50 Cent graffiti in Los Angeles, photo by Anarchosyn
However much people hate on Duminda Silva, you have to understand that he is surrounded by people that back him up, ranging from the President to thousands of urban poor. He and his violent, sociopathic ilk (like Mervyn Silva) live in a bubble where their behavior is reinforced. If they want further approval, they can always get in their jeeps and blast Gangsta Rap and nod their heads in complete understanding.
I’ve been reading Game Of Thrones (now Clash Of Kings) and those lords and kings were straight gangster. They fought each other for power, spent money like the dickens, and razed villages over personal disputes. It is vitally important to understand that Gangsta/Mafia Politicians are not some aberration on business as usual. They are business as usual, and most historical heroes from Beowulf to Alexander would be classified as violent thugs. This kind dies because they literally die but also because the patronage model doesn’t scale to large populations and eventually institutions emerge, driven by moral force, but also demographic and economic power shifts.
Uh, anyways. Here’s 50 Cent. 50 Cent is a rapper who was shot multiple times, including in the head.
As you can see, his reaction to being shot is, ‘I walk around gun on waist, chip on my shoulder, Till I bust a clip in your face, pussy, this beef ain’t over.’ Law enforcement and normal human society is on the complete periphery of this world, and the sheer amounts of money and ‘friends’ reinforce the closed loop.
For a more self-aware version, see Tupac’s ‘Only God Can Judge Me Now’
Of course, if you want actual awareness, see Outkast’s ‘Babylon’.
In this Andre 3000 says, “While we ranting and raving bout gats, nigga they made them gats, they got some shit that’ll blow out our backs, from where they stay at.” The foot soldiers in these drug wars get massacred while the lords make out like lords and minstrels get to sit at the table for singing about it.
Gangsta rap is a music that came out of the American ghettos, but it’s also relevant to Sri Lanka. Perhaps why most Sri Lankan rappers copy the violent/sexist motifs (badly). What they leave out is the blues underneath, but I digress. Sri Lanka, Colombo especially, is really ghetto in parts. There’s a serious heroin-driven drug culture, especially around the shanties and project houses that make up the majority of this city. Those drugs are peddled with political support, sometimes even by cops. Personally I think drugs should be completely legalized and even heroin given out within treatment centers. Otherwise you get this spreading cancer that comes with denial.
However, until then (and until this political culture evolves), Sri Lanka has actual gangstas as politicians and wannabe gangstas as rappers. One wishes the politicians would just rap. They’d at least be keeping it real.