Straight Outta Excuses: Why Blame N.W.A For American Dysfunction?

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Apparently N.W.A is the reason the world is a drug-addled, violence-addicted, misogynistic place.

Abruptly following the successful weekend release of Straight Outta Compton, all the positive accolades and praise the movie and its performers received was sidelined for fingerpointing, name calling, & the age-old blame game. It was like America had forgotten how much they’d originally despised the Niggas With Attitudes but remembered suddenly via its massive reintroduction through Hollywood. By Sunday evening, the movie — which was released just 2 days prior — had already began to generate an Oscar buzz, but by the following morning, the internet was flooded with anti-NWA think pieces. The tables turned quickly on the self-proclaimed “world’s most dangerous group” as they had on them during their rise to greatness.

N.W.A was heralded as equal parts gangsta music and revolutionary for much of their tenure. Truth be told, however, N.W.A wasn’t much more rebellious than the outreaches of “Fuck Tha Police.” For what it’s worth, that song was misconstrued by uninformed America as the Black man’s youthful allegiance to uprise against a common foe in unison. Nope. Not even close. FTP was no more than what it appeared to be; a song about personal disdain for cops. It just happened to resonate on a higher frequency. And rappers weren’t dropping those types of blatant, defiantly dramatic tirades back then, not with such abrasive and aggressive honesty, so it should be no surprise that the group received notoriety. But to make them living martyrs for an entire movement is ridiculous. Who wants that type of pressure foisted upon them? The core of the group’s material was loosely based on the elements of the street life: alcohol, drugs, violence. That was their introductory underscore as well as their swan song. To quote the groups de facto spokesman, “Life ain’t nothin but bitches and money.” It wasn’t that deep until people made it that deep. After all, music is entertainment and entertainment is not reality.

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Now, as N.W.A is being repackaged and reintroduced to a post-racial, post-sexual gender, “anything goes” America, the backlash against what the group represents resurfaces as well, with Internet-fueled vigor.

Many are calling N.W.A the reason crime and violence continue to plague that Black community, saying their music ushered in a new era of fratricide, singlehandedly destroying any positive ground gained by the African American before then.

Others have concluded that N.W.A was secretly planted in the music industry by secret society to spread vile messages of self hate and communal destruction.

Neither of which can be proved or dispelled, but let’s be realistic about how life works…

To blame one group of young men — regardless how influential — for an entire cultural dysfunction is absurd. Granted they didn’t do much uplifting or motivating, but that’s not the role of the entertainer. Especially not rappers from the 1980s. I blame America’s perverse obsession with celebrities and the fact that no one takes responsibility for fucking up anymore more so than some guys making records for my amusement. The same goes for movie stars and video game characters. The influencer is only as strong as the influncee is weak, if that makes any sense.

During my stint on The Adam Carolla show (as Tony the Black Guy, street liason) in the early 2000s, we did an episode where I was to be hypnotized. The poor illusionist tried everything he could to lull me unto his control. It didn’t work. Not because he’s unskilled or unable, but because I was unwilling. Unwilling to relent command of my reality to this schmuck. This isn’t a learned response but rather a brick cemented in my foundation, which began being constructed at home, by my parents and the community that fostered my nuture, and it’s a skill I use daily, since childhood. Instilled in the beginning. This is where we should look for the first signs and preliminary clues as to the unraveling of modern society, not rap music.

In theory, the crack epidemic and the collapse of the Black family happened at the same time that NWA’s music began circulating and I subscribe to the idea that these factors played a more momentous role in the continuance of any self-sabotage executed than the words and actions of some rappers. I listened to as much Eazy and N.W.A and Slick Rick as my friends did, yet I can roll out a role call of my comrades that chose to travel on the wrong side of the tracks. If N.W.A is such a maniacal mechanism then why didn’t its voodoo work on me or countless others? To hold N.W.A up against other, more positive rap acts is not only unequaling the Hip Hop yolk, but also throwing all rap music in the same bag, a place where it doesn’t belong. The reason groups like Public Enemy and X-Clan coexisted with groups like N.W.A and CMW is because rap music doesn’t follow an itinerary or schedule. Nor was it designed to teach and provide education. Rap music is no different than the film industry, and I dont understand what people dont understand about that.

Like I’ve said thousands of times on hundreds of occasions; rap music is entertainment and entertainment is not reality. Once there is a definitive, collective acceptance of this fact, our perceptions and demands will change, and just maybe we’ll start placing the blame on the accurate perpetrators.

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