August 21, 2013

I’m pretty sure I watched this 20 years ago, which dates me, but maybe not as much as the discussion itself. Recorded amidst the gangsta rap explosion, this MTV mini-doc features everyone from 2Pac and Onyx to the Reverends Calvin Butts and Al Sharpton. It also includes the word “bawdy” to describe Miami bass music. Ice-T exists to serve as the Marilyn Manson of gangsta rap, unusually eloquent and always a brilliant self-promoter. You can still see shades of these controversies in the way that people sometimes talk about Chief Keef or Odd Future a few years ago, or whatever new scourge crops up to terrify parents and intrigue white guys in turtlenecks from upstate New York (the video gives ample turtleneck time).

It also reminds you of the time when an MC Breed and 2Pac video could get burn on MTV and the absence of both could make everyone shed a single solitary Henny tear. Gangsta rap still exists and always will. But it’s no longer a prerequisite. We probably have Kanye to thank for breaking the stranglehold on artists needing to re-invent themselves as “hard,” a la Hammer circa The Funky Headhunter. Or a former poetry aficionado named 2Pac becoming Makaveli. But we also have Kanye to blame for setting the stage for the Sad Boyz to emerge, so there’s that.

Part 2 of the video is below the jump. Thanks to Crates of JR for the upload.

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