For the lucky few, rap has become a way of escaping the ghetto and becoming a star. But at the roots of this music is the misery of the ghettos, racism and police violence. How did this street music become mass culture? Has rap sold its soul as a marketing product?
The Crown, Baltimore. In an underground club, 26-year-old Butch Dawson expresses his anger at the daily violence in Baltimore’s neighbourhoods. For Butch and his friends, rapping is both a way of denouncing this violence and a way of getting away from it. Thanks to rap, he will soon be leaving his home state of Maryland to tour for the first time.
The world’s largest rap festival takes place in New York City. Over a hundred artists play to 60,000 people. But a few days before the festival, the NYPD called for the removal of five artists from the programme. They claimed that if these artists were allowed to play, there would be a greater risk of violence. Months later, one of the rappers taken off the scheduled was murdered.
Street violence often catches up with rappers. They die young. According to a study conducted by an Australian university, more than half of the deaths are homicide. To understand the connections between rap and gang violence, we travelled across America, speaking to artists, fans and police. Diving into a world where sex and money are key.
Speaking to soldiers, psychologists and prisoners tortured with his music at Guantanamo, Sesame Street composer Christopher Cerf finds out how the military has been employing music as a potent weapon for hundreds of years.More info