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Meaning of the song ‘9mm Goes Bang’ by ‘Boogie Down Productions’

Released: 1987

“9mm Goes Bang” by Boogie Down Productions, spearheaded by influential emcee KRS-One, is a gripping narrative about the realities of street violence and the drug trade. Tinged with rawness and a no-holds-barred approach, it underscores the sheer power of hip-hop as a storytelling medium.

The opening lines take us straight into the action with a standoff between KRS-One and a deceitful crack dealer named Peter. In a confrontation laced with bravado, KRS-One is forced to defend himself and his honor. Here, the “9 millimeter” is a symbol of self-preservation in an environment marred by treachery and danger. “Wa da da dang, wa da da da dang, ay/Listen to my 9 millimeter go bang” operates as more than just a hook, it signifies a tool of survival and the unfortunate reality of street life.

As the plot unfolds, we find KRS-One in his ‘herb gate,’ a local slang for weed spot or place where weed is sold, when the repercussions of the earlier standoff catch up to him. The knocking on the door isn’t a friendly one; it’s echoes of the street trading codes of honor for vengeance. In a gut-wrenching scene, KRS-One finds himself in the thick of gunfire, drawing on instinct and courage to survive. His narrative here is an indictment of the drug trade and its violent undercurrents— painting an image that’s as chilling as it is thought-provoking.

The theme of survival continues as KRS-One manages to dispense of his foes, reiterating his lyric, “Wa da da dang, wa da da da dang, ay/Listen to my 9 millimeter go bang”. But the victory isn’t one of triumph – it’s one of weary resilience. What follows is a brief meeting with his DJ, Scott LaRock, cementing their bond and recounting the events. The ‘sensemi’ or sensimilla, a potent strain of cannabis, acts as a temporary balm for the trauma endured.

The closing hooks reiterate the power dynamics in play. This isn’t a celebration of violence but rather a critique of the circumstances that make “9 millimeters” necessary tools for survival. The “la la la la la” could be interpreted as a rhythmic juxtaposition to the intense narrative, echoing the eerie calm after a storm, or perhaps indicative of the sense of desensitization to violence in such dire environments.

Through “9mm Goes Bang”, Boogie Down Productions, and particularly KRS-One, engage in gritty storytelling—providing a lens into the harsh realities of survival in crime-infested neighborhoods and inviting listeners to question the larger systems that create these scenarios in the first place.

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