Album: Westside Connection

Terrorist Threats, Capitol
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The Independent Culture

As with Patti Smith, the hard-core gangsta-rappers Westside Connection have been affected by the so-called war on terrorism, and the spin it has enabled them to put on their own attitude may prove the trio's aesthetic salvation. On 1996's Bow Down, Ice Cube, Mack 10 and WC were just thugs with scattershot rage and misplaced regional pride, like so many others; here, the emasculatory effect they believe September 11 inflicted on their colleagues has spurred them to a more focused anger, in which their frequent proclamations in support of the Westside take on an almost revolutionary fervour. The meaning is clear: here, at least, is an entity worth pledging allegiance to, unlike the duplicitous government that seeks to stifle dissent under "too many laws". "We used to sell rock, kill and get toe-tagged," Mack 10 barks, "but ever since 9/11, rappers wavin' white flags." Ice Cube agrees, but believes the cause is pharmaceutical: "Get off drugs/ Ecstasy is turning niggas into soft thugs," he demands; and it's a measure of his sly intelligence that neither celebrations of boorishness such as "Get Ignit" nor boasts of his media savvy such as "Pimp the System" damage the album's sustained tone of political paranoia.

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