Monday, February 20, 2006

Real Gangsters

In filling up my car every week for the daily commute to work I join in the common American sentiment that the price of gas is just too damn high. Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the international oil crisis that affects each of our finances in some form or fashion is the fact that we are seemingly helpless as many of the decisions made concerning the price of oil are made at impenetrably high levels and in untouchable foreign regions. In effect, our wallets are held hostage by those many of us have no chance to ever identify with.

But, if you’re an average American consumer of that popular art form known as hip-hop you should easily be able to identify with the oil crisis. Let’s explore how:

The fact that “gangster rap” is the fastest selling sub-genre within hip-hop is no secret. But for the most popular rappers and the most average consumers, the lifestyle associated with the art form is anything but gangster. What business do millionaires have rapping about a lifestyle they may have very well experienced, but will be out of touch with for the rest of their lives (see the emergence, rise, and lasting power of 50 Cent)? On the same plane, what business do white suburban teenagers in the suburbs have listening to music about the struggle? Very little or none, obviously, but the most popular rappers and the most average consumers are those who keep the dollars following behind the culture.

As obsessed as the popular rapper and average consumer are with that which is termed gangster, they should be equally obsessed with the contemporary situation in Nigeria.

A recent report commissioned by the oil giant Shell compared the level of conflict in the region to Colombia and Chechnya.

Much of the fighting is caused by armed gangs of militant youths who roam the swamps and creeks.

Sometimes these youths kidnap oil workers and hold them to ransom for money.

But most of the time they are involved in the lucrative business of stealing crude oil from the pipelines.

That’s more gangster than anything any member of G-Unit could spit over 16 bars.

I don’t write to encourage or condone the acts of violence and vandalism associated with the oil crisis in Nigeria --and around the world for that matter-- but the struggle for power within this crisis has to be respected. In essence, it’s a grassroots people’s movement to bring down the man by cutting off his cash flow.

That’s more gangster than anything John Singleton ever directed.

In the U.S., and perhaps the greater Western world, we are quick to embrace those who preach on the struggle. If we’re so obsessed with the struggle than we should be equally interested in those who are fighting to take back what the wealth their homelands have produced.

Let’s give real gangsters their due and develop an understanding, if not respect, for what’s going on with the global oil crisis.

1 comment:

Brother Lightness said...