They're Outhere. They're here. But would you want your children to listen?

Is gansta rap all a white conspiracy? Daniel Jeffreys reports on the US's black liberal backlash, while in the UK Lloyd Bradley wonders why only white kids need protecting

So the Outhere Brothers have had their latest album referred to the Crown Prosecution Service under the Obscene Publications Act. I'm not surprised. An extended, chart-topping run on Top of the Pops with their cheerful monosyllabic single, "Boom Boom Boom", and the Brothers' under-fives appeal was secure. But what happened when those kids got the album home? They (or rather their parents) found tracks with titles like "Bring that ass over here" and "Orgasm". Must have been like unwrapping a Sooty glove puppet to find it's got a dick.

Yet the idea of the Outhere Brothers encountering the Obscene Publications Act remains little short of ludicrous. Whose definition of offensiveness are we dealing with: the young black kids who are gangsta rap's primary market, or the rapidly increasing new listenership in the vanilla suburbs? As with other similar carry-ons - over NWA, say, or Ice-T- it's only when the music moves beyond its black homebase to an audience of white kids that suddenly it's a menace and must be stopped.

Here in the UK, any black person who has so much as glanced at the gangsta rap scene will be aware of this double-standard of offensiveness. And of the unthinking insult it offers up - that we somehow have lower standards than "respectable" white people, and so won't be offended if our children bring this stuff home. Which is why the news that middle-class black parents in the USA are making noise about gangsta rap is Broadly A Good Thing. Quite simply because it advances the idea that more than a few of us live a good life instead of the Thug Life - and not because they're going to get anything done about anything by attacking it in such a simplistic manner. Most record company executives - black or white - would sell nuclear waste if they thought it would ship platinum. And gangsta rap wouldn't be there to sell, if black artists weren't ready to record it.

But if a kid shoots his sister because he imagines Snoop Doggy Dogg told him to, then that kid has got bigger problems than his listening habits. Gangsta rap didn't create the situation, it reflects it.

OK, maybe it also perpetuates it through glamorisation, but I spent several months in Watts almost 20 years ago and kids were shooting each other to a soundtrack of Philly, Funkadelic and Kool & the Gang. Surely the major concern ought to be that life - inside and outside the home - offers so little else that these children take the likes of Tupac Shakur so seriously.

They don't seem to in London, thankfully. The idea that what they hear is anything more than an act makes most black UK rap fans laugh. Even the most committedly hip-hopping teenagers will tell you it's a work of fiction. For evidence of gangsta's thespian qualities check out the ease with which major rap stars step on to the screen: Ices T and Cube, Will Smith and Tupac have all made films, while Queen Latifah and LL Cool J have their own sitcoms ferchrissakes.

Tell your average black kid that rap is corrupting their minds and they'll point out that it's thrill-seeking white folks who take the gangsta approach to heart, who seem to think that it can't be genuinely black unless it involves murder and/or misogyny, like back in the Seventies when the mainstream's self-appointed guardians of reggae only believed it counted if it was the heaviest dub with the most potent herb.

There's a widespread assumption that all black people accept all gangsta rap without question; that any young black kid with enough intelligence to find the shop by himself, and get served, is still too stupid to separate what makes sense - Kam/Public Enemy - from the senseless - Smif-N-Wessun/Duce Duce; and that the humour and irony which play a large part in so many of these records will only be recognised by buyers of the Caucasian persuasion. That such assumptions can still be made now, in 1995, is depressingly indicative of the way "they" look at "us" - all lumped together by the lowest common denominator. But the most astonishing thing is that anybody could perceive a couple of musical moppets like the Outhere Brothers as gangstas. Proof positive that, to many white people, we really do all look the same?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Healthcare expertise

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

Day In a Page

Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith
Can Dubai's Design District 'hipster village' attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?

Hipsters of Arabia

Can Dubai’s ‘creative village’ attract the right type of goatee-wearing individualist?
The cult of Roger Federer: What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?

The cult of Roger Federer

What is it that inspires such obsessive devotion?
Kuala Lumpur's street food: Not a 'scene', more a way of life

Malaysian munchies

With new flights, the amazing street food of Kuala Lumpur just got more accessible
10 best festival beauty

Mud guards: 10 best festival beauty

Whether you're off to the Isle of Wight, Glastonbury or a local music event, we've found the products to help you
Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe

A Different League

Unai Emery’s passion for winning and eye for a bargain keep Seville centre stage in Europe, says Pete Jenson
Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey - Steve Bunce

Steve Bunce on Boxing

Amir Khan and James DeGale’s remarkable Olympic performances were just the start of an extraordinary journey
Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf