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

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

DT Teacher - Textiles

£100 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Group: Design and Technology Teacher ...

European Retail Sales Manager, Consumer Products

competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: My client is looking for an...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Daily catch-up: out of time, polling and immigration and old words

John Rentoul
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past