New Revolution of Rap (1985 – 1990): Group Discussion
1. How and why was the anti-apartheid movement of South Africa reflected in rap in the US? Why did Run DMC replace their gold chains with African medallions? How and why did urban youths identify with the anti-apartheid movement as reflective of their own civil rights movement? How was this reflected in the music from the specific case of Sun City by AUAA and the general trends in the genres of world beat to rap?
2. Def Jam was the first hip-hop music label. It managed to cross over Run DMC to white audiences and Beastie Boys to black audiences. What were the racial alliances? Did the concept of “racial branding” influence class solidarity sufficiently to override racial divides, or did it function to perpetuate stereotypes?
3. What are the key themes in Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power” and X Clan’s “Heed the word of a Brother” music videos? How are these similar with respect to African and African-American pride, yet how do these differ from each other in their approach? How do you explain Public Enemy’s popular “commercial” success in comparison to X-Clan’s “underground” appeal?
4. In general terms, Public Enemy told us to “fight the power.” Whereas NWA clearly pointed the finger to authority figures like the police. What are the messages between hip-hop and power or legal authority? Include in your discussion issues of racial politics, censorship, and/or police brutality as appropriate from the readings and media.