Nuthin' But A G Thang

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In the late 1980s, gangsta rap music emerged in urban America, giving voice to -- and making money for -- a social group widely considered to be in crisis: young, poor, black men. From its local origins, gangsta rap went on to flood the mainstream, generating enormous popularity and profits. Yet the highly charged lyrics, public battles, and hard, fast lifestyles that characterize the genre have incited the anger of many public figures and proponents of "family values." Constantly engaging questions of black identity and race relations, poverty and wealth, gangsta rap represents one of the most profound influences on pop culture in the last thirty years.

Focusing on the artists Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, the Geto Boys, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur, Quinn explores the origins, development, and immense appeal of gangsta rap. Including detailed readings in urban geography, neoconservative politics, subcultural formations, black cultural debates, and music industry conditions, this book explains how and why this music genre emerged. In Nuthin'but a "G" Thang, Quinn argues that gangsta rap both reflected and reinforced the decline in black protest culture and the great rise in individualist and entrepreneurial thinking that took place in the U.S. after the 1970s. Uncovering gangsta rap's deep roots in black working-class expressive culture, she stresses the music's aesthetic pleasures and complexities that have often been ignored in critical accounts.

Columbia University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Journal of American History - Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar

This book is a welcomed addition to a growing body of scholarship on hip-hop and a good contribution to the study of race, class, gender, and black cultural production.

Popular Music - Tom Perchard

Quinn's narrative skillfully interweaves cultural trends and economic contextualisation with a thoroughness rarely encountered in studies of popular music.

Journal of American History - Jeffrey O.G. Ogbar
This book is a welcomed addition to a growing body of scholarship on hip-hop and a good contribution to the study of race, class, gender, and black cultural production.
Popular Music
Quinn's narrative skillfully interweaves cultural trends and economic contextualisation with a thoroughness rarely encountered in studies of popular music.

— Tom Perchard

Journal of American History
This book is a welcomed addition to a growing body of scholarship on hip-hop and a good contribution to the study of race, class, gender, and black cultural production.

— Jeffrey O. G. Ogbar

Library Journal
Since the days of N.W.A. in the late 1980s, gangsta rap has played a critical role in the culture of hip-hop. Quinn (American studies, Univ. of Manchester, U.K.) has written an impressive academic study of gangsta rap's music and culture that traces its roots to antebellum days, through toasting and the legends of the badman and the trickster. Quinn shows that gangsta was a logical progression in the development of urban culture, exploring its meaning in the black community, including its impact on fans, artists, and others involved in creating the music. The biggest flaw is that limited personal insight is given about those behind the music (e.g., Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg). Besides a final chapter on Tupac Shakur, not much is revealed about the lives or motivations of the artists discussed. An interesting, if dry, study of the gangsta culture; recommended for music and cultural studies collections in academic or larger public libraries.-Craig Shufelt, Lane P.L., Oxford, OH Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Eithne Quinn teaches American Studies at the University of Manchester, UK. Her work on rap music, cultural studies, and African American popular culture has appeared in edited books and journals, including the Journal of American Studies and Black Music Research Journal.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

1. A Gangsta Parable2. Gangsta's Rap: Black Cultural Studies and the Politics of Representation3. "Alwayz Into Somethin'&thinsp": Gangsta's Emergence in 1980s Los Angeles4. "Straight Outta Compton": Ghetto Discourses and the Geographies of Gangsta5. "The Nigga Ya Love To Hate": Badman Lore and Gangsta Rap6."Who's the Mack?" Rap Performance and Trickster Tales7. "It's a Doggy-Dogg World": The G-Funk Era and the Post-Soul Family8. Tupac Shakur and the Legacies of Gangsta

Columbia University Press

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 14, 2005

    An interesting interdisciplinary study

    The author explores the genesis and maturation of Los Angeles-based gangsta music and culture during the post-Civil Rights era. She ties the genesis of gangsta to the time when the U.S. manufacturing economy shifted to a service based economy, urban areas were neglected and the neoconservative policies of the Reagan/Bush era redistributed the nation's wealth to a small group at the top. Theoretically this wealth would then 'trickle down' and I suppose it did, though in the form of low paying, dead end service jobs for those who used to be skilled and semiskilled laborers. Her study ends in 1996, where the centrist policies of the Clinton administration did little to ameliorate the problems of which gangstas rap, and classic gangsta artists are mellowing. (And not coincidentally, the year Tupac Shakur, a child of Black Power parents, died in a drive-by shooting.) The generation of young black men coming of age in places like Compton during this time saw only social immobility in the Land of Opportunity, so they created their own opportunities on their own terms. The irony, as she points out, is that gangsta is both a commentary on and child of the rampant free- market 1980's and `90s: ruthless, exploitative, unabashedly commercial, individualistic, hustling. (So is it really any surprise that here in the 21st century, Lee Iacocca gets jiggy with Snoop Dog for Chrysler commercials?) This is an interesting interdisciplinary study of gangsta's texts and contexts, its academic commentators and its diverse opponents. While neither defending nor dismissing gangsta as the latest incarnation of the minstrel show stereotypes (like Stanley Crouch and others ) she demonstrates that it is rife with black archetypes which participate in some very old expressive repertoires. And she looks forward beyond 1996 by mentioning 'Barbershop' in which Ice Cube's character has learned the value of community and non- materialism. Those unfamiliar with the jargon of cultural studies might find themselves confused on occasion (I admit I did) but will also find that things clarify themselves with further reading. I recommend this for anyone interested in African American music and cultural studies.

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