Cover

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Title Page, Series Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

Figures

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pp. ix-x

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Preface: The White Boy Listens to Gangsta Rap

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pp. xi-xvi

The story goes like this: I perform much of my “research” while riding in my car with my iPod plugged in to the stereo. Music by the likes of NWA, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and Tupac Shakur blares from my car speakers as I mine the songs for insights into this thing I call the “mark of criminality.” I come to a stoplight and...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xxii

Since finishing my PhD, I have taught at three different institutions in as many states. The result has been no small amount of personal and professional chaos but also the good fortune of connecting with many extraordinary people without whom this project would not have come to fruition. I am undoubtedly leaving...

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Introduction: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era

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pp. 1-9

While the United States has always, to one degree or another, waged war against crime, the period comprising the late 1980s and 1990s was a watershed of racialized moral panic regarding the perceived threats that criminality posed to civil society.1 At that time, politicians in both the Republican and Democratic Parties...

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1. The Horrors and Heroics of Crime; or, Mapping the Mark of Criminality

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pp. 10-32

To understand how the mark of criminality developed coherent generic characteristics that enabled the public vilification and containment of America’s black urban working class and poor at the close of the twentieth century, and functioned as a resource for cultural production for gangsta rap artists, we must go...

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2. Parody, Space, and Violence in NWA’s Straight Outta Compton

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pp. 33-60

If the 1980 presidential election was, in part, a referendum on the viability of Keynesian economics, the campaign of 1984 was undoubtedly an appraisal of so-called Reaganomics. During his first four years in office, Reagan championed and implemented a slew of neoliberal economic policies. For example, during his first...

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3. Leisure, Style, and Terror in the G-Funk Era

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pp. 61-87

Do the Right Thing, director Spike Lee’s cinematic meditation on the racial politics of the late 1980s, ended with prophecy. Following the death of the film’s Public Enemy–playing, silent black militant Radio Raheem at the hands of New York City police officers, a black Brooklyn crowd explodes in anger. Mookie...

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4. The Politics, Commerce, and Rage of “Thug Life”

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pp. 88-112

Two months before Death Row Records released Doggystyle, the Source published cultural critic dream hampton’s interview with Snoop Doggy Dogg. The article’s first page features a large photograph of the ascendant rapper staring menacingly at the camera and gripping a silver pistol. He was, like his Death...

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Conclusion: A Politics of Criminality?

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pp. 113-126

The mark of criminality is an affectively charged generic regime of discourses about blackness that possesses formal consistencies and strongly malleable characteristics. During the late 1980s and 1990s, an emerging form of music called gangsta rap appropriated the mark of criminality in the successful pursuit of staggering...

Notes

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pp. 127-158

Bibliography

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pp. 159-180

Index

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pp. 181-186