Somewhere between the early tough-guy posturing of Ice-T and Schooly D, Tupac's Thug Life manifesto, and a slew of late-'90s/early-'00s Pac lites (less nuanced, less talented, more steroided—Fitty and Ja Rule chief among them), the big, bad black man archetype went from traditional to explosive to completely ridiculous over the span of rap's two-decade reign on the charts. Similarly, the fascination with moving weight on scale with Scarface has followed a predictable path from simplicity to complexity to commercial exploitation: from NWA and its ilk's casual descriptions of moving eight balls during the onset of the crack epidemic to Raekwon's intricate Mafioso metaphors ("Somehow the rap game reminds me of the crack game"), we have come full circle with a Top 40 radio playlist littered with a slew of studio gangstas bragging about pushing impossible numbers at impossible prices. Young Jeezy seems like a sort of unholy hybrid of these two clichés; so thump your chest, ship another ki, and dance to the soul-crushing beat. With Blood Raw. 18+.
Fri., April 25, 10 p.m., 2008
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