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Kendrick Lamar

Baltimore street rap continues to process Freddie Gray's death, police brutality

Baltimore street rap continues to process Freddie Gray's death, police brutality

Street rap, or "gangsta rap" as it was once called, is best understood as dispatches from the soldiers in America's drug war. Whether those dispatches are hard facts, artfully Goines-ian narratives, or totally hyperbolic bullshit, they render the experiences of those deeply affected by this country's ongoing war on drugs. To read street rap as reckless, mindless music corrupting the minds of black youth and feeding white suburbia and city-dwelling white hipsters with fantastical stereotypes—though it is doing those things as well, it just doesn't only do those things—is unwise.

Consider last April's burst of Baltimore rap songs wrestling with...

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