Rap and takin’ a hood, homie

I’ve been spending a lot of time playing Grand Theft Auto San Andreas. Actually, we’ve had this game on our PS2 for some three or more years. It’s the game that keeps on giving, and we’re still playing it. I think we’re near the end. At any rate, we’re taking the hoods for the second time, and popping a few bullets in rival gangs’ asses.

As much as a part of me abhors this kind of violence were it to happen in real life, I find playing this game perfectly acceptable. I can safely draw the distinction between fact and fiction. There’s something about doing fictional drivebys on fictional computer sprites that is good to destress. I can do this safe in the knowledge that this is a game and nothing more. It annoys me when people who cannot get the distinction between fact and fiction try and ban such things for ‘glamourising violence’. I seriously don’t think GTA San Andreas does. True, there may be other games that cross the unwritten line and take things too far, but this isn’t one of them.

Anyone who has played this game will know that there are quite extensive radio stations that play whilst in vehilcles. I started out listening to Radio-X and the DUST, because of my preference for rock tunes and classic dad metal. However, after three or so years I’ve started to listen to some of the others during the game just for a change. One of these is full of gangsta rap tracks, and I must admit I don’t find some of them too bad. It made me think about all the hoo-ha about Jay-Z being booked to headline at Glastonbury.

Many years ago whilst working on the radio I used to get sent records on the promo list. I’d get tons of stuff several months before they were commercially available. The promo companies knew what shows I did, yet I’d still get the odd way-out thing that there was no chance of me ever playing. I mean, since when would gangsta rap appear on a rock show or a classical music hour? Well, most of these I just gave away. Some few I saved and shoved away in my spare bedroom record collection.

After all this fuss over Jay-Z, coupled with a faint memory of a white label double LP that I remember filing away when it arrived on the promo list in 1998/9 sent me searching. It appears that I hadn’t filed it under ‘J’ so I ended up looking in amongst the 12″ singles. Result! There it was after all these years. I’ve been listening to it for the first time whilst writing this, and I have to say it’s not too bad. It’s called “Vol 2 – Hard knock Life” according to the reaction sheet tucked into the sleeve (it is in a blank sleeve with blank record centres because it was pressed long before they finalised the album artwork it seems).

So what do I think about Jay-Z? Well, not exactly my favourite genre, but it’s growing on me. I would have prefered Dave Gilmour performing ‘Dark side of the moon’ at Glastonbury, but then again, I never go. I think he’ll do alright in the end. If it’s got a good beat then the hippies will sway to it no matter what by day three.