Dancehall Pastiche and the Piecing Together of the Coming of Crack Narrative

This is the music video for Shinehead’s “Gimme No Crack,” from his 1988 breakout reggae-rap fusion album Unity, as ripped from a VHS tape of an episode of Yo! MTV Raps.

Over the years I’ve sometimes found myself humming this song when I’m thinking or reading about rock cocaine. The tune was embedded in my memory as an incredibly catchy marker of the arrival of rap and its urban visual landscapes to my suburban adolescence. I hadn’t thought of “Gimme No Crack” as a serious item among late-twentieth-century cultural responses to cocaine, but rather as a corny pop PSA from what I have the great fortune of remembering as a more innocent time. Now that Youtube has brought this video back to me in all its vivid details, I’m not sure it doesn’t have something to tell us about the cultural construction of the crack story.

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