Black Lives

Black Lives: Hope . Gospel or gangsta rap, same message, different vibes

Since the time of slavery, African Americans have responded to oppression through music. This creativity has given America a wealth of musical genres, from spiritual to R&B.

In episode three, Black artists share the message of their music. Dogman is a crack baby turned gangsta rapper from L.A.’s Compton ghetto. He uses wordplay to cry for attention in the midst of the battle between gangs and the police. SaRon Crenshaw, an East Coast blues guitarist, gives his own twist to the tunes his ancestors used to voice their grievances in the cotton fields. And Seaton Hancock, a saxophonist whose range goes from hard rock to jazz, plays very loudly in Harlem bars because: “You brought us here, now you’re stuck with us!”

Meanwhile, G-Wyll busks on the New York Subway for rent dollars and passes on his philosophy: “In the United States, everybody wants to control everything. Men don't control nothing…” Whereas Miriam Johnson, the pianist at Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, explains how, in times of sadness, “sometimes you just need that song.” For her, that is the magic of Gospel music: “It gives people hope.”

What do you think?

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