It Was a Good Day: Talking Gangsta Rap with Professor Viator

Monday, April 13, 2020

LOS ANGELES REVIEW OF BOOKS, BOOK HOUR -- This week, we’re joined by Felicia Angeja Viator, author of “To Live and Defy in LA: How Gangsta Rap Changed America.” Eric, Kate and Medaya talk with Felicia, an assistant professor of History at San Francisco State University, about the rise of gangsta rap in Los Angeles, the sounds and culture that defined the era, the artists and performers who rose to stardom and how we still see the effects of that sound in music today.

Viator discussed how Los Angeles’ history of police brutality in African American communities “is the root of this unusually dark and cynical subgenre of hip hop that emerges in the late 1980s.”

“You have to understand something like the relationship between these ideas of LA as being this very special, unique place for black Americans and, at the same time, these extreme forms of racial violence, especially in the form of police violence — that these two things were happening simultaneously. And that is the backdrop for something like gangsta rap,” she said.