understanding 2 live crew

nderstanding 2 Live Crew

“2 Live Crew, Decoded” written by Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr., who also testified on their behalf in court, is a short essay in the McGraw Hill Reader that was originally published in the New York Times in 1990. This text explains the controversial and very obscene rap group, 2 Live Crew who were well known in the 80s and 90s. Many people enjoyed their music, but others thought it was too coarse to be played on the radio or sold in stores. Though the music is simply satire the society opposed to this new , sexual type of music felt that is was sexist and demeaning. In “2 Live Crew , Decoded” Gates explains how the black culture interprets things differently when it came to phrases and street slang in the groups music. Many people, even today feel as though morals should be included in everything that people do. Rap music has always had explicit language but 2 Live Crew was never vague and never felt that they had to cover anything up or make it sound more clean than it really was.

They felt that the First Amendment backed them up and made it okay for them to say whatever it is they wanted to say. This text focuses on how people interpret the music rather than what it says. Many people interpret things different ways. People make assumptions of what words mean instead of studying these words. “For centuries, African Americans have been forced to develop coded ways of communicating to protect them from danger.”(Gates 523) In the past, different cultures developed ways to communicate altered just so others who do not recognize the culture wouldn’t understand. In the past African Americans have created things like songs, chants, and even movements to communicate with each other. Slaves used to sing songs and even use moss off of trees to find their way to freedom; they were known for being resourceful and using what they had.

The 2 Live Crew used language that they knew could be easily interpreted for the black culture, but they were ridiculed for invoking their first amendment rights of free speech. They were highly misunderstood and judged because of their language. Many lawyers and talk shows tried to single out 2 Live Crew along with other groups who expressed vulgar and obscene behavior. People who did not agree with the styles of their music tried to categorize it as ugly and strongly suggested that it should be taken out of the entire music circuit out of fear that children under 18 would listen to it. The lawyers and society who were opposed to this music felt that the rap groups and rock groups had several things to rap about other than sex.

They were trying to completely change the content of the lyrics. (“Donahue”) Many people were amused by the music, it was never meant to be offensive and it ultimately comes down to interpretation. African Americans understand African American music better than other races because we grow up around this, we understand what all the slang means, and we also understand that its all for entertainment. Music is art and how everyone expresses themselves is personal and their business.

In 1992 the American Family Association took 2 Live Crew to court in order to remove their latest single, As Nasty As They Wanna Be off the airways. “The case is the latest chapter in a national debate over local obscenity statutes and freedom of expression.”(“Obscenity or Art? Trial on Rap Lyrics Opens”) This case wanted to be used to establish the limits, no one had a clue what was actually considered as being obscene and they decided to pick on 2 Live Crew to determine it.

The text was initially supposed to target the people who were not familiar with the rap music that the black culture was exposed to. Logically their music can not be understood because it was never meant to be a logical situation; 2 Live Crew just wanted to make music, they just wanted to say whatever they wanted to say and have people enjoy it at concerts, clubs, parties etc. Many people misunderstood them and formed their own opinions of their music not looking at the bigger picture, which is that we all have rights to say what we want and if someone doesn’t want their children exposed to it then they have to pay more attention to what they are doing. I trust everything that Gates says because he was asked to testify on this case and he expressed his opinion 100% and it corresponds with mines.

This essay really gave an inside on the way the 2 Live Crew saw things. They were just making music just like millions of other people and though their topics were a little raunchy they still have the same rights of everyone else. This text also gives insight on a larger subject including, culture and interpretation.

Works Cited
. “Donahue – Indecency & Obscenity – Feat. 2 Live Crew – circa 1990 – 4 of 4.” YouTube. YouTube, 16 May 2011. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. “Obscenity or Art? Trial on Rap Lyrics Opens.” The New York Times. Ed. Sara Rimer, Special To The New York Times. The New York Times, 17 Oct. 1990. Web. 10 Oct. 2013. Gates, Henry L., Jr. “2 Live Crew, Decoded.” McGraw Hill Reader. 11th ed. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 523-25. Print.

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