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Archive for Saturday, July 7, 2001

Rap songs reflect artists’ dislike for Giuliani

July 7, 2001

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If Rudy Giuliani thinks his only public squabble is with estranged wife Donna Hanover, then he hasn't been listening to the radio.

As music fans are reminded each time they hear the new summer hit from R&B singer Faith Evans, the controversial mayor of New York City is also on the outs with more than a few members of the hip-hop community.

"Giuliani can't sleep/Until I'm six feet deep," boasts rapper Jamaal "Shyne" Barrow in a sort of guest rap on Evans' single, "Can't Believe."

By hip-hop standards, this is tame stuff. And since Barrow was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for a 1999 nightclub shooting his mentor, Sean Combs, was acquitted for his role in the same incident the lyric is probably not the cause of any nightmares Giuliani might be having.

But the song is a reminder that the mayor has often been the target of rappers' lyrical darts.

In a track called "Everyday Struggle" from his 1994 album, "Ready To Die," the late Notorious B.I.G. suggested that Giuliani is OK with Italian American gangsters, but not black ones: "I'm seeing body after body, and our mayor Giuliani/Ain't trying to see no black man turn in to John Gotti."

In 1996 Public Enemy frontman Chuck D declared that he "never liked no Giuliani" on his solo album "Autobiography of Mistachuck."

Anti-Giuliani sentiments also turn up on De La Soul's album from last year, "Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump." In a guest appearance on the song "Squat!," Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys raps, "Don't mean to be crude/Don't mean to be crass/But Mr. Giuliani you can kiss my (expletive)."

"Young black and Latino men use rap music as a political voice," said Erik Parker, music editor at the hip-hop magazine The Source. "And that voice wants Giuliani out."

Giuliani's name also pops up in less than complimentary fashion in songs by Jeru the Damaja, Mic Geronimo, Black Star and Real Live.

And then there are the scary songs ones that imagine Giuliani's assassination. "Who Shot Rudy?," released last year by a New York rap group called Screwball, was one such track; "Mayor" from Pharoahe Monch was another.

In a way, none of this is surprising. Rap was born in the Bronx nearly 30 years ago, and New York City is still one of the world's capitals of hip-hop culture. As the city's mayor, Giuliani has not always been seen as a friend of the black community, a fact articulated by hip-hop impresario Russell Simmons after a jury's acquittal last year of four white police officers in the shooting of West African immigrant Amadou Diallo.

"The hip-hop community moves as an army," said a statement from Simmons after the officers' trial, "that has the power to elect government that puts the people first versus the officially sanctioned and promoted police state mentality of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani."

Said David Crowley, assistant editor of Vibe, another leading hip-hop magazine: "Obviously, when somebody like the mayor of New York starts to do his 'crack down on crime,' it affects the black community. ... The quickest reaction for the rap community since rap music is so popular is to put it in their lyrics."

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