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

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

Read Next
File: David Cameron offers a toast during a State Dinner in his honour March 14, 2012  

Vote Tory and you’re voting for the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer

Mark Steel
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd end the war on drugs

Patrick Hennessey
General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'