In Gangsta (1996), rap journalist Ro explored the seething realities of selling the threatening music of the underclass to the masses.
Now he focuses his admirably brusque reportage on one incredibly successful record company that was heavily involved in marketing every parent’s favorite, gangsta rap.
This is a gritty story with elements of money, mayhem, sex, and unsociable acts conveyed in a vernacular that, depending on sensibilities, may offend.
Rappers present (Snoop Doggy Dog, DOC, Dr. Dre) and gone (Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls [the Notorious B.I.G.]–both well-publicized victims of gang violence) are featured, but of primary interest are magnates Suge Knight and Puffy Combs. Ultimately, this is Knight’s story.
He is Death Row, allegedly starting the label with gang money from the Bloods, and Ro implicates him in nefarious activities galore.
In his way, Knight may be the ’90s teen-marketing equivalent of Dick Clark. With rap becoming mainstream, a hard-hitting investigation of its financial and business etiquette roots is in order, and this one is superb. Mike Tribby
Autor: Ronin Ro