13-12-2012 | 14.21
Music, cities, subcultures and rebellion are often heavily entwined. This was most definitely the case in Los Angeles in 1992, when hip hop, the suppressed black community and riots were the main ingredients for a hot summer.
In 1991, the infamous assault on Rodney Kind took place in Los Angeles by four white police officers. The beating was captured on tape and got a lot of attention in the American media. For a lot of folks, especially the black population, these images represented everything that was wrong with the police, in L.A. specifically and across the United States in general. When the four officers were acquitted, rage and disappointment turned into riots which lasted for six days and resulted in 52 casualties and hunderds injured.
This boiling point didn’t come up for one day to another, but was the sum of decades of social, urban and racial issues. American cities became more and more segregated and divided in white and black areas. The black neighbourhoods were mostly poor, there were little utilities and, most importantly, the violence by police officers against black youngsters was seen upon as unnecessarily harsh and racist.
Hip hop was a major outlet for the black youth since the beginning of the genre. The famous five elements of hip hop were used to show the youngster how to deal with gang membership, drugs problems, the police and the life in the ghetto’s of American cities. The most famous protest song became N.W.A’s Fuck Tha Police from 1988, that voiced the critique on how the police and the law were handling the black youth. It made sense that this song became the anthem for the protesters in Los Angeles of 1992. The protesters at their turn influenced hip hop artists. A great example is Dr. Dre’s classic The Chronic, which was produced during the riots and has some sound fragments of those days on the album
The interrelatedness between hip hop, urban difficulties, subcultures and protest will be illustrated based on the riots in Los Angeles in Uprising: Hip Hop and the L.A. Riots. On Tuesday the 18th of December, this documentary will be displayed during Shadow Cities at 20:00u in De Verdieping.