Music Features

"The Chronic" Ruined Dr. Dre's Life

The album debuted on streaming services today in honor of 4/20

Dr. Dre's debut album, The Chronic–which surprised fans around the world when it unexpectedly popped up on streaming services today in honor of 4/20–undoubtedly revolutionized Hip-Hop.

For many (white) suburbanites it debuted a brighter, more effervescent Hip-Hop than its grimy East Coast counterparts. Focused on melodic builds, catchy hooks, and so much swagger, G-Funk was born on December 15, 1992. By now, there are plenty of articles detailing the specifics of what made the project so magical. It transformed the way the world viewed Hip-Hop and is arguably the single most important release in the entire genre for a multitude of reasons. But in hindsight, it's behind-the-scenes mythos is almost as infamous as the project itself, and the overall experience was forged by Dre partially in the hopes of rewriting a stressful and troubling personal history. Since its release, it's brought as much harm to him as it has good.

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CULTURE

Nazi-Chic: The Aesthetics of Fascism

Let's take a look at Nazi-inspired fashion.

Villains always have the best outfits.

From Darth Vader's polished black space armor to The Joker's snazzy purple suit, bad guys always seem to show up their protagonists in the fashion department.

Way more handsome than Batman. static.giantbomb.com

But could there possibly be a real world equivalent to the type of over-the-top villain fashion often found in fiction? It would have to be sleek and imposing, austere and dangerous. Probably black.

Maybe it's him. Maybe it's fascist ideology.

Oh, right.

Let's call a spade a spade. From an aesthetic standpoint, the Nazi SS outfit is very well-designed. The long coat tied around the waist with a buckle portrays a slim, sturdy visage. The leather boots and matching cap look harsh and powerful. The emblem placements on the lapel naturally suggest rank and authority. And the red armband lends a splash of color to what would otherwise be a dark monotone. If the Nazi uniform wasn't so closely tied with the atrocities they committed during WWII, it wouldn't seem out of place at Fashion Week. Perhaps not too surprising, considering many of the uniforms were made by Hugo Boss.

Pictured: A real thing Hugo Boss did. i.imgur.com

Of course, today, Nazi uniform aesthetics are inseparable from the human suffering doled out by their wearers. In most circles of civilized society, that's more than enough reason to avoid the garb in any and all fashion choices. But for some, that taboo isn't a hindrance at all–if anything, it's an added benefit.

As a result, we have Nazi chic, a fashion trend centered around the SS uniform and related Nazi imagery.

History of Nazi Chic

For the most part, Nazi chic is not characterized by Nazi sympathy. Rather, Nazi chic tends to be associated with counterculture movements that view the use of its taboo imagery as a form of shock value, and ironically, anti-authoritarianism.

The movement came to prominence in the British punk scene during the mid-1970s, with bands like the Sex Pistols and Siouxsie and the Banshees displaying swastikas on their attire alongside other provocative imagery.

Very rotten, Johnny. i.redd.it

Around this time, a film genre known as Nazisploitation also came to prominence amongst underground movie buffs. A subgenre of exploitation and sexploitation films, Naziploitation movies skewed towards D-grade fare, characterized by graphic sex scenes, violence, and gore. Plots typically surrounded female prisoners in concentration camps, subject to the sexual whims of evil SS officers, who eventually escaped and got their revenge. However, the most famous Nazisploitation film, Ilsa, She Wolf of the SS, flipped the genders.

The dorm room poster that will ensure you never get laid. images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com

Ilsa was a female SS officer and the victims were men. She spent much of the movie wearing her Nazi uniform in various states, sexually abusing men all the while. As such, Ilsa played into dominatrix fantasies. The movie was a hit on the grindhouse circuit, inspiring multiple sequels and knock-offs and solidifying Nazi aesthetics as a part of the BDSM scene.

Since then, Nazi chic fashion has been employed by various artists, from Madonna to Marilyn Manson to Lady Gaga, and has shown up in all sorts of places from leather clubs to character designs in video games and anime.

Lady Gaga looking SS-uper. nyppagesix.files.wordpress.com

Nazi Chic in Asia

Nazi chic has taken on a life of its own in Asia. And unlike Western Nazi chic, which recognizes Nazism as taboo, Asian Nazi chic seems entirely detached from any underlying ideology.

A large part of this likely has to do with the way that Holocaust education differs across cultures. In the West, we learn about the Holocaust in the context of the Nazis committing horrific crimes against humanity that affected many of our own families. The Holocaust is presented as personal and closer to our current era than we might like to think. It is something we should "never forget." Whereas in Asia, where effects of the Holocaust weren't as prominent, it's simply another aspect of WWII which, in and of itself, was just another large war. In other words, Nazi regalia in Asia might be viewed as simply another historical military outfit, albeit a particularly stylish one.

In Japan, which was much more involved with WWII than any other Asian country, Nazi chic is usually (but not always) reserved for villainous representations.

OF COURSE. i.imgur.com

That being said, J-Pop groups like Keyakizaka46 have publicly worn Nazi chic too, and the phenomena isn't limited to Japan.

In South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand, Nazi imagery has shown up in various elements of youth culture, completely void of any moral context. For instance, in Indonesia, a Hitler-themed fried chicken restaurant opened in 2013. And in Korea, K-Pop groups like BTS and Pritz have been called out for propagating Nazi chic fashion. Usually such incidents are followed by public apologies, but the lack of historical understanding makes everything ring hollow.

Implications

So the question then: is Nazi chic a bad thing?

The answer is not so black and white.

On one hand, seeing Nazi chic on the fashion scene may dredge up painful memories for Holocaust survivors and those whose family histories were tainted. In this light, wearing Nazi-inspired garb, regardless of intent, seems disrespectful and antagonistic. Worse than that, it doesn't even seem like a slight against authority so much as a dig at actual victims of genocide.

But on the other hand, considering the fact that even the youngest people who were alive during WWII are edging 80, "forgetting the Holocaust" is a distinct possibility for younger generations. In that regard, perhaps anything that draws attention to what happened, even if it's simply through the lens of "this outfit should be seen as offensive," might not be entirely bad. This, compounded by the fact that Nazi chic is not commonly associated with actual Nazi or nationalistic sentiments, might be enough to sway some people–not necessarily to wear, like, or even appreciate its aesthetics, but rather to understand its place within counterculture.

Ultimately, one's views on Nazi chic likely come down to their own personal taste and sensibilities. For some, Nazi chic is just a style, an aesthetic preference for something that happens to be mired in historical horror. For others, the shadow of atrocity simply hangs too strong.

MUSIC

RIP Biggie: The Best Songs by Notorious B.I.G.

While the late Brooklynite was only able to put out two albums before his untimely death, both works are regarded as some of hip-hop's greatest contributions.

One of Hip-Hop's most prominent icons The Notorious B.I.G. was senselessly gunned down at a red light in Los Angeles on this day in 1997.

He was heading home from a Vibe Magazine party when a gunman rolled down his window and opened fire. The death has remained unsolved and has unearthed a vast number of conspiracy theories in its 23-year wake. Highlights include theories that P. Diddy was responsible for the murder and that the late rapper isn't dead at all, and rather he was recently spotted alive on an island in Greece.

While the late Brooklynite was only able to put out two albums before his untimely death, both works are regarded as some of hip-hop's greatest contributions. To rank any of his songs is impossible; there are simply too many great entries to count. Still, there were a few lyrical gems that monumentally redefined East Coast rap and proved Biggie to be one of the greatest storytellers of all time.

Here are a few of his crowning musical achievements to honor the immense talent of The Notorious B.I.G.:

Gimme the Loot

Biggie's mastery of the pen is undisputed, but on "Gimme the Loot," off 1994's Ready To Die, all his strengths seem to click right into place. His flow is so tight that fans thought for years that the track's quippy call-and-response was done by Biggie and another uncredited rapper. His stream of consciousness lyricism makes listeners feel that they're hitting a lick right alongside him, and his tales of late night violence are haunting and captivating.

"Man, I throw him in the fiend you grab the f*cking cream
And if he start to scream, bom bom, have a nice dream
Hold up, he got a f*cking b*tch in the car
Fur coats and diamonds, she think she a superstar. Ooh Biggie let me jack her, I'll kick her in the back
Hit her with the gat. Yo chill shorty, let me do that
Just get the f*cking car keys and cruise up the block

The b*tch act shocked getting shot on the spot. Oh sh*t the cops!"

Everyday Struggle

"Everyday Struggle" isn't as play-by-play as "Gimme The Loot," but it once again demonstrates the raw poetry of Biggie's rhymes. He is undoubtedly a victim of his circumstances and is drawn to street life not by his own doing but by circumstances completely out of his control – he even calls out Mayor Giuliani by name. Suicide often lingers in the back of his mind, but he unfortunately knows that the only way out is through. "That's just how the shit go in the struggle motherf*cker," he says with a shrug.

"But they don't know about the stress-filled day
Baby on the way mad bills to pay
That's why you drink Tanqueray
So you can reminisce and wish
You wasn't living so devilish, sh*t."

Ni**as Bleed

An eerie slow-burning tale of an impending drug deal, Biggie's haunting thoughts and anxieties are put on full display all the way up through the track's explosive conclusion. Biggie's eye for unsettling detail is uncanny, and the story is soaked in unrelenting tension that doesn't let up. It builds in an almost theatrical way, before exploding in the final verse with the ferocity of a Quinten Tarantino film. Through it all, Biggie remains unmoved by such grotesque violence, instead, he finds a dark humor in knowing that his enemies car just got towed for double parking. His emotional distance from violence is the track's most haunting quality.

"That's when Ron vanished, came back speaking Spanish

Lavish habits, two rings, twenty carats
Here's a criminal, n*gga made America's Most
Killed his baby mother brother, slit his throat
The n*gga got bagged with the toast
Weeded, took it to trial, beat it
Now, he feel he undefeated, he mean it
"Nothing to lose" tattooed around his gun wounds
"Everything to gain" embedded in his brain
And me? I feel the same..."

10 Crack Commandments

"10 Crack Commandments" is undeniably witty and offers the catchiest how-to guide for novice crack dealers. It has been cited as one of Biggie's greatest hits, solely because of its unique balance of cold authenticity and dark humor.

"Number 3, never trust no-bo-dy
Your moms'll set that ass up, properly gassed up
Hoodied and masked up, shit, for that fast buck
She be laying in the bushes to light that ass up"

You're Nobody 'Till Somebody Kills You

The final song off of Biggie's final album is one of the rapper's most haunting tracks, to say the least. Released after his death, the song is drenched in fear, self-doubt, and betrayal, with the seemingly unshakable B.I.G. mumbling in defeat, pleading, "I don't wanna die, God tell me why." It was as if he knew that people were coming for him, the song his attempt at salvation and coming to terms with what he thought was imminent. It all makes his death even more devastating.

"As I leave my competition, respirator style
Climb the ladder to success escalator style
Hold y'all breath, I told y'all, death
Controls y'all, Big don't fold y'all, uhh
I spit phrases that'll thrill you
You're nobody til somebody kills you"