In the 1970s, after the Civil Rights Movement had long ended, political and social progress was visible, but the fight for people of color was not even close to done. The crack epidemic was decimating cities around the country, with African Americans as the main victims. The upcoming economic waves that followed World War II excluded black people and left them abandoned in the troubled inner-cities. From one of these cities, the Bronx, emerged hip hop culture.
Hip hop was defined by anger; it was a form of artistic representation for poor, urban blacks, and anger was a huge, defining quality of the new culture. Hip hop instantly received backlash, particularly from older generations, but that did not stop the spread of it. The true opposition to hip hop came in the late ’80s as “gangsta rap” arose. Gangsta rappers were commonly associated with discussion of sex and prostitution, selling and doing drugs, and gang violence. This subgenre of hip hop is known for fusing the criminal aspects with the political and social commentary of political rap. Along with others, N.
W.A. is acknowledged for revolutionizing gangsta rap and west coast hip hop (a subgenre of gangsta rap).
N.W.A. produced music that addressed growing up in Compton (South Central LA) during the ’80s, at the peak of the crack cocaine epidemic. They also released songs protesting police brutality and racial profiling– N.W.A’s “Fuck tha Police” attracted a lot of media attention. It was viewed by many as encouragement of violence against law enforcement, but the true purpose of the song was to highlight the tensions between the police and black youth while calling attention to how the local police focused on targeting young, black minorities.
Because of what people thought gangsta rap signified, many Americans viewed hip hop as a whole, to symbolize the glorification of drugs, violence, and other negatively perceived behaviors. While N.W.A. is known to be a more violence-oriented group, they drew inspiration from slightly more image-conscious groups such as Public Enemy.
During the mid-’80s, in Long Island, NY, a hip hop group called Public Enemy formed. Made up of Chuck D., Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Khari Wynn, DJ Lord, and S1W, the group released their first album Yo! Bum Rush the Show in 1987. Their political focus changed hip hop, and they became known for their politically charged music and outspoken criticism of the American government and media.
However, despite being outspoken