VH-1 will explore hip-hop’s infatuation with cocaine in the documentary “Planet Rock: The Story of Hip-Hop and the Crack Generation.” Executive produced and narrated by Ice-T, the two-hour documentary will feature commentary from Snoop Dogg, B-Real, RZA and Raekwon.
Hip-hop has been hooked on narcotics for over 20 years. The music, which was created by poor black youth in the late ’70s, started as party songs with socially conscious messages.
However, as black neighborhoods across America began to be ravaged by crack cocaine in the ’80s, rappers took notice and an obsession with drugs took over the music. Artists such as Scarface, The Notorious B.I.G., and Kool G. Rap often provided a unique perspective of drug dealers in the black community. KRS-One and Poor Righteous Teachers offered anti-drug messages in their songs.
But as the music became more mainstream, hip-hop artists began celebrating drug dealing as if it was a prestigious occupation. Jay-Z continues to rap about drug dealing, although it’s apparent that he hasn’t lived the street life since the early ’90s. And Rick Ross has become successful by rapping about being a drug king pin although it was discovered that he was once a correctional officer.
But while most rappers can make a song about drugs from a recording booth located in a comfortable multimillion- dollar studio, the black males who are working on drug corners across America are facing dire consequences. They are being being murdered in turf wars and facing outrageous prison sentences due to mandatory minimums. Once they return home from prison, they lack formal education, lose the right to vote, and have few employment options due to their criminal records. Most ex-drug dealers find themselves living in poverty and are tempted to return to their criminal pasts in order to survive.
Jay-Z, Rick Ross and other rappers have a way of making drug dealing seem appealing, but most black men who really participated in the drug trade are suffering.
VH-1’s film will shed light on the issue, but hip-hop’s marriage to cocaine may be too complicated to be annulled. The show is scheduled to air on Sept. 18. –amir shaw