Sunday, March 6, 2011

Legacy of Gangsters: My Month With Snoop Dogg Begins

It feels really good to be off the sickly saccharine high of polka and into some honest funk and grime and Snoop certainly offers that with his litany of rhymes. As I do every month I first prepared my self by blasting my brain with a variety of his work to get a feel for what I was dealing with before going back and giving each release a deep and thoughtful listen. As I was doing so I felt a weird deja vu I couldn't put my finger on. I had heard Vato on the weeds sound tarck and I know Snoop is doing a Pepsi commercial but aside from that I haven't had much exposure to his work or even other rap fpr that matter. Still there was something subtle about what I was hearing that caught my attention subliminally and made me like it instinctively. Who did this guy remind me of? I was drawing a blank but thankfully Snoop Doggy Dogg provided me the answer just a few songs later with the following dedication;
"I'd like to dedicate this song to Mister Johnny Cash..a Real American Gangster"
  ..then he launched into one of the best and most inventive rap songs I've ever heard called "My Medicine" and I had my answer.
 It seems crazy and certainly not intuitive at all but when you think about it it does make perfect sense. They both consider themselves outlaws and that along with guns, women and trouble are an underlying themes in everything they do. We can even take it a bit further and look at the mythologies they both represent. Being a gangster and the lifestyle that comes with it really isn't all that far from the wild west and the gunslingers that Cash is known for immortalizing. The moral "Life is hard and sometimes ugly and surviving is a triumph" is a moral I would expect to hear from both. Also, we can take it from the height of mythological significance down to to the lowest common denominator; the common man. Neither make music for the industry, hell Cash was thrown out of the Grand Old Oprey for being to rowdy, but rather for regular people. Snoop said it.."I'm not a musician..I'm Gangster".."I write my songs for gangsters, bangers and bitches". I can't prove it but I bet if you polled all the prisions in the US Snoop and Johnny would be two of the most listened to artists even to this day. That's because for both thier music begins and ends in the streets and while Laredo is a long way from South Central the themes are the undeniably the same.
I love Johnny Cash and this connection is a good start for the month...I look forward to learning more.

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