Summary of “Alwayz Into Somethin'”: Gangsta’s Emergence in 1980s Los Angeles,” by Eithne Quinn
In the chapter “Alwayz Into Somethin”’: Gangsta’s Emergence in 1980s Los Angeles,” from the book Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap. Eithne Quinn provides sociological analysis that shows how these policies caused economic changes which impacted black youth and caused the emergence of gangsta rap, in Los Angeles. In making this argument, she draws explicitly from two significant terms. Post Fordism a term she borrows from Edward Soja, refers to the move to service-sector work that came alongside widespread deindustrialization. And survival culture, a word she borrows from Douglas Glasgow, which he defines as “deeply inscribed in gangsta rap’s ethics … by turns, devious, innovative and resistive.”(42)
Quinn begins to describe economic devastation; the employment patterns, and income, especially the African American community that impacted profoundly by the changing models by the neoconservative policies. These new systems led to the closure of many companies that African Americans worked. As the economic landscape changed quickly, several places became increasingly impoverished. Only low-income jobs were available, and the roles offered to the African Americans people did not give them the opportunity to climb up in the socioeconomic status. The lack of sufficing income led many to produce and distribute crack-cocaine, which became the primary source of income. Law-and-order policies put many black Americans in prison for drug dealings and producing. The underprivileged urban communities felt a sense of alienation by these systems.
Through the economic disparity and societal injustices, black communities responded in various ways supporting the rise of gangsta. In the passage “Responses: Alwayz Into Somethin’,” Quinn describes three particular routes the black youth turned too: Street gangs, underground economy, and local music scene. Street gangs provided these teens a sense of protection from the harsh urban environment, identity, and the chance of earning money. Alongside, street gangs directed their attention toward activities like selling drugs. The growth of selling crack cocaine became the primary source of making money for most adolescents who were out of work. These illegal actions lead to imprisonment of many black youths by the Los Angeles police (LAPD). As Quinn states, many creative spaces opened up including, “street promotion, talent contests … making and selling homemade mix tapes” (52).
Section “Resources: Survival Culture” (52), Quinn further explains some of the musical sources that these upcoming rappers used as inspiration when recording. The “subculture dynamism of the gangs’ styles” (Quinn 53), incorporated gang signs/gestures, clothing, and territorial graffiti into their music. Additionally, artists drew from their knowledge of the streets, personal experiences, with a mixture of mainstream pop culture to convey the message of “survival culture” through their lyrics.
In summary, Quinn reiterate the terms post-Fordism and survival culture and how economic changes occurred from new policies, which affected the black community. This effect instigated the emergence of gangsta rap, in Los Angeles.