Sunday, March 04, 2007

Coffee Talk

Culture, how is it defined?

Over one weekend in February (16th - 18th), everything that may have been unclear or undecided about NBA culture and more or less hip-hop culture has suddenly been decided by the media. Las Vegas holds large conventions and events frequently, and itself carries a stigma of organized crime, gambling, and questionable, if not illicit activities. In fact, Vegas is commonly known as "Sin City", but when there is a sudden influx of another "culture" everything changes. A recent article in the Las Vegas Sun painted this picture: "The stories were legion. A body hits the ground after falling from a Strip casino parking ramp in front of a hotel employee. Lines of men "wash" the sides of the MGM Grand with their urine. Scores of people get cab rides, then run out on the fare." The story goes on to say that the town was on edge, and several athletes (including Tracy McGrady) said that couldn't wait to get off of the strip because they feared what might happen. The Las Vegas police department reported 403 arrests and 4 shootings. Pacman Jones, who is not in the NBA and it is hard to claim that he listens to hip-hop without actually asking him, was involved in three of the four shootings.
Hip-hop culture, historically, has been defined by the "four pillars" of hip-hop, which are break dancing, rapping, graffiti, and deejaying. However, the themes and the stories told through the words of several rappers have rarely painted a simple picture as narrow as the four pillars. Take last year's hot duo, Clipse, most of their songs revovled around them dealing cocaine. However, I don't think they are really cocaine dealers. Just like a writer, a rapper can tell a story, but the degree to which it actually relates to their own life can vary. Besides the contributions of Clipse, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, etc., how do account for the positive message of Glue, Ugly Duckling, K-os, and others. How can hip-hop culture be defined by a small segment of people that caused problems in Las Vegas? Is this more of a race issue? How do you define culture? Talk amongst yourselves...