Saturday, January 11, 2003

Newsnight Review review

Interesting piece about Gangsta Rap on Newsnight Review last night - although it wasn't quite clear how this fitted with their usual remit (were they reviewing Kim Howell's statement? Or the entire genre?). In the introductory film, Imran Khan described the So-Solid Crew as rapping about "the life they've been brought up with", which seems a bit rich, actually - from the way the stage schoolie so solids blub when they're caught with guns, the best you can say is that they're rapping about the life they think their audience has been brought up with.

What's curious in the current debate is that the focus on the so Solid's gun fixation (which is clearly an image) lets them off their much more serious habit of being linked to sexually-motivated violence on women - the closing of ranks round the member who smashed a girl's jaw when she refused to have sex with him is barely mentioned, despite this being a more everyday crime than the odd bit of gun shooting.
Responding to Khan's focus on the other side of So Solid and Rap lyrics, the positive social commentary, Ian Hislop suggested it was "over egging it to pretend its largely about social welfare", which was a point Ekow Eshun implicitly agreed with - "[they] celebrate money and cars" (rather than guns).

But, generally, the debate didn't actually go anywhere, since at least three quarters of the participants more or less admitted they didn't know much about the music at all - the feeling was vaguely reminiscent of those Chris Morris pieces where he'd ring up a spokeperson and ask them to comment on some outrageous rap track. It's great that there's a debate. Now we just need to wait for an informed one to arrive.

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