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346 7 hıp-hop, donuT Techno 347 gheTToTech, s, and dreams 348 H ip-hop’s golden age was an era of incalculable ingenuity and indeterminate length. Arguably born with Run-D.M.C.’s Raising Hell and buried with Biggie and 2Pac,it was broad enough to employ the entire recorded canon as its source material but petty enough to fracture in relation to substance and locality. Sticking to its guns, quite literally, California married itself to the eternal quest for “bitches and money,” riding high on a wave of syrupy ’70s massage-parlor funk. Alternately, New York waxed philosophical, mining jazz for its bountiful cache of sample material and incorporating Afrocentrism and absurdist humor into dexterous, grandiose rhyming patterns. On a smaller scale, Miami coasted by on speaker-blowing bass lines and the unfathomable power of a bawdy limerick,unconcerned with western animosity or northeastern intellectualism. Initially without rap-scene representation, Detroit’s late’80s renown stemmed more from reports of homicide, arson, and crack addiction than musical innovation. With the closure of city-based factories starting in the 1950s and suburban migration by corporation and private citizens alike,Detroit suffered a staggering decrease in urban population and viable employment. Left in the wake of this mass exodus was an unemployed community trapped under a pile of industrial waste and mounting debt. Author Ze’ev Chafets surveyed the scene in his New York Times article “The Tragedy of Detroit”: “Detroit today is a genuinely fearsomelooking place. Most of the neighborhoods appear to be the victims of bombardment—houses burned and vacant, buildings crumbling, whole city blocks overrun with weeds and the carcasses of discarded automobiles.” The faintest glimmer of hope flickered with each Pistons championship and Mayor Coleman Young’s integration of the Detroit Police Department, but corruption often accompanies fame and power, usually at the expense of the disenfranchised. What Detroit needed was a voice that stood in stark contrast to the status quo, one that would eloquently and forcefully expose the truth and italicize a renewed interest in education and social justice. Awesome Dre was that voice. Leaning too close to the social consciousness of East Coast rap to ever make it as a gangster, but playing too rough to fit in with the Native Tongues posse, Andre Acker can be a bit of a paradox, one that never willingly acquiesces to the confines of hip-hop’s caste system.It’s through this dichotomy,this push and pull between intellect and brute force,that he generates a compelling narrative—one that investigates both sides of a significant social issue and struggles to forge a path to the solution.Taking so much to task can lead to moments of contradiction or half-formed thoughts that often result in fits of rage or bursts of obscenity,but this fiery demeanor and affront to conventional morals are what make his writing so brilliant and significant. The contrast perfectly embodies a city struggling for Frankly Speaking Awesome Dre’s Outspoken Detroit Matt Deapo 349 MaTT Deapo an identity, and his fiercely independent thinking is the spark that started a fire, resulting in a multiracial, eclectic,and outspoken hip-hop movement. Joining the navy fresh out of high school, Acker accumulated confidence in the service, battlerapping with his fellow recruits in their spare time and honing break-dancing moves that he’d been rehearsing since his pre-teens. With the morale of his crewmen behind him, he got the nerve to take his writing seriously, starting a collaborative known as the Hardcore Committee and signing a deal with a chic independent label known as Priority Records. His debut LP, You Can’t Hold Me Back, boasted a tenacious demeanor and chilly aggression,ascending to number 52 on Billboard’s R&B/hip-hop chart and generating coverage on BET and Yo! MTV Raps. Despite growing acclaim from outside the city, Dre maintained a local presence, refusing to relocate his team to Los Angeles (home base of labelmates N.W.A.) and opting instead to develop Michigan’s fledgling rap culture and film the video for his LP’s eponymous song at the Latin Quarters. The homegrown clip bubbles over with communal goodwill and the juiciest bits of Average White Band’s “Picking Up the Pieces,” generating a retro sense of enthusiasm and the buzzy euphoria of a house party. Dre even indulges in the hyperactive, choreographed dance numbers,nearly keeling over as he struggles to enunciate his methodical punchlines. Lyrically, Awesome Dre...


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