Gang references in rap is not new. Rap beef is not new. Any elements of rap beef crossing over to real life isn’t new. But the specific intersection of the the 3, with the ability to view/understand it all digitally might be. The YouTube-wave of Chicago rappers shouting out blocks and gangs in the songs, and their ability to gain fans within the city that are hyper-aware of all the references has created an interesting opportunity.
With good algorithms to detect these references and aggregate them, YouTube comments (!) end up containing a ton of interesting data. Gang shootouts with respective positive and negative affiliation explicitly referenced, street corners mentioned, coded terminology thrown around and the ability to cross-reference a user’s posting history with particular songs they liked or commented on. It’s weird new territory with weird ethical questions that need to be considered. Perhaps better than I have already.
I wrote about it all at the link at the top. Please read and share.