On this episode, Dr. Lee Pierce
(she/they)--Asst. Prof. of Communication at SUNY Geneseo--interviews Bryan McCann
(he/his)--Associate Professor of Communication at Louisiana State University--on a dope new work of cultural criticism The Mark of Criminality: Rhetoric, Race, and Gangsta Rap in the War-on-Crime Era
(University of Alabama Press, 2017). The Mark of Criminality
positions the work of key gangsta rap artists--Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac Shakur--as well as the controversies their work produced, squarely within the law-and-order politics and popular culture of the 1980s and 1990s to reveal a profoundly complex period in American history when the meanings of crime and criminality were incredibly unstable. McCann argues that, among other well-circulated meanings, the mark of criminality was a source of power, credibility, and revenue. By understanding gangsta rap as a potent, if deeply imperfect, enactment of the mark of criminality, we can better understand how crime is always a site of struggle over meaning.