Unit 1.4: Territorializing

Vocabulary

  • Space / Place
  • Topophilia / Topophobia
  • Representing
  • Tagging
  • Noise

Required Reading

  1. Murray Forman, “‘Represent’: Race, Space and Place in Rap Music,” Popular Music, Vol. 19, No. 1 (2000), pp. 65-90.
  2. Jacques Attali, Attali—Noies and Politics,” Noise: The Political Economy of Music (1977), pp. 6-9.

Required Viewing / Listening

  • KRS-One/BDP, “The Bridge is Over” (1987)

  • N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton” (1988)

  • 2pac, “California Love” (1995)

Study Questions

    1. MUSIC QUESTION:  Which of the above tracks above showcases the most compelling sense of place?  Why?  What methods does your track use to establish musical and/or spatial “territories”?
    2. READING QUESTION: According to Forman, why might rap and hip hop artists have felt compelled to articulate such strong connections to “place” (locales, hoods, posses, crews, etc.) in their lyrics?  According to Attali, who regulates this kind of “noise”?  In your opinion, has rap’s noise-making been effective in changing the social structure as a whole?

___________________________________________________

Further Reading

Further Listening / Viewing

  • Nate Dogg and Warren G, “Regulate” (1994)

  • Tim Dogg, “Fuck Compton” (1991)

{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddy Allain September 1, 2016 at 12:58 pm

1. Personally I feel that “Straight Outta Compton” has the most evident sense of place. While it may have not used the same obvious method of conveying place through words like 2pac in “California Love,” “Straight Outta Compton” depicts life in Compton and displays the sense of community there, despite a harsh environment.
2.According to Forman, rap artists are inclined to fierce loyalty to their “territory” because, for the most part, these artists are coming from communities characterized by lower socioeconomic status. Growing up in this kind of hostile environment typically makes one feel insignificant, yet these rappers decide to take pride in their geographical community, creating music that represents the area and its hardships. Attali says the the government tries to regulate this “noise” through censorship laws. Government, along with the music industry, have the ability to filter what goes out to the public,; therefore, regulating what becomes a part of our culture. This gives government and the music industry the ability to shape our culture into something that is beneficial to them, rather than what society wants. Personally, I believe that rap’s “noise-making” has had a significant impact on our social structure. As rap has become more popularized, more people are becoming aware of the issues facing the black community. This is evident through the rising popularity of the Black Lives Matter movement. On the other side of that, we also see many suburban middle-class people idolizing the lifestyle that rappers lead, yet not actually wanting the ramifications of actually being black in America.

Reply

Anna Lee Skinner September 1, 2016 at 12:33 pm

1. I think “Straight Outta Compton” has the most compelling since of place because it really paints a picture. Also the idea of a bunch of guys from the same place that are experiencing similar upbringings coming together and telling their stories creates a since of community by itself. It uses lyrics that mention place and it explains things in a such a way that you feel like you’re there and a part of it. It also talks about Compton in a pretty aggressively possessive way. “Straight Outta Compton” paints a vivid picture.

2. Rap and hip-hop artists might have felt compelled to have such strong connections to place because it creates a unique identity and perpetuates the age old turf war competition. They use their connections to their neighborhoods or areas to educate people on the struggles of their daily lives. For example, N.W.A. and helped put Compton and all the troubles that come with it on the map. Attali says that the people who create the noise are the ones who regulate it. I think that rap’s noise making has been both helpful and harmful to the social structure. It has made people more aware of certain issues, but it has also caused people to mislabel others- it perpetuates some stereotypes and discounts others.

Reply

Kailey Hackett September 1, 2016 at 12:23 pm

1) I believe that the song “California Love” by Tupac, is the best example of an artist establishing “place”. This song had the best detail of making the listener able to envision themselves in the “wild wild west” and be in the place of the artist. It establishes territory by describing specific places and qualities unique to only California. He also describes the different sceneries associated with both the ordinary day life and the intense party scene of night which also provided territory and imagery. We are able to get a feel for what Tupac was envisioning while singing the song whereas the other two songs did not provide the same effect of closeness and territory for me.

2) The artists use “place” words because a sense of where the writer is from gives a lot of insight into the feel of their music. While listening to a song, we can learn a lot about where the artist grew up and their childhood and home situation via the lyrics incorporated into their songs. They are also touching upon the fact that they were finally able to escape these places but they will not forget about the place that helped shape them into what they have become. Forman explained that often, artists growing up in these impoverished areas felt unimportant and forgotten and they are finally able to escape all of this and come out of the “ghetto”. Attali discusses that we, as the listeners, will often only listen to what we want to hear and the artists most often times, will produce the music that they think the audience wants to hear rather than an actual depiction of the “hood” or the “ghetto”. I don’t know if the “noise-making” component of rap music has changed society’s structure, but I do believe that it has brought attention and consciousness to these unfamiliar “ghetto” areas that were otherwise overlooked.

Reply

Christian T Smith September 1, 2016 at 8:30 am

1) Of the above tracks I feel that the most compelling sense of place is presented by Tupac’s “California Love”. I think that through his repetitive riff he paints a vivid picture of both the party culture, as well as the regular day-life. His continuous use of the word California, as well as his references to California stars such as Liberace, along with his use of terms like “California Dreaming” he paints a picture of what the glamorous and proud nature of California is. At the same time he describes the city-life of places like Compton, Sacramento and Oakland. I feel that it paints the most vivid picture because Tupac makes the best use of background music, as opposed to the other two which I feel simply describe their territories through word.

2) Rap artist likely express strong connection to place, according to Forman, is to support, represent and shine light on their community. However we also find that their sense of place, just like most others, is a direct representation of who they are and the life that they’ve lived. We see strong examples of this in classic rap and hip hop, like Straight outta Compton, California Love, and Fuck Compton however it still appears to be very prevalent in songs A Tale of 2 Citiez, Hood Politics, or Canal St. Hip Hop and rap provided new forms of expression and musical outlets that correlated well with representation of hoods, posses and gangs. Attali attributes control and regulation of noise to the government and those in power.
Rap and hip hop have always been expressions of political ideas and change. For example the Fugees album “Fugee-La”, which revolved around refugee conditions and poor politicians with hard hitting lines like “the man behind the mask you thought was Batman is Bill Clinton” or “The 666 cut Wic like Newt Gingrich sucks dick” or Lauryn Hills “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” which focused on the issues with dating culture, the education system, and the overall functioning of the government. Today rap is still a platform for change, in that it expresses unrest and concern in everything from Beyonce’s superbowl hit “Formation”, to Frank Oceans “Nike” (which pays tribute to Trayvon Martin), to Kendrick Lamar’s entire “To Pimp a Butterfly” album.

Reply

Lea Gilbert September 1, 2016 at 12:04 am

“Straight Outta Compton” for me had the most compelling sense of place. Although “California Love” references Compton, California, Los Angeles, West Coast and other places quite a lot, I wouldn’t really be able to place where the piece came from without the constant reminder of where it comes from. The lyrics are more generalized with it centering around dancing where as “Straight Outta Compton” tells the brutal story of what life was like for these rappers and other people like them in Compton. In the song they say “with a crime record like Charles Manson.” This references a man who formed a cult and murdered many people who incidentally lived in California after getting out of jail (for crimes earlier in life). All of the men who rap in the song except for Ice Cube are from Compton, California giving them even more credibility when it comes to talking about the conditions living there. They also mention being from Compton multiple times. At one point Dr. Dre says “Eazy is his name and the boy is comin. . .” and Eazy-E finishes the sentence with “ . . . Straight outta Compton.”
Even though the living conditions might be horrible, some of these rappers develop a strong sense of family and unitedness because they are living through this together. They are proud of where they come from and their hometown is usually how they start on their way to becoming a known rapper because their hometown becomes their first following. I feel like the communities where the rappers come from “regulate” the “noise.” They are a society that determines if they feel like this rapper can represent them or not. As Attali says, “music today is all too often only a disguise for the monologue of power.” It needs to be decided who has the right to wield this power who can accurately tell the world what life is like in the “hood.” I don’t know if rap’s noise-making has been effective in changing the social structure as a whole but it has definitely made people more aware. Before rap and hip hop people (that don’t live in “the hood”) have known that bad living conditions exist, but haven’t really thought about it as something that people experience and live in every day. After rap and hip hop started becoming big, more people started realizing that just normal, everyday people like these starting-up-rappers are living in these conditions and social structures that tear down these people. It suddenly became all too real. These guys rapping about gang wars and police and living conditions haven’t just read about these events, they were or are living in them.

Reply

Emma Berg August 31, 2016 at 11:20 pm

1. I felt the NWA’s Straight Outta Compton had the most compelling sense of place because they rap as a group and seem to make up their own crew or posse. Having the whole group rap made their sense of place seem stronger.They also create a sense of place with sirens and background noise in the introduction. This gives the listener an idea of what it could be like to grow up in compton. Then, the track opens with “You are about to witness the strength of street knowledge”. This implies a pride about what their city has taught them and repeating “Straight Outta Compton” shows that who they are can be attributed to their city. In this track territories are established with each member of the NWA introducing themselves and each one explicitly stating they are from Compton. In each verse the rappers define themselves but eventually it circles back to being “straight outta Compton”. This shows that they are all individuals but the most important thing is representing their territory.

2.Rap and hip hop artists have a strong connection to “place” because where an artist is from defines their music. Forman writes that artists use their city as a foundation and defend their territory fiercely. Hoods, posses, and crews help give young black men an identity and give artists a place to gain following and approval. Artists talk about place in their lyrics because they have a strong connection to the people and culture in their area. Where they are from defines who they are and what they rap about. According to Atalli noise is regulated by government policies. He feels codes, eavesdropping, censorship, recordings, and surveillance are weapons of power. In my opinion, rap’s “noise making” has been effective in changing the current social structure. As rap has become more mainstream so have the issues plaguing the black community. Now, police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement have gained more following as people are more tuned into things going on through rap music and social media.

Reply

Sarah Chao August 31, 2016 at 10:59 pm

1. Both “Straight outta Compton” and “California Love” are compelling to me in the sense of place. “California Love” is very repetitive of the word California but it still paints a clear picture of what California is like: the relaxing vibes, beaches, and groovy culture. I felt like I understood a sense of what California is like through the fun, upbeat sounds. However I believe the one that is the most territorial is “Straight outta Compton” because of the passionate voices and colorful language that allow me to shape an image of their culture. The rappers describe what Compton is like and there is definitely a lot of pride shown about their roots. The lyrics display the violence and hardships they have faced through the rough tone and the video of police chasing and arresting them. Even though what is shown is pretty negative, as I listener, I have learned more about their area.

2. According to Forman, rap/hip hop artists have felt compelled to describe their place because it is their creative space in which they call home and feel powerful. Because of their low economic living conditions, territorializing their space gives them the control they want and they want to show others how tough they are. Their music brings them closer to their family, their ‘hood, and find security through music.
On the other hand, Attali believes that the government regulates this kind of noise we call music. Those who have power to control things, control the public perception.
Yes, I believe rap has impacted on social structure, bringing awareness to areas that weren’t well known and attention to gangs.

Reply

Lauren Brown August 31, 2016 at 8:45 pm

1) I loved the video and the song Straight Outta Compton so much that I watched it twice and am now listening to it as I write this. Before I even start talking about the lyrics, I want to talk about the different beats featured in the songs. In “The bridge is over” the beat was more monotone than I usually like. I still enjoyed the song, but it definitely didn’t give me any sense of emotion which impaired its ability to give me a sense of place. I thought that the beat in California Love was really cheesy and kind of “techno-y”. I wouldn’t have known that it was a hip hop song until Tupac came on. In addition to that it was very repetitive and didn’t hold my interest. In contract, straight outta compton was, in current slang terms, “hype af”. The beat gets the fans excited and the energy in the artist’s voice pulls you in even more. In addition to that the video was awesome. Not only does it give you a tour of the “hood” but it shows examples of scenarios that happen there in everyday life. You can see tagging on brick walls, fires burning in streets, and the group themselves are running around getting in trouble the entire time. It somehow highlights the bad parts of compton while also proving how animated it can be. It actually made growing up there look fun. Obviously that’s not true for the people living there all the time, but still the video gave off a great positive energy that is unique to compton. You know what you’re getting into as soon as you click on the video and the intro says, “you are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge”. With their passion in their voices, the images and attitudes in the video, and the lyrics about touchy issues, they make it clear that they know compton better than you do, and quite frankly I’m impressed.

2) Forman explained that growing up in the “Ghetto” often makes people feel insignificant. Rapping about these places put them on the map and make a positive name for them. They turned their “ghettos” in to “hoods”. In poorer communities like these, gangs are also more prevalent. That means that a group mindset and loyalty to your roots is engrained in the brains of the inhabitants more so than in other areas. Many rappers from areas like these used music to break out of the cycle of poverty. It is important for them to share these journeys with others to hopefully inspire people in similar situations. Attali believes that music (noise) is almost always regulated and representative of people in power. This is because wealthier people are the ones who tend to pay for music more and keep the industry going. Hip hop and rap created a genre that better represented the lives of lower class citizens rather than just the people on top. I think since the beginning of hip hop and rap there have been a lot of social changes. On the positive end, the music has brought more attention to issues in bad neighborhoods. It also gives fans of the music a positive relation to black communities that they may not of had without rap. On a more negative side, many older generations view rap as something that spreads issues rather than prevents them. They think that rap is what causes gang violence, greed, and sexism when really these were issues before rap was introduced. The point of rap is to make people aware of these issues not to encourage them.

Reply

Miles Kish August 31, 2016 at 8:09 pm

1) I think “California Love” does the best job of the three of establishing a real sense of location. To be fair, it is a song literally about a place, whereas the other videos are songs that happen to have place-making qualities. 2Pac uses two distinct verses, the first to highlight the benefits of the west coast life, rapping about the weather, the women, and the music of the state. The second verse speaks more to the realities of living in a community that is categorized by violence and drug use, as well as some of the other parts of day to day life on the west coast.
2) Rap is a genre invented by and populated almost entirely by young black men, a demographic that has been subject to some of the harshest racism of any other group. This marginalization frequently leads to group-forming, in order to feel supported, or to have others to rely on. This is among the reasons gangs continue to be so popular in minority communities or communities with low income, where people feel they have no one else “On their side” except those around them. According to Forman, “It is necessary to recognise that the home territory of a rapper or rap group is a
testing ground, a place to hone skills and to gain a local reputation” (Forman 72). So young black males not only form bonds with those who they face the world with, but also with the places in which they live, and are often confronted with the harsh realities of poverty.
Attali states that individuals control the noise, but they are opposed by the government and other powerful organizations. (Attali 7). This can be seen by the massive reaction to rap by white america in the 80s and 90s, such as Tipper Gore’s PMRC, the frequent refusal of police departments to provide security for concerts, and the common criticism of rap by politicians. On the whole, Rap music has not succeeded in changing the socials structures of the country, but thats not to say it hasn’t accomplished anything. There’s currently a huge national dialogue going on about what it means to be black, police treatment of minorities, and the state of racism in our country, all subjects hip hop artists have been talking about for years.

Reply

Catherine Allen August 31, 2016 at 5:01 pm

1) I thought that “California Love” by 2pac displayed the best sense of place out of the three songs listed above. Phrases such as “let me welcome everybody to the wild wild west” and “the sunshine state” really painted a picture of the perception of the state and showed the artist’s pride in California. While the state of California is a fairly large area, throughout the song the artist listed multiple cities and towns in which gave a sense of unity and togetherness to the song.

2) According to Forman, emphasizing a relationship to a certain place is a very important and essential part of hip hop/rap music. Hip hop artists usually sing about their “locales” or “hoods” because they are representing where they are from or their personal area. These areas also might have been where their music careers took off and it is important for them to acknowledge that. Attali emphasizes the idea that noise and sound can have a very controlling effect. Sounds can be used for bringing people and communities together or uniting them towards a certain purpose. I think that rap music has opened people’s eyes to changes that should be made to the social structure, but no real change has occurred yet. But as more people listen to the ideas expressed in rap music, social structure might begin to change.

Reply

Samantha Creech August 31, 2016 at 2:11 pm

I personally felt that California Love had the most territorial and place-making feeling out of the songs. 2Pac starts off the song with his claim that “California knows how to party”, and during rap verses he portrays the city of Los Angeles from his inward point of view, including the struggles that he faces and the trills that he seeks. He raps first about the lively party scene. This verse sports a positive, almost boastful tone. Next, he raps about the more disturbing side of the city. He takes on a more threatening tone, as if warning off others from messing with the people of LA. Where the first rap verse focused on showing off the party scene, the second rap verse establishes a sense of power. In the third and final rap verse, he calls out other California cities, re-establishing LA’s dominance in the state. Through intimidation and relishing, 2Pac creates a strong sense of place and pride in California Love.

The competitive sence of place that arises in much rap music has been thought to come from the need to belong. Young, poor, black americans have long been repressed and outcast by society, which creates a sort of longing to be heard and to belong. Through tight groups such as gangs, people of the cities may come to feel as if they have something to live for in a country that seems to have turned its back. Through rap, young black americans have a way to shout over discrimination and become heard. A sense of place brings a sense of belonging, of loyalty, and of power, which are things that society tends to rip away from the downtrodden.
Noise and music often reflect the culture from which it orrigionates. With power comes the ability to control, and noise, or music, is often the expression of those in power. Even today, record companies tend to pander to the wants of those who hold money, because it is them who will buy music and them who will provide record companies with sizable profit. Hip-hop first emerged from a sub-culture within America. This sub-culture mostly includes young, poor, black males living in big cities ridden with crime, and the music reflects the experiences of the people. For this reason, hip-hop doesn’t get produced or sold nearly as often as today’s pop music, which follows the experiences of middle and upper class citizens, who are the people with the power in our nation.
Unfortunately, rap music has done very little to actually change social structure. Although it points out many flaws in society and should bring attention to broken parts of the country that must be fixed, the vulgar nature of much rap music (Which comes from the understandable rage of those who write it), gives people an excuse to ignore it. It is written off as profane junk, which causes the message within the songs to go unnoticed.

Reply

Josh Sharpe September 12, 2014 at 1:17 am

1) ‘Straight Outta Compton’ had the most sense of place because of its gritty details of life growing up in Compton paired with an aggressive beat and sounds of gunshots and screeching cars in the background. It is more focused on their own problems growing up while the 2pac song was meant for a larger group of people to be able to relate to.
2) Growing up in the areas that these rappers did forced them to be in gangs just to survive. Everyone in the group is reliant on each other when everyone else in the city is just trying to rob or kill them. This causes a strong sense of brotherhood with one another. Atalli thinks that the government and other power hungry people regulates noise. Rap was successful in changing social structure because it is the simplest form of music to get an idea across. There isn’t much going on other than a cool beat and a person talking in time which makes this style of music easily consumable for youth.

Reply

Kendall Rankin August 29, 2014 at 4:28 pm

1) I think the song with the most sense of place is “Straight Outta Compton.” I say this because they mention Compton constantly, but they also talk about the people from Compton and the gangs and the issues that persist in the area. The video also portrays the relationship between the people of Compton and the police and how terrible it is. That portrayal actually pertains to events going on today in Ferguson, MI.

2) Forman argues that the groups’ sense of place is deeply ingrained into them. They feel like they should give appreciation to the place they are from. It is also something they grew up with to show how much they care about the place they are from. Plus, the people they grew up with are close and very important. Attali says that noise is what people use to put attention on the issues that are very important to them. It draws attention because of the popularity of the music. The noise is the change they wish to make.

Reply

Alex Frank August 27, 2014 at 12:25 pm

1. I believe that Straight outta Compton by NWA has the biggest sense of place in the song. In the article it talks about artists making it their place by mixing it with culture giving the place meaning which was one of the things tied to topophilia. In the song he talks with a lot of conviction of what it was like to be in the ‘hood. They are very passionate about their backgrounds.
2. According to Forman, rappers have the urge to get together by loyalty and bring power to their groups. He talks about their emergence from the cities and the tagging they do in order to have the ability to connect themselves to the cities to show where they come from. The Noise Attli talks about comes out from the rap and hiphop from the city gangs. This noise as overwhelmed the population because it made its way into mainstream ideals and has brought awareness of the gangs to the public eye

Reply

Meredith Aabye August 27, 2014 at 1:13 am

1. All three songs definitely have a unique sound compared to each other. KRS one and NWA both have a lot of posturing. NWA seems to come across aggressive and you really get a sense of how brutal that area can be. These both paint a picture of a specific neighborhood, whereas “California Love” embraces a much larger demographic in a more endearing way. It’s not as specific, so as a listener it doesn’t seem as alien. In that sense, I have more of an understanding of the space.

2. The sense of home is what each artist is rooted in and it’s what they know. Their success started on the home front. It’s where they honed their skills. It’s where their friends and family are. Their success is furthered as their music resonates “with those who share ties to place, posse, and home.”

According to Attali, the media and capitalism is controlling the noise, turning music and musicians into another consumable, except for the exploited. According to Foreman’s piece, each area created it’s own record label essentially taking back control of distribution. It’s seems to have gone far and beyond a local producer, supporting the neighborhood and artists. I can’t help but be aware of all of the products and by-products of large rap artists. Clothing, perfume, headphones, water… Then what? How does that contribute back to the neighborhood? Is that change or just getting sucked into the media and capitalism that seems to be controlling society? Is it just being on the other side of the same game?

Reply

Joseph Flais August 27, 2014 at 12:56 am

1. In my opinion, “Straight Outta Compton” is the most connected as far as place in music goes. It felt the most passionate and was very revealing of what many people would never want to accept as real. Each of the rappers describes in detail about the violence and struggle of where they come from. However, they definitely have some sense of pride in Compton, otherwise they wouldn’t bother writing about it! They remain focused throughout, carrying a rough tone that gives the listener some sense of the roughness in the particular area.

2. Rap and hip hop artists wanted to establish an identity that they could be proud of. Where they are from and who they associate with are all part of creating a strong image for themselves. If you’re coming out of a place like Compton, you must have seen and been through a lot, adding to the credibility of their music and identity. The countless rap crews definitely divided up social structure. Every place has its own unique sound and people will gather around that sound and let it unify them (much like people support their local sports teams). Local labels created by the crews themselves allowed these sounds to exist as a unique part of their particular city.

Reply

Jaymee Panian August 27, 2014 at 12:45 am

In my opinion, the 2pac song had the most compelling sense of place. It imbeds many of the city noises and vibes as he sings about key places that make California culture what it is; such as LA, huntington beach, and many more. It has a real urban feel to it that makes you feel like you as a listener could be walking on the city streets of California. But at the same time, the up beat sounds helped establish the carefree culture and sounds of California. This spatial territories of this song are not as much as established as a struggle as it is as city life that has a sort of carefree aspect to it. According to Forman, rap helps establish a sense of turf, or even family, which is a closeness and a security that some people need, and need to be able to find through music. However, according to Attali, the government regulates this kind of noise. Although rap was able to open up the freedom to express past regulation and let loose.

Reply

James Burns August 26, 2014 at 11:58 pm

1. I defiantly feel that the BDP’s track displays the most interesting sense of place. Aside from the typical “representing” of the bands home town in the Bronx, the group also includes references to other famous black musicians such as Bob Marley even borrows the melodic rhyming pattern of British reggae artist Musical youth. These allusions imply that Boogie down not only feel as though that they, and their Bronx Manhattan communities, are innovators but are part of a larger lineage of great black music. Thus when they question the Queen’s areas contributions to the genre, they are also denying them the right to be a part of this history.
2. Forman argues that many rap artists are compelled to promote their regional communities for a variety of reasons. For one, the early groups function as support or launching pads for artists so there is a sense of obligation amongst many artists. In addition, connection to posse displays and preserves a certain authenticity to rap music. To add, hip hop especially after 1987 is closely aligned with gangs and often this click mentality prevails in the music. Also , a sense of connectivity often grows between those who have experienced hardship together and since the largely working class African American population which was recording rap at this time was in such dire straits many glorify and connect based on the struggles of their past, in the same way veterans may reminisce about war. In addition, the author alludes to regional factors such as Chuck D’s observation that the popularization of headphones in New York has led to a more treble sounding rap music coming out of the Apple. But also, once one city became a recognized Mecca for hip hop it then compelled other cities with thriving scenes to try and get recognized. Such as the rise of Compton’s rap fame, which Eazy E describes as a reaction to the centering of attention on New York. Along with this the author notes that a sense of communal domination is used as an attempt by rappers to escape or survive the terror they are brought up in, and the regional connection is a sort of safety net of fellow travelers. In the case of Sir Mix a lot Forman notes that the artist connects with hometown and at the time “uncharted” city of Seattle in an attempt in order to prove the bonifides for his struggle and other who come from the city.
Attilia describes the popularity of music as a battle between dominate governmental forces and the general public. Since he describes music as a catch all of artistic characteristics, a mirror of society an influence and reference point for the general public entertainment ect, the author wishes to articulate how underrated sound is in our society. Along with this, he notes that bureaucrats often try and intervene and eardrop in on sounds, and then regulate and promote the music they see fit. However, this and other types of regulation are not seen as exclusively negative since what we chose to listen too is so essential. Still, the author concedes that no matter what is shoved down people’s throats they have to have some external reference point to enjoy it. Therefore in the authors mind popular music is a conflict between bureaucratic, specialists, and the general public.
I must agree with this assertion, but would by and large like to disparage the general choices of this triumvirate. Invariably the music that survives must be recognized by the three guardians of culture I mentioned in my last paragraph but through this appeasement many of the greatest artists of the genre are often ignored in exchange for someone more accessible. This unfortunate exchange can be seen in the appropriation of reggae via Bob Marley in America and the current rise of “Indie” artists to the mainstream like Foster the People or Bastille. The point is that noise despite undeniable important in our society as part of our identity plays into our self-conscious emotions as well. Because of this, strained versions of “cool” genres are often shipped off in an attempt to promote a fake sense of community or a self aggrandizement through association. In other words the three branches of Noise contain no checks or balances.

Reply

Alex Fresa August 26, 2014 at 10:36 pm

1) I believe that N.W.A.’s “Straight Outta Compton” captures a great sense of both spatial and musical territory. The police sirens and hard hitting kick-drum in the song create a feeling of danger or uncertainty in the listener’s mind. All of the song’s lyrics are also centered around the fear that the city and group ensue in their opposers. They claim that Compton is what made them this way, directly leading the listener to believe that Compton is an unsafe environment.
2) Many hip-hop artists feel obligated to represent nationalistic behaviors regarding their own birthplace since the rise of its fame in the ’80s. The idea of writing about the life of this in particular place was well-honored in the time and also helped each artist’s work to be much more sincere. How can you rap about things you haven’t experienced yourself? While the original idea wasn’t to butt heads with other urban rap communities, the idea of the originator was often debated and sparked some heavily publicized feuds. Ultimately, each artist believed that the place they grew up was responsible for the quality of their craft. Attali believes that “noise” (things like jazz music) are heavily controlled by governmental forces and are seen as a growing problem in these communities. I believe this centers around the idea of government control, and how they fear those who may gain enough power to rise agains them (music can be very influential as a political technique).

Reply

chilton birdwhistell August 26, 2014 at 10:06 pm

I believe that Straight Outta Compton gives me the strongest sense of place out of those videos. His lyrics were extremely passionate and there was no way it was being rapped just for the money or the fame, but it was passion that motivated this rap. I felt the strongest since of place with that rap. I have certain tracks for certain times I am doing things. I listen to specific tracks when I am in the gym, I listen to specific motivational tracks before a game or race, and I listen to certain tracks to just relax sometimes. Depends on what I’m doing.

In my opinion rapping has been effecting the social structure of the world. Not being racist but I have seen that most african americans listen to rap and it was interesting to see how it gets more popular through the school I go to. Not only do african americans listen to it but white people are as well. It used to be looked down upon if you are from the hood but with these songs that explain what the hood is like and what they have to deal with, I feel like people from the hood get more respect and are in fact sometimes feared… which is not fair at all. But I feel like rap gives the strongest since of place. It is also motivational because lots of rap songs start with how life is awful and then talk about moving to the top of the world “the fast life”.

Reply

Amanda McCauley August 26, 2014 at 10:04 pm

1. I believe that 2PAC’s “California Love” creates the most compelling sense of place out of the above tracks because: it is called “California Love”, it mentions many city names, and it describes the people and variety of lifestyles present in California at the time. “Straight Outta Compton” somewhat creates a sense of place because it mentions Compton, but the only other way I see it creating a place is by its strong, assertive language; somewhat like claiming territory. “California Love” definitely seems to create territory because it discusses all aspects of California as if 2PAC (and Dr. Dre and Roger) has/have seen all of the state and knows almost everything about it.

2. The reason, according to Forman, that rap and hip hop artists have felt compelled to articulate strong connections to certain places in their lyrics is because by creating a domain, power could be tied and created. It would set an individual apart to claim an area and gain a reputation. It also bonded the artist to their surrounding fans and their production area. The times were hard but the family in which they gained through the areas they claimed made them stronger. They had a struggle to cope with and wanted to show how they got through it and where their roots/influences were. It gave African American and Latino youth a way to stand out and make a name for themselves and their upbringing and towns. In Attali’s article, he explains that authorities control the noise/music that is heard by the public. I believe rap has somewhat changed social structure as a whole overtime. The concept has opened “noise doors” and some social ones. It seems like a little change over a small portion, but rap has really opened up the opportunities for African Americans and Latinos to express themselves musically.

Reply

Thea Butler August 26, 2014 at 9:40 pm

1. “Straight Out of Compton” is definitely the most territorial of the songs. Trying to imagine Ice Cube running the streets of Compton today, however, is a little difficult. Nevertheless, this track is more so how NWA controls the streets. 2pac’s “California Love” is very place descriptive. His words paint the picture of California being a party state and the composition makes you want to groove.
2. Rap and hip hop artists were compelled to articulate strong connections to place in their lyrics to identify and later claim territory. Strong notes of respect were also key in lyrics in regards to whose turf was whose. There was acknowledgement and respect for DJ’s and their varying territories. Also, the use of place is to tie hip hop and rap to that particular spot and to separate one “hood” from the next. According to Attali, noise is the source of power and purpose, making it very political. This being said, those who would try to regulate it are politicians or the authorities. On the other hand, he says it’s the culture as a whole that creates this power in music. I do think that rap has been effective in changing social structure. The start of rap for a lot of the ghettos was a way out. At the same rate, it may have given some kids the wrong idea but it has caused a change in dynamics. Kids may have felt compelled to doing more good and stepping up their game or joining gangs and altering their dress to fit the part. The social structure was tipped when rap music came into play. Politicians didn’t know what to do about it, authorities couldn’t do anything about it, and the population as a whole was brought eye to eye. As gangs rose, urban territories at the time, had to be rethought by officials. Today, you see in individuals the affect that rap has brought; some in speech, some in dress choice, and others in lifestyles choices in general.

Reply

Victor Aguiar August 26, 2014 at 9:27 pm

1) NWA’s Straight Outta Compton definitely portrays the strongest sense of place. The fierceness behind the words and just the overall attitude of each rapper in the video show the pride they have in Compton. Tupac’s California Love also shows this pride but not as well as Straight Outta Compton, his tone and the less aggressive style of the song lessen the sense of place for the audience.
2) The strong ties to their posses, hoods, crews, locales, etc. comes from a sense of home. It’s really tough to make it out as a big rapper or hip hop artist. Growing up all rappers know are the community, “hood”, in which they live and are surrounded by. They grow fondly attached and they basically depend on their hoods if they want to get anywhere in the rap or hip hop career. The first fans they have to win over are the people that immediately surround them. It is for this reason that they have such strong ties to certain locales, many times it’s where they are from that got them where they are. All the struggles they went through in that specific place as they grew into the artist they turn out to be really molds them and creates a huge sense of pride of where they’re from.
Each individual regulates noise. Each person can choose whether or not to listen to something and i think this is where rap music has been effective in changing the social structure as a whole. The “founding fathers” of rap music often wrote their music so that their voice could be heard. Now a days rap is one of the most common genres and more and more people are open to listening to it. It has definitely expanded its own boundaries socially in America.

Reply

Jon Michael Askew August 26, 2014 at 8:32 pm

1) N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” does a better job at creating a sense of place within the music than the other pieces. The song shares a multitude of examples/ instances in which the rapper speaking has had to escape from the police and/or prove his street cred. The use of multiple rappers emoting about the same issues from slightly different perspectives creates a sense of community within the song, which can be viewed as a microcosm for the greater struggle of the African-American ‘hood community.
2) According to Forman, rappers felt a strong sense of place because all of the individuals involved in the hip-hop scene (rappers, MC’s, DJ’s, producers, record label executives, etc.) shared a similar experience of poverty, corruption, racism and neglect from the “greater” society of America. Those that made the music and those that listened to it all connected over a common struggle, caused by their socio-economic standing. According to Attali the masses control the “noise”, although the elite powers do as much as hey can to silence and control noise. Rap music has not been completely effective in achieving the change it promoted but this is the fault of the people; for not believing their voices could be legitimately and effectively heard, and it is the fault of our government- for not listening while convincing the people that they were, and that the people had an effective voice. It is a interesting predicament as there is a growing number of people who want their “noise” to be heard, but our leaders who are consciously deaf to our “noise” have used the candy-coated billboard-topping “artists” to their advantage to attempt to silence the noise.

Reply

Jacob Secor August 26, 2014 at 8:20 pm

1) I think it is obvious that “Straight Out of Compton” is the clear winner in the debate over which track is most compellingly territorial. In the song, the words “I’m Straight Out of Compton” are shouted at the listener repeatedly throughout the track. All kinds of persuasive writing are used to convince the listener that the speaker is proud of his being from Compton.
2) Forman states in his article that rap allegiances and territorial mindsets are a much deeper topic than we usually think of them as. He goes into great detail about how the rappers talk both positively and negatively about where they came from, and who they were there with. He articulates that maybe the reason that they rap about those topics is because that’s what defines them. Attali’s opinion on the “noise” can be summed up by saying that we, as the listener, decide what we want to hear and then the musicians are left to create more music similar to what we like. Rap’s “noise-making” definitely has changed the social structure in America; whether it has changed it for better or for worse is debatable and an opinionated argument. However, there is no doubt that rap culture hasn’t changed America.

Reply

Meghan Blackwood August 26, 2014 at 7:30 pm

1) “Califonia Love.” The song is a celebration of the California Hip-Hop lifestyle. Tupac and Dre rap about the activity and creativity they constantly encounter, but also warn about the gang violence, crime and social ills, which they mention with pride. The two rappers were a big part of the West Coast Rap scene, with Dre creating innovative beats and setting the scene for Gangsta Rap, while Tupac led the way as an MC.
2) According to Forman, Rap and Hip-Hop artists may have felt compelled to articulate such strong connections to “place” because of their sense of respecting regionalism and the competing sound areas. They identified with their audiences and followers according to their “turf.” Territories were claimed and respected through cultural practices, and cultural differences (often leading to gang violence.) Attali believes that, with noise, we can “read the codes of life, the relations among men.” Thus we, human beings, regulate this “noise” as a culture. Hip-Hop (amongst many things) is a cultural manifestation of the changes of the world. Through the national changes during the evolution and popularity of Hip-Hop, such as economic, social, political, and cultural changes, Hip-Hop was the creation of a new identity, a new social-structure. Hip-Hop is the poetic language of a people that are very much a part of our ever-changing and ever-shaping society.

Reply

Healey Cox-McMahon August 26, 2014 at 5:39 pm

“Straight Outta Compton” certainly displays the most compelling sense of place among the above videos. The track utilizes harsh, explicit lyrics that are emphasized by an aggressive yet engaging upbeat. In addition to repeating the phrase “straight outta Compton” in order to remind listeners of exactly where in the ghetto landscape the N.W.A. occupy, the lyrics’ episodic narratives provide specific gangbagin’ events with which to associate Compton.

According to Forman, Rap and Hip-Hop artists formed local posses along with non-artists, often in the form of criminal gangs, in response to the poor economic living conditions of urban ghettos. Producing distinct music served as an outlet for the artists to project images of the places that they were bound to by family and community obligations. Forman defined “pimp/playa/hustla” as a figure who had achieved “ghetto success”, which was characterized by success as a criminal and/or in the music industry (“/life ain’t nothin’ but bitches and money/-‘Gangsta, Gangsta’ by N.W.A”. Artists and gang-members alike depended on their posse’s for any chance at achieving “ghetto success”. Attali writes that people who control noise control power. A noise-maker holds the power to communicate messages, and censors hold the power to prevent these messages from transmitting. Rap and Hip-Hop have certainly called attention to the lasting widespread effects of racism in America. If consumers began show more interest in non-violent, non-hedonistic rap, the political climate might change, but the economic conditions that triggered gangsta rap would have to be fixed so that once-disenfranchised communities, like Compton, could appreciate a peaceful lifestyle not dominated by desperate crime.

Reply

Shelby Putnam August 25, 2014 at 10:54 am

1) Both 2 Pac’s “California Love,” and N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” showcase good examples of putting the listener in a particular place. 2 Pac, however, does a better job by using the word “California” several times in the song, as well as incorporating vivid imagery to get the listener to picture the beach bums and the ocean.
2) Forman’s ideas as to why “place” is such a determining factor in rap and hip-hop is one that ties back to the 70’s and 80’s. He thinks that everything began with the gangs, and the fierce relationships and bonds that came with being a member. That bore loyalty and pride which was expressed in their lyrics. Now, however, he thinks that young and impressionable rappers are using their “hoods” and ghettos to set themselves apart from anyone who could threaten their fame. Essentially, I think that Attali is trying to say that we as humans are nough to regulate noise as a whole. We can choose what we wish to hear, whom we wish to hear it from, and if we want to hear anything at all. These preferences then are forwarded on to the creators, and thus music becomes regulated. Like all music, rap and hip hop have touched all of those who choose to listen to it. And then a domino effect takes place: the people who listen to said music are influenced by it, then they begin to exhibit some of the traits of the people that they idolize, and then they effect everyone around them. So yes, rap has changed the social structure.

Reply

Morgan Gosserand August 25, 2014 at 10:53 am

1.) I think that NWA’s Straight Outta Compton has a big sense of territorial-ism because of how passionate they are when they are rapping about it. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Tupac, but I feel as if there is a lot more anger and social influence in NWA’s song over the more acceptable California Love. I think the power and strength in Straight Outta Compton is much more visible and you can tell each artist’s deep connection with the place they lived and grew up in. I think the song represents the daily life that the artists experience and the things they have survived through. To put it simply, I love NWA.
2.) There is a huge connection between where hip hop artists live and their music because of how deeply ingrained it is in them to be loyal to their home or hood. Gangs and territory are very important in such violent places such as Compton or Detroit. If the artists don’t show respect and loyalty to their hood, their friends and family might feel like they are being unappreciative and it could cause big problems. Rap noise has been effective in raising awareness in places that are usually ignored, regardless of their apparent violence and troubled members. They might not have changed much. when it comes to violence, but they definitely let you know that things are going down, and they’re definitely not good or safe in any manner and their biggest goal is to let you know that it’s occurring and they have gone through it.

Reply

Emily Mercer August 30, 2012 at 11:11 pm

Straight Outta Compton seems to best represent a sense of place to me, because of how passionate their lyrics are. Though they mostly highlight the more negative aspects of their ‘hood, they go into a depth of detail that convinces the listener they are extremely familiar with the place they’re rapping about. They voice violent situations to establish publicly their confidence in securing their ‘hood.

The rappers that “honed their skills” in the ‘hood feel compelled to “shout out” to their place of origin out of respect and appreciation for what that hood offered them growing up. Posses offer security, support, and overall, a backbone to those that are a part of them. In addition, the ties to family and friends in the ‘hood seem to be stronger than the ties to family and friends in other more established neighborhoods due to the complexity of life in the ‘hood, thus naturally rappers from these areas want to express their love for where they were raised and the situations and people that helped raise them. Attali says that noise is the source of purpose and power, thus those that seek to regulate it are politicians and other figures of authority. Noise often foreshadows or goes hand-in-hand with change, so in the hands of the “wrong people” (by government standards), it should be silenced/regulated. I think because noise is often repressed by government, it becomes more effective. When people have something to fight against, they will fight more passionately. Rappers who have shared/confronted the troubles in their life through noise have effected many people inside and outside of the hood. Within the hood, youngsters were probably inspired to “step up” in their home lives. At the same time, many suburban dwellers received rap music with open arms and allowed it to shape their dress and attitudes. Rap has also had a political impact and is a component of the great culture of hip-hop. For these reasons, I do not see how one can say that rap’s noise-making has not altered social structure.

Reply

Ayla Harvey August 30, 2012 at 10:18 pm

1. In my opinion, 2Pac’s “California Love” portrayed the most compelling sense of place. Unlike other songs similar to “Straight Outta Compton”, “California Love” creates a positive message towards California and the cities within it. The different sounds and effects throughout the song illustrate the beautiful aspects of California that 2Pac seems to love. 2Pac utilizes an allusion in the words of “California Dreamin’” which is both a song by The Mamas and The Papas and a popular expression throughout the state and the country.

2. Rap artists and groups seem to feel territorial regarding their hometowns because that’s all they knew before their uprising fame came along. Their hoods represent who they truly are in a sense and the reminders of their hoods and gangs also recreate memories in their minds: “Rap tracks, with their almost obsessive pre-occupation with place and locality, are never solely about space and place on the local scale. Rather, they also identify and explore the ways in which these spaces and places are inhabited and made meaningful” (Forman 88). The “places” define the rappers.

According to Attali, the government and powerful groups and individuals regulate the “noise”. Social structure has been changed by rap music; this genre has allowed artists to spit words and be completely honest while doing so. In turn, listeners hear the words, become interested, and begin to “root” for the same cause or noise in a sense. Music frequently affects society, and rap somewhat acts as a gamechanger as it began to get more popular.

Reply

Kyra Lewis August 30, 2012 at 9:21 pm

1. In my opinion, both “Straight Outta Compton” and “California Love” both give a sense of their place/territory. However, the song I find most “compelling” would be “California Love”, because the song displays more positive interests, and I feel more compelled to be there, rather than Compton.

2. Forman believes that rappers are compelled to territorialize a sense of place, because this space, their “home”, is where they feel a sense of power. These rappers lived in such harsh conditions, that terriritorializing this space makes them feel like they are as tough or bad-ass as the place they live.
Attali believes that this noise is created by their culture itself. It is the relationships between the east and west coasts, different gangs, and the authority that all have to do with the regulation of this “noise”.
I believe that rap has had a huge impact on society. It brought people’s attention to places that they had previously been unaware of, and definitely brought awareness to gangs in mass media. it is also an appropriate lash against authority figures that they feel compelled to express. I do, however, believe that hip-hop is over, just like popular music of pst generations have passed; like ragtime, Rock n Roll, Motown and “Doo Wop”.

Reply

Nathan August 30, 2012 at 8:46 pm

The song that most exemplified a place in the music is “California Love” by 2pac. It used sounds associated with California such as the vocoder, which at the time alluded to the use of the vocoder in Clockwork Orange, the movie. It provided part of the big Hollywood feeling of the song, along with the pure density of the track. Compared to “Straight Outta Compton”, there’s a lot going on in this song. Between the keyboard, synth lines and other effects panned hard to each side, it gave the feeling that there was a lot going on. Lastly, it helps that 2pac cares about his home with a passion. You can tell that he really loves California.

Forman says that rappers and rap groups felt compelled to represent their hometown for a couple reasons. The biggest is to get street cred with that region and become a part of the bigger family-esque culture there. It was important to territorialize a place in order to keep the drug trading and parties going strong, which provided security for the whole neighborhood. According to Attali, the ones that regulate noise are the authority figures. In his article there is mention of the fact that all laws are used to repress different types of sounding off. I think the noise making of rap was an important part of bringing awareness to the bad situations many people were facing, but it has regressed into an easily dismissed monologue of whining or one-upping or sometimes both. Rap has lost its impact and meaning for the vast majority of listeners.

Reply

Tyler Price August 30, 2012 at 8:32 pm

1) In my opinion, N.W.A.’s “Straight Out of Compton” showcases the most compelling sense of place. This is because the video and lyrics shows you how life in Compton is. It show the struggles that they go through each day on the street. Though out the song they state that if you mess with them or their territory, they will come after you.

2) Forman states that “The discourse of space encompassed by the term ”hood’ may in this context also be interpreted as a response to conditions of change occurring at a meta-level, far beyond the scale of the local (and the influence of those who inhabit it).” They felt a need and desire to protect and defend their territory and no matter what, that territory will always be their home. According to Attali, “In noise can be read the codes of life, the relations among men.” Rap’s noise-making has been making an effective change. Much more people listen to rap now than before. If it hasn’t been making an effective change then people wouldn’t listen to it.

Reply

Danusha Chenchik August 30, 2012 at 5:01 pm

“California Love” puts me in a specific place the most out of the songs above. Even though it’s about California, it reminds me of cities in general rather than just California. Whenever songs have some kind of synthesized sound, I associate that with the future, and I’ve always connected cities with the future. Advancement in technology is what I feel makes the future what it is, and I believe the city is the main base camp for advancement. Since synthesizing sounds through circuits or computers is relatively futuristic I think of advancement when I hear those kinds of noises.

Rappers and Hip Hop artists are expected to “keep it real” by sustaining connections with their original location or where they started. “Successful acts are expected to maintain
connections to the ‘hood and to ‘keep it real’ thematically, rapping about situations,
scenes and sites that comprise the lived experience of the ‘hood” (Forman 73). One of my suite mates gave their opinion on this and thought that “It was their battle tag of sorts, similar to a knights seal”. According to Attali the “noise” is controlled and regulated by the government. I think that rap’s noisemaking has definitely changed social structure. Music, especially popular music has a deep impact on it’s audience, a couple lines from a popular rap artist with a huge audience base could change something in any positive or negative way by putting this message or idea into people’s heads. If someone’s icon believes in a specific way or tells them to do something, they are much more likely to believe in it or do it.

Reply

Zach August 30, 2012 at 12:37 pm

1. Straight Outta Compton has the most compelling sense of place, for me. Between the video and the lyrics, I felt a real sense of how it must have been in Compton in the early 80’s. The lyrics really made me think about terrible it must have been to live in Compton. The gangs, violence, drugs, and police are present themes throughout the entire song really make me think about how lucky I am not to be in Compton.
2. Hip hop and rap artists used a sense of place to show where they live and what they have to deal with on a day to day basis. They were trying to go against the system that restricted them from leaving these places by creating rap music. I think rap music was effective in creating noise to change social structures until they were bought out and commercialized by “the system”.

Reply

Lillian Lovingood August 30, 2012 at 2:53 am

1.) 2pac’s “California Love” persuaded a sense of place for me more than the other two examples. I feel like this particular track was weighted more towards the love of the state California, and not towards the hate of other people or places that I feel prevails in the tracks by NWA and Public Enemy. California Love gave “shout-out’s” to specific areas of California which I feel actually gives off a positive vibe of recognition and ownership. If someone were to listen to this song without havig any prior knowledge to the west/east gang rivalries, I feel as though they would find it the way I do; positive, catchy, and “representing” California in one of the strongest ways known. The repetitive beat with police-like whistles in the background make this song sound like it’s being played out of a boombox on a California street corner. By incorporating those street sounds into the music, the song has the power to make the listener feel the feeling of California and hear the sounds of the street life that is so often mentioned in the lyrics.
2.) After reading Forman’s article I was able to understand the claim to “place” and the need to express it through raps, breakdancing, grafitti, and ther forms of gang related activity. These gangsters and thugs all come from and/or claim certain “territories” where they have been accepted and it is here where they find protection in one another. They are drawn to these areas because of a number of reasons whether it be race, connections, or just living in the area and becoming a part of the street life. They are passionate about these certain territories because they are what they have become most familiar with. It becomes their family, their life, and their home. In Atalli’s article, he speaks of people of higher power who have the ability to cencor music and how they can use their force as a weapon of power. These people filter the music before it is released to the public and therefore “regulates” it before it hits the mainstream. I feel that rap has given many of the artists of our time, the power to voice what they feel is important to draw attention to. The rappers that paved the way for so many current artists are to thank because without their toungue-in-cheek lyrics and rugged beats, there would not be nearly as much rap as we have today. Those early rappers were inspiraions for any rap that is made now and without them there would probably not be much experimental rap and hip hop like we now have.

Reply

Zena Zangwill August 29, 2012 at 11:08 pm

In my personal opinion, NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” displays the most compelling sense of place out of all the videos posted above. Tupac’s “California Love” also displays a compelling sense of place, but not as much as NWA’s song. “Straight Outta Compton”, when listened to along with the music video, really creates the sense that the rappers know their town quite well. It also creates the sense that one would not be caught dead in that town, because it does seem very dangerous. The track I chose, “New York, New York” by Frank Sinatra, is a well-known song, and it is used to create musical “territories”, because while listening to the song, one can tell that Sinatra is really into the New York scene, and is excited about “being a part of it”, the “it” being New York City.
2. In response to the reading questions, according to Murray Forman, artists feel compelled to articulate such strong connections to “places” because “hip hop’s distinct practices introduced new forms of expression that were contextually linked to conditions in a city ” (Forman). According to Forman, rappers created music that influenced personal bonds to ones’ hometown, especially in NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”. I think that rap’s noise-making has been effective in changing social structure as a whole because rap artists have been making songs about their hometowns, and encouraging other people to feel more alive in the place that they live, so they can represent their hometown better.

Reply

Austin Freer August 29, 2012 at 5:23 pm

For me 2Pac’s “California Love” and N.W.A’s “Straight Outta Compton” both had the same amount of “place” in them. Although 2Pac’s song definatly had a more positive feeling behind it and allowed me to better connect to it. These two songs were able to convey the sense of territory because of the language and the passion that the artists were able to put into them.
Forman says this because rap and hip hop artists want to convey the life that they live everyday. Without doing this they feel they will not be able to get their audiences to fully believe how they make it through everyday. Attali feels that the government controls and regulates the “noise.” I don’t think that the rappers noise-making has changed the social structure as a whole. I believe that the music has just allowed the people and areas that it is written about to feel more pride in themselves.

Reply

Duncan Lewis August 29, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I don’t usually prefer rap so these selections don’t create a sense of home or place but the California created the most visual images of a place between the songs due to the multiple descriptions of life in California. The song also sets certain boundaries for life and ‘turf’ between sections in the city. The black community’s sense of family evokes security and having those connections makes them feel stronger because of the number of supporters in their ‘possy’. The ‘noise’ is regulated the social change throughout the community. Social change would mean the community as a whole has a common goal where that goal gets adapted and moved up of time to go with the ever-changing effects of time. The black community as a collective group seems to be focused on a goal that was achieved many years ago and play the race card to those of us strong willed enough to speak out and tell them that we’re not racist when we dislike rap music or dislike certain aspects of their personality but we are realists. There are many amazing black people in the world who are mature and don’t have to stoop so low as to play the race card their ancestors worked so hard to get rid of for equality. Sorry for the long rant but this is something I feel passionate about.

Reply

Erik Rubino August 29, 2012 at 1:07 pm

1) Of the above tracks I feel that 2Pac’s “California Love” has the strongest sense of the place it’s meant to evoke. With the repetition of “California” and “In the City” gives you a basis of where you’re supposed to focus, then with lyrics such as “California knows how to party” and “we keep it rockin’” show’s how the city is always alive and there is always something happening. I feel this gives a strong vibe of just how the state is always bustling and that’s why they love it.

2)Forman speaks of how there was “a gradual shift within rap from a concern with broad, generalised spaces, to the representation of specific named cities and ‘hoods (as illustrated by Gansta Rap from the Californian city of Compton which celebrates and glorifies Compton as well as the street warrior and gang rivalry) and the representation of smaller-scale, more narrowly defined and highly detailed places (as illustrated by rap from the North West city of Seattle which has a distinctively local flavour.) I feel that at this point rappers no longer just wanted to be part of a bigger collective but instead wanted to differentiate themselves and make a distinction that not all rappers are the same. What easier way was there to do this than to speak about the place you were closest to. This gave rappers their own unique voice, able to draw from the place to give their lyrics stronger meaning and to convey a personal message about themselves utilizing the place. Attali believes that government and politics regulate the “noise” though I feel that gangsta rap went against this trend revealing the hard lifestyles that people try to ignore. I believe rap has opened our eyes to a culture that was often wanted to be swept under a rug and has enlightened us.

Reply

Casey Murphey August 29, 2012 at 12:34 am

1. I think NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” creates the most compelling sense of place. What I got out of the lyrics, besides all of the cussing, was that living in thier “hood” was very difficult. It was filled with violence and cops were around all of the time. The rap made me feel afraid of them. Maybe they were trying to say to other territories to stay away or they would hurt them. After all, they did say that AK-47s were a tool. But I also had a since that they were proud of were they came from and where they live.
2.What I got out of Forman’s article was basically the history of Rap with a little side notes added to it. Rap and hip hop artists felt compelled to articulate such strong connections to “place” because they are proud of their “hoods.” They stand up for thier homestreets where they grew up. They will defend from other gangs at any cost it seemed like (especially according to NWA’s rap). Forman stated at the very beginning of his article that “this emphasis on territoriality involves more than just a geographical arrangement of cultural workers and the regionalism of cultural practices.” From this statement, I also think that the cussing is put into the raps as a type of emphasis and to make thier point in the arrangment stand out.
It was kind of difficult for me to really understand what Attali was trying to talk about. But from what I got, Attali basically wanted his readers to think that “noise” is made by everything. He was also trying to say that the “noise” inspired the rappers to say whatever the heck they wanted.

Reply

Jesse Korotitsch August 28, 2012 at 10:28 pm

1) I feel that both NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” and 2pac’s “California Love” show the most compelling sense of place, but in different ways. NWA shows much aggression through their lyrics in order to express the struggles from where they were from, while 2pac and Dr. Dre on the other hand are rapping about the more positive things about the place they live, even though in other songs they do rap about the negative aspects of the place they live in as well. Rappers, especially back in the late 80’s and 90’s, usually rapped about negative and positive aspects of the place they live in to express their own lives in that area. Whether negative or positive, they describe the place they are from in order to express their identity in that area.
2) It seems that according to Forman, one reason that rappers express strong connections to where they are from is to express the support for their community. Forman describes that “…there is an insistent emphasis on support, nurture and community that coexists with the grim representations that generally cohere in the images and discourses of ghetto life” (Forman 73). Although some rappers tend to rap about the negative aspects of their lives in this place, they also happen to support that area in their lyrics. Some rappers express these places, hoping that their community can work on the issues their and improve it. One good example is a song by 2pac called “Changes”. Although 2pac does not specifically talk about a place, he describes the struggles that he sees in his own society and hopes that everyone in his community can work together to make it a better place.
Also, according to Attali, music (in this case rap) can be a way to gain power in society. He says that “It (music) is what links a power center to its subjects….it is an attribute to power in all of its forms.” (Attali 6.) Rappers who became famous have much support from the community that they were apart of. That power they have come from that support. I feel that this idea of this noise has changed society to some extent, by addressing problems in society through lyrics.

Reply

Ryan Wyatt August 28, 2012 at 9:49 pm

1)For me “California Love” conveyed the best sence of place by constantly repeating referances to California. This track establishes territories by using the names of specific locations in California.

2) According to Forman “Successful acts are expected to maintain connections to the ‘hood and to ‘keep it real’ thematically, rapping about situations, scenes and sites that comprise the lived experience of the ‘hood” (Forman, 72). This could majorly influence lyric choice. According to Attali “…the institutionalization of the silence of others assure the durability of power” (Attali, 8). In other words those in power controle what is heard. Yes rap’s noise has had an impact on social structure. If rap had not made some sort of impact then rap would not be a popular genere of music.

Reply

Austyn Castelli August 28, 2012 at 9:12 pm

1) I think NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton” definitely wins at portraying a sense of place. Unlike the other songs “Compton” is very honest about the artists’ feelings about the place. It has this overlying sense of disdainful pride of the place while also keeping the underlying description of the place and it’s hardships. It reminds me somewhat of one of my favorite songs, “This City” by Patrick Stump in which he sings about his city’s problems and good points.
2) According to Forman, rap/hip hop artists felt compelled to articulate their connection to certain places because that is/was what bonded the artist to his/her audience. it was kind of like having a sense of pride and community. Audiences would start to associate that artist with their hometown, and would therefore support them. Attali says that we are in control of the “noise”. I think that rap’s “noise-making” has been effective, but very minimally. I mean, people obviously noticed, right? We know what rap IS, we listen to it. People who had never heard of Compton now know at least one side of it. When I listen to rap it is almost always a learning experience. Rappers (good ones, at least) have SOMETHING to say! Every artist does but I feel like rap artists do especially.

Reply

Harrison Johnston August 28, 2012 at 8:15 pm

1. I believe that NWA’s “straight outta compton” creates the most compelling sense of place out of the above tracks. The lyrics represent the struggles and violence that the members were surrounded by growing up, and they are conveying the harsh realities of their “hoods”. “California Love” on the other hand is a noticeably “mainstream” song with lyrics that dont do much to convey the rappers origins. The lyrics about partying and women made the song easier to market, and is still one of the most popular 2pac songs today although it does very little to capture the essence of his music. 2pac has many songs that represent his hood, much like NWA, that are far more profane and speak of violence and drugs. These sort of lyrics are what made NWA so controversial when they first came out. Rather than the slightly more acceptable lyrics about partying, NWA speaks about the realities of their neighborhood, such as sex, drugs, violence, and hatred toward police. NWA’s lyrics about their personal upbringing is what makes “Straight Outta Compton” the song with the most compelling sense of place. The members of NWA refer frequently to their hood (“straight outta compton” and “im down with the capital CPT”) and threats to outsiders to create a sense of territory in their music.
2. As Tricia Rose states” ‘rappers’ emphasis on posses and neighbourhoods has brought the ghetto back into the public consciousness”. Most of the lyrics used by rappers to describe their home are meant to convey their struggle.They talk of hardships growing up because they are proud to have survived, and to represent for those who did not survive (2pac mentions his slain friend Cato in many songs). Rose’s quote also points out that rappers wish to bring public attention to what goes on in ghettos. With lyrics depicting rampant drug use, violence, and police brutality, rappers were able to educate the masses about the harsh realities of the inner city neighborhoods they grew up in. When NWA released “Fuck the Police”, it wasn’t specifically to gain capital or piss off law enforcement nationwide, but to draw attention to the brutally unfair treatment of African Americans by police. The song had the effect described by Rose, drawing attention to the issue and making it relevant to society once again (all while enraging cops everywhere and causing the FBI to publicly denounce the song). According to Attali, those who create the noise hold the power (or the ability to create it). This causes “traditional power” such as government to “listen to [noise] with fascination.” Because creating noise can lead to power, those who already posses it can feel threatened. It is for this reason that government officials have tried to limit what can be said in so called “rebellious” music, due to fear of an uprising. The best example is once again NWA’s “fuck the police”. Law enforcement felt threatened by the song and the FBI even cautioned NWA’s record company about the lyrics. The song was also banned by many radio stations, who claimed it incited violence. In conclusion, rap’s noise making has caused the social structure to one where those who feel slighted or mistreated speak out. Protest songs are now quite common and people are not afraid to say what they feel in their songs, the groundwork of course being laid by groups such as NWA and Public enemy.

Reply

Emma Anderson August 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm

1) I enjoyed and related to the last video, “California Love,” by 2PAC most closely because of my history as a dancer. I spent ten years of my life attending a wide variety of dance lessons, and through this experience, I learned to appreciate music for beats and rhythms that send me into my routine, whether I appreciated the integrity of the music. That pretty much sums up how I feel about hip-hop/rap: If it provides a beat I can happily dance to, I can deal with the characteristics that I frown upon. This song in particular shines light on the whole freedom to party, love, and go wild in California- a stereotype that many only hope is true of The Golden State. My trip to California did not reflect this stereotype, but I still enjoy the free spirited nature of the song because I definitely did feel that in California.

2) During the early stages of hip-hop/rap music hitting the scene, different artists had their own “turfs.” Their own territories to reflect in their compositions. If other artists are respecting these “musical boundaries” put in place, then “domains of authority and dominance” will emerge that reflect the great power that hip-hop/rap artists feel they have obtained (Forman 67). After all, “an act can not succeed without first gaining approval and support from the crew and the ‘hood,’ further proving how much this respect of “space” means to this culture,” (Forman 72). Power is precious because hip-hop/rap artists want to tell a story about where they are from and what they are representing for their community in a way that will impact their surroundings. Rappers have been displaying, “an enhanced emphasis on the powerful ties to place that both anchor rap acts to their immediate environments and set them apart from other environments,” in order to tell these stories (Forman 68) . In order to demand reflection on the lifestyle they have come from and observe “the impact of this expansive global/ local perspective,” of hip-hop/rap that has been installed in our minds by the artists’ “place,” (Forman 76). Forman wants our society to understand and respect different genres of music for their, “different messages being communicated to listeners who occupy different spaces and places,” because hip-hop/rap is only one of the few forms and cultures of music who keep their “place” alive within their music (Forman 88).
Attali believes “noise is the source of power,” and with that power – that noise – we can “read the codes of life, the relations among men,” (Attali 6). This noise is regulated by our culture – our time. So as social values shift through time, the integrity of that power, that noise, that music, allows for us to “analyze, mark, restrain, train, repress, and channel,” the connections our culture embodies as a whole through the noise (Attali 6).
I don’t think rap’s “noise making” has been effective in changing the social structure at all. To me, the manner in which hip-hop/rap music delivers its message takes away from the message itself entirely. There are some songs out there that I think reflect a good change among this culture, but the majority of hip-hop/rap music does not embody this change.

Reply

Allie Jacobius August 28, 2012 at 2:35 pm

1. In my opinion, the clip from above that showcased the idea and feeling of place is “California Love”, by 2pac. Compared to this clip the other songs did not exemplify the characteristics of place in my opinion. While listening to “California Love” I envisioned myself on the set of the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air”. By listening to this song I was able to paint of picture of the mid-90’s hip hop in my head. A lot of times when I am listening to music, I associate the song to either a place I’ve been to or my current location or to a movie or TV show. It just all depends on what sounds and rhythms the instruments or background music are making.

2. Forman states, “This competition has traditionally been staged within geographical boundries that demarcate turf and territory among various crews, cliques, and posses, extending and altering the spatial alliances that had previously cohered under other organisational structures, including but not exclusive to gangs.” (Forman 68.) Here he describes how rap and hip hop are rooted within the cities and that with that comes territory and culture. Each group of rappers or hip hop persons has defined themselves within their very own part of the city. Things that tied in with this tribe like structure was graffiti art and ‘tagging’. These practices created bonds amongst those involved and apart of these individual communities/boundaries. “Hip Hop introduced new forms of expression”, which linked with the city atmosphere creating new kinds of personalities. (Forman 67.)
Attali makes it very clear that as human beings we are very good at restraining “the sounds of the body, of tools, of objects, of the relations to self and others.” (Attali 6). As humans we like to control everything, but rap-noise transformed this idea! It gave a voice to freedom of expression and really developed the music and noise world to a whole new level. I believe that rap was very effective in changing the social structure but… then again I also think it put a label on certain people. It highlights racism to another level and stereotypes all African Americans. I feel that it developed a new style and sense of expression but socially it really classified African Americans to a certain category.

Reply

Leave a Comment