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Word Count: 1,150
Walking the tight rope The recent murder of Tupac Shakur is a great tragedy and a waste of a young promising life Shakur at only 25 years-old had come to represent a volatile mixture of youthful energy exuberance arrogance self-confidence and at times foolishness He represented possibility on the one hand and self-destruction on the other What mustnt be overlooked as the Hip-Hop Community mourns his loss is that there are many young Black men like Tupac Shakur who although less well-known and less financially secure are equally caught up in self-destructive lifestyles Due to a great deal of misinformation and a changing economy their numbers are growing even as they are being wiped off the planet everyday Herein lies one of the greatest challenges facing the Black world in the 21st century how do we combat the dominant public image of young Black men that has largely been produced by mass media Tupac Shakurs life and death is a microcosm of the larger picture Do we dare peer into it Rap music is no longer simply the local communal form of entertainment that it was at its inception in the early 1970s And even the thriving commercial entity it became by the late 1980sas gangsta rap moved from the margins of hip-hop culture to the centerhas already been transformed Despite the various changes in the rap industry over the last six years there has been at least one constant rap artists who have enjoyed international fame and platinum sales due to their ability to shock with Black pathological horror stories and thereby entertain Although some advance a musical art form whose artistic political and social implications have yet to be thoroughly critiqued or completely understood rap musics firmly entrenched dual role as a corporate business and
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