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"Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop"

Footlights

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Arrive early for "Jails, Hospitals, and Hip-Hop" — not because Theatre Gym's seating isn't adequate, but so you won't miss the 40-minute hip-hop soundtrack that director Rick St. Peter compiled to kick off the show.

The tape starts with "The Message" by Grand Master Mellie Melle. Second is "The Show" by Dougie Fresh and the Get Fresh crew, followed by "Big Old Butt" by LL Cool J, who St. Peter calls "the godfather of hip-hop." "Gas Face" by 3rd Bass marks the advent of white hip-hop groups, while "F—k the Police" by NWA represents the West Coast influence that made hip-hop and rap more raw and started "gangsta rap." The tape pays tribute to Tupac Shakur and ends with Dr. Dre.

"You can trace a direct line from Mellie Melle to Dr. Dre, and that's what I was trying to get at," St. Peter says.

Hip-hop, he says, "is a culture of resistance, a culture of rebellion. Every time someone on Madison Avenue tries to co-opt it, it reinvents itself." He continues, "I'm hoping it's going to seep more into theater. The great thing about hip-hop, and about rapping in particular, is that it's all about the spoken word. Theater is nothing if not about the medium of language. … [In theater], we can celebrate the spoken word the way that hip-hop

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