Gangsta Rap != Street Violence

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Ta-Nehisi Coates, blogging his way through the holidays just like us, finds that statistics support his suspicion of a long-prevailing cultural myth. Says Coates: “Anyone who knows hip-hop knows that when the music was most conscious—late 80s, early 90s—the streets were insane. And when the streets were most sane—mid to late 90s—any fool who could gun-talk was going platinum.”

So don’t blame gangsta rap for the dramatic rise in murders among young black men that has been getting ink lately. Gangsta rap sales have declined as murder among young black men has risen. The numbers, courtesy of dallaspenn.com:

cdsalesgraph.jpg

In fact, from the looks of this chart, we need to bring back gangsta rap. Apparently, nothing drives down street violence like Ice T records. That said, here’s a caveat: record sales are tanking across genres as Internet downloading makes those plastic coaster things that used to play music more and more obsolete. Gantsa rap’s relation to street violence may not be an inverse one, but instead merely nonexistent.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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