Gangsta Rappers Expose the Real Gangsters

by Nikolai García

Revolutionary Worker #1201, June 1, 2003, posted at

There's no where to hide, no where to run
when the sins of the father fall on the sun
The bigger the problem, the bigger the gun
You don't wanna know what your government's done:
'Cause the Taliban was down with us
Saddam Hussein was down with us
South Africa was down with us
And you're wondering why the world don't trust.

--Opening lines to "Down With U.S."

The song has a strictly gangsta beat. A combination of drums and violin that creates a menacing, repetitive beat that just makes you want to bob your head. It's the same kind of beat you might hear bumping from a stereo at a house party in Watts or out of a car full of youth cruising down Crenshaw Boulevard.

The song is called "Down with U.S." and it only takes listening to the first verse to know what kind of song it is. It's an anti-war song, and it's produced by Fred Wreck, a popular producer in the gangsta rap scene who's worked with rappers like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog. The roster he assembled to provide the lyrical blows on the song is practically a list of who's who in the world of gangsta rap. Artists like Daz Dillinger, WC (from the Westside Connection), Everlast, RBX, Soopafly and others.

In a recent radio interview, Fred Wreck said that until recently he did not consider himself a political person. "I just don't think I'm stupid," he said. And being a Palestinian American led him to visit Palestine and get a chance to witness how the people are treated there. He mentioned the "day- to-day atrocities of somebody waving a machine gun in front of your face three or four times a day just because you're a certain race." He also made similarities between Palestine and occupied Iraq. "Now they got checkpoints and people getting shot at the checkpoints just like in Palestine."

He went on to explain how seeing the U.S. pull its war moves was the main reason for stepping up now. "I just watch the news and see what's going on. And it's like every day they come out with something and the next day it's like something else. After a while you're like, `When are you guys gonna stop lying? What's the real truth?' "

In a time of lies Fred Wreck has been able to gather a group of hardcore rappers to form the Stop The Oppressive Politics (S.T.O.P.) Movement to drop some truth and help counter U.S. pro-war media. Fred Wreck has posted the song on his web-site, (, and is asking that everyone read an anti-imperialist statement along with downloading the song. He is also encouraging people to download the instrumental and drop their own lyrics over the beats to create their own anti-war songs.

The STOP track is not the first anti-war song to be released in response to the U.S. attacks on the people of Iraq. Artists like the Beastie Boys, Zack de la Rocha and R.E.M. have all released very cool songs against the war. But "Down with U.S." is the first track to be released by gangsta rappers. It is a unique group of people who can come out with lyrics like, "You keep us handcuffed, chained and enslaved us. We might gang-bang, but ya' the real gangsters. Hanged us and raped us, and chased us and maced us, so I don't give a mad fuck if this shit flames up."


West Coast rappers taking on the U.S. government? Some may think of this as unprecedented, since most gangsta rap comes with lyrics that do not serve the interests of the people. Songs that promote the "Get paid and Look out for yourself mentality" and that put down and diss women. And, of course, this is the stuff that record companies promote and distribute. This, however, is not always the case. There have been some really shining moments in gangsta rap.

Back in the late 1980s the rap group N.W.A. released a song called "Fuck tha Police." It was a song that gave birth to gangsta rap and West Coast G-Funk, and spoke to million across this country. The hard beats, combined with the people's point of view on what the real deal is about the police, had everybody listening.

Most of N.W.A.'s other material, however, was more harmful than helpful to the people--embodying the gangsta ethic and degrading to women. Like many things that come from the people, gangsta rap is filled with contradictions. And the stretches of time in-between great songs that come from gangsta rap have been too long.

But, like some of the positive tracks created by N.W.A., Tupac Shakur, Ice Cube and others, "Down With U.S." is a song to be celebrated by the people. The track hits the target on who are the real enemies and who we should stand with: the people of the world. On his verse, The Mack Minister says, "Ain't no Viet Cong ever called me a nigger. But you wanna put me in the middle of the desert and tell me to squeeze the trigger on my sand-niggas?"

These rappers know what kind of response to give when asked to join the imperialist army, as one of the verses ends, "Fuck ya,' I ain't fighting this damn war! I ain't dying on their land, it's their soil." And they know America's slogans are just lies and hypocrisy. WC tells it right when he says, "Justice and equality ain't never been in the hood. Catch me guzzling gin while ya' yelling `Free Iraq,' I'm yelling `Free homies out the pen.' "

An anti-government outlook on the war by a group of rappers who carry weight with the youth in the ghettos across the country, and who are enthusiastic about releasing the song to the public, is a good sign for the people of the world. In times like these, we need more of this kind of music and more people willing to serve the interests of the people. Who will be next to step up to the mic and say that nothing of what this government is doing is in our name?

This article is posted in English and Spanish on Revolutionary Worker Online
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