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Contesting the Mark of Criminality: Race, Place, and the Prerogative of Violence in N.W.A.'s *Straight Outta Compton*"
Critical Studies in Media Communication (2013)
  • Bryan J McCann, Wayne State University
Abstract

This essay reads rap group N.W.A.’s 1988 album Straight Outta Compton as a parodic enactment of the racialized discourses of law and order during the late 1980s, or what I am calling the mark of criminality. Its release constituted a watershed moment in black popular culture that coincided with the devastating consequences of surveillance, containment, and spectacular scapegoating associated with Reagan-era crime control policies and rhetoric. I argue that the album and its reception by the law enforcement community of the late 1980s functioned as a confrontation over the meanings of race, place, and crime in the twentieth century. In addition to revealing the contingent meanings of criminality in popular and political culture, the legacy of Straight Outta Compton provides insights into the role of criminality in processes of social transformation.

Publication Date
2013
Citation Information
Bryan J McCann. "Contesting the Mark of Criminality: Race, Place, and the Prerogative of Violence in N.W.A.'s *Straight Outta Compton*"" Critical Studies in Media Communication (2013)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/bryan_mccann/1/