California Love

One of the most recognized hip-hop artists of all time is Tupac Shakur.  Hip-hop has become a way for many musicians, singers, or regular people to get a point across.  In most hip-hop songs they portray a story whether it relates to where they grew up, alcohol issues, drug usage, or violence.  Many different cultures have become very talented hip-hop artists such as people from Cuba and Brazil.  Hip-hop artists are becoming very influential because of their ability to openly produce a song that contains so many issues and the artist is able to bring these issues to light.

In the song “California Love” by Tupac Shakur, he sings about how all of these poor and struggling areas like Compton and Oakland have many issues such as drugs, prostitution and shoplifting.  He compares these cities to arguably better and safer areas like Hollywood, Pasadena, and San Diego he says that people from these nicer areas are welcome to join the people from the rougher areas he does this to show that people are scared of these areas because of all the criminal acts committed in not ideal areas (Shakur).  Tupac’s family has been very supportive in the Black Panther Party, which was a revolutionary movement by blacks to prevent police brutality in black communities.  Tupac’s godmother Assata Shakur was a major force in the Black Panther Party and other organizations was convicted of first-degree murder and seven other felonies and was sent to prison.  She eventually managed to escape from prison and was exiled to Cuba (Osumare, 280).  Tupac used these issues that he faced in his life and implanted these views into his hip-hop songs.  He has published some of the top albums in hip-hop history.

In hip-hop most songs provide a story about the local issues. In Brazil, “directly addressing local issues of crime, violence, continuing social inequalities, and negative portrayals of Afro- Brazilians (Osumare, 282).”  Many hip-hop artists use their songs as a way to express their opinions about the government.  These issues show why many of the best hip-hop artists live or grew up in generally considered bad areas such as Compton, Oakland, Favelas, Havana, and the Bronx and there are many more that produce very successful hip-hop artists.  Also in these areas they are heavily populated by blacks and it is often seen that most hip-hop artists are black.  Other ethnicities have issues with hip-hop because they are not generally from these places and have had these experiences.

I enjoy listening to hip-hop because I find these songs interesting and I try to understand all of the meaning behind them.  But I will never truly understand unless I decide to live in one of these lower end areas.  But hip-hop will be a style of music that will be played for a long time, because there are many stories that will be told by new artists.

Discussion Question 1:  What would other ethnicities have to write a hip-hop song about?

Discussion Question 2:  Can you think of a hip-hop song that relates to your experience at UC Davis?

Works Cited

Osumare, Halifu. Global Hip-Hop and the African Diapora. Ed. Harry J. Elam and            Kennell Jackson. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, n.d. Print.

Shakur, Tupac. “California Love.” Tupac. 1996. Web. 21 May 2013.          <>.

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6 Responses to California Love

  1. Janice says:

    There’s an aspect missing in the presentation of the relationship between race, social situation, and success as a hip-hop artist. The commentary seems to suggest that ethnic background is the sole origin of bad neighbourhoods and high-charting hip-hop albums, but government neglect and long-running prejudices (which do tie into race) also factor in significantly! The phenomenon of white flight from densely-populated city areas and the subsequent institutional subsidies of primarily-white suburban areas lead to local governments allocating more law enforcement and peacekeeping resources to those suburban areas. Those events create the more dangerous inner-city neighbourhoods, where people of colour are less able to move somewhere safer or organise community cleanup groups because of systematic income discrepancies: on average, a black employee makes 75% of what a white employee makes, according to the US Dept of Labour . A hip-hop artist who grows up in a government-neglected neighbourhood is probably starkly aware of all that discrepancy and tries to pass that on in their music.

    If you watched “Uploaded,” my answer to your first question (hip-hop subjects for people of other ethnic backgrounds) relates to that film. Asian-Americans are conventionally typecast as either socially-hopeless nerds or mystical gurus of kung-fu, so a hip-hop song could directly address those stereotypes while presenting the artist (and by relation, other people of Asian descent) as a more three-dimensional human being instead of being reduced to Jackie Chan or Long Duk Dong (of “Sixteen Candles” infamy).

    The subculture of breakdancing within the hip-hop form is increasingly being adapted and performed by Asians in the US. On an immediate scale, MK Modern, Impulse, and the Popping Club are the major hip-hop dance groups at UCD, and all three groups’ members are primarily ethnically Asian. While well-known hip-hop artists such as Tupac try to give voice to their racial community by sharing their experience in song, Asian-American breakdancers present their community in a “cool” way to recode public perception of the ethnicity as a whole.

  2. Hailey Bang says:

    Even though I love the song ‘California Love’ by Tupac so much, I did not know it was about the description of black people’s poor surroundings until I read this reading response. I thought that it is just an explanation about an atmosphere of each area nearby Los Angeles. Likewise, I did not know that a racial discrimination still exists until I came to the States. Of course, it is not a physical or legal discrimination, but a perceptional or social division. In general, the area where the black have mainly occupied such as Oakland in L.A. and Harlem in New York, these backward areas were deteriorated comparing to the town inhabited by White. When I was in Korea, I used to see the scenes from the media which are the black artists won a Grammy awards, they gained fame at the Major League and elected to the presidency of the United States. Therefore, I thought that racial inequality is the history of the past, so the hip-hop songs which express of discontent with the society are just for spiritual succession of the past. However, apparently the social differentiation exists. I think the important thing is how the black deal with this stereotype and distinction in the future.

  3. wuyue2004101 says:

    To answer your first discussion question, I think we can first define the “Hip Hop song in other ethnic group” because we know Hip Hop as a certain kind of song created by mostly blacks that links poverty, discrimination and all other kinds of miseries to this certain form of music. And put this notion in other ethnic groups, maybe we can keep the theme and the form of how it is played, like the classical one: rap. Then yes, and I can give an example of Hip Hop in Asian countries. Actually one of my favorite singers,Jay Chow, is a rap singer, or called a hip hop singer.
    Comparing Jay Chow’s song to California love, we can see great differences. The biggest one is about the contents. Jay Chow’s rap is more about complaints of real life troubles, like people’s attitudes (superficial, materialistic…) towards him. But the typical hip hop, like the California Love, is more miserable and sad because the song is about hunger, about discrimination, about life and death, about bigger things in life. And also, the form of music is different. Jay Chow’s rap follows a certain route, he uses piano, guita accompanying his rap. But I think the typical rap has more ways to play the music.
    I think these differences are originated from different social and culture background. Jay Chow is from Taiwan, and at his era, the society is stable, safe and economy is harmonious, and singers won’t be bothered much about life fundamentals. That’s a huge difference.

  4. tayjern says:

    I feel that other ethnicities would not write a hip-hop song to express their hardship. I don’t think that hardship should only be expected from minorities because there are plenty of white Americans who have it quite rough. Hip-hop is not the only type of music where hardship is expressed. I feel that the American way of showing hardship is through country music. Although country may sound completely different from hip hop, they are extremely similar in overall theme. Of course the typical country hardship is I lost my dog, my wife ran away, and my truck broke down. Lately, however, country music has become an outlet to express the hardship in love and relationships. Even though these are only two examples of some different cultures, I am sure that Asian and European countries for example, have their own genre of music, which addresses some type of hardship. When thinking of a Hip-Hop song that can relate to my time at Davis, I guess the first thing that came to mind was “Started from the bottom no we here.” Although none of us are a big deal in any way, this song may have been the first to pop into my head because of the elite percentile us students are in. At the end of the day, all races and ethnicities will go through some type of hardship but the most important thing is how someone will react.

  5. In response to the first question, I think that hip-hip is an outer. Therefore, it is expression and experience that make hip-hop so great and relatable. Other races would rap about what is meaningful to them, what struggles they face and why it is important in our/their society. Being able to connect with music or art in general is what makes it popular in the first place. Tupac had a voice because he had an opinion and the want to change what he saw. The violence and hate he experienced was the same thing others within his community and poeple in the United States were experiencing. They could relate to the things he was saying, maybe not directly but in their own way.
    Music can be so powerful, it changes the way people think, act, and see. Each type of genre has a culture associated to it. Hip hop has a stigma if violence, abuse, sex, drugs, and demoralization of women. It started as an outlet and has turned into a phenomenon of free speech and who can have the most clever rap instead of who can make an impact on the society in a positive way. Hardships creat great stories, this is why you do not see as many white rappers from middle upper class. They have privileges that others don’t. Rappers express what they think is important or what is trendy at the time, it has turned into a business not just are and music, which is sad.

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