Don - "Don't Push Me Cause I'm Close to the Edge The...

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"Don't Push Me Cause I'm Close to the Edge" The decaying Rust Belt communities that figured prominently in Bruce Springsteen's songs were not the only parts of the country that had been in decline long before 1980 but continued to endure economic hardships, even through the boom times of the Reagan Recovery. Throughout the 1970s and '80s, the predominantly African-American communities of many American inner cities endured serious economic disinvestment, resulting in crumbling infrastructure, endemic joblessness, and epidemics of crime and drugs. Even as structural forces in the American economy moved jobs and capital out of the inner cities, those left behind found themselves demonized by a prevailing ideology that suggested that poverty resulted mainly from individual laziness. Reagan's "Morning in America" never really dawned in the ghetto. From the decaying inner cities emerged a new cultural movement, first dismissed by many as a mere fad but since established as an enduring force in American popular culture: hip-hop. In 1982, one of the pioneering acts in rap music—Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five produced "The Message," a record that captured, as well as any other cultural artifact of the 1980s, the raw desperation of black urban life in Ronald Reagan's America. Rapping over a heavily syncopated electronic rhythm—the same beat used a decade later to underpin Ice Cube's gangsta anthem "Check Yo Self"—Furious Five emcee Melle Mel delivered what would become one of the most famous rhymes in rap history: Don't push me cause I'm close to the edge I'm trying not to lose my head It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me wonder How I keep from going under That iconic chorus broke up what might be called a Springsteenesque series of verses that described, in vivid detail, the broken-down conditions of ghetto life: Broken glass everywhere People pissing on the stairs, you know they just don't care I can't take the smell, can't take the noise Got no money to move out, I guess I got no choice Rats in the front room, roaches in the back Junkies in the alley with a baseball bat I tried to get away, but I couldn't get far 'Cause a man with a tow truck repossessed my car The ultimate message of "The Message" could be found later, distilled into a single rhyme: It's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny You got to have a con in this land of milk and honey In "The Message," hip-hop offered up a radical dissent from the pro-market ideas that dominated American discourse during the Reagan Era. In the absence of real economic opportunity, survival
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