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From the authors of Nation Conscious Rap comes a powerfully raw, intimate history of gang life in South Central L.A. In detailed interviews, gang members of the Crips and Bloods open up on a wide range of issues, including the bonds of the gang brotherhood, the significance of gansta rap, the despair of welfare, and the scourge of drugs. Photos.
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There's been a truce among black gangs in L.A. since the riots, and a change of heart among certain key individuals, 14 of whom speak their minds in this forceful and arrestingly positive collection of interviews. Jah and Sister Shah'Keyah ask good questions and get solid, well-reasoned, and productive answers from former gang bangers committed to helping channel the energy wasted in gang activities into endeavors that can enrich and empower African American communities laid low by black-on-black violence, drugs, and a virtual cessation of education. Many of these men have survived two decades of destructive gang life, and all have, as Playmate says, "done a 360." Playmate, Red, and all the other articulate spokesmen gathered here explain the magnetism of gangs, deplore the escalation of violence and drug abuse, and describe the revelations that turned them into peace-seeking activists. By emphasizing worthwhile values inherent in gang life--love, loyalty, leadership, and, yes, entrepreneurship--instead of sensationalizing the bloodshed and machismo, Jah, Shah'Keyah, and their courageous interviewees offer hope and viable paths toward change. May they be heard. Donna SeamanFrom Publishers Weekly:
Somewhere within this turgid set of street-lingo interviews with L.A. gang members are some interesting anecdotes and words of wisdom: about the importance of decolonizing black minds, of getting out of the "circle" that contains even the likes of Bill Cosby; about using excellence to combat racism; about the importance of black self-help; about how alcohol may be more dangerous than other drugs; about the love and camaraderie that balances more negative gang experiences. But the authors, a husband-and-wife team of independent rap producers, seem to have turned on the tape recorder without providing sufficient context for their tales (e.g., we're not given enough information on the oft-mentioned L.A. gang truce). Nor do they challenge their subjects to explain their often loopy Afrocentrism ("I'm an African that has been kidnapped, living in America," says one). The 14 interviewees, all men, have transcended their pasts to work now for peace; would that their efforts were dignified by journalism, not stenography. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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