Bad is good for business

Share
Related Topics
The "bad boy" image has long existed in the land of rock'n'roll. The Rolling Stones trashed hotel rooms in the Sixties. The Seventies saw Johnny Rotten exude punk angst. Metallica gave voice to the angry young man of the Eighties. But it was all good fun, something which can hardly be said of the violence which surrounds Nineties rap music.

Rap sales rocketed, making inner-city singers the new idols who earned millions faster than they are lost in a Wall Street crash. Inevitably an image was created to match the music, and as the names of groups such as Public Enemy and Niggaz With Attitude show, music's latest sensation was not about to promote peace and free love.

With lyrics laden with threats of killings and gang war it was perhaps unavoidable that someone was going to get hurt. In September 1996 the Los Angeles star Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas. Last March Notorious BIG, a New York rapper, met a similar fate. Both were stars of gangsta rap, both former crack dealers, and both are thought to have been victims of a war as the East and West coasts of America load semi- automatics and carry the battle for supremacy out of the recording studio and onto the streets.

The Atlantic Ocean gives us a comfortable distance from which to follow proceedings. The closest British music comes to bloodshed is the Battle of Britpop - and that was recently settled with a jolly game of footy between Blur and Oasis.

But if Britain has yet to produce its own gangsta rap, that has not stopped the image coming across the pond. Earlier this month Mark Morrison (pictured) burst out from behind the blackened windows of his American car with a bodyguard shouting in an American drawl and ran into Marylebone Magistrates' Court where he was sentenced to three months in prison for threatening a police officer with a 23,000-volt stun gun.

The American influence on Morrison is unmistakable. Having spent his teens in Florida he still has the accent; he wears the heavy gold jewellery and lavish fur coats reminiscent of early rap artists, and he has broken into the US market. Even the weapon at the centre of the trouble was bought in America. As Bob Killbourn, editor of Blues & Soul Magazine, says: "The whole thing about Mark is that he thinks he is American."

So far, this is the closest a British star has come to the ghetto violence around which gangsta rap is based. Does this mark the beginning of yet another American trend in British music? If Morrison's promoters cash- in on his imprisonment they could be setting a precedent. "Hopefully the prompt action of the court will stamp it out," says Killbourn, "but it could give the green light to others if he comes out to $2m of promotion."

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living