymen.
"Valley for the KKK, Rodney!
A place on the map where the order is
though devils can't leap up a motorist
and get nothin but a slap on the wrist"
1994 - Scarface: Jesse James
Scarface is one of my favorite rappers because of his mastery of rhyme and imagery. In this song, "Jesse James" -- from the hardcore gangsta rap album, "The Diary" -- Scarface describes his assassination crime. It begins with him committing a murder in cold blood without any mercy or regret. Then he confronts random other people on the street, which ends in their murder. Scarface puts the listener in the mind of a indiscriminate murderer, showing that some people are just evil or cannot comprehend empathy.
"Cause life has no meaning, no meaning
We were all born to die, so no screaming
Think it's a motherfucking game?
I come around this motherfucker and cut yo ass just like
Put out your motherfucking brains
I come around this motherfucker and do yo ass just like
Jesse James "
1996 - Makaveil (Tupac Shakur): White Man'z World
This song is about a inmate's perspective on what it will take for him to achieve emotional atonement after coming to terms with the murder of of his friend, at his own hand. His take on the situation is that he must hold himself personally responsible for his crimes; with the recognition that black on black crime and mental slavery are the principle causes for the black community's crime epidemic. Furthermore, these issues of poisonous culture arise out of the social paradigm of a, "white man's world." it is claimed that the current American culture, which black people find themselves a second-class of, was never outfitted to acclimate black people. Nor did black folks have a hand in building it. This is the principle problem that creates a intra-cultural struggle in the black community. However, Makaveil shows hope for his people and pledges that someday black peoples will become the most successful race on the planet. He states that in the creation of their own cultural paradigm, blacks will flourish and end the cultural ills that currently plague their community. He theorizes that this new paradigm of black leadership can be achieved though mass awakening in the embrace of black power prophets such as, "Mutulu Shakur, Geronimo Pratt, Mumia Abu, Jamal Sekou Odinga, all the real OG's."
"We've been here all this time
They ain't took us out, they can never take us out
No matter what they say, about us bein' extinct
About us bein' endangered species
We ain't never gon' leave this
We ain't never gon' walk off this planet
Unless y'all choose to
Use your brain, use your brain"
1999 - Ol' Dirty Bastard: Baby I Got Your Money
This song is about a pimp threatening his hoe with violence in order to receive his, "protection" money. Then he spends all her money in the club, gets on stage and rocks the house.
"I don't want no problems cause I put you down
In the ground where you can not be found
I'm just dirt dog trying to make sum bunny
So give me my streaks and give me my honey"