Opposites come from same streets

There is irony, perhaps, in the fact that two leading lights in the positive rap movement � Jurassic 5 and the Black Eyed Peas � hail from the same Los Angeles neighborhoods that famously served as ground zero for West Coast gangsta rap.

How strange is it that this new California love comes from the crib of hard-core?

"I think that's dope," says a laughing Chali 2na of Jurassic 5. "If you believe in cause and effect, then you know. When you push, something is going to push back. Everything travels in that circle. You had positive hip-hop back in the day � it rose in the East and now it's setting in the West. ... Street rap wasn't the central part when it started and it won't be the center later. Hip-hop is like the seasons, and the seasons change."

Hip-hop originally sprang from the sidewalks of New York City as dance music, with DJs creating sonic collages with their turntables and MCs speed-rhyming to create a new chapter in the long oral-history tradition of the African-American community � rapping. This new music meshed with break-dancing and graffiti to create the subculture known as hip-hop.

The early music was often fun, but tracks such as 1982's "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five hinted that street-life parables and cautionary glimpses of crime and drugs would mix in among the party beats.

Pioneering rap act Run-DMC brought inner-city images and morality plays to songs such as "Hard Times" and "It's Like That," and Philadelphia rhymer Schoolly D's work brought in a tough-guy braggadocio.

Public Enemy's sound and political messages were a major jolt.

Then the music went West: Compton's N.W.A, above all, created the lexicon of the hard-core music that would be labeled gangsta rap.

"N.W.A created a blueprint for how you make and sell gangsta music," says Will I Am of the Peas. "They started a whirlpool. Now, to a marketing person, it's the easiest thing. It's like making a violent movie � we just need a couple of explosions, shoot a bunch of guys, put in a chase scene, a sex scene. ... It's dumb but people are entertained by it. Explosions. It's the same thing with music. Say something about somebody else, cuss, talk about guns."


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