Rebel Music from Trenchtown to Oaktown

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024099/00001

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Title: Rebel Music from Trenchtown to Oaktown The Lyrics of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur as Counter-Hegemonic Culture
Physical Description: 1 online resource (99 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Jacobs, Steven
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Sociology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Sociology thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: How do popular music artists who emerge from economically and racially marginalized social contexts use their song lyrics to facilitate a consciousness of resistance among the members of their respective social groups? Taking a grounded theory approach, this research focus specifically on the work of two popular music icons whose work has been situated in the legacy of Black protest music: reggae legend Bob Marley and rap legend Tupac Shakur. The present study conducts a comparative analysis on the lyrics of each artist's major-label studio albums to explore the role of music in the construction of counter-hegemonic alternative culture in impoverished Black communities in post-colonial Kingston, Jamaica, and in the post-industrial urban United States. The analysis suggests that each artist's lyrical project of resistance incorporates a similar three-part method of social critique: (1) depictions of the suffering endured as a member of a marginalized social group, (2) critiques of and resistance against social structures that produce this suffering, and (3) calls for unity, particularly among the members of the respective marginalized group, for the sake of improving the conditions of social life. Despite the similar structure of Marley and Shakur's social critiques, differences in the tone and ambiance of the critiques were observed, particularly with respect to the spirituality and hope revealed by the lyrics. I suggest these differences may be accounted for in part by differences between each artist's affiliation, or lack thereof, to a particular religious and cultural movement.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Steven Jacobs.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Ardelt, Monika.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024099:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0024099/00001

Material Information

Title: Rebel Music from Trenchtown to Oaktown The Lyrics of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur as Counter-Hegemonic Culture
Physical Description: 1 online resource (99 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Jacobs, Steven
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2009


Subjects / Keywords: Sociology -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Sociology thesis, M.A.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation


Abstract: How do popular music artists who emerge from economically and racially marginalized social contexts use their song lyrics to facilitate a consciousness of resistance among the members of their respective social groups? Taking a grounded theory approach, this research focus specifically on the work of two popular music icons whose work has been situated in the legacy of Black protest music: reggae legend Bob Marley and rap legend Tupac Shakur. The present study conducts a comparative analysis on the lyrics of each artist's major-label studio albums to explore the role of music in the construction of counter-hegemonic alternative culture in impoverished Black communities in post-colonial Kingston, Jamaica, and in the post-industrial urban United States. The analysis suggests that each artist's lyrical project of resistance incorporates a similar three-part method of social critique: (1) depictions of the suffering endured as a member of a marginalized social group, (2) critiques of and resistance against social structures that produce this suffering, and (3) calls for unity, particularly among the members of the respective marginalized group, for the sake of improving the conditions of social life. Despite the similar structure of Marley and Shakur's social critiques, differences in the tone and ambiance of the critiques were observed, particularly with respect to the spirituality and hope revealed by the lyrics. I suggest these differences may be accounted for in part by differences between each artist's affiliation, or lack thereof, to a particular religious and cultural movement.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Steven Jacobs.
Thesis: Thesis (M.A.)--University of Florida, 2009.
Local: Adviser: Ardelt, Monika.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2009
System ID: UFE0024099:00001

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2009 Steven Jacobs 2


To Bob and Pac. I hope I did justice to your work. 3


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Special thanks go to my parents, Ken and Ma deleine Jacobs, for their endless support and for always encouraging me to pursue that which I love. I cannot thank them enough for all that they have given me, and I cannot fathom where I would be without them. I would also like to acknowledge the chair of my supervisory committ ee, Dr. Monika Ardelt. I thank her for her insightful assistance, endless patience, and faith in this project. I thank her for always bringing out the best in me. I thank my advisory co mmittee member, Dr. Connie Shehan, for her support, inspiration, and for constantly reminding me what a gift teaching sociol ogy is. I thank Dr. Charles Gattone for his advice, generosity with hi s time, for helping me to think outside of the box, and for reminding me of my path. I thank Will Jawde for being my unofficial advisor, mentor, and confidant. Special thanks to Katlyn, my love, life partner, best friend, and soon to be Mrs. Jacobs for being everything that sh e is to me, which is everything. Shoes! 4


TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES ...........................................................................................................................7 ABSTRACT ....................................................................................................................................8 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................ ..10 2 REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE ...........................................................................12 Music and Society ...................................................................................................................12 Hegemony ...............................................................................................................................13 Music as a Counter-Hegemonic Alternative ...........................................................................14 African Relevance ..................................................................................................................18 Trenchtown .............................................................................................................................20 Rastaman Vibration: The Music of Bob Marley .................................................................25 Oaktown ..................................................................................................................................29 Young Black Male: The Music of Tupac Shakur ...............................................................35 3 METHODOLOGY ................................................................................................................. 41 4 ANALYSIS .................................................................................................................... .........46 Introduction .............................................................................................................................46 Lyrics ......................................................................................................................................47 First Element of Protest: De pictions of Ghetto Suffering ...............................................48 General Suffering .....................................................................................................48 Poverty .....................................................................................................................49 Violence ...................................................................................................................50 Racism ......................................................................................................................52 Prison ........................................................................................................................54 Summary ..................................................................................................................55 Second Element of Protest: Criticism of and Resistance against Hegemony .................56 Identification as Rebels ............................................................................................57 Structural Critique ....................................................................................................57 Resistance .................................................................................................................59 Willingness to Fight .................................................................................................60 Changes ....................................................................................................................61 Criminal Justice System ...........................................................................................62 Summary ..................................................................................................................64 Third Element of Protest: Call for Unity .........................................................................65 Black Unity ..............................................................................................................65 History ......................................................................................................................67 5


Oneness ....................................................................................................................68 Summary ..................................................................................................................69 Spirituality .......................................................................................................................70 Relationship with God ..............................................................................................71 Invoking Gods Assistance .......................................................................................72 Faith ..........................................................................................................................72 Thanks versus Apology ............................................................................................73 Criticism of Religious Hypocrisy .............................................................................74 Summary ..................................................................................................................75 Hope / Hopelessness ........................................................................................................77 Stay Positive .............................................................................................................77 Optimism ..................................................................................................................78 Pessimism .................................................................................................................79 Nihilism ....................................................................................................................80 Summary ..................................................................................................................81 5 CONCLUSION .................................................................................................................. .....86 APPENDIX A ALBUMS ANALYZED .........................................................................................................90 B BOB MARLEY PROTEST SONG S SELECTED FOR ANALYSIS ...................................91 C TUPAC SHAKUR PROTEST SONGS SELECTED FOR ANALYSIS ...............................92 LIST OF REFERENCES ...............................................................................................................94 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .........................................................................................................99 6


LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Protest songs relative to total songs for each artist ............................................................464-2 Prevalence of facets of protest ...........................................................................................48 7


Abstract of Thesis Presen ted to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts REBEL MUSIC FROM TRENCHTOWN TO OAKTOWN: TH E LYRICS OF BOB MARLEY AND TUPA C SHAKUR AS COUNTER-HEGEMONIC CULTURE By Steve Jacobs May 2009 Chair: Monika Ardelt Major: Sociology How do popular music artists who emerge from economically and racially marginalized social contexts use their song lyrics to f acilitate a consciousness of resistance among the members of their respective soci al groups? Taking a grounded theo ry approach, this research focus specifically on the work of two popular music icons whose work has been situated in the legacy of Black protest music: reggae legend Bob Marley and rap legend Tupac Shakur. The present study conducts a comparative analysis on the lyrics of each artist's major-label studio albums to explore the role of music in the cons truction of counter-hegem onic alternative culture in impoverished Black communities in post-colo nial Kingston, Jamaica, and in the postindustrial urban United States. The an alysis suggests that each artist's lyrical project of resistance incorporates a similar th ree-part method of social critique: (1) depictions of the suffering endured as a member of a marginalized social group, (2 ) critiques of and resistance against social structures that produce this suffe ring, and (3) calls for unity, particularly among the members of the respective marginalized group, fo r the sake of improving the condi tions of social life. Despite the similar structure of Marley and Shakur's social critiques, differences in the tone and ambiance of the critiques were obs erved, particularly with respect to the spirituality and hope 8


9 revealed by the lyrics. I suggest these differenc es may be accounted for in part by differences between each artist's affiliation, or lack thereof, to a particular religious and cultural movement.


CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION There is a group on the Facebook social netw orking site called B ob Marley v. Tupac Shakur (Facebook, 2008). According to the groups creator, the group exis ts for the purpose of being a tribute to Shakur and Marley, as well as for spreading the reggae roots and true hiphop music, not the commercial bullsh*t which was the main reason hiphop died (Facebook, 2008). The group founder notes that both genres of music as created by these legends emerged from the street and created a culture. How a nd why did Marley and Shakur help to create street cultures, and what is the relationship between these cultures and the larger society? The current research explores how musical ar tists born into a marginalized social group may use their music as a form of protest agains t their marginalized st atus via a comparative analysis of the musical reactions to the socio-hist orical realities of Bob Marley in post-colonial Kingston, Jamaica, and Tupac Shakur in the pos t-industrial urban United States. This work examines how each of these defining figures of de fining genres of music of the African diaspora that emerged from racially and economically marg inalized social contexts used his music as a vehicle of critique of the soci al structures responsible for his respective social groups marginalization. This paper identifies the bodies of work of Marley and Shakur as being created in the tradition of black protest music and analyzes the ly rics of their protest so ngs to extrapolate each artists critique of his respectiv e social context. How did existi ng social conditions facilitate the emergence of their protest songs? How does each artist use his music, speci fically his lyrics, to critique the social position of his group? What make the criti ques relevant and meaningful? What do similarities in their critiques suggest about the role of mu sic in the creation of a counter10


11 hegemonic cultural alternative? What do the differences between these two critiques suggest about the differences between the social c limates in which the music emerges? This paper analyzes the lyrics of Marley and Shakurs protest songs to address these questions and establish their met hods of critique. In order to understand the objects of Marley and Shakurs critiques, the paper first provides a glimpse of the social realities in which the artists emerged to illuminate the structural conditions behind the crit iques. Thus, a review of the literature on the social contexts of each artist a nd on his work follows. Bu t first, let us explore the literature on protest music itsel f and its role in social change.


CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELEVANT LITERATURE Music and Society Music is fundamentally a social activity (Blaukopf, 1992). Adorno explains: All music, even the stylistically most individualistic, ta kes on a collective cont ent: every single sound speaks in the plural (quoted in Blaukopf, 1992, p. 45). Sociologists of music since Durkheim have interpreted works of art as products of soci al activity that capture the relationship of social agents in such a way that principles of the so cial contexts can be extrapolated from its art (Blaukopf, 1992). Accordingly, in his review of the sociology of music, Supicic not es that music is a socially conditioned form of individual expression. A particular musical artist creates his or her work from within a particular social context and thus the work is conditioned by the social context in which it is created (Supicic, 1987). However, musicians maintain a degree of agency; although ones social realities infl uence, condition, and impose restri ctions on the artistic activity of a musician, they do not determine this activity absolutely (Supicic, 1987). Rather, the social influences on a musicians art allow for considerable room for creative freedom to react to current artistic, historical, and so cial realities (Supicic 1987). Thus, for Supicic, ones social context does not make a puppet of the ar tist, condemning him to follow passively a predetermined historical evolut ion (Supicic, 1987, p. 51). Musical activity plays various roles in social life (Blaukopf 1992). For some artists, the social historical realitie s of their time provide impetuses for the creation of their music. Supicic observes the existence of social motivations for music, in contrast to aesthetic motivations concerning merely the sounds of the creations. Such musical works concern the needs and conceptions predominating in a given social fr amework, and its social psychology and collective 12


mentality (Supicic, 1987, p. 117). This paper a ddresses these social motivations for music, particularly the motivations for black protest music. Social stratification is a wellaccepted social fact; all socie ties feature people who have more power, prestige, or propert y than others (DaSilva et al, 1984). Musical activity occurs within all of the different social classes, st rata, layers, and groups in cluding both dominant and marginalized groups (Supicic, 1987). Music acts in response to the particular dynamics of each context (Supicic, 1987) and can be understood as expr essions of particular classes in particular historical settings (DaSilva et al, 1984). B ecause musical expression is located within the different strata of society, before addressing social motivations for music it is helpful to view the role of music in light of the concept of hegemony. Hegemony Gramsci (1971) observes that ruling groups ideologically dominate a society through cultural forms. In coining the term hegemony to describe this conditio n, Gramsci refers to the spontaneous consent the masses of a society give as they submit to the general direction imposed on social life by the dominant fundamental group. This consent is to be contrasted with the direct domination of a dominant group through force, do mination which is sometimes employed by the state when such consent fail s (Gramsci, 1971). Raymond Williams expands upon the concept of hegemony: It is a whole body of practices and expectations, over the wh ole body of living: our senses and assignments of energy, our shaping percepti ons of ourselves and our world. It is a lived system of meanings and valuesconsti tutive and constitutingwhich as they are experienced as practices appear as reciprocally confirming. It thus constitutes a sense of reality for most people in the society, a sens e of absolute because experienced reality beyond which it is very difficult for most members of the society to move, in most areas of their lives. It is, that is to say, in the strongest sense a c ulture, but a culture which has also to be seen as the lived dominance and subordination of particul ar classes (1977, p. 110). 13


Thus, according to this view, the instituti onalized and accepted forms of culture in a particular social order can be viewed as the culture of a part icular hegemony which serves to legitimize and promulgate the id eology reflecting the status quo and the interests of the ruling class. Thus, the musical ideas of a particular so cial context exist within the realm of domination that serves the interests of the dominant social group. A key reason that the expressions of an oppressed group are suppressed is that self-defined perspectives can foster resistance (Collins, 2000). However, despite this hegemonic cu ltural domination, schol ars have noted the flourishing of protest music. Music as a Counter-Hegemonic Alternative A lived hegemony, according to Williams, is a process rather than a system or structure, and although the hegemony is dominant, it is no t total or exclusive (1977). Accordingly, no dominant culture ever exhausts all human practice, energy, an d intention (Lieberman, 1989, p. xix) and counter-hegemonic cultural alternatives can and do exist. Supicic notes the ability of mu sic to function as such an al ternative as he observes that music is regarded above all as a participant in social life, either by expressing it (that is, in perpetuating some of its aspects) or by opposing it (Supicic, 1987, p. 60, emphasis added). Supicic observes the transposition or transferal of problems that occupy or agitate society (at its various levels) into musical art, where those problems are [dealt] with in a specifically artistic manner. This aspect is particularly accentuated in those forms and genres of music that are linked with the expression of words (emphasis added, Supicic, 1987, p. 60). Supicic suggests the potential for an artist to empl oy critical lyrics to protest the he gemonic structures of his or her respective social context and perhaps to inspire individuals to reflect on the dominant aspects of their society. 14


Most people define the meaning of a song acco rding to its lyrics (Frith, 1996) yet the significance of lyrics is often unappreciated among those who study music. However, arguments about the social and political value of popular music are more likely to address the words of songs than their sounds. In the experience of mu sic words matter to peop le [and] are central to how pop songs are heard and evaluated (Frit h, 1996, p. 159). Music can be conceptualized as the vehicle that carries words, making them me morable through an appealing tune. Yet, too often scholars of aesthetics, sociology, and cultural studies convincing themselves that, because there are clearly situations where the words dont matter in the slight estclassically, when youre dancing this hardthis is enough to avoi d attending to the words altogether (Griffiths, 2003). It is important to emphasize that th ere is no empirical evidence that song words determine or reflect liste ners beliefs and values (Frith, 1996). Yet songs can act as an avenue of expression that connect with and articulate a listeners own f eelings (Frith, 1996). Various scholars note the ro le that popular music may play as a counter-hegemonic alternative. Benjamin argues that [f]reed from the mystification of high culture mass culture could cultivate more critical individuals able to judge and analyze their cu lture, just as sports fans could dissect and evaluate athletic ac tivities (Benjamin, 1969, quoted in Durham and Kellner, 2006, p. 4). Thus, for Benjamin, popular music can stimulate reflection and a critical perspective on a hegemony. Furthermore, Benjamin asserts that progressi ve musical artists can use their work as a medium of political enlightenment and discussion and as even an instrument of progressive social change (1969). Lawrence Goodwyns work on American Populis m develops the theory of a movement culture offering people an alte rnative to the recei ved culture (1978). A movement culture provides a mode of conduct antithetical to the social, economic, and political values of the 15


received, hierarchical culture (Goodwyn, 1978, p. 165). Cabral (1973) agrees that the basis of a liberation movement is found in opposition to th e dominant culture. Rose elaborates on the power of musical expression: Under social c onditions in which sustained frontal attacks on powerful groups are strategically unwise or successfully containe d, oppressed people use language, dance, and music to mock those in power, express rage, and produce fantasies of subversion these dances, languages, and musi cs produce communal bases of knowledge about social conditions, communal interpretations of them, and quite of ten serve as the cultural glue that fosters communal resist ance (Rose, 1994, p. 99-100). These forms of artistic resistance provide the opportunity for discour se about alternative political realities, as well as give emotive ar ticulation to them, and the importance of such expression cannot be overstated (Fischlin, 2003). Lips itz has observed the use of popular music to secure, shape, or stunt the power of the state among African nationa lists, reformers, and revolutionaries, Australian indigenous and Native American activists, and Quebecois separatists (1994). Fischlin observes that th e power of music to develop a counter-hegemonic culture is to be feared by those who are threatened by it, and celebrated by those who use it to resist oppression and liberate expr ession (2003, p. 30). Berger observes the extensive use of music in organizing social movements throughout the history of the Unites States (2000). Several schol ars explore the particular roles that music can play in social movements. DaSilva et al ( 1984) observe four: they not e how protest music (1) expresses underdog status, there by serving to lead people to see themselves as underdogsa necessary cognitive development which must precede movement consciousness (p.101), (2) expresses values that are goals of a social movement, such as equality in highly stratified 16


societies (DaSilva et al, 1984), and (3) convey a particular partisan viewpoint of a social movement and (4) can express the solidarity of that movement. Fischlin observes five ways in which protes t music has impacted rights issues: through (1) expressing and creating solidarity among people affected by a particul ar issue, (2) disseminating relevant information to these people, (3) infusi ng the oft-missing emotion into rights campaigns, (4) raising money for rights cause s, and (5) facilitating the deve lopment of the very kind of critical consciousness necessary for ri ghts campaigns (Fischlin, 2003, p. 11). Protest music is largely an in-group activity (King, 2006; Knupp, 1981; Bowers et. al., 1994; Eyerman and Jamison, 1995). Although some protest songs target potential sympathizers to their respective causes, such music is primar ily aimed at unifying the collective consciousness of a movement. For example, in their comprehens ive and systematic analysis of protest music, Stewart, Smith, and Denton found that only 3 per cent of 714 songs surveyed from the American Revolution to the 1980s demonstrated appeals to people outside of the particular protest movement (1989). However, despite the vast theoretical support for the role of protest music in facilitating a counter-hegemonic cultural alternative, Pratt warns that the content of a song should never be assumed to be equivalent to its effects (1990) and just because a musician expresses an idea in a particular way for a particular purpose does not mean that his/her audience will understand it and interpret its meaning in this way. However, desp ite the subjective nature of the experience of a musical creation, Pratt still observes emancipato ry uses of popular music which challenge dominant institutions. He observes that through out history, music has often been fundamental to such an emancipatory process, reinforcing exercise of such human abilities to subvert and transform existing systems (Pratt, 1990, p. 14). He explores ways in which musicians have 17


used their work to squeeze out free space in th e existing class and power relations of society to establish alternative subc ultural communities (1990, p. 14). African Relevance Scholars suggest such protest music, mu sic acting as a counter-hegemonic cultural alternative, may be particularly relevant with re spect to music of the African diaspora. In the words of William McClendon, former direct or of black studies at Reed College: Black music is a lasting symbol of sanity for black people closely related to the spirit of resistance and struggle It is one of the effective modes of communication for conveying the messages of black abhorrence and resistan ce to the repressive living arrangements created for black people. Black music is an amalgam of black life an indigenous expression of collective black expe rience (quoted in Ellison, 1989, p. 146). Ellison observes that the association between blac k music and social protest is a natural alliance (1989). She argues that one constant throughout the music handed down from Africa to black people in the Western hemisphere is a commitment to meaningful lyrics that reflect the response of individuals to their lives human response to life including daily experiences as well as more abstract social problems. She claims that since the first songs by black people were heard in Africa, black music has expressed resistance to oppre ssion and has clearly a nd honestly explored the range of human choices available to black peopl e. Ellison adds that [b]lack music has been a collective cry of discontent for as long as there have been situat ions and conditions in need of change (Ellison, 1989, p. 145). Though the music hint s at these choices, the lyrics of songs explicitly convey them (Ellison, 1989). Ellis on concludes that not politics but music has historically provided the real voice of black America (1989). Yet, despite the abundance of theoretical support for music serving as a counterhegemonic alternative, it is difficult to speak of the role of music in creating social change because music in and of itself does not determin e social relations (Regev and Seroussi, 2004). Lieberman points out that the de bate continues about the importance of music and the cultural 18


realm in the process of challenging hegemony and fostering social cha nge (Lieberman, 1989). However, he does concede that the fact remains that songs may be more effective than speeches in reaching people, touching them emoti onally as well as intell ectually. Because music is more accessible than other art forms, song can be an especially effective weapon when it reaches a broad audience, connects with other cu rrents in society, and threatens the hegemonic process (Lieberman, 1989, p. 164). He continues that if songs are connecte d to a broad political movement, they will have more meaning (1989). Dyson (2007) agrees that without a connection to a vital political movement, music can only go so far in tr ansforming social and political arrangements; it can help transmit values but is not a substitute for actual politics. Bono, the lead singer of the rock band U2, agr ees with the power of music as he observes that on one hand, all were doi ng is making pop music, but I th ink musicians can do what the politicians cant. Even if its just for an hour and a half, theres a unity in the audience (Hilburn, 1983, p. 20). Although music may not in and of itself create social change, it may inspire individuals and communities to create such change, particularly if it is linked to a particular unified movement. The current research focuses the protest musi c of two particular musicians. History presents Robert Nesta (Bob) Marley and Tupac Am aru (2pac) Shakur as examples of musicians who each used a form of artistic expression, popu lar music, to voice protest and resistance from his particular social place in the African diaspo ra. Much has been writ ten about both Marley and Shakurs use of music as a tool of social critique. However, as Walser observes, in order to understand why sounds have been arranged in [a] particular way, we must understand the context within which their composition seemed meaningful and urgent (2003, p. 31). Thus, a 19


review of relevant literature on the social contexts in which Marley and Shakurs music emerged, as well as on each artist follows. Trenchtown Marley was born in 1945 in rural Nine Miles, St. Ann, Jamaica, still a British colony as the son of a white English father and a black Ja maican mother, and grew up in the Trenchtown ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica. At first glance, mid-twentieth century Jamaica appears to be a prosperous place. The Jamaican economy boo med throughout the 1950's as the GNP increased by 10% every year until 1957, when it slowed to only 7% a year for the rest of the decade (Bradley, 2000). This boom was largely a result of "the long-haul holid ay market opening up as a fashionable upper-bracket pursuit for both Euro peans and Americans" (Bradley, 2000, p. 12). This market was facilitated by Jamaica satisf ying travelers demand for an exotic island destination. Luxury hotels were built in vast stretches along the islands North coast to accommodate these travelers. Accordingly, the construction, and touris m industries saw rapid growth and the creation of job opportunities. Additionally, the mining industry prospered, as Jamaica's soil was abundant in bauxite, the chief mineral source of aluminum. Jamai ca supplied large quantities of it to aluminum industries for use in planes to accommodate the booming commercial airline industry. Another factor contributing to the countrys economic pros perity during this time period was emigration; over 250,000 people, about one tenth of Jamaica' s population, emigrated during this time period, reducing the competition for Jamaican jobs (Bradley, 2000). Thus, mid-twentieth century Jamaica was characterized by a "creeping national euphoria as the island prospered and all talk was of independence within the next few years" (Bradley, 2000, p. 47). However, "two nations within the on e country" (p. 14) can be spoken of: prosperity depended in large part on ones socioeconomic status and "the downsides of all these 20


improvements were ominous" (Bradley, 2000, p. 14). While the Jamaican economy continued to expand and grow, certain people in West Kingston remained de sperately poor (Bradley, 2000). The divisions between these two Jamaicas were not based solely along economic lines, but also along racial ones esta blished during the Brit ish colonial period (Thomas, 2005). As a British colony, Jamaica was stratified; predominan tly British whites controlled the countrys wealth and owned most of the land while black s, both native Jamaicans and African slaves, provided the majority of the lands labor (Smith, 2005) and these slaves were the prime producers of food (Thomas, 2005). Jacobson observe s that to Jamaicans the entire slavery experience of their forebears was tantamount to a terrible nightmare from which they had awakened in a strange land as tragi cally misplaced, debased squatters (1995). The British Jamaicans can be viewed through a hegemonic lens because their imperialism was not only a system of economic e xploitation and political domination but also one of cultural control [and] col onial subjects were socialized to accept the moral and cultural superiority of Englishness, and by default, whit eness (Thomas, 2005, p. 30). Thus, every since its days as a British colony, native Jamaicans and th e descendents of African slaves have lived in an inferior, marginalized social contex t compared to the British whites. Marley began recording and releasing music around the time Jamaica gained its independence from British colonial rule. Marl ey created his music in Kingston, where poverty was defined by geographical as much as social altitude (Bradley, 2000, p. 14) as the stately homes of the white colonizers si t on hills that overlook Trenchto wnone of the worst slums of the Western hemisphere (Winders, 1983, p. 62). In fact, Trenchtowns name refers to the overcrowded downtown slums that mushroomed into a maze of squatter camps around the concrete ditches, gullies, and open sewers (B radley, 2000, p. 14). Rural Jamaicans emigrated 21


into these slums of Kingston ove r the years to escape an even more frightful rural poverty (1983, p. 62). A massive percentage (B radley, 2000, p. 14) of the around 300,000 rural Jamaicans displaced by the bauxite mines and consequently homeless and unemployed ended up in the slums of Kingston because th e mines created only 10,000 new jobs. Rastafari/Rastafarianism, a religious and cultu ral movement that Marley identified with, emerged in Jamaica during the mid-twentieth cen tury as a reaction to social, economic, and political forces (Foehr, 2000). Rastafari ha s been characterized as a heterogeneous, decentralized movement since its inception, as it features multiple smaller groups and lacks a central leader or monolithic organization; however, the various groups find common ground and share a critical center (K ing, 2006). Chevannes defines Rastafari as a system of beliefs and a state of consciousness that advances a vi ew of the economic survival and political organization and structure that challenges the dominant cultural political ideology (1990). Rastafari speaks to the history of imperialism in Jamaica and its malevolent effects on black Jamaicans (Foehr, 2000). Influenced by (and even viewing as a prophet) Jamaican Black Nationalist and the founder of the Universal Ne gro Improvement Association Marcus Garvey (King, 2006), Rastafari combines elements of African culture with Caribbean realities and promotes a message of liberation, challenging an ideology of the inferiority of black people (Foehr, 2000). Wearing their hair in long dr eadlocks and smoking ganja while citing biblical justification for both practices (White, 2006; Fo ehr, 2000), the Rastafaria ns stand as a unique twentieth century religious phenomenon in that their m ovement grew beyond mere cult status and affected the language, worldview, and whol e cosmology of the people of Jamaica and the entire Caribbean (Foehr, 2000). Although the Rast afarian movements dream of its members 22


return to Africa has yet to be realized, the move ments critique of Jamaicas ideology of racism provides the foundation for a fruitful Af rican community in Jamaica (King, 2006). Rastafari sought to redeem Black Jamaicans by restoring the self-awareness and selfconfidence that had been all bu t bred out through the destruct ion wrought by transportation, the brutalization of slavery and the subservience that was necessary to maintain the colonial system (Bradley, 2000, p. 78). In a social context wh ere docile, subservient be havior patterns were historically encouraged among black Jamaican s, the Rastaman walked proud, would look anybody in the eye and was forever ready to asse rt his rights as a man (Bradley, 2000, p. 78) and believed that all black pe ople should act this way. The Rastafarian movement emerged in the slums of West Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1930s in the dispossessed black class, the most marginalized and despised sector of Jamaican society (King, 2006, p. 109). Rastas were the poorest of the poor and objects of considerable scorn among many segments of Jamaican so ciety (Winders, 1983, p. 62). Wary of the perceived threat of spreadi ng dissent throughout the nation, Ja maican authorities took steps including harassment, arrest, imprisonment, and deportation to neut ralize the Rastas and circumvent the goals of their movement (Foehr, 2000; King, 2006). Although today Jamaica tries to incorporate and institutionally accept Rastas into its national cultural identity for the sake of marketing and tourism, the police continue to harass Rastas be cause of their use of ganja, their strange appearance, and thei r subversive political and re ligious beliefs (White, 2006). The genre of Marleys music, reggae, was the music of Trenchtown (Winders, 1983, p. 62). According to reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert, Reggae means comin from the people y know? Like a everyday thing. Like from th e ghetto Reggae means regular people who are suffering and dont have what they want (Ellis on, 1989, p. 8). Reggae is a thoroughly Jamaican 23


art form (Winders, 1983) and a true expression of Jamaican blackness" (Bradley, 2000, p. 47). Since its emergence in the mid-1970s, reggae has become one of the most decidedly rebellious forms of music the world has known (Ellison, 1989) as Rastafar ians used reggae music to disseminate their ideology. Reggae music tends to offer many criticisms of Jamaican society from the point of view of the Rastafarian su b-culture and spreads awareness of the Rastas discontent and of the divisions within Jamaican society (Winders, 1983, p. 69). In fact, the Rastafarian movement used reggae music as it s chief medium of co mmunication (King, 2006). Reggae music rapidly became Jamaicas main source of social and political commentary (Ellison, 1989, p. 8), became the s oundtrack to what was occurri ng in 1970s Jamaica (Foehr, 2000), and stands as the movements sword carrier (Foehr, 2000, p. 177). Many reggae songs act as alternative history texts documenting Jama icas legacy of slavery, a subject historically downplayed in the institutionalized educational system (King, 2006). Accordingly, values and symbols of Rastafar i have become so in tertwined with reggae music that the two are widely regarded as in distinguishable. Accord ingly, Rastafari symbols such as the colors of the Ethiopian flag (red, gold, green), the lion, the drum, smoking marijuana, wearing dreadlocks and the distin ctive language are symbols of resistance now identified with reggae (Foehr, 2000). Reggae s ongs affirm Rastafari values and goals while challenging the ideology of raci sm (King, 2006). It is not surp rising then that mainstream Jamaican radio stations wanted nothing to do with these new r ecords despite their popularity with listeners because as a mainstream social institution, radi o airwaves were controlled by the white middle-class hegemony which aspired to 'dignity' and looked upon anything too wild too black as bordering on the savage (Bradley, 2000, p. 9-10). 24


Former Jamaican Prime Minister Michael Manley acknowledged that lyrics of reggae songs contained journalistic comm entary that the public sometimes heeded more closely than the Jamaican press (Winders, 1983). Following the end of British colonialism, it was said that reggae music should provide a critical look, if not a revolutionary impetus for change (Winders, 1983, p. 71). Indeed, Winders observed th e potential for reggae music to become the voice for previously voiceless people (1983, p. 71) The Rastafarian movement and its reggae music affected the Jamaican collective consciousness to such an extent that the mere mention of the island conjures up soundscapes of reggae mu sic and dancehall, images of Rastas and resistance (Thomas, 2005, p. 30). Rastaman Vibration: The Music of Bob Marley Bob Marley was a reggae musician. However, the effect of his two decades (1961-1981) of musical expression on people s uggests he has left behind more substantial effects than merely aesthetically pleasi ng sounds for people to listen to. A ccordingly, Marley has been called a prophet, a psalmist for the Rastafarian religi on, an advocate for an African homeland for the descendants of slavery still struggling to develop a sense of identity both in and beyond Jamaica, a peacemaker, a troublemaker, a liberator, a musical genius, and the first Third World superstar (Smith, 2005). The United Nations awarded him the 1978 Medal of Peace and just before his death in 1981 at the young age of 37, Jamaica awarded him its highest honor, the Order of Distinction (Smith, 2005). Further evidence of hi s impact are the traditional welcome usually reserved for heads of state that he received when he traveled to New Zeal and, as well as the state funeral in Jamaica he received after his death ( Caribbean Nights 2005). Judy Mowatt, one of his backing singers, observes that Marley had a message that transcended to the four corners of the world (Caribbean Nights, 2005). 25


Bob Marley and his band members were from the ghetto and scuffled and suffered like dem artists must in de ghetto (Jacobson, 1995). Accordingly, Marleys music evokes the milieu of Trenchtowns slums (Winders, 1983). Sheridan asserts that Bob Marley may have physically left Trenchtown, but its mark on his psyche was indelible, and the rhythm of the streets of the community he grew up in would be in his bl ood forever (1999, p. 124). Bobs mesmerizing and often incendiary songs were customarily stee ped in images of Third World strife (White, 2006, p. 21). Bob was often irascible-with-white-folks (Jacobson, 1995) as he wrote music that concerned itself with Jamaican social issues such as denouncing police harassment and declaring the power of disenfranchised ghetto popul ation as a volatile and potent political force, and it served as a major sociopolitical influe nce (White, 2006). Marley and his band mates believed that their music could explain and beat back the planets moral turpitude and racial oppression (White, 2006, p. 239). Marleys work was heavily influenced by the Afrocentric ideology of Marcus Garvey and Rastafari (White, 2006). Acco rdingly, Marley championed cau ses of black people throughout the African diaspora who were marginalized by th e white hegemonic legacy of colonialism. Although the biracial Marley was adept at treading the fine line between black and white while understanding issues from both sides, the black side of his identity was by far the most developed (Sheridan, 1999, p. 125). This is ev idenced by his having been raised in a black community by a black woman (his white father was almost entirely absent), having married a black woman, and having championed black causes in his writings and in terviews (White, 2006; Sheridan, 1999). While Marley was half white, he did not view himself in this way (Bradley, 2000). Rather, according to his onetime producer Danny Sims, Bob Marley was a black man and wouldnt have it any othe r way (Bradley, 2000, p. 418). 26


Furthermore, Marley explained on numerous occasions that his message was for the entire world but his heart was in Africa (Sherida n, 1999). He even (fictitiously) insisted for years that he and his parents were born in Af rica (White, 2006). In Africa, he was indeed beloved as an apostle of Pan-Africanism (W hite, 2006). Yet Marley moved progressively toward a universal vision of peace, love, and unity (Smith, 2005). Unity is the worlds key to racial harmony, said Marley. Until the white man stops calling himself white, and the black man stops calling himself black, we will not see it. All the people of the earth are just one family (Sheridan, 1999, p. 78). Marley was a devout adherent to the Rastafarian religion, and he is said to have become the most prominent international spokesperson for the religion (Smith, 2005, p. 9). Accordingly, Marley viewed creating music as his pursuit of what he called me Faddahs business (White 2000, p. 306). He believed that God was the source of his music, and that its purpose was to act as a vehicle delivering Gods messages: It is not me say these things, its God if God hadnt given me a song to sing, I wouldnt have a song to sing (Sheridan 1999, p. 80). Neville Garrick, a friend of Marley who worked on his album covers notes that Marley never struggled to write a song and observes, Since reading the Psalms of King David in the Bible, I really havent come across anyone that really has that gift, that lyrical ability to deliver Gods message ( Caribbean Nights, 2005). He adds that Bob would say that it was Jah [God] who wrote all those songs anyway (Caribbean Nights, 2005). The depth of Marleys spiritual beliefs is rev ealed by his death. When told than his life could be saved by amputating his cancerous right big toe, he refu sed because Rasta no abide amputation I and I [me and my brethren dont allow a man to be dismantled (White, 2006, p. 3). Marley refused the amputation on the gr ounds than the procedur e conflicted with his 27


Rastafari beliefs and asserted th at God would either heal him or tek me as a son into His Kingdom (White, 2006, p. 4). Marley died a few years later in 1981. In accordance with going about his Faddahs business, Bob Marleys spirituality manifested in messages in his music. Smith asse rts that Marley believed his music to have been divinely channeled and that through this gift he was placed on the eart h to call his people to work toward justice and freedom (2005, p. 1). Ma rley created and performed reggae music that allows those who identify with the messages of the suffering and oppression to gain catharsis through dance. The listener is attracted to the pleasing, relaxing sounds of the music while simultaneously persuaded to the lyrical messag e (2005, p. 32). Accordingly, Marleys art is not happy-go-lucky, pot-induced safe music (S mith, 2005, p.11, emphasis added). Smith adds that when one pays attention to the lyrics of [Marleys] bouncy, happy songs, one is struck by the militancy, the calls to action, and the consiste nt call for justice one finds in those same seemingly benign songs (2005, p. 11). Accordingl y, King and Jensen note that music can be a powerful and persuasive tool for musicians such as Marley to spread their message to the world (1995). Various scholars weigh in on the social motivations for Marleys music. Sheridan notes that Marleys unfinished mi ssion was to change the mindset of the poor and downtrodden, and lead his people to a bette r place (1999, p. 134). King and Jensen observe that in his music, Marley has offered a picture of the past, has answered the question: Why are we oppressed? and has offered st rategies and a solution to end oppression in the world and basically presents a coherent story of the pa st, present, and future (King and Jensen, 2005, p.29). Gilroy notes that Marley ha s a precious quality (that) helps to transmit resources of hope into a different future (2005, p. 228). He adds th at Marley turned the history and memory of racial slavery into interpretative devices that c ould be turned towards i nnumerable varieties of 28


injustice and unfreedom (Gilroy, 2005, p. 239). E llison asserts that Marleys music provided a voice to the views of people who had previously had no way of being heard (Ellison, 1989, p. 9). She continues that for Marley, music was a sword wielded in the ca use of justice, and a weapon that was powerful enough to produce a real transformation in politics and patterns of living (Ellison, 1989, p. 148). Smith observes that Marley saw injustice in contemporary events as well as in the historical event of slavery, and dedicated himsel f and his musical voice to helping persons stand up to injustice and resist it wherever it was met. Furthermore, he claims that Marleys music serves as transformative pedagogy, intended to engage the people to take action against all forms of oppression and injustice (2005, p. 11). Marley, Smith continues, used his musical voice to bring about change in the contentious, povert y-stricken world of post-colonial, newly independent Jamaica as he demonstrated how one can combine religious faith with political activism and militancy to transform the situation of some of the most desperate people in the Western world (2005, p. 2). The literature suggests that th e music of Bob Marley, a man whose lyrics made the music an anthem for freedom fighters and oppres sed people (Foher, 2000, p. 9) is an example of a rebel music. Songs were a more effective wa y for Marley to explore freedom for black people than giving speeches (Ellison, 1989). Oaktown Tupac Shakur was born in 1971 in Harlem, Ne w York, to a social revolutionary Black Panther mother (Dyson, 2001). When he was fifteen, Shakurs mom, using her homeless stipend, moved with her son to Baltimores tough ghetto. At seventeen, the family relocated to 29


Marin City, California. Though shaped by his expe riences in New York and Baltimore, in songs such as Nothin But Love he identifies as being straight outt a Oakland, California. His experiences on the streets of Oakland e xposed him to the consequences of changing economic structures since the late 1960s and the more heavily punitive cr iminal justice policies since 1980. These two structural sh ifts combined to lead to extreme concentrated disadvantage in, and the isolation of, black inner-city communities (Kubr in, 2005). These communities, isolated from middleand uppe r-middle-class blacks (Dyson, 2004), presented poor blacks with previously unseen challenges in African American life (Kitwana, 1994, p. 45). The young black members of these communities comprise th e hip-hop generation, a unique post-civil rights urban youth culture in the United States comprised of people born between 1965 and 1984 who share common lived experiences (Kitwana, 2002) including the following characteristics: [Living in] a place, the United States, at a ti me when the rate of infant mortality for African-American children is twic e what it is for white children, and child poverty is three times as severe. Black youth unemployment quadrupled during the period between 1965 and 1990, while white youth unemployment was static. The level of violent crime is virtually identical for black and white populatio ns, but three times as many black people are arrested for committing the same crimes. 13 per cent of US Americans are black, and 13 per cent of drug users are black, yet African Americans somehow earn 43 per cent of the drug felony convictions and serve 78 per cen t of the prison time for such offences. (Walser, 2003, p. 31) While cities such as Los Angeles have e xperienced unprecedented growth since the late 1960s, the catalyzing structural changes had devasta ting consequences on black working class communities (Kelley, 1996). The shift from a manufacturing-oriented economy to a serviceoriented economy in the decades since have created an increased demand for highly skilled workers and decreased the demand for low-ski ll ones (Kubrin, 2005; Kelley, 1996). This shift has resulted in factory closures, increased ec onomic displacement, an unprecedented deepening of poverty, and family disruption that particularly affected young urban black males in a negative way (Kubrin, 2005; Kelley, 1996). By the 1980s young blacks who lacked the education 30


required for the new high-tech jobs had few places to turn within the mainstream economy aside from minimum-wage jobs created by the servic e sector. However, even these working poor jobs lacked the wages and benefits of those of the earlier generation (Tonry 1995), and were often unable to provide enough income to f und decent housing or child care (Kitwana 2002; Tonry 1995). This social context was characterized by indifference a nd unresponsiveness of local, state, and national policymakers to ward young black people (Sullivan, 1997). Along with these economic changes were si multaneous changes in criminal justice policies, changes that called for longer and hars her sentences (Kubrin, 2005) Collectively, these various laws have had severe consequences: (1) The United States has been engaged in an unprecedented imprisonment binge (between 1980 and 1998 the prison population increa sed from 329,821 to 1,302,019a rise of 295 percent) and now incarcerates more of its ci tizens than any other country in the world (Austin and Irwin 2001:1). (2) Federal and stat e budgets have shifted public expenditures from other social services to crime contro l (Tonry 1995). (3) Racism and the systematic oppression of minority groups, especially young African American men, has been legitimized and institutionaliz ed in the criminal justice system (Chambliss, 1995, p. 236, qtd. in Kubrin, 2005) Statistics suggest that, although laws are theoretically applied equally to all, they are in fact applied in a discriminatory fashion against poor minorities (Chambliss, 1995; Tonry, 1995). This is evidenced by growth of the percentage of blacks admitted to state and federal prisons from 39 to 53 percent between 1979 and 1990, and by th e tripling of the number of black people in prison since 1980 (Tonry, 1995). Furthermore, incarceration rates for blacks in 1990 (1,860 per 100,000) were nearly seven times higher than those for whites (289 per 100,000) (Jankowski, 1992). Mauer and Huling (1995) report that almost one in three (32.2 per cent) African American men in their twenties is either in prison, in ja il, or on probation or pa role on any given day. These criminal justice st atistics are accounted for in large part by drug arrests resulting from the War on Drugs and the newly instituted manda tory minimum sentences (Kubrin, 2005). 31


Accordingly, young black men have embraced certa in elements of prison culture, such as sagging pants and loose-fitting shir ts, as it increasingly seems natural for black men to go to jail (Dyson, 2007). According to Kubrin (2005), inner-city Afri can American communities are faced with concentrated disadvantage defined by the comb ined effects of poverty, unemployment, family disruption, and isolation from mainstream Amer ica. Instead of the roles and opportunities available to youths in other environments, impo verished youths are co nfronted with a limited opportunity structure (Boyd, 1997) a nd often find illegitimate opportunities such as selling drugs to be more readily available (Kubrin, 2005) and rare job opportunities in a social context devoid of meaningful employment (Kitwana 2002). Use of crack cocaine, which appeals to those with lowest socioeconomic status, soared in thes e communities and destroyed black families (Dyson, 2001). Neighborhood battles for cont rol of drug markets introduced the elements of violence and increased gang warfare. This situation extends beyond a me re lack of effort on the part of impoverished inner city residents. While ghetto communities are filled with potentially hard-working, upstanding citizens the demand for economic and social success, coupled with limited avenues and numerous illegitimate avenues by which to attain it, creates a situation unparalleled in other communities (Kubrin, 2005, p. 436). Despite the fact that disadvantaged black comm unities are perhaps thos e most in need of police protection, residents in these communitie s tend to view the police with the most ambivalence (Kubrin, 2005). Observations of th e routine practices of police departments and prosecutors including unwa rranted police stops, verbal and physic al abuse, and racial bias toward residents of disadvantaged communities suggest institutionalized racism and foster an attitude 32


that skin color is a cause for suspicion on the part of the police and consequently strain relations with them (Kubrin, 2005). Thus, re sidents tend to believe that stre et survival requires them to avoid the police and to assume dishonesty on th e part of officers (Anderson, 1999). Furthermore, police departments across the nation have policed the urban underclass ghetto with a vigilance that would create political revolution were the same tactics and policies implemented in middleclass communities (Kubrin, 2005, p. 437). The increasing social isolat ion, economic hardship, political demoralization, and cultural exploitation endured by most ghetto poor communities in the past few decades (Dyson, 2004, p. 404) have given rise to the genre of Shakurs musi c, rap music, a form of musical expression that captures the terms of ghetto poor existence and fe atures themes drawn from the conflicts and contradictions of black urban li fe. Rap music was born as pub lic spaces for black recreation were gutted by Reaganomics or violently tran sformed by lethal drug economies and the depletion of social services to reverse the material ruin of black life (Dyson, 2004, p. 412). These changes must be understood to fully grasp raps evolution and the development of gangsta rap (Boyd, 1997; Kitwana, 2002). Rap music, a central aspect of popular cult ure in the inner citi es today (Kubrin, 2005), emerged from the urban wasteland that was the South Bronx (Henderson, 1996, p. 311) in which gangs of New York youth were encased in what could only be de scribed as a war zone (Henderson, 1996, p. 311), reflects the brutal circumstances that define the boundaries within which most ghetto poor black youth live (Dyson, 2004, p. 406-7), and stands as a reaction to the violence, racism, and oppression in American culture (Dyson, 2004). Rap music emerged from the streets of inner-city neighborhoods as a reaction of the hopes, concerns, and aspirations of urban black youth (Kubrin, 2005), flourished, and cu rrently is enjoying unprecedented success. 33


Although young black men rarely vote (less than 15% voted in the 2000 presidential election), they find alternative cultural spa ces, such as rap music, to expr ess their views (Dyson, 2001). At its best, such music can disseminate political consciousness, raise awareness, and challenge young people to fight for what they believe in (Dyson, 2007). Shakurs music is consistent with Kell eys (1996) assertion of gangsta rap as ghettocentric particularly with respect to hi s controversial use of the word nigga: The construction of the ghetto as a living night mare and gangstas as products of that nightmare has given rise to what I call a new g hettocentric identity in which the specific class, race, and gendered experi ences in late-capitalist urban centers coalesce to create a new identitynigga. Nigga is not merely another word for black; it encompasses a specific class, spatial, and to a larg er degree, gendered subject position. Thus, a real nigga according to Kelley is from the ghetto, li nking ones identity to the ghetto instead of merely to skin color, im plicit acknowledgment by ga ngsta rappers of the limitations of racial politics including black middle-class reformism and Black Nationalism (Kubrin, 2005). Dyson acknowledges such a class divide between ghettocentric black culture and bourgeois Negro expression (2007, p. 7). Since its emergence rap music has shifted largely from a generic concern for chronicling the black experience to one specifically about the black underclass in the ghetto (Smith 1997:346; quoted in Kubrin, 2005, p. 435). Scholarly investigation of the cultural impact of rappers considers them to be black poets of the contemporary urban scene (Baker, 1993, p. xi ) who use music as a vehicle for telling the history of African American cu lture (Potter, 1995, p. 116). Rappe rs create their music as an expressive artistic outlet for a marginaliz ed urban social bloc (Smith, 1997, p. 345), a contemporary response to joblessness, povert y, and disempowerment (Smitherman, 1997, p.5), and as an art form that reflects the nuances, pathology, and most importantly, the resilience of Americas black ghettos (Dawsey 1994). Rappers them selves consider their music to be a blend of entertainment and education for the masses as Chuck D. once called it the CNN for black 34


America (Chuck D), KRS-ONE refers to it as edutainment, and Queen Latifah calls it a creative outlet which can become like a newspape r that people read with their ears (Kubrin, p. 433). Much has been written about the educational and socializing impacts of rap music. Rap has historically provided a form of informal education for adolescents, one that extends far beyond the confines of the classroom and into the peer group (Powell, 1991, p. 245). Rap artists have had a more extensive influence in th e black community in terms of their ability to capture the listening ear of black youth than at hletes, entertainers, politicians, teachers, and ministers (Kitwana, 1994). All th e while, rap music retains its cl ose ties to the poo rest and least represented members of the bl ack community (Rose, 1994, p. 183). In the words of Dyson (2004, p. 410): Rap is a form of profound musical, cultural, and social creativity. It expresses the desire of young black people to reclaim their history, reactivate forms of black radicalism, and contest the powers of despair and economic depression that presently besiege the black community. Besides being the most powerful fo rm of black musical expression today, rap projects a style of self into the world that generates form s of cultural resistance and transforms the ugly terrain of ghetto existence into a searing portrait of life as it must be lived by millions of voiceless people. For th at reason alone, rap de serves attention and should be taken seriously; and for its pr oductive and healthy mo ments, it should be promoted as a worthy form of artistic expres sion and cultural projection and an enabling source of black juvenile and communal solidarity. However, rap music has not been sustained by the support of a broa d political movement (Dyson, 2007). Rap is not identified with any particular political movement or rebellion akin to the social resistance and political engage ment of the 1960s and early 1970s (Dyson, 2007). Young Black Male: The Music of Tupac Shakur Shakur was a child of Black Panthers a nd lived a post-revolutionary childhood (Dyson, 2001). He was born just a month after his mother who made him read the New York Times as punishment (Dyson, 2007), left prison after being acquitted of several New York City bombings 35


along with other members of the New York 21 contingent of Black Panthers (Dyson, 2001). When he was just a few days old, Shakur was taken to a Louis Farrakhan speech (Dyson, 2001). Shakurs stepfather, other of his mothers lovers, and his godfa ther were all Black revolutionaries and/or Black Panthers (Dyson, 2001). Accordingl y, he was raised around Black intellectuals and revolutionaries According to Shakur, the re ason why his mother moved from New York because she was unable to secure a job due to her political background (Dyson, 2001). He was raised in inner-city poverty due to his mo thers disavowal of capitalism and the pursuit of material wealth (Dyson, 2001). Tupac Shakur has been describes variously as a ghetto Elvis (a poor boy who arrived at the moment when music was ripe to be smashe d and rebuilt), a black Hemingway (a man who lived his art), even a latter-day Jesus of the LA burbs (Har i, 2002). I put Tupac beyond Shakespeare, says legendary rapper Nas (Dyson, 2006). Not only is Shakur widely regarded as the most influential rapper ever, but also as one of the most important figures in music history (Dyson, 2006). He has been characterized as an organic intellectual, urban hero, political organizer, and feminist; yet, he was easily the most demonized black male of his generation (Neal, 2003, p. 211). He has been called arc hetypal troubled black young male, (Dyson, 2001), and friend Jada Pinkett Smith calls him the blueprint for the aver age African American male (Dyson, 2001). Shakur died at 25 years of age in 1996 after being shot and killed while leaving a boxing match in Las Vegas by a yet to be identified gunman (Dyson 2001). During a memorial service for Shakur, Pastor Reverend Willie Wilson stated that hip-hop artists in many instances are the preachers of their generation [Shakur] was thei r preacher, if you will, who brought a message that [young people] can identify w ith, related to what was real, th at spoke to the reality of the 36


circumstances, situations [and] environments they have to deal with ev ery day (qtd. in Dyson, 2001, p. 202). Accordingly, after his death in 1996, Newsweek reported that hip-hop had lost "the most articulate voice of intelligent black male anger" (Samuels & Leland, 1996). The value of academic examination of Shakurs music is legitimized by a symposium held by the Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard University in 2003 that explored and discussed his musics cultural impact (Brown, 2005) as well as his legacy as a public intellectual. Accordingly, many scholars comment on the s ubstantive content of Shakurs music. Smith observes that Shakurs music reveals the contradictions of contemporary society a society of great wealth and great poverty, a society of the pr ivileged and the underprivileged, and a society of the just and unj ust providing a voice to those left out and left behind, those who are at the bottom of the socio-economic leve l with a complex and introspective message that captures some of the sentiments of t oday's disillusioned youth (Smith, 2005). Dyson (2001, p. 265-266) elaborates: Tupac identified with the legions of hurting, beleaguered black youth whose only option appeared to be to 'ride or die,' to blast or be blasted into oblivi on. His identification may have been self-destructive, wrongheaded, a nd morbidbut it was thorough and heartfelt. As a result, millions of youth have identified wi th him, with his swaggering courage, with his sexy defiance and splenetic rebellion, with his pain and vulnerability, w ith his hunger for the end even as he clung, like they cling, fiercely to life. Malcolm Hill, a sixteen-year-old explains, "Tupa c said the things I thought and felt a lot of times. It's like sometimes I feel I am real ly bad and can't nobody do nothing to me. And then sometimes I think I am fucked" (Samuels and Leland, 1996, p. 73). Brown argues that Shakurs music empl oys African American cultural values representative of black protest music, constructs identity and provides a voice for the new black youth culture, and extends the cu ltural values that underlie African Amer ican rhetoric to construct a message that is more complex, enlig htened, and introspectiv e than what usually 37


characterizes the public criticism of gangsta rap (2005, p. 559). Brown continues that as a social critic [Shakur] conveys through his music the despair, anger, and rese ntment that resonates with many African Americans by focusing on st ruggle and fulfillment while maintaining an ability to articulate these st rong feelings and emotions in words (Brown, 2005). Shakurs music has been noted for its abil ity to articulate the experience of economic, social, and racial oppression experiences in the inner city Black community with passion using the rhetoric he inherited from his education as the son and step son of former Black Panther militants (Edwards, 2002, p. 67). Thus, his music maintains a connection to the golden era for Black protest musicthe civil rights movement and the growth of Black Nationalism which provides his music with a legitimacy to the struggle that few rappers can match (Brown, 2005). For Tucker, Shakur serves as an Afri can-American historian and his music should be located within a resistant space (2001). This association with the Black Panthe rs taught Shakur how racism, economic discrimination, and other forms of oppression co ntributed to the poverty and powerless[ness] of working class Blacks, which he blamed on the so-called white establishment, including the police (Edwards, 2002, p. 61). Dyson (2001) argues that Shakurs music extends Black Panther notions of self-defense and cla ss rebellion. This ideology contri butes to a myt hos that through his music, Shakur carries on a legacy (and m ilitancy) of the Black Panthers (Brown, 2005). Shakur would likely agree: Im not sayin I m gonna rule the world, or Im gonna change the world, but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world (Ryan, p. 18). Yet rap music such as Shakurs is not solely a liberatory, enlightening form of expression. Other scholars observe the contradictory natu re of rap music as it is simultaneously a consciousness-raising, politically progressive, liberatory popular cultu re form and also a 38


commodified, exploited, sexist, and materialist popular culture form (Martinez, 1997). Shakurs music is criticized on these grounds and at time s contains violent and misogynistic imagery. Accordingly, for critics of so-called gangsta rap, Tupacs music has little redeeming cultural value (Brown, 2005); they view gangsta rap as merely advoca ting lawlessness and nihilism (Kelley, 1996)). Yet, Walser notes that instead of judging a nd criticizing such music, we should focus our criticism on the social conditions that give rise to this type of musical response and make it a logical response (2003). Rapper Jay-Z observes: Yes, our rhymes can contain violence and hatred. Yes, our songs can detail the drug business and our choruses can bounce with lustful intent. However, those things did not spring from inferior imagination or deficien t morals; these things came from our lives. They came from America (2007, p. x) Furthermore, Dyson (2004) argues that de spite its dark imagery, gangsta rap is characterized by social commentary that illumi nates and creates dialogue about often-ignored social issues concerning often-ignored people. Henderson observes the ethnocentrism involved when European Americans from outside the African-American community are morally critic al of rap music and ar gues that their hands are too bloody to stand as the moral authority in the United States (1996, p. 309). Dyson adds that it is difficult for a culture that is seri ous about the maintenance of social arrangements, economic conditions, and political choices that create and reproduce poverty, racism, sexism, classism, and violence to displa y a significant appreciation for musical expressions that contest the existence of such problems in black and Latino communities (Dyson, 2004, p. 404). Henderson observes that although rap music doe s not possess a martyrs immunity against criticism, many members of the black community regurgitate white supremacist criticisms of 39


rap music and tend to wait for elements of thei r culture to be approved by whites before they themselves approve of it (1996, p. 309). Perhaps critics are too quick to focus on the perceived negative elements of rap music; Tucker notes with regret that the activist natu re of a good deal of rap music is often overlooked, dismissed, or misrepresented (Tucker, 2001, p. 58). Furthermore, Brown notes that to simply dismiss gangsta rap or a gangsta rapper such as Tupac Shakur as a thug whose music has contributed to the moral decline of American culture would be too simplistic a statement to explain the messages contained in his music and observes that some scholarship has illustrated the multifaceted messages of the genre and Shakur's legacy as an intellectual, political figure, and an urban folk hero (2005, p. 559). 40


CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY This research conceptualizes the music of Bob Marley and Tupa c Shakur as counterhegemonic cultural alternatives and analyzes the lyrics of each artists music as a critique of each artists respective social order. This project takes a grounded th eory approach and turns to the lyrics of the music to allow the artists voice s to speak for themselves as their songs are examined for critical messages of their social contexts during this time period in which their music emerged. The music of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur was selected as the focus of this study because of abounding similarities be tween the social contexts in which each artists music emerged and each artists canonization as a spokespers on for his social context. In order to draw a parallel between the work of the two, their contexts must be acceptably analogous. These two artists emerged two decades apar t in different countries. Yet, the review of the literature concerning the output of the two artists suggests th at each artist represents a genre of music of the African diaspora that emerged from racially and economically marginalized social contexts, and uses his music as a form of social critique. Each artist speaks of being poor and black in the context of a white hegemony. Furthermore, each ar tist responds to his context as not merely a popular figure, but rather a, if not the legendary face of his genre. Marley is the best-selling reggae artist of a ll time as more than 50 million copies of his albums have been sold, and an al bum containing his greatest hits, Legend (1984) is the bestselling reggae album of all time w ith more than 12 million copies sold (White, 2006). Shakur is the best-selling hip-hop artist of all time, selli ng over seventy-five million albums worldwide, including fifty million in the United States (Guinn ess, 2004). The most famous of all the Rasta reggae stars is undoubtedly Bob Marley (Ellison, 1989, p. 9) and Shakur is the greatest icon in 41


hip-hop (Dyson, 2004, p. 399). Shakur was ranked eighth and Marley twel fth in the current annual Forbes list of top-earning dead celeb rities (Goldman and Ewalt, 2007). These two artists were not articulating their critiques from fringe or merely popular places of their eras and genres. They are the icons of reggae and gangsta rap. Aside from their popularity, these two artists were selected as the focus of this study because the genres of music in which they created, reggae and hip-hop, emerged as forms of artistic expression from marginalized cultures of the African diaspora. Similarities abound in the situations of the two icons. They represent the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1970s (Marley) and the urban United St ates (specifically New York C ity and Los Angeles) in the 1990s (Shakur). Both of these social contexts were economically and racially stratified. By analyzing the lyrics of the most popular artist s from marginalized social contexts, perhaps something can be learned by studying their reactions to these contexts. Two issues with respect to the popularity of the artists emerge. The first is that the music of both Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur has expa nded to and is enjoyed by audiences far beyond the ghettos of Kingston, Jamaica and Los Angeles, California. While an interesting phenomenon and certainly worthy of study, this does not seem to present an issue with respect to the legitimacy of the research at hand since bot h artists were during their careers and are posthumously held in great reverence first and fo remost in the social contexts in which they emerged. Though it is beyond the scope of this proj ect, it would be inte resting to examine how members of social contexts radi cally different from those of poor urban African-Jamaicans and African-Americans respond to the messages of rebellion in the mu sic and how they symbolically interpret the music. 42


The second issue is the culture industry view that all popular music is but a mere commodity, safe and fundamentally uncritical, due its distribution within a capitalist political economy. While sympathetic to the claims of this argument, this research is presuming, backed by the authority of scholars in agreement, that the music of both Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur can be classified as forces beyond this limited conception of the critical potential of music, and these artists works may be considered count er-hegemonic alternatives despite and perhaps because of its place in mass culture. In the words of a guitarist of a current political activist rock band Rage Against the Machine, Tom Morello: When you live in a capitalistic society, the currency of the dissemination of information goes through capitalistic channels. Would Noam Chomsky object to his works being sold at Barnes & Noble? No, because that's wher e people buy their books. We're not interested in preaching to just the convert ed. It's great to play abandone d squats run by anarchists, but it's also great to be able to reach people with a revolutionary message, people from Granada Hills to Stuttgart. The analysis was conducted by first reading all lyrics from all the officially released majorlabel studio albums of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur, including posthumous albums and each artists greatest hits compilati on. Unofficial releases, early re cordings, other compilations, and bootlegs of the artists work were not include d in the analysis since they were deemed unrepresentative and only ma rginally circulated. Song lyrics were gathered from multiple source s that catered to the work of each respective artist to promote accuracy. While there were occasional discrepancies in terms of how utterances such as yeah yo and ah were transcribed, these discrepancies were deemed insignificant as no noteworthy, substantive differe nces in lyrics between sources were found. The lyrics of 88 unique songs from 10 albums a ttributed to The Wailers and Bob Marley & The Wailers (the two incarnations of Marleys band) were take n from his official website, BobMarley.com and Complete Lyrics of Bob Marley: Songs of Freedom The lyrics of 205 43


unique Tupac Shakur songs from 12 albums (i ncluding one released under the pseudonym Makaveli and one released f eaturing his group The Outlawz) were compiled from The Official Hip-Hop Lyrics Archive ( http://www.ohhla.com/YFA_2pac.html), and TupacHQ ( http://www.tupachq.com/lyrics.cfm ). All lyrics to all songs of both artists were read once. Songs that contained lyrics depicting any suggestion of resistance or protest indicat ive of counter-hegemonic rebellion or cultural alternatives were identified as protest songs and selected for in clusion in the study for further analysis. Selection was made as inclusively and liberally as possibl e. The point of this stage of the study was more about excluding songs which clearl y lack themes of any sort of social protest (i.e., love songs, party songs) to allow the songs containing elemen ts of protest to be further analyzed in depth. Only lyrics sang/rapped/spoken by Marley or Shakur were included in the analysis. Marleys songs often feature backup vocals and Shakurs songs often f eature guests rapping a verse. Such lyrics were excluded from the analysis as they were not considered fully representative of the artists voices. The initial analysis yielded 66 such prote st songs of Marley and 125 such songs of Shakur, which were included in the second stage of the study, and a grounded theory analysis was performed on each song. General lyrical them es that emerged from each artists protest songs were noted and categorized. The thematic ly rical categories were s ynthesized with related categories and were subcategori zed under larger, primary categorie s. Three of such general thematic categories emerged: (1 ) Depictions of Marginalized Suffering, (2) Criticism of and Resistance against Hegemonic Structures, and (3 ) A Call for Unity. The ways in which the artists lyrics depicted these themes were anal yzed and compared and contrasted to explore the 44


similarities and differences in the ways in whic h Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur reacted to their social contexts through protest music, as well as to perhaps illuminate a further general understanding of protest music. The analysis includes the prevalence of each mode of critique in each artists work by providing the percentage of songs that include each mode. Each artists mode of critique is then qualitatively explored to uncover how each artist presents each mode. Two representative lyrical examples are then cited for each category and sub category of critique to further understanding of the intricacies of each critique. Differences with respect to spirituality and hope for change emerged from the analysis of the protest songs. The percentages of such songs that included elements of spirituality and a comment on the potential for change were noted and included. However, songs with these attributes represent a percentage of the artists protest songs, not each artists entire body of work, as songs that did not cont ain a dimension of social criti que were not scanned for these elements. Thus, spirituality and change are not re presentative of each artist entire catalogue but rather just their protest songs. One final issue to take into consideration is that Shakur recorded and released more songs than Marley, and his songs tend to each have more lyrics. Thus, in Shakurs lyrics there is a greater likelihood for an element of criti que to be alluded to in any given song. 45


CHAPTER 4 ANALYSIS Introduction Analysis of the lyrics of the music of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur reveals two bodies of work that may each be characterized in part as a critique of the social context from which the music emerges. As shown in Table 4-1, 75% of Marleys songs were identified as containing elements of social critique and included in the study, and 61% of Shakurs were. Table 4-1 Protest songs relative to total songs for each artist Artist Protest Songs Bob Marley 66/88 75% Tupac Shakur 125/205 61% Marley and Shakur implement similar methods in delivering their lyrical messages of social critique. The two artists collections of protest songs can be characterized by a similar three-part structure: (1) depicti ons of the suffering endured as a me mber of a marginalized social group, (2) critiques of and resistance against social structures that produce this suffering, and (3) calls for unity for the sake of improving the conditions of social life, particularly among the members of the specific marginalized group. Of course, these three avenue s of critique are not performed in a mutually exclusive way; some songs implement more than one element of critique. An interesting, unanticipated facet that emerged from the analysis of the lyrics of Marley and Shakurs protest songs was a spiritual compone nt to these lyrics. Both artists regularly reference God. Yet, an analysis of the two artist s lyrics reveals two diff erent relationships with God. Based on the artists vast popularity and lege ndary status in the social context from which 46


their music emerged, these different depictions of God suggest different spiritual beliefs not only in terms of the individual artists but also in the collective cons ciousness of their social groups. Another interesting facet that em erged from the lyrical analysis was that despite the similar approaches that the two artists ta ke in offering their social critiques, there are differences in the tones of critiques with respect to the future and the project of resistance. Bob Marleys messages of social critique are almost without fail characterized by words of hope and optimism. A certain inevitability of the accomplishment of his goals and the success of the Rastafari movement is present. Yet, the role of hope in Shakurs lyrics is more comp lex and at times contradictory. Whereas some of his lyrics include optimistic messages of hope, more are characterized by hopelessness. Structural explanations for the diffe rences in tone between the critiques of the two artists and the differences in their perceived inevit ability of positive change are explored. It is theorized that these differences can be accounted for in part by differences suggested by the lyrics in religiosity between the two artists and differences in their affiliations with a concrete, defined movement. Lyrics The following discussion explores how Bob Marl ey and Tupac Shakur use their music as a form of social critique. The ways in which Ma rley and Shakur conduct their critiques is broken down, and representative lyrical examples are provided to illustrate each point. However, before discussing in depth how Marley and Shakur impl ement the different facets of protest in their respective lyrics, it is helpful to quantitatively examine the prevalence of each facet of protest in their work, for this examination illustrates how representative each facet is of the each artists protest. As shown in Table 4-2, Marleys prot est songs can be best categorized as explicit messages of resistance, whereas Shakurs songs primarily serve as expressions of suffering. Furthermore, Marleys music may be characte rized by hope and spirituality, whereas Shakurs 47


music may be characterized by spirituality, t hough to a lesser extent and particularly, hopelessness. Table 4-2 Prevalence of facets of protest Artist Suffering Resistance Unity Spirituality Hope Hopelessness Bob Marley 34/66 52% 44/66 67% 26/66 39% 46/66 70% 42/66 64% 2/66 3% Tupac Shakur 106/125 85% 63/125 50% 17/125 14% 52/125 42% 27/125 22% 52/125 66% First Element of Protest: Depictions of Ghetto Suffering As part of the critiques of their social contexts, both Ma rley and Shakur provide vivid descriptions of the suffering that characterizes everyday ghetto life and the realities of living as an economically and racially marginalized social group of the African dias pora. To facilitate their projects of protesting and resisting their social conditio ns, they first describe these conditions. Such depictions of suffering are relevant to both ar tists, but whereas they are a key feature of Marleys social critique (52% of protest songs) they are the defining feature of Shakurs critique (85% of protes t songs). Both artists describe their suffering in terms of the general experience of suffering and hardship, as well as specific manifestations of suffering including poverty, violence, racism, and imprisonment. General Suffering Both artists provide general a ssertions that suffering characte rized the lived experience in their respective marginalized social contexts. A representative ex ample of Marleys depiction of this suffering can be observed in So Much Trouble in the World: We the street people talkin' / Yeah, we the people strugglin' / So much trouble in the world / So much trouble in the world / So much trouble in the world. Here we see Marley speak of the strugglin that characterizes th e life of the street people. In what is a common them e throughout his lyrics, it is inte resting to note that he uses a person plural to represent who is suffering. He identifies as a Rastafaria n, a poor Black Jamaican 48


from the Trenchtown ghettos, and he suffers in the plural as a member of a community. In describing the suffering he experiences, he is no t just speaking for himself but rather for his community. Contrast this lyric with an example of Shakurs depictions of general suffering as a part of ghetto life in Trapped: You know they got me trapped in this prison of seclusion / Happiness, living on tha streets is a delusion Shakur speaks of the alienation and unhappiness that characterizes liv ing on tha streets. However, Shakur uses the first person singular pronoun me to characterize his experience of suffering. As implied by the titles So Much Tro uble in the World and Trapped both artists speak to the reality of the suffering of their re spective social contexts. Yet, whereas Marley experiences the hardships of ghetto life as a me mber of a community, Shakur experiences such hardships in a more individualist and alienate d way. This is a key point that manifests throughout the lyrical analysis. Fu rthermore, both artists depict sp ecific manifestations of ghetto suffering in their lyrics. Poverty Both Marley and Shakur assert that poverty defines life in their respective ghettos and use depictions of hunger as a specific form and vi sceral sign of this suffering and a primary consequence of their marginalization. Here is an illustrative example from Marley from One Drop: They made their world so hard / Every day we got to keep on fighting / They made their world so hard / Every day the people are dying / From hunger and starvation / Lamentation In a subject to be explored later in the an alysis, Marley referen ces those in power who created the structures of his so cial context he found himself in who made their world so hard for people like Marley. These people of the ghett o who Marley identifies with, once again using 49


we, were forced to fight for their very surv ival, as every day many of them died from hunger and starvation. Mere survival was a struggl e. Shakur addresses hunger in Strugglin: And now we gotta eat, gotta make ends meet / Stabbin for a fee, it gets hard on the fuckin streets Shakur connects poverty and hunger to crime in presenting crime as a partial explanation, if not a justification, for the crime that riddles po or urban contexts. In a social context in which the basic necessity of food was not accounted for, some people are reduced to committing acts of violence for money to procure food for survival. Here, in presenting crime as a response to poverty, Shakur uses the plural pronoun we to identify as a member of a suffering group. Violence Both artists address the violence that is a reality of everyday ghetto life and speak to the human cost of poverty. They portr ay violence in their communities as a consequence of the way society is structured and show how it affects the everyday human experience. Marley presents a depiction which acts as a case study of the ramifi cations of the violence th at characterizes ghetto life in Johnny Was: Woman hold her head and cry / 'Cause her s on had been shot down in the street and died / From a stray bullet. / She cr ied: Ah-um, I I know! / "Johnny was a good man," I I know! (never did a thing wrong) / "Johnny was a good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good, good man", (Johnny was good man) she cried she crie -ie-ie-ie-ie-ie-ie -ied! / Wo-ooh! Woman hold her head and cry / As her son had been shot down in the street and died / Just because of the system. (system) This song tells the story of an innocent bys tander who winds up dead because of the Jamaican economic, political, and social structures leaving his mother to mourn the loss. Marley emphatically describes the mothers intense emoti onal reaction and conveys that acts of violence do not just affect individual victims, but the victims loved ones as well. Such depictions of 50


violence are a defining feature of Shakurs lyrical depictions of the suffering that characterizes ghetto life. Note Shakurs similar presentation in Mamas Ju st a Little Girl: Now look here / I see her clutching her son / In her arms she hurt / Her heart bleeding as she watched her seed die in the dirt / Fulfill prophecy / But who could stop the grief? Shakur similarly presents a st ory of a mother who loses he r son to the violence that cripples inner city life. He speaks of the hurt and grief that this causes the mother who outlived her son. Shakur asserts that stories like this one fulfill prophecy of ghe tto life and individuals lives are gloomily determined. Yet unlike the vi ctim in Marleys song, Shakurs victim is not framed as a completely innocent bystander: Addicted to a life of crime at no time of the growing stage / He learned his values on the streets at an early age The death of the victim in this song must be co nsidered in light of hi s criminal lifestyle. His death was brought about in part by his own criminal actions. Yet by referring to this situation as a prophecy, Shakur suggests determinism not only in the death itself but in the criminal lifestyle that led to the death. Can such a lifestyle truly be considered a choice in a social context lacking alternative avenues fo r success? Shakurs songs regularly contain references to ghetto violence and its ramificatio n on his life and his loved ones. A defining way in which Shakur presents violence can be observed in Me Against the World: More bodies being buried / I'm losin my homies in a hurry / They're relocating to tha cemetery / Got me worried / Stressin' / My visions blurried / Tha question is will I live Violence is a defining reality in this social context. The toll this violence takes on him is illuminated here. Shakurs subjective experience and psychological well-being is negatively impacted by the threat of violence. Witnessing friends dying as a result of violence, he is worried and stressin that he will befall a similar fate. However he also depicts the 51


consequences of such violence on the black commun ity as he references friends who have been victims of violence. Furthermore, the title Me Against the World, a phrase which repeats throughout the song, suggests Shakurs alienation, individualistic perspective of the world, and the struggle that he conc eptualized life to be. Racism Both Marley and Shakur link th eir suffering to their race. Th eir reveal not just economic, but racial marginalization as well. Their lyrics speak of being a member of a racial minority in the context of a white dominate d society. Marley depicts the metaphorical cards being stacked against the Rastas in Ride Natty Ride: All and all you see a-gwan / Is to fight against Rastaman / So they build their world in great confusion / To force on us the devil's illusion Marley characterizes Jamaican society as a f ight against the Rastas and their perceived deviant way of life. He speaks to the hegem onic devils illusion that was forced upon the Rastas to discredit the legitimacy of their way of life, their struggle for Black liberation, and their critiques of the ideology of racism. Shakur sp eaks to the reality of racism in White Manz World: Know what it means to be black, whether a man or girl / We still strugglin, in this white man's world Shakur connects strugglin to being Black. He notes that racial oppression transcends gender divisions. Furthermore, he refers to soci al reality as the white mans world identifying the cultural hegemony and implying that reality is defined accordi ng to a white male standard. Shakur uses the plural pronoun we suggesting that he struggles as a member of a race. Both artists understand the reality and consequences of r acism as part of a larger historical process, and they both conceptualize thei r racial oppression in relation to the suffering their ancestors 52


have experienced since the days of African sl avery. Marley draws this parallel in Slave Driver: Every time I hear the crack of the whip / My blood runs cold / I remember on the slave ship / How they brutalized our ver y souls / Today they say we are free / Only to be chained in poverty / Good G od, I think its illiteracy / Its only machine that make money Marley overtly locates Rastas within the history of African slavery and the African diaspora. Although those with African heritage are allegedly presently liberated from slavery, Marley observes that the rami fications of the historical le gacy of slavery manifest in contemporary Jamaican society in the form of economic exploitation. Again, Marley uses the pronoun we to locate himself in this struggle. In The Streetz R Deathrow Shakur references slavery: Some call me crazy / But this is what you gave me / Amongst tha babies, who raised up from tha slavery In this lyric, Shakur presents slavery as a historical fact which ha s lingering implications on the lives of future generations. He uses the second person pronoun you to direct this lyric at the structural limitations placed on him due to his race. In a similarly composed structural critique, Shakur conceptualizes slaver y differently in Po Nigga Blues: Crazy / I gotta look at what you gave me / claimin I'm a criminal when you the one that made me / They got me trapped in this slavery / Now I'm lost in this holocaust headin' for my grave, G Here, Shakur conceptualizes slavery not as a historical fact with implications on present day African Americans but as a cu rrent social fact. He refers to the present day situation of (certain) African Americans as slavery. This term brings to mind a particular economic relationship between black and white Americans. Thus, not only does Shakur invoke slavery to present a historical explanation for present da y suffering, but he invokes slavery to connect the 53


past to the present and question the reality of social equality. Furthermor e, he refers to being headed for death in a holocaust framing th e loss of life in inner cities as a genocide. Prison Marley depicts prison as a metaphor in songs such as Trench Town: I vision through the seas of oppression / Don't make my life a prison / / Say Trench Town, we're the underprivileged peopl e, / So Trench Town, they keep us in chains Marley speaks of prison as the metaphoric epito me of the oppression that Rastas face. The Rastas are kept not in physical chains but rather mental chai ns via hegemonic ideology. This concept is illustrated in his fam ous lyric from Redemption Song: Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery / None but ourselves can free our minds Marley observes a shift from physical impr isonment imposed by other to self-imposed mental imprisonment. Although his people are free in the sense that Jamaican slavery has been abolished, they are still limited due to the intern alization of a colonized and enslaved mentality of inferiority. Shakur also metaphorically refere nces prison, such as in the aforementioned they got me trapped in this prison of seclusion line from Trapped. However, Shakur also references prison in very real, material terms in songs such as Still Ballin: Now ever since a nigga was a seed / On ly thing promised to me was the penitentiary Born a black male in New York City, Shakur claims to have been born on a path to prison, as nearly one in three (32.2 percent) African Amer ican men in their twenti es is either in prison, in jail, or on probation or parole on any given day, a number likely higher in the impoverished inner cities (Mauer and Huling, 1995). For Shakur spending time in prison (which he himself did) is a very real facet of inne r city life during this time with ve ry real consequences. In Keep 54


Ya Head Up Shakur connects the crime leading to prison sentences for inner city black males to a lack of available legitimate opportunities for success for individuals in such a social context: I'm tryin to make a dollar out of fifteen cents / It's hard to be legit and still pay tha rent / And in the end it seems I'm headin for tha penn Here, Shakur suggests that a lack of perc eived legitimate avenues for employment to satisfy basic needs such as mere housing lead in dividuals into pursuing alternative, criminal avenues for survival such as his oft-referenced drug dealing. Of course, potential consequences of illegal ventures such as selling drugs are prison sentences and the violence associated with black markets. Shakur often reiterates that much of inner city crime and deviance is the only option for some people to survive the circumstances they were born into. Shakur claims that he was compelled to sell drugs such as crack due to a lack of other options; he needed money for the necessities of life in a social context characterized by a lack of alternative, legal employment opportunities (Kubrin, 2005). Shakur depicts this situation in Po Nigga Blues: Whyd you sling crack? / Cuz I had to / A nigga gotta pay the fu ckin rent / / I need loot, so Im doin what I do / and dont say shit until youve walked in my shoes / There was no other destiny to choose Summary Both Bob Marley and Tupac Shakurs lyrics ar e rife with references to the suffering that characterizes the life of a young Black urban male in ghettos of post-colonial Jamaica and postindustrial United States. Shakur presents depictions of suffering with greater frequency than Marley. Such depictions of suffering are one of many elements of Marleys protest songs, but these depictions are the key component of Shakurs protest, as it seems that the basis of his social critique is providing a window into his otherwise invisible world th rough his lyrical depictions of ghetto suffering. Accordingly, Shakur is specific and in depth in desc ribing the everyday hardships and bleak realities he experiences as an inner city black male. However, Marley 55


shows a greater tendency than Shakur to experien ce this suffering as a member of a particular community and explore the source of this suffering rather than merely depict its consequences. To depict suffering, both artists focus on poverty, and the resulting hunger as a manifestation of poverty. Furthermore, both artists a ssert in their lyrics th at violence is a reality of ghetto life as they depict the consequences of this violence. Shakur justifies crime as a means for survival in a social context devoid of alte rnative; yet this crime often leads to death and prison. Voicing this paradox is a key aspect of Shakurs lyrics. They both connect the marginalized status of their social groups to ra ce and speak of the consequences of being poor and black in a country where r eality is defined as white. Second Element of Protest: Criticis m of and Resistance against Hegemony The second element of social critique that em erged in an analysis of the lyrics of the protest music of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur is the artists criticism of and resistance against hegemonic social structures. Both artists move beyond mere descriptions of the misery that encompassed the everyday reality of ghetto life a nd take an active role in resisting the social structures that create these condi tions. Their lyrics are critical of those in power in their respective societies and encourag e resistance against the systems that marginalize the members of their social contexts. Resist ance and rebellion are ke y features of Shakurs work as messages of resistance and rebellion are present in half of his protest songs, but these messages of resistance are an even more significant and defi ning feature of Marleys protest music as 67% of his songs contain lyrical me ssages of resistance. Both artists identify as rebels and encourage protest against the society that marginalizes the members of their respective social context. Accordingly, they are critical of social structures, drawing special attention to the criminal justice system, and encourage resistance against these 56


structures. The musicians are activists who stress a need for change and note that it is necessary to take on an active role in fighting for desired changes. Identification as Rebels Marley and Shakur both describe themselves as rebels and frame their music in the tradition of protest music. In the chorus of Rebel Music (3 Oclock Roadblock) we see Marleys characterization of his music as rebel music: I rebel music / I rebel music Also worth noting in Marleys characterization of his work as rebel music is his reference to it as I rebel music in lieu of me or my rebel music, reflecting the tendency in Rastafarian vocabulary to replace me with I as a form of empowerment as this subtle phrasing emphasizes subjectivity ove r objectivity (Levine, 1980) and allows Marley to conceive of himself as an active subject rather than a pass ive object and thus capable of rebellion. Shakur similarly characterizes himself as a rebel in the tellingly titled Rebel of the Underground: So with a little bass and treble / Hey Mister! It's time fo r me to explain that I'm the rebel / Cold as the de vil / Straight from the un derground, the rebel, a lower level Shakur presents himself as a rebel and also acknowledges his marginalized status as he emerges from the underground and from a lower life. He implements a little bass and treble as a vehicle to present hi s protest. Interestingly, he desc ribes himself as being cold as the devil in his rebellion, show ing a lack of empathy for the oppr essor and offering insight into the nihilistic identity he presents in his project of rebellion which will be delved into later. Structural Critique Marley and Shakur are critical of the social structures that marginalize the members of their respective social contexts. In songs such as Babylon System Marley refers to the current 57


imperial, ruling society which he hopes to overt hrow to achieve a society characterized by freedom and justice: Babylon system is the vampire, yeah! / Su ckin' the children day by day, yeah! / Me say: de Babylon system is the vampire, falling empire / Suckin' the blood of the sufferers, yeah! / Building church and university, wo-o-ooh, yeah! / Deceiving the people continually, yeah! / Me say them graduatin' thieves and murderers / Look out now: they suckin' the blood of the sufferers / Yeah! / Tell the children the truth / Tell the children the truth / Tell the children the truth right now! / Come on and tell the children the truth Marley does not address Jamaican society by name in critiquing oppressive social structures but rather implements a more universal Rastafarian metaphor to do so. Marley refers to Jamaican social institutions as systems of Babylon, a Rastafarian term used to describe oppressive, imperial political and economic structur es. Here, Marley comp ares these oppressive social structures to a vampire that is suckin the blood of the suffere rs. Social institutions, such as churches and universities, promote the hegem onic ideals while deceiving the people as such institutions reinforce the colonized mentality of poor, Black Jamaicans through socialization. The successful products of this project of soci alization are thieves and murderers malignantly affecting the lower class. Interestingly, Marley speaks of the consequences of oppressive social structures not in terms of their effects on him as an individual, but rath er on the sufferers and the people. It is worth no ting that Marley emphasizes the importance of truth and revealing the reality of this situation to the future gene ration. He promotes actively educating the next generation as a way to prevent hegemonic, oppressi ve ideologies from being passed on. Perhaps his music may play a role in this project. An example of Shakurs stru ctural critique may be found in Words of Wisdom: This is defiantly ahhh words of wisdom / AMERIKA, AMERIKA, AMERIKKKA / I charge you with the crime of rape, murder, and assault / For suppressing and punishing my people / I charge you with r obbery for robbing me of my history / I charge you with false imprisonment for keeping me trapped in the projects / And 58


the jury finds you guilty on all accounts / And you are to serve the consequences for your evil schemes / Prosecuto r do you have any more evidence? Here, Shakur is similarly critical of soci al structures percei ved as oppressing. He provocatively accuses the United States of histor ical crimes including rape, murder, assault, robbery, and false imprisonment. He implicitly points to the racism embedded in American society and portrays the United Stat es as a white supremacist soci ety by using the abbreviation of the Ku Klux Klan in AMERIKKKA. He uses th e second person pronoun you to refer to this country, the country in which he li ves, suggesting the alienation and disconnect he feels from it. Shakur is critical of how the United States has tr eated the plural my peopl e but also speaks of how he as an individual was robbe d of his history and how he as an individual is kept trapped in the inner city housing projects. He acknowledges th at he is in the same situation as other poor black inner city residents; howev er his identification as a member of a unified group seems to be limited as he also speaks in terms of his individual oppression and its consequences on him as an individual. Resistance There are clear messages of resistance in th e lyrics of both Marley and Shakur. An example of resistance as depicted by Marley can be observed in Babylon System: We refuse to be / What you wanted us to be / We are what we are / That's the way it's going to be / You don't know! / You can't educate us / For no equal opportunity / Talkin' 'bout my freedom / People freedom (freedom) and liberty! / Yeah, we've been trodding on the winepress much too long / Rebel, rebel! / Yes, we've been trodding on the winepress much too long / Rebel, rebel! Marley creates a clear duality between the oppressed we and the oppressor you. He speaks for his fellow Rastas of the ghetto as he demands freedom. His consciousness is fundamentally linked with his groups in this message of rebellion. Marley promotes a refusal to participate in education that ac ts as a hegemonic project of socialization into notions of 59


inferiority. At the same time, this lyric has a critical, accusatory tone towards you the descendants of the colonizers. Simultaneousl y, Marley uses trodding on the winepress as a metaphor for the physical labor of Africans which literally built Jamaica to encourage resistance against current inequality. Furthermore, Marley explicitly encourages his people to rebel, rebel! Shakur channels similar resistance in Violent: This time the truth's gettin told, heard e nough lies / I told em fi ght back, attack on society / If this is violence, then violent' s what I gotta be / If you investigate you'll find out where it's comin from / Look th rough our history, America's the violent one / Unlock my brain, break the chains of your misery / This time the payback for evil shit you did to me / They call me militant, racist cause I will resist / wanna censor somethin, motherfucker censor this! / words are weapons, and I'm steppin to the silent / Wakin up the ma sses, but you, claim that I'm violent Like Marley, Shakur speaks to the role of e ducation in marginalization. Also like, Marley, Shakur creates a duality; however in this lyric it is between you and I rather than a collective we. Rather than encouraging others to rebel and resist, he declares that he will resist. However, he does refer to wakin up the masses suggesting that the purpos e for his words is to create rebellion in others, but the same identifica tion that Marley had with these people is not presented in Shakurs lyric. Again, while Shakur acknowledges a social in-group that he shares oppression with, he reacts to it at the individual level. Shakur notes that since his words which he perceives to be truth are counter-hegemonic, they will be rejected by mainstream society and framed as militant, racist, and violent. He j uxtaposes such claims against the violence that African-Americans have endured throughout history. Willingness to Fight The lyrics of both Marley and Shakur at times can be characterized by a militant edge as both artists asserts that achi eving their counter-hegemonic goals may require a degree of fighting. In Zimbabwe Marleys lyrics capture this militant tone: 60


Brother, you're right, you're right / You're right, you're right, you're so right! / We gon' fight (we gon' fight), we'll have to fight (we gon' fight) / We gonna fight (we gon' fight), fight for our rights! Marley asserts that rights and ends such as equality and freedom will not simply be given to Rastas, and in order to escape their oppression it will be necessary to fight for these ends. Marleys identification w ith these struggles is revealed in his use of the plural pronouns we and our. Interestingly, he uses the word brother to presumably refer to a fellow Rasta, showing the strength of their bond, solidarit y, and the familial char acterization of the relationship. Shakur presents a similar tone of militancy in They Dont Give a Fuck about Us: I'm watching my nation die genocide th e cause / Expect a blood bath / The aftermath is y'alls / I told ya last album, we need help cause we dying / Give us a chance, help us advance cause we trying / Ignore my whole plea, watching us in disgust / And then they beg when my guns bust / They don't give a fuck about us After likening the death he witnesses ever yday in his inner city neighborhoods to a genocide, Shakur describes a retaliation that can be expected which he provocatively calls a bloodbath. He depicts this reta liation as a last resort after pl eas for assistance from the inner city fall on deaf ears. He presents a clear di stinction here between inner city life and the mainstream American society that attempts to turn a blind eye to and ignore it. Shakur asserts that the people in the inner city need help, but they dont give a fuck about us and thus alternative means must be taken for inner city residents surviv al. Here Shakur uses plural pronouns to identify with the struggle and sufferi ng of these people and then takes matters into his own hands in an individual atte mpt to rectify perceived injusti ces. He promotes violence but also justification for such violence. Changes Both Marley and Shakur take an active appr oach in fighting the perceived systems of oppression. They both use their lyrics to encourage counter-hegem onic resistance and 61


social change. Marley encourages his fellow Rastas to Get Up, Stand Up: And now you see the light / You stand up for your rights / Jah! / Get up, stand up! / Stand up for your rights! / Get up, stand up! / Dont give up the fight! Marley not only encourages his people to be come aware of the reality and causes of the oppression that characterizes their present situation, he encourages them to resist this oppression and improve their life collective situation. He encourages them to counter the ideology of oppression that his people have internalized sinc e Africans were sold into slavery. Marley implores his people not to give up what he frames as a fight. Sh akur similarly encourages such changes in the aptly titled Changes: We gotta make a change / It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes / Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live / and let's change the way we treat each other / You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do / to survive. Shakur identifies with struggling inner ci ty blacks using plural pronouns throughout this lyric and encourages everyone, hims elf included to make lifestyle changes. Shakur encourages the agency of these people in spite of structural limitations as he focuses the responsibility on his people to do what they can to improve their lives. In this lyric, he seems to encourage them to conquer the ideologies of inferior ity and victimization that they internalize and take action. Interestingly, while Marleys lyrics encourage his people to recognize a nd obtain their rights and freedom, Shakurs promote his peoples very survival. Criminal Justice System Both Marley and Shakur direct specific criticism and resistance toward their societies respective criminal justice system, an overt manife station and enforcer of a society characterized by the unequal distribution of justice. The police are the symbolic target of their attacks, and both artists controversially re ference shooting police officers in their lyrics and provide 62


explanations and justifications fo r doing so. Marley references s hooting an officer in I Shot the Sheriff: Sheriff John Brown always hat ed me / For what, I don't know / Every time I plant a seed / He said kill it before it grow / He said kill them before they grow / And so read it in the news: I shot the sheriff. Oh, Lord! / But I swear it was in selfdefense. / / All of a sudden I saw sher iff John Brown / Aimi ng to shoot me down / So I shot I shot I shot him down and I say: / If I am guilty I will pay. Marley says unequivocally I shot the sheriff. However, there is more to the story. As a Rastafarian, Marley explains one part icular sheriffs prejudicial hatred for him. He speaks of this sheriff killing his seeds effectively preventi ng the flourishing of the Rastafari people and culture. And finally, he asserts that this sheri ff was first aiming to shoot him down. He frames this act of violence as a justif ied act of self-defense against a particular sheriff under specific circumstances. He asserts his innocence by claiming that he will pay if he is guilty. It is interesting to note that that in this lyric Marley unch aracteristically uses a first person pronoun to refer to himself, and that he does so in the cont ext of shooting a sheriff, suggesting that this was his individual action and not repr esentative of his people. Having been a victim of police brutality and the racism embedded in the criminal justice system himself, much of Shakurs social critique is directed at the justice system and the police, the enforcers of the system he finds oppressive. Criticisms of the crimin al justice system and particularly the police manifest throughout his music in songs such as Soldier Like Me: I'm poppin corrupt cops / Ya motherfuckaz ca tch a hot one / You wanted to start a problem, now you coward cops have got one / And there's no prison that can hold a Motherfuckin soulja / ready to roll and take control / So now I jack 'em while they sleepin / Role to the door, through a grenade in the precinct / Some people panic, brothers bugged out / I had to keep poppin, cuz wouldn't stop until they rugged out / And they vest don't protect from the head wounds / Reload ammunitions and them bitches will be dead soon / Smoke rising from the barrel of my shotty / I finally got revenge, now c ount the bodies / 20 cops, one for every year in jail / Tryin to keep a nigga down, but ya failed / Before I let ya take me, I told ya / Fuck being trapped, I'm a soulja 63


This intense depiction of shooting multiple police officers captures Shakurs rage and distain for the enforcers of the criminal justice system. Shakurs act of violence towards police can also perhaps be characterized as an act of self-defense against corrupt police officers. He asserts that the officers try to subdue and oppress him. Yet unlike Marleys depiction, the police in these lyrics are numerous and anonymous. It is an abstract depiction lacking the specifics of Marleys rendering. It lacks th e innocence that Marley claims but rather seems to embrace nihilistic retribution. Shakur describes it as an act of revenge Shakur rebels against his marginalization, his victimization, and against being trapped. Shaku rs critique extends beyond merely the police to the lega l system in God Bless the Dead: See I'm old enough to know that ain't no justice / Fuck the police and all the courts, same way they fucked us / And why the hell am I locked in jail / They let them white boys free, we be shocked as hell Here, Shakur is critical of the institutional racism that affects how laws are enforced, disproportionately imprisoning blac k males. Rather than claimi ng his innocence like Marley, Shakur criticizes a legal system he suggests is devoid of justice as if he perceives no alternative. In case his feelings for the legal system are uncl ear, he eliminates any such confusion in Out on Bail: Fuck y'all / Fuck the judge / Fuck the moth erfuckin' district attorney and the prosecutor (fuck you!) / And fuck you mother fuckers in the jury box (fuck you!) / Fuck all y'all Summary The lyrics of both Marley and Shakur cast the artists as rebels and frame their work as rebellious music. While criticisms of social structures responsible for marginalization and encouragement of resistance against these struct ures are an important feature of both artists music, they are a defining feature of Marleys protest music and more represented in his work. 64


Marley moves from description to resistance more re gularly than Shakur. Bo th artists are critical of oppressive social structures, rebel against these structures, a nd encourage resistance from the members of their respective communities. Shak urs rebellion at times seems alienated and disconnected from his fellow oppressed while Marley s is fully intertwined with the Rastafari movement. It can also be said that Shakurs resistant messages implement a certain hyperbole or extremeness lacking in Marleys. Third Element of Protest: Call for Unity As part of their lyrical messa ges encouraging resistance to oppressive social structures, both Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur note the necessa ry role that unity plays in the project of resisting these structures and improving their life situations. Both artists stress the particular importance of unity among the people of their marg inalized social contex ts, but also reference the importance of unity among a ll people to differing degrees. Lyrics that encourage and stress the importa nce of unity emerge in 39% of Marleys protest songs. Only 14% of such Shakur songs emphasize unity. Both artists assert that to successfully resist oppressive soci al structures and improve their lived experiences, unification of their Black communities is crucial. They each encourage unity by referencing important Black historical figures of relevance and emphasizing the importance of cultivating black pride despite racial oppression. In addition to the particular emphasis of un ity among the African diaspora in their lyrics, both Marley and Shakur acknowledg e an inherent unity throughout all humankind. However, this idea of oneness is more substantia lly intertwined with Marleys concept of unity. Black Unity Marley overtly encourages members of the Af rican diaspora to unite in the aptly titled Africa Unite: 65


How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, yea-eah! / To see the unification of all Africans, yeah! / As it's been said a're ady, let it be done, yeah! / So-o, Africa unite: / 'Cause the children (Africa unite) wanna come home. / Africa unite / 'Cause we're movi ng right out of Babylon, yea, / And we're grooving to our Father's land, yea-ea. Here, Marley ponders the desirable consequences of African unity. Furthermore, he takes this ideal conception of unity a step further by calling for action to cr eate such unity; he encourages Africans to actively take part in a unification movement. Marley has observed how African unity has been talked about and encourag ed by prior activists such as Marcus Garvey. Now, he asserts, it is time to let it be done because this unity fails to be realized in the Kingston ghettos, as well as other communities of the African diaspora. The descendents of slavery are, in fact, divided a nd oppressed. Marley identifies w ith this movement of African unity as reflected by his use of the plural pr onoun we. Furthermore, he suggests a certain inevitability of this movement by suggesting its success is Gods desire and by using the present tense to describe the Rastas movement out of the metaphorical Babylon referring to Jamaica and other countries that were colonized and bu ilt by African slave labor. Similarly, Shakur encourages unity among African-Americans in White Manz World: Remember that, in this white man's world, they can't stop us / We've been here all this time they ain't took us out / They can never take us out / No matter what they say, about us bein extinct / about us being endangered species / we ain't never gon' leave this / We ain't never gon' walk off this planet, unless y'all choose to / Use your brain, use your brain / It ain't them th at's killin us it's us that's killin us / It ain't them that's knockin us o ff, it's us that's knockin us off Shakur alludes to the triumph of African-Ame ricans over historical hardships and defiantly declares that they can never take us out. These lyrics demonstrate an us vs. them mentality. He emphatically uses the plural pronoun we to identify himself as a part of this struggle. Shakur acknowledges obstacles to African-Ameri can unity within the community, specifically the black-on-black violence that pl agues inner cities. However, he declares that the power is in 66


their hands to change. Black people will only be b eaten if they passively allow themselves to be. Shakur continues this idea and like Marley, he en courages action towards this ideology of unity in Changes: I got love for my brother / but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other / We gotta start makin' changes / learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers Here, Shakur stresses the necessity for indivi duals of his social context to act more communally and to perceive each other as brothers and sisters, rather than strangers. Such actions and ways of perception reduce the conf licts and divides that separate the AfricanAmerican community. He encourages his community to recognize that they have shared interests and are engaged in the same struggle. History A specific way in which Marley and Shakur seek to create a sense of African unity and Black pride in their lyrics is by referencing Black historical figures releva nt to their respective social contexts. Marleys song So Much Th ings to Say contains such references: But Ill never forget no way / they crucified Jesus Christ / Ill never forget no way / they stole Marcus Garvey fo r rights / Ill never forget no way / they turned their back on Paul Bogle / So dont you forget (no way) your youth / Who you are and where you stand in the struggle. Marley references Christ, the incarnation of God, according to Rastafarian theology, who was crucified; Garvey, a Black Jamaican who promoted Pan-Africanism, and who is considered a prophet to Rastafarians for pr ophesizing the crowning of Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia; and Bogle, a Black Jamaican rebel executed by the co lonizing United Kingdom. Marley references three historical individuals who worked to bri ng truth & liberation to Black Jamaicans. He encourages members of his commun ity to recognize and appreciate the struggles of these men, to recognize their place in history as a part of a movement greater than themselves, and their 67


responsibility to carry on the struggle of their forefathers. Shakur presents similar references in Ghetto Gospel: Everyone's ashamed to the youth cause th e truth looks strange / And for me it's reversed, we left them a world that's cursed, and it hurts / cause any day they'll push the button / and y'all condemned like Malcolm X and Bobby Hunton, died for nothing Shakur laments the present situation of inne r city Blacks despite the past activism of figures such as Malcolm X and Black Panther Bobby Hunton. Yet, in doing so he brings the message of these African American revolutiona ries to the current generation of people who continue to endure circumstances that these men sought to change. Oneness Along with encouraging unity within the Af rican diaspora, both Marley and Shakur, despite the marginalized position in society of th eir social groups, recognize and promote a form humanism that recognizes a common humanity w ith all people regardless of privileged or oppressed status. Marleys lyrics in songs such as One Lov e suggest a oneness that all humanity shares: One Love! / One Heart! / Let's get togeth er and feel all right / Im pleading to mankind / One Love Although Marleys lyrics present a particular emphasis on unity among members of the African diaspora, he acknowledges the inherent unity of all humankind. Everyone shares an inherent unity with all people and may potential ly share the same love. He pleads with everybody, not merely his fellow Rastas, to recogni ze and respond to this unity. By recognizing the common bond that everyone shares with the rest of humanity regardless of social position, Marley suggests that people can transcend the divisions that plague societies. Shakur recognizes this unity in Ghetto Gospel: 68


It ain't about black or white, cuz we're hum an / I hope you see the light before its ruined / My ghetto gospel Shakur recognizes that despit e our perceived racial differences and the very real consequences of these differences, we are all hu man. He encourages people to conceptualize the social world in this way and not es that there will be dire consequences for failing to recognize everyones common humanity. This is his gos pel or religious message. However, although Shakurs lyrics acknowledge a unity that tran scends race and hopes that people will recognize this unity, Marleys lyrics mo re prominently and consistently recognize and promote such a unity, and his promotion of unity overtly extends to love. Songs such as One Foundation assert the depth of Marleys conceptualization of unity: Got to come together / We are birds of a feather / We got to come together / 'Cause we are birds of a feather / Got to come together / 'Cause we are birds of a feather / Or there will never be no love at all / There wi ll never be yeah, yeah! no love at all / We also got to realize we are one people, yeah! / Got to realize that we are one people, yeah! / We got to realize we are one people / Or there will never be no love at all / There will never, never, never be no love at all / Got to build our love on one foundation / In this lyric, Marley acknowledges the comm on humanity that everyone shares, encourages people to recognize this and come together, and promotes not just unity but love. He encourages everyone regardless of race or social background to build this love on the one foundation that every person shares. Summary Both Marley and Shakur stress the importance of unity in th eir messages of resistance. This notion of unity is particular ly relevant to the members of th eir particular social context but extends to all people. Although unity is not the most prevalent aspect of either artists critique, it is perhaps crucial in creating the prerequisite for resistance of a collective consciousness. Whereas Shakur tends to use singul ar pronouns such as I and me, in songs of unity he speaks 69


in terms of plural pronouns such as we and u s to emphasize a collective identity. Marley consistently uses such plural pronouns, not just in his messages of unity. Worth noting is that lyrics encouraging unity occur with greater freque ncy in Marleys music, and his unity tends to be deeper and more tran scendent than Shakurs. Spirituality Although not necessary a message of protest per se, a spiritual dimension in both Marley and Shakurs lyrics emerged in the analysis that can not be overlooked because of the ramifications of each artists spirituality on thei r messages and methods of protest. It is no surprise that a spiritual component to the music of these two black artists emerges. Spirituality has been considered to be a cultural value th at is the product of black people in the West Africanizing Christianity wh en they (forcibly) adopted it as their relig ion (Brown, 2005). Accordingly, churches of the African diaspora ar e often participatory services in which people strive to experience Gods presence through song and dance (Brown, 2005). Spirituality can be further understood in black communities outside of a church setting though experiences of deep emotions, including situations in which lyrics, songs, and singers create me lodies that touch the souls of black audiences (2005, p. 563). The music of both Marley and Shakur can be ch aracterized according to this tradition of spirituality. Accordingly, 70% of Marleys s ongs identified as songs of protest contained spiritual references. Spirituality manifests in 42% of Shakurs protest songs. Spirituality manifests in Marley and Shakurs lyrics as th ey both acknowledge God and the role that God plays in their lives. Furthermore, they both ask God for assistance. Th eir lyrics capture the extent of each artists faith in God. Cont rasting Marleys thanking God with Shakurs apologizing to God illustrates a compelling with resp ect to spirituality. Finally, both Marley and Shakur are critical of religious hypocrisy. 70


Relationship with God Both Marley and Shakur acknowle dge God and suggest that God pl ays a role in their lives. Yet, the artists lyrics present relationships and connections with God to differing degrees. A representative example of Marleys conception of God and the role of God in his life is found in Jammin: We're jammin' (jammin', jammin', jammin') / And we're jammin' in the name of the Lord / Yeh! / Holy Mount Zion / Holy Mount Zion / Jah sitteth in Mount Zion / And rules all creation. While some might jam for fun or pleasure, for Marley, were jammin in the name of the Lord. Once again, Marley speaks from the plural pronoun we, suggesting that his identity is intertwined with his social group. Furthermore, Marley presents an aspect of his spiritual beliefs here. He asserts Gods omnipresence in the world and that Jah rules all creation. He implements the word holy which suggests the s acred nature of God. Clearly, God has a very crucial role in social life according to Marley. He sees the world as Gods world. Shakur acknowledges Gods role in his life in "Letter 2 My Unborn: I got shot five times but I'm still breathin / Livin proof there's a God if you need a reason Here, Shakur acknowledges a relationship with God. Shakur seems to attribute surviving a shooting to Gods will. Furthermore, he seems to offer this experience as proof for others of Gods existence, proof that Shakur himself does no t necessarily need. While this lyric suggests a belief in the existence of a God th at intervenes in human affairs and a relationship with this God, this relationship does not dominate his worldview and music to the extent to which it does Marley, who is jammin in the name of a Lord who rules all creation. 71


Invoking Gods Assistance The lyrics of both Marley and Shakur suggest a personal relations hip with God as both artists reach out to God at times and ask for divine assistance in their lives. We see Marley call on God in Positive Vibration: Jah love, Jah love, protect us / Jah love, Jah love, protect us / Jah love, Jah love, protect us Marley calls on God for protecti on. Interestingly, Marley in vokes Jah love to protect us. He seeks Gods protection in the name of l ove not just for himself, but for all the members of his community. On the contrary, Shakur asks God for assistance but with egocentric ends as in Blasphemy: Promised if I have a seed, I'ma guide hi m right / Dear Lord don't let me die tonight Shakur pleads with God to not let me die toni ght. He shows respect for God in this lyric, using the adjective dear to ch aracterize God. Yet unlike Marley, Shakur asks God to spare his life without speaking to the situa tions of anyone else in his community. However, in other songs such as Black Cotton we do see Shakur invoke Gods assi stance for the sake of others: One homie, two homie, three homies, poof! / We used to have troops but now there's no more youth to shoot / God come save the misbegotten Here, Shakur asks God to save the misbego tten. In this lyric he does use we to identify with his fellow poor, black, inner city males and laments that their youth are alarmingly being killed. However, he does not identify as re gularly with and invoke Gods help for the sake of his social group to th e degree that Marley does with his fellow Rastas. Faith While the lyrics of Marley and Shakur both acknowledge Gods presence in their lives, they offer differing suggestions about each artists faith in God. Marleys lyrics reflect deep, 72


strong religious faith. Marley just does not hope for Gods assistan ce in his life, he believes he has it. One Drop: I know Jah's never let us down / Pull your rights from wrong / (I know Jah would never let us down) / Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no! Marley believes in God to the extent that he characterizes his faith as knowledge. As a devout Rastafarian, Marleys faith in God is f undamentally intertwined with his life and his music. Interestingly, Marley uses a plural pronoun to describe who Jah would not let down, showing his identification with his fellow Rastas. Shakurs lyrics do not reflect religious faith to such a great extent. In fact, obs erving the suffering that character izes the everyday lives of inner city black people in the postindustrial United States, Shakur expressed do ubts of Gods place in his life and questions Gods existence in Letter to the President: My history, full of casket and scars / My own black na tion at war, whole family behind bars / And they wonder why we scarre d, thirteen lookin hard / Sister had a baby as an adolescent, where was God? Unlike the deep, unquestioning belief in God that characterizes Marleys lyrics, Shakur expresses doubt here. While Marley knows that Jah would never let us down Shakur wonders where was God? The suffering that Shakur observes in his community causes him to doubt God. What kind of God would allow such pain? he seems to suggest. Shakurs faith in God is not as consistent as Marleys. Thanks versus Apology A discussion of the spiritual component of Marleys lyrics would be incomplete without mentioning that many of Marleys lyrics read as overt religious psalms which give thanks and praises to Jah, such as the tellingly-titled Give Thanks and Praises: Give thanks and praises to the Most-I (J ah!) / Give thanks and praises so high / He will not deceive us my brethren / He will only lead us again / ... / Give thanks 73


and praises, give thanks and praises / Give thanks and praises, give thanks and praises / Give thanks and prai ses, give thanks and praises. Marley encourages people to thank and praise Jah in a lyric that would seamlessly fit a religious service. Here, he observes the role of God in the life of the Rastas. God is conceptualized as a leader who has presumably le d them before and will only lead us again. This lyric serves as another example of Marley speaking as a member of his groups, using plural pronouns as he identifies with hi s brethren. Clearly God plays a significant role in everyday life for Marley and his brethren. The thanks and pr aise of God that characterizes Marleys lyrics interestingly contrasts with Shakurs lyrics such as Hellrazor in which he asks for forgiveness: Dear Lord, I live the life of a thug, hope you understand / Forgive me for my mistakes, I gotta play my hand / And my hand's on a 16 shot / semi-automatic crooked cop killin' glock ... Shakur acknowledges his mistakes, provides justification for them, and ultimately asks for forgiveness. He seems to be less sure of his st anding with God than Marley. Also, Shakur uses singular pronouns in discussing his relationship with God revealing a lack of involvement with a religious community such as Marleys Rastafari. Criticism of Religious Hypocrisy The rebellious aspect of the music of Shakur and Marley manifests in critiques of religious institutions. Spirituality and resistance to hegemony intersect in th e lyrics of Marley and Shakur as both artists are critical of their societys religious institutions which contribute to their oppression. Marley is critical of preachers who shift the focus of individuals away from the everyday, oppressive realities of their lives to the afterlife in Get Up, Stand Up: Preacherman, don't tell me / Heaven is unde r the earth / I know you don't know / What life is really worth / / Most pe ople think / Great God will come from the skies / Take away everything / And make ever ybody feel high / But if you know what life is worth / You w ill look for yours on earth 74


Marley is critical of preachers who speak of forsaking improvement of their lives for the sake of achieving a place in heaven after they die. He understands the power that people have to change and how obedience for the sake of the afte rlife may hamper this. Furthermore, Marley seems to resent the way in which this preacher te lls him to worship God. He tells the preacher I know you dont know what life is really worth. Ma rley seems to contrast his own experience of God with the preachers words, and consequently finds it difficult to take seriously what the preacher says. Shakur is similarly cri tical of a preacher in Blasphemy: The preacher want me buried why? Cause I know he a liar / Have you ever seen a crackhead, that's eternal fire / Why you got these kids mi nds, thinkin that they evil / while the preacher bein richer y ou say honor God's people / Should we cry, when the Pope die, my request / We should cry if they cried when we buried Malcolm X / / Memories of a past time, givin up cash to the leaders / knowin damn well, it ain't gonna feed us In this lyric, Shakur seems to be critical of a preacher using his influence to take economical advantage of people with little mone y to begin with. He observes people with scarcely enough money for food giving financial donations to religious leaders based on fear instilled in them by these leaders. He depicts su ch leaders as benefiting at the expense of people who are truly suffering. He frames himself as threat to the religious establishment because of these views to the extent that he claims they want him dead. He also seems to resent that figures of great significance in the Afri can American community, such as Malcolm X, do not receive the same respect as religious figures, such as the Pope. Summary A notable distinction between th e lyrics of Shakur and Marley emerges with respect to spirituality. While the lyrics of both artists protest songs have a spiritual dimension, Marleys lyrics read as more encompassed by a deeper spir ituality. In some instances, Marleys lyrics read as religious psalms or prayers set to music. This is not surprising considering Marley was a 75


devout Rastafarian and saw himself as a medium for Gods message. Hi s lyrics praise Jah (God), thank Jah, find strength and perseverance de spite hardships through Jah, and make it clear that the world is Jahs creation. The spirituality revealed through Shaku rs lyrics is complex, ambiguous, and contradictory. Shakurs lyrics, while often ac knowledging a spiritual c onnection, lack the faith in God that so powerfully underscores Marleys work. Shakurs occa sional doubts concerning God and his relationship with God sharply contra st with Marleys deep and unshakable faith. Shakurs lyrics acknowledge Gods role in hi s life, whereas Marleys acknowledge living for God. Shakurs spiritual references are at times paradoxical and contradictory, sometimes within the same song (see Nothing to Lose). While Shakur at time thanks God and asks God for assistance, at other times he questions and even mocks God. Unlike Marley, Shakur never identifies with a particular religious tradition. The spiritual disparity between the two artists may be accounted for by Marleys Rastafari affiliation and Shakurs lack of affiliation with a partic ular religion. Marleys lyrics, more so than Shakurs, are characterized by a unified set of values. It is no surprise that the values promoted by the Rastafari religi on, such as love, unity, faith, and fighting oppression are also promoted by Marleys lyrics. Such a religious affiliation provides Marl ey with a lens through which to view the world, and he crafts his ly rics through this lens. Shakurs lyrics lack attachment to a particular religious affiliation a nd a corresponding unified set of values. Rather, Shakurs lyrics are inspired by a diverse collec tion of what he has learned from history and experiences on the streets. Marleys protest is in accord ance with Rastafari beliefs, and Shakurs comes from a more personal and perhaps alienated pl ace. Of course, Shakur speaks for and identifies with people 76


who share his demographic characteristics: poor, young, Black, inner city males. Yet there is no single foundation for his worldview. To further understand the effect of Marleys religiosity and Shakurs lack thereof, it is interesting to consider spirituality as reflected in the lyrics of Marley and Shakur in light of differences that emerged with respect to the tones of their critiques and how hopeful each artists lyrics are. Hope / Hopelessness While Marley and Shakur were in largely anal ogous social situations, their music responds to these situations with different prospects of hope for the succe ss of their resistant projects and positive social change. Hope is expressed but in varying degrees in both artists lyrics. Whereas Marleys lyrics are almost unfailingly hopeful a nd optimistic, such hope and optimism vacillates in Shakurs lyrics. Hope characterizes 64% of Marl eys protest songs but only 22% of Shakurs protest songs. The artists express hope through me ssages of encouragement to stay positive despite hardships and suffering. Yet differences can be observed between the two ar tists social critiques with respect to optimism. On the flip side of hope are differences between Marley and Shakurs lyrics with respect to messages of hopelessness. Marl eys songs are almost without fail devoid of hopelessness. Only 3% of the lyrics of his protest songs are characterized by a hopeless tone. On the contrary, 66% of Shakurs protest song s are characterized by hopelessness. Hopelessness comes in the form of overt expressions of pessimism and nihilistic embraces of the status quo. Stay Positive Despite the suffering and oppression that Rast as face in Trenchtown, Marleys lyrics contain reaffirmations that ever ything is going to be all right in songs such as Three Little Birds: 77


Singin': "Don't worry 'bout a thing / 'C ause every little thing gonna be all right."/ Singin': "Don't worry (don't worry) 'bout a thing / 'Cause every little thing gonna be all right!" Here, the pure and true message from the bird s is that the sufferahs should not worry, a message that corresponds with the spirituality of his lyrics. Because of their connection with Jah, everything will work out for the best for the Rastas. Shakur has a similar message in Keep Ya Head Up: We ain't meant to survive, cause it's a setup / And even though you're fed up / Huh, ya got to keep your head up Shakur acknowledges the structural limitations that Black inner-city residents with whom he identifies face as illustrated by his use of the plural pronoun we. Yet, despite the discrimination, oppression, and sufferi ng that they face, Shakur enc ourages his listeners to keep your head up and not wallow in their suffering. Optimism Despite the hardships that Rastas have and continue to endure, Marley is unfailingly optimistic that they will pers evere in Ride Natty Ride: But-a we will survive in this world of competition / 'Cause no matter what they do / Natty keep on comin through Again, Marley presents a we/they struggle betw een the Rastas and the system. Despite the structural project of oppre ssion and marginalization of Rast as, Marley proclaims that the Rastas, with whom he here identif ies as a member, will survive. Despite all of the hardships and suffering, the Rastas will be triumphant. Contrast Marleys optimism in this song with Shakurs White Mans World: Will we make it to better times / In this white mans world ? Shakur dedicates much of his lyrical space to depicting the suffering of inner city Blacks. Then he asks if we will see positive, counter-hegemonic social change. Or is the white male 78


hegemonic reality too strong? An uncertainty towards the success of th e project characterizes this lyric. This lack of certainty and incons istent optimism defines the protest music of Tupac Shakur. Pessimism Shakurs protest songs may be largely charact erized by pessimism and a lack of hope, but such lyrics are rare in Marleys work. We see a rare instance of lack of hope in Marleys lyrics in Real Situation: Check out the real situation: / Nation wa r against nation. / Where did it all begin? / When will it end? / Well, it seems like: total destructi on the only solution, / And there ain't no use: no one can stop th em now. / Ain't no use: nobody can stop them now. Here, Marley observes fighting between nati ons and laments that this conflict will inevitably lead to total destruction. People ar e powerless to change the future and bring an end to warring nations. This lamentation is striking as it is unrepresentative of the tone of Marleys work as a whole. This lyric speaks to feeli ngs of powerlessness and frustration, pessimism and quitting. Such traits are the ant ithesis of the majority of his messages. However, they are more common in Shakurs lyrics such as R U Still Down?: It seems I can't find my focus / and homey I ain't par anoid, I seen the future and it's hopeless In this song, Shakur directly refers to the future as being hopeless. Aside from characterizing the future as being hopeless, Shaku rs songs such as the te llingly titled Never B Peace present a bleak, pessimistic view of the future. Now of course I want peace on the str eets / But realistically painting perfect pictures ain't never work / / So why you ask me if I want peace If you cant grant it? / Niggas fighting across the w hole planet / So we can never be peace Shakur claims that achieving peace on the st reets is unrealistic. Though Shakur wants peace, observing the everyday reality of violence and its consequences both on his streets and 79


beyond, Shakur is pessimistic that the ideal of peace can be achieved. Such a lack of hope representative of much of Shakurs lyrics contrasts sh arply with Marleys message that everything is going to be alright because we can actively create a society based on a peaceful foundation. Later in the song, Shakur expa nds on why peace is an unrealistic ideal: Shit, fuck peace / On the st rength till my niggas get a pi ece we cant have peace / How the fuck we gonna live happy if we ain't got none? / You motherfuckers is smiling, but I'm mean mugging / Why? Cause gotta be thugging / / We can't never have peace, till you motherfuckers clean up this mess you made / 'Till u fucking clean up the dirt u dropped / 'Till we get a piece / Fuck peace Here, Shakur speaks to the marginalization of the members of his social context. Until social inequality is rectified, peace is impossible. He maintains that the criminality and violence that characterizes inner-c ities is a consequence of poverty, of not having a claim to a piece of the metaphoric pie, and will be continue to be a social reality until the mess of oppression is cleaned up. However, he is pessimistic about these prospects as in the chorus of the song he maintains that there can never be peace. Nihilism In many of Shakurs songs th at are characterized by hopeless ness and pessimism, his lyrics are often characterized by nihilism such as in Life of an Outlaw: Never surrender / Death is for a son to st ay free. I'm thugged out / Fuck the world cuz this is how they made me / Scarred but still breathin. Scholars such as Dyson (2001) speak of a culture of death that surrounds certain pockets of hip hop and poor Black communities due to the viol ence and murder that youth are exposed to in these sectors of society. Shakurs lyrics reflect this influence. Shakur speaks of living the life of an outlaw and he refers to himself as a thug. Violent retaliation is an appropriate response to the world that scarred him. H ope for the future is abandoned. Fuck the world that made him this way. He adds in Out on Bail: 80


I got no love in my heart cause Im heartless This line epitomizes a defeatist attitude. The system that Shakur speaks of that is responsible for his poverty and marginalization ha s won. He has been fully socialized as a product of the ghetto. While very indicative of his life experiences and the society in which he lives, lines such as these are soci ally critical yet do not provide hope for better, alternative ways of living. Summary Both Shakur and Marley represent defining fi gures in a genre of music of the African diaspora. Both emerge from an economically and r acially marginalized social context. Both use their lyrics as a form of social critique ag ainst the social structur es responsible for the marginalization of their respective social group. Yet Marleys lyrics are strikingly optimistic while Shakurs are more characterized by nihilistic hopelessness. Sha kurs protest songs do contain occasional messages of hope, but Marleys music is generally more consistently hopeful and optimistic. Marley does not merely encour age change or hope for change, Marley believes that positive change is inevitable. Shakurs musi c is scathing in its critiques of oppressive social structures, but does not provide as much hope for alternative liv ing. What social factors may explain this distinction? One social distinction between the lyrical protests of Marley and Shakur that may account for the different tones of the protests is the aforementioned fact that Marley created his music from within the Rastafari cultural and religious m ovement while Shakur lacked an affiliation to any specific, concrete movement. Accordingl y, Shakurs music lacks both the social and spiritual support of Marleys. I propose that this distinct ion may account for the observed differences between their lyrical social critiques. Bob Marley s music was connected to the Rastafari movement. Tupac Shakurs music repres ents more alienated and isolated rebellion. 81


The lyrics of Marley and Shakurs protest s ongs reflect distinctions between the artists spirituality. Marley has deep re ligious faith. Accordingly, he be lieved that his lyrical messages of Rastas fighting their oppression and liberating themselves were Gods will. Perhaps Marleys hope is reinforced by his spiritualit y. When Marleys lyrics presents a plan for social change and the liberation of his people from the shackles of post-slavery oppression, he claims that it is Gods will. Such a belief in having Gods support buttresses his message with a certainty about its success. Accordingly, there is an inevit ability to Marleys me ssages of hope. Marley conceptualizes a better future and deeply believ es that its realization is not just possible but inevitable. Marleys music and religious expression were synonymous. Much of Marleys lyrics read as religious psalms. He believe d his words and music were cha nnels for Gods work to flow through. He had an unflinching faith that he was doing Gods work and God would help to see that his goals would become accomplished. Conversely, Shakur wasnt so sure. His lyrics have a spiritual component to them, but often question Gods presence in his life. Perhaps religious faith helps Marley to cope with struggles and to believe that a better future lies ahead. Shakurs music has components of hope to it and some optimistic messages. He encourages inner city Blacks to remain positiv e in spite of their suffering and oppression; however, Shakurs messages of hope lack the inev itability and firm belie f that characterize Marleys. At times, Shakur asse rts that the future is hopeless. Additionally, we must consider the cultural as pect of the Rastafari movement. Aside from the hope and inspiration that Marley may draw fr om his spiritual connection, perhaps the cultural aspect of his association with the Rastafari movement strengthens his resolve and faith in the success of his project of resistance. In the words of David Hinds, lead singer of reggae band 82


Steel Pulse: The only thing we have in common as Rastafarians, is that we tend uplift our minds to a higher level of consciousness than where we started out indi vidually to where we can work collectively (Foehr, 2000, p. 176). Marleys aff iliation with the Rastafari movement connects his identity and experience of the world with those of his fellow Rastas, and he lives as a member of a larger whole and as part of a cultural movement. Lacking such a buttress of social support, Shakurs words come across as being more disillusioned. He observes hypocrisy and oppression, and he is quick to describe it and articulate reasons behind it. Yet despite his pleas for un ity and change, he provides no guarantee of the inevitability or success of these changes. On th e contrary, he suggests at times that the status quo will continue or perhaps the crises he obs erves will plunge to further depths. This conclusion is supported by literature (Lieberman, 1989) that suggests that protest music is most effective when attached to a specific movement an attachment that cannot be claimed by the work of the rapper with a song called Me Against the World. This attachment to a cultural movement may also explain why Marleys lyrics show a greater frequency of rebellion whereas Shakurs show a greater freque ncy of description. Perhaps Marley was able to attach his critique to the vehicle of Rastafari, and Shakur, lacking the support of such an affiliation, is left to describe the realit ies he observes. Of course, Shakur did not live as a hermit a nd lived in a social group as well. But he cannot claim affiliation with a unified group to th e extent that Marley can. Unlike his mother, Shakur does not identify with a particular organiza tion such as the Black Panthers. Accordingly, Shakurs music is more of an isolated, alienated protest. This distinction between the two artists identities is epitomized by Marleys tendency to use plural pronouns such as we and us compared to Shakurs tendency to speak from si ngular pronouns such as I and me and only 83


occasionally speaking in a plural voice. The dis tinction in the artists use of these pronouns suggests that Marley internalized religious love and the Rastaf arian belief in his unity and connection to his fellow Rastas, whereas Shakur is more egocentric in his approach to social critique. However, Shakur does implement the use of words such as nigga, thug, and G, which seem to speak to an identification with a particular racialized, classed, a nd gendered group. But if niggas, thugs, and Gs are to be viewed as social group, it is a group that lacks the goals, objectives, and ideologies of the Ra stafarians. These labels are more akin to Marleys use of the term sufferah and do not have the social movement consciousness as Rastafarians. Ironically, while Marleys hope ma y be buttressed by his affiliati on with a particular social movement, Shakurs hope may be diminished by his familys association with one. Although Shakur is not directly affiliated with a particular movement, the previous generation of his family includes active members of the Black Panthers. Perhaps, Shakur witnessed first-hand how the prior generation was unable to achieve its Black Nationalist goals. Perhaps he was jaded and disenchanted by such movements. In fact, his own pursuit of material su ccess has been linked to the poverty he experienced as a child resul ting from his mothers opposition to capitalism (Dyson, 2001). Perhaps the relative failures of Black nationalistic movements such as the Black Panthers prevented him from being as idealistic and hopeful about the future and truly believing that real change was not onl y possible but inevitable in th e same way as Marley was. Of course, one could attempt to explain the differences in hope between the two critiques by solely focusing on personality differences between the two artists. While personality differences may play a role in this distinction, one could consider st ructural factors that facilitate these personality differences and focus on the artist s subjective reactions to their social world as 84


facilitated by respective social institutions such as religion. Furthermore, potential personality differences between Marley and Sh akur accounting for differences in their lyrical social critiques must be understood in the context of each artis ts popularity and legendary status within his social context. The fact that each artist is the top selling musici an in his genre, along with his status in the community in which he emerged suggests that each artist represents the ze itgeist of his social context. If the differences between the two ar tists hopefulness are based merely on personality differences between the artists, why are they so popular among me mbers of their social groups? It seems that both artists are expressing not ju st their own hopes and struggles but are also articulating the hopes and struggles of their social groups. It rema ins interesting to note that the music of the icon of reggae is largely optimistic and positive and the music of the icon of rap is largely pessimistic and hopeless. Marley and Sh akurs sales figures and legendary statuses within the respective social context from which they emerged suggest that they articulate a collective consciousness. On a broader level, reggae music has been defined by optimism and positive vibrations (Bradley, 2000), whereas ga ngsta rap music has been characterized by nihilism (Kubrin, 2005). There are countless examples of hopeful, conscious rap music released simultaneously to Shakurs. Yet this music did not achieve the same popularity as Shakurs. 85


CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Although separated by dialects, musical genres, twenty-five years, and almost 3000 miles, many parallels can be drawn between the work of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur. Each artist represents an African diaspora society and emerge d in a racially and economically marginalized context. Through their lyrics, both Marley and Shakur not only describe but critique these social contexts. An analysis of the lyrics of the studio albums of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur suggests that both artists work ma y be characterized in part by soci al critique. An analysis of the lyrics of their protest songs reveals three elements of social critique that manifests in the work of both artists: 1) expres sions of the suffering endured by th e members of respective social contexts, 2) criticism of and encouragement of re sistance against the social structures responsible for marginalization, and 3) calls for unity with a particular emphasis on unity among members of marginalized social group. However, there are some relevant and intere sting differences in their critiques. The analysis reveals that th e bulk of Shakurs critique is focuse d on descriptive accounts of the ghetto suffering that he observes, whereas the emphasis of Marleys critique is on resistance against the structures that produce ghettos and consequent suffering. A lthough both artists speak of the necessity of unification, particular ly among Black people, unity plays a more significant role in Marleys lyrics. Although spiritua lity is referenced in both artists lyrics, Marleys lyrics reveals a deeper and more faithful spiritual connection. Marleys lyrics express a concrete and defined spirituality and suggest a deep religious faith, whereas Shakurs lyrics are more religiously ambiguous and demonstrate less faith. Furthermore, Marley engages in his social critique in an overwhelmingly optimistic and hopeful way, whereas Shakurs critique can be characterized by hope and optimism only at certain times but by hope lessness and pessimistic nihilism at most 86


others. On the other hand, Shakurs lyrics tend toward pessimism, hopelessness, and nihilism, despite occasional flashes of hope. Due to the complexity of social life, it would be limiting to suggest that the difference between these two critiques could be accounted for by a single social factor. However, I offer Marleys affiliation with a particular religious and cultural movement, a movement he promotes in his lyrics, and Shakurs lack of such an affiliation as a partial explanation for the differences with respect to hope. Perhaps Marleys Rastaf ari religious beliefs gr ounded him and helped him to cope with the struggles of Trenchtown lif e, and his faith provided a source of hope and optimism. Additionally, perhap s Marleys optimism and hope wa s facilitated by the social support granted by Marleys affiliation with the Ra stafari movement, whereas Shakurs protest, unaffiliated with a particular movement, is more isolated and alienated. Another matter to consider is that Shakur may be c onsidered a second generation revolutionary. As a child of Black Panthers and the Black Panther movement, Shakur saw failings of the protest movement of the previous generation. Perhaps the re lative failure of this movement left him less than optimistic about the inevitability of the success of a social movement and social change. As a first genera tion revolutionary, perhaps Marleys view of the potential for successful social change was not jaded in the same way. Despite the differences in tone between their so cial critiques, music can be conceptualized as the vehicle Marley and Shakur use to offer their critiques. A lthough a review of the literature suggests that protest music tends to be accessed by in siders rather than outsiders, and Marley and Shakur may be unlikely to effectively reach a nd sway outsiders with their messages, music affords Marley and Shakur the opportunity to speak to the members of their social contexts with 87


words of encouragement and resistance. Their mu sic may play a role in the creation of a group consciousness necessary for a counter-hegemonic cultural movement. Thus, despite the substantive differences be tween their critiques, the current research suggests that through their music, Marley and Sha kur may function as examples of what Gramsci (1971) termed an organic intellectua l. Some scholars have suggested that musicians may fill this role, and some have made this argument about Shakur (Neal, 2003). Marley and Shakur were individuals with critical social observations to share and musi cal talent. Perhaps a microphone was the most effective way for a reggae singe r from the Trenchtown ghetto of Kingston, Jamaica, and a rapper from the streets of Oakland, California, to voice their social critiques to the largest possible audience. What better way is there for individuals with musical talent and a message to reach their audiences with their messages than through creating appealing music? Of course, the results of this research only sp eak to the music of Marley and Shakur. The results do not speak for protest music in general or even Black protest music. However, perhaps the three facets of the model of social critique revealed by the lyrics of Marley and Shakur may be found in the lyrics of other artists. It would be interesting to look at other examples of Black protest music and even protest music of other cu ltural movements, such anti-war protest music, for comparison. Perhaps description, resistance, and unity are key features of protest music. A further question that would be interesting to explore is how effective the music of Marley and Shakur was in actually encouraging social critique and rebellion among the members of each artists social context. What is the re lationship between the music of Marley and Shakur and real, material social change? It would be interesting to e xplore how the members of Marley and Shakurs social contexts engage the music. Furthermore, the music of both artists spread beyond the social context in whic h it was created. It would be interesting to study outsiders 88


relationships to the music, particul arly the lyrics. It would also be interesting to investigate the related work of socially analogous colleagues of Marley and Shakur to investigate the extent to which personality and social characteristic s of artists manifest in protest music. 89


APPENDIX A ALBUMS ANALYZED Bob Marley Albums Analyzed Catch a Fire (1973) Burnin' (1973) Natty Dread (1974) Rastaman Vibration (1976) Exodus (1977) Kaya (1978) Survival (1979) Uprising (1980) Confrontation (1983) Legend (1984) Tupac Shakur Albums Analyzed 2Pacalypse Now (1991) Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z (1993) Me Against the World (1995) All Eyez on Me (1996) The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (released under pseudonym, Makaveli) (1996) R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (1997) Greatest Hits (1998) Still I Rise (1999) Until the End of Time (2001) Better Dayz (2002) Loyal to the Game (2004) Pac's Life (2006) 90


91 APPENDIX B BOB MARLEY PROTEST SONG S SELECTED FOR ANALYSIS 400 Years Africa Unite Ambush in the Night Babylon System Bad Card Blackman Redemption Buffalo Soldier Burnin and Lootin Chant Down Babylon Coming in from the Cold Concrete Jungle Could You Be Loved Crazy Baldhead Crisis Duppy Conqueror Exodus Forever Loving Jah Get Up, Stand Up Give Thanks and Praises Guiltiness Hallelujah Time High Tide or Low Tide I Know I Shot the Sheriff Jamming Johnny Was Jump Nyabinghi Natty Dread Natural Mystic Night Shift No More Trouble No Woman No Cry One Drop One Foundation One Love Pass It On Positive Vibration Rastaman Chant Rastaman Live Up! Rat Race Real Situation Rebel Music (3 Oclock Roadblock) Redemption Song Revolution Ride Natty Ride Slave Driver Small Axe So Jah Seh So Much Things to Say So Much Trouble in the World Stiff Necked Fools Stop That Train Survival Talkin Blues The Heathen Them Belly Full (But We Hungry) Time Will Tell Top Rankin Trench Town War Wake Up and Live We and Dem Work Zimbabwe Zion Train


APPENDIX C TUPAC SHAKUR PROTEST SONGS SELECTED FOR ANALYSIS 16 on Death Row All Out Ambitionz az a Ridah Ballad of a Dead Soldier Better Dayz Black Cotton Black Jesus Blasphemy Breathin Brendas Got a Baby Changed Man Changes Crooked Ass Nigga Crooked Nigga Too Dear Mama Death Around the Corner Definition of a Thug Nigga Dont Sleep Enemies with Me Everything They Owe Fame 5 Deadly Venomz Fuck All Yall Fuck Em All Fuck the World Fuckin wit the Wrong Nigga Ghetto Gospel God Bless the Dead Guess Whos Back Hail Mary Heartz of Men Heaven Aint Hard to Find Heavy in the Game Hellrazor Hennessey Hold Ya Head Hold on Be Strong Holla if Ya Hear Me How Do U Want It? I Dont Give a Fuck I Wonder if Heaven got a Ghetto If I Die 2Nite Im Getting Money Im Losin It Intro/Bomb First (My Second Reply) It Aint Easy Keep Ya Head Up Krazy Last Words Late Night Let Them Thangs Go Letter 2 My Unborn Letter to the President Life Goes On Life of an Outlaw Lil Homies Lord Knows Loyal to the Game M.O.B. Mamas Just a Little Girl Me Against the World Me and My Girlfriend Military Minds My Block My Closet Roaddogz N.I.G.G.A. (Never ignorant about Getting Goals Accomplished) Never B Peace Nothin but Love Nothing to Lose Only Fear of Death Only God Can Judge Me Open Fire Out on Bail Outlaw Pacs Life Part Time Mutha Picture Me Rollin Peep Game Po Nigga Blues Point The Finga R U Still Down? Ready 4 Whatever Rebel of the Underground Representin Runnin on E 92


So Many Tears Soldier Like Me Something to Die For Something Wicked Soon as I Get Home Souljahs Revenge Souljas Story Still Ballin Street Fame The Streetz R Deathrow Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. Strugglin They Dont Give a Fuck about Us This Aint Livin Thug 4 Life Thug Style Thugz Mansion To Live and Die in L.A. Tradin War Stories Trapped Troublesome 2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted? U Dont Have to Worry Until the End of Time Untouchable The Uppercut Violent Whatcha Gonna Do? Whatz Next When Thugz Cry Where Do We Go from Here White Manz World Who Do You Love? Who Do You Believe In World Wide Mob Figgaz Words of Wisdom Words 2 My First Born Young Black Male Young Nigga 93


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99 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Steve is a student of life. He asks questions and searches for answers, yet is aware of his own ignorance and limited perspective. In his qu est for wisdom and understanding he is careful to enjoy the experience. He ride s his bike to school, strives to become more selfless, and enjoys fresh fruit and live music. To paraphrase Eddie Ve dder, he thinks it makes a lot of sense to live in the present tense. It is his hope that in every experience and interact ion he may leave the world a better place than th at in which he found it.