Rap can be as nasty as it wants to be, and, thanks to the 2 Live Crew obscenity trial, everybody knows it. Yet explicit rap tunes — everything from the exaggerated sexual boasts of the Crew to the ”gangsta” playacting of N.W.A. — pose a new and complex set of questions. Are sexual rap songs merely dumb-fun party records — Redd Foxx set to a drum track — or should they be treated as appalling antiwomen tracts? Are rappers who talk like thugs trying to dramatize conditions in the black community or merely toughening their image? Do they actually encourage violence? None of these new records fully answers those questions, but in its own way each addresses the contradictions inherent in explicit rap.
Paris — a Bay Area-based newcomer who calls himself ”the Black Panther of rap” — clearly does want to make the textbooks on his debut, The Devil Made Me Do It. He curses fast and furiously, raps about ”pride and unity,” and, as rappers often do, chastises black radio for playing ”idiot crossover songs” instead of serious hip-hop messages. Unfortunately, he doesn’t offer much beyond drab old-style boasting and shticky panther growls. Let’s hope Ice Cube gives voice lessons. C-