In 2010, President Barack Obama signed a law repealing one of the most controversial policies in American criminal justice history: the one hundred to one sentencing disparity between crack cocaine and powder whereby someone convicted of "simply" ...
possessing five grams of crackothe equivalent of a few sugar packetsohad been required by law to serve no less than five years in prison. In this highly original work, Dimitri A. Bogazianos draws on sources ranging from song lyrics to government documents to examine the profound symbolic consequences of America's reliance on this punishment structure, tracing the rich cultural linkages between America's War on Drugs, and the creative contributions of those directly affected by its destructive effects. Focusing primarily on lyrics that emerged in 1990s New York rap, which critiqued the music industry for being corrupt, unjust, and criminal, Bogazianos shows how many rappers began drawing parallels between the "rap game" and the "crack game," juxtaposing their own exploits in street crime with the machinations of industry executives in the suites. He argues that the symbolism of crack in rap's stance towards its own commercialization represents a moral debate that is far bigger than hip hop culture, highlighting the degree to which crack cocaineoalthough a drug long in declineohas come to represent the entire paradoxical predicament of punishment in the U.S. today. This timely and innovative analysis has substantial implications for the study of crime and culture as well as the role of punishment in American society more generally, demonstrating that both crack and rap contain a profound struggle about the morality of urban life. An amazing and innovative account of how the worlds of crack and rap collide, overlap, and ultimately implode, the book takes you places you wouldn't expect, sights only rarely seen, and sounds so haunting they will be hard to forget. This is a compelling read and a needed contribution from sociology.