One thing that has always bothered me about rap music is that rappers always have to put on a front. Even when rapping about legitimate, real life situations, the rapper always makes himself appear fearless and tough. Music should be a free flowing form of art. Like with all kinds of art, the artist should be uninhibited and real if he truly wants to express himself. N.W.A presents social and political issues in a realistic manner, but N.W.A fails to present its individuals as real people.
Even the toughest, hardest people in America’s slums get scared occasionally, but one would never know that if they had only listen to N.W.A’s Straight Outta Compton. By not addressing human weakness, N.W.A’s pertinent message loses some of its appeal and believability for me. The tough guy persona gets old after a while. In their defense, N.W.A was one of the first groups to utilize this ridiculous, fearless, masculinity since they came out fairly early on the rap scene.
But maybe N.W.A and numerous other rap groups use this intensely aggressive front simply because it’s what they know. Citizens living in slums most likely will live their entire lives in the same area and continue the trend of poverty that they have been presented with. So when the resources one has are very limited, but the individual’s goals of success are the same as other’s who are not living in poverty, the realistic means for achieving success are going to be different than from someone who is from a higher socio economic status. In sociology, this is called the Strain Theory. Kids living in Compton are going to want money and material things and will go about typically nontraditional ways of attaining their wants. Kids know they can make money selling drugs. Kids know they can be safe if they join a gang. The point I’m trying to make is, kids know they can the respect and materials they desire by being tough. Even though the tough guy persona seems very fake and put on, the guys in N.W.A are actually from the streets, where acting tough is imperative. So is the macho, powerful attitude a front, or an inevitable product of society?