Gangster rap saved my life

Earl Sweatshirt, Birmingham, AL 2014.

Earl Sweatshirt, Birmingham, AL 2014.

Gangster rap saved my life. Really -- it did. And not in some catchy, cliché, ironic t-shirt to make me seem cool type of way.

Gangster rap did more for me than I ever thought it could.

It gave me a sense of confidence and swagger that helped me push through some of my lowest points. It helped me to understand my own people. It helped me see past negative media representations of the artists spitting gunplay over 808s. It made me search for a deeper understanding of pain, struggle and sorrow. It forced me to open my eyes to the systematic oppression and the death of my people. It placed a heavy burden on my heart to some how think of some way to inspire change, to lead revolution and to just ride along to the music, all in the same breath.

Gangster rap is more than just violence, gold chains and hoes. It's raw form of poetry about a part of society that everyone would rather forget about, even within the black community. It's easy to turn a blind eye when you're as little as 10 miles away from a place that can seem like another world. It makes me want to strive to do better for myself, my people and to work to bring the community together, instead of tearing ourselves apart. The music refuses to let you ignore it. It's hard, heavy, abrasive and in your face. It’s powerful, drawing you in until you finally find yourself understanding, if only for four minutes, the pain and suffering that inspired the tune.



Then you're forced to think. In a society where you're force fed the "correct" types of media, something that makes you think is rare. The genius of gangster rap lies in the packaging -- knowledge over dope tracks.

It'll probably always get the reputation of being a catalyst for crime, despite the people pulling the strings to create the systems in which crime begets crime. This is why I choose to believe that gangster rap saved my life. There's so much more to it than it'll ever get credit for.

Posted on March 20, 2014 and filed under Literature.