Hip hop culture discusses issues that the members of Black ghettos face. For example, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s “The Message,” which was “. . . arguably the first rap song to detail the harsh realities of ghetto life,” talks about several of these problems (Barbour). One major issue people in Black communities face is poor living conditions. The first two main verses of “The Message” mention these living conditions. These verses describe the speaker’s lousy apartment, which has “Rats in the front room, roaches in the back;” these verses also tell of a “Crazy lady, living in a bag,” meaning she lives on the street (Grandmaster Flash 40). “The Message” also speaks about violence in urban Black communities. For instance, one part of the song talks about a girl getting pushed in front of a train and a man getting stabbed “right in his heart.” Aside from this example, another verse describes children looking up to the “Thug...
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...eive, such as when the speaker states that he or she received “a bum education” (Grandmaster Flash 41).
Overall, Nelson George really was telling the truth with his statement “Hip hop culture is just another name for black ghetto culture.” Examining the origins of the culture as well as the topics discussed in 1980s and 1990s hip hop music proves that his statement is accurate. Today, hip hop has strayed from focusing on real issues faced in Black ghettos; instead, modern hip hop glorifies Black issues such as drugs, violence, and more. Though modern hip hop may not represent real Black ghetto culture, hip hop music from the eighties and nineties does because it discusses issues in Black ghettos, demands the acknowledgement of those issues, and is related to Black culture. Because it touches on these subjects, early hip hop truly does represent Black ghetto culture.
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