I swear i'll be writing more in 2014

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Gangsta Movies of the Early 1990s

I'm going to give most of the credit to Do The Right Thing for creating this genre, even though it's definitely not a gangsta movie. It doesn't look like all the rap videos since "Nothing But a G Thang" was released, there aren't big booty bitches, or drive bys, and now that I think of it, I don't even think there's a gun in the movie, yet, it's The Godfather of the inner city drama, and therein lies the difference, inner city vs. gangsta.

Maybe the gangsta award deserves to go to Boys N Da Hood. After all, it's a good movie. This genre hits it's peak in the early 90s, either that, or that's when I hit my peak of the gangsta rap culture. The movies that made this white kid think it's cool to be black aside from the two mentioned were anything else by Spike Lee, Menace to Society, which had that cat O-Dog, who was the first person I ever saw shoot a gun sideways, and swat bullets when a drive-by was coming by ... and here we go ... what do you call it when you're on the defensive end of a drive-by? Just another victim? There's gotta be something ... and speaking of "Just another victim", that was a song by some rap-rock combo act for the soundtrack of that movie Judgment Night which was also part of this gangsta movie era, this one complete with a full soundtrack of acts like Cypress Hill performing with acts like Sonic Youth to further stretch crossover appeal of gangstaism into white rock'n roll culture.

There was Juice, Dead Presidents and let's not forget the movies with Ice-T, like Colors, and New Jack City. To coincide with the golden era of hip hop, there was a golden era of gangsta movies, even if you go back and watch most of these films, and your more likely to laugh at something like Cuba Gooding's shirt, rather than shedding a tear for the one non-gangsta who was about to escape the ghetto, ends up getting killed on the last day of school or what not before college. It's basically the gangsta movie version of the cop getting shot down on his last day before retirement. It always happens in these movies. It was so serious back then, and nearly comical now (sorry, Ricky, but look at the bright side, your death did open up a scholarship at USC, and the program got really good!)

What happens next though, did my culture change? Did I start wearing too many tye-dyes, listen to too much free-form jazz and get caught up in cheap camera work by the likes of Tarantino to take this gangsta genre seriously, or did the gangsta movies simply start sucking, the way rap did once the mid-nineties struck, and it was all about how many people you killed or how many times you'd been shot, rather than how good of a rapper you were? Even though Spike Lee has turned into a full blown douchebag now, he was Chuck D classy back then, or maybe it was just my teenager eyes. Chuck D didn't smoke the chronic and Public Enemy died in the early 1990s when it became essential for every rap act to promote marijuana. Dr. Dre himself went from not smoking it in "Express Yourself" to putting it on the cover of his first solo CD once he realized what a great marketing tool it was. Chuck knew not to sell out, cuz if he did, he'd have to get da hell out.

The way I'm writing this now, I'm a cranky middle aged white man who's lost touch with the youth and the gangsta rap culture, which pitifully seems like the only sub-culture that's had a resounding affect on the youth since that whole punk, new wave thing of the late 70s. The 80s were a sub-culture killer, and grunge lasted what, 3 years and all that's left to show for it is Pearl Jam, who my friends tell me isn't even grunge? (C'mon though guys, look at all the flannel, THAT'S GRUNGE!) Their has been jam band guy, tight jeans bright belt guy (my favorite), roaring lesbian err woman of the 90s, but really no sub-culture that really cares about anything other than wearing alternative clothes or doing alternative drugs. I'm obviously not the same person I was in the 90s, and what I'm realizing now, is that it was a decade that was in full identity crisis because we had just experienced the 80s and knew we had nothing, so we made the best of what we had. It was as if the Reagan 80s erased everything that happened in the 60s and 70s because everybody got lazy with consumerism. I had a very tough time writing this piece tonight because a couple months ago I bought a big flat screen tv and a reclining couch and I'm still madly in love with using them ... TWO MONTHS!!! The Boys N Da Hood didn't have any of these products, just dey homies, and if someone got smoked loc, Ice Cube was going to be pissed off.