Thursday, January 19, 2006

Crack as metaphor

This week's Village Voice tells a disturbing tale: "an odd renewal of interest in all things crack-related."

"[In 20 years] Crack morphed into an adjective (most notably Kanye West's "Crack Music") and it became interchangeable with the enthusiast (Santana's "I Am Crack"); the tone moved from survival to sport. Everything felt bad morally and good aesthetically. Hustling went mainstream, with reality television star Damon Dash and the perma-suit-and-tied Jay-Z. And one wonders what Parent X said when Child Y asked why 50 Cent's autobiography was titled From Pieces to Weight. A few aisles over, one of the year's most talked-about books—Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics (William Morrow)—featured a chapter examining the inner workings of a crack gang that concluded with a simple question: "So if crack dealing is the most dangerous job in America, and if the salary is only $3.30 an hour, why on earth would anyone take such a job?"... We find ourselves at an interesting turn: That violent sliver of New York history known as the 'crack wars' has become a discrete historical moment, free for all kinds of post facto analysis and nostalgia. Twentysomething rappers have their uses for history; it's the 1980s again in the streets, all me-first, get-rich-quick flash. Upstairs, veterans of the war are returning home after 15- and 20- year stints behind bars; survivors survey what has become of the city, listen to the music that was made in their name, and decide there is room for their stories as well." Article.


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