west coast rap

PART 5 - Rap, Race & Riots (How the Rodney King Verdict Changed Hip Hop)

PART 5 - Rap, Race & Riots (How the Rodney King Verdict Changed Hip Hop)


The anger and frustrations of the community were put on display for the world to see, stores were burned and looted. While it was nowhere near the magnitude of LA, it was a reminder to America that you can only push a community so hard for so long until eventually they push back. All news media directed their efforts towards the happenings of Baltimore, and as fate would have it, all of these events occurred within days of the 23 year anniversary of the Los Angeles uprising. Maybe it’s a sign of things to come, or maybe its just a coincidence.

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PART 3 - Rap, Race & Riots (How the Rodney King Verdict Changed Hip Hop)

PART 3 - Rap, Race & Riots (How the Rodney King Verdict Changed Hip Hop)

For years before the Rodney King beating, hip hop had been talking about the way young black males were being mistreated by the police departments in their neighborhoods. With the exception of the fans of the art, and those living in those communities, their cries were widely ignored. The most well known track about the relationship, N.W.A.’s “Fuck The Police”, got the attention of the federal government who would send a cease and desist letter to the groups' record label. The news of this only made the group more popular, and to make matters worse, their music was becoming more and more popular in the suburbs.

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From Spoken Word to Hip-Hop: The Watts Prophets & Kendrick Lamar


Seemingly born out of the 1965 Watts riots, The Watts Prophets used the art form of spoken word to be the voice that detailed the harsh realities of a time before them, their present, and the perils of a future if the "dead" did not "wake up"! But they also spoke of love and romance, and everyday life in their surroundings. Today's Kendrick Lamar of Compton introduced a fresh voice, detailing his life growing up in the inner city of his west coast hometown. Hip-Hop used to be primarily a voice, a way to tell the truth about the world we live in. This why Mr. Lamar has & continues to maintain the respect and admiration of Hip-Hop's pioneers. Enjoy below the some of the West Coast's finest spoken word and hip hop:

The Watts Prophets - I Remember Watts



Kendrick Lamar - M.A.A.D. City (Featuring MC Eiht)



'I Remember Watts' vs. 'M.A.A.D. City'

When you hear The Watts Poets say "To light up Los Angeles, it only took one [watt]. I remember Watts...a place where winos and have-nots took their treasured possessions to pawn shops.." are you able to draw any parallels when Kendrick Lamar growls "..Seem like the whole city go against me, every time I'm in the streets I hear YAWK! YAWK! YAWK! YAWK!" ?

Quincy Jones & The Watts Prophets - Beautiful Black Girl



No Make Up - Kendrick Lamar



'Beautiful Black Girl' vs. 'No Make Up'

"Hey Beautiful African Girl, I got something I wanna say to you...Girl, I love you. I love you Beautiful Black Girl & I need you so bad" Whew! Color me inspired. This romantic spoken word piece by The Watts Poets was set to music, and blessed by the legendary Quincy Jones. KDot futhers the sentiment when he shares "The roses on your face light up the sky. Those lips are colorful all the time. Do you mind...no make up today? Her prettiness, the wittiness of colors on her skin tone...

As you can see, The Watts Prophets' influence continues on today! Had you heard of them prior to reading this post? Share your thoughts below in the comments.

Hip Hop Smithsonian, EzineArticles Basic Author
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