Hip Hop Cops

Alchemist album from 2003
Alchemist album from 2003

An interesting article entitled ‘Watching Rap’ by Eric Nielson on police surveillance of hip-hop artists in the USA. It’s worth a read and has some nice analysis of the response in rap lyrics, which is a pleasant change from the concentration on mainstream film and fiction that you tend to get in Surveillance Studies. However, it is unfortunately illustrated with a lot of rather irrelevent cliched images of CCTV cameras, Banksy etc. and is rather lacking in a deeper political context. It is not as if rappers are the first group of popular cultural figures, or the first African Americans to be put under surveillance by the US state: he should perhaps have looked back at least to the Black Panthers and the FBI’s COINTELPRO program of the 1960s. This isn’t just a cultural connection: Nielson starts off with the rumours around the shooting of Tupac Shakur, whose mother was, of course, deeply involved in the Panthers… but a very worthwhile piece nevertheless.

Author: David

I'm David Murakami Wood. I live on Wolfe Island, in Ontario, and am Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Surveillance Studies and an Associate Professor at Queen's University, Kingston.

2 thoughts on “Hip Hop Cops”

  1. Thanks for this review. I agree on the pictures–they were not my choice. All I provided was the text, and Popmatters did the rest. I did like the Public Enemy logo on the front page, though…

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