For most of my youth, I lived in a complex called Ridgecrest Apartments in San Antonio. Ridgecrest was full of lower to middle income working class families. Many of them were Hispanic and like my family, all they wanted was a place to live with access to decent schools for their kids, go to and from work, and spend time with their families when possible. With that said, a lot of parents could not watch over their kids full time, thus, the kids would get into things that probably weren't good for them to be getting into.
I remember one day as a kid (probably 12 years old) I went outside to see who was hanging out. I walked around the different parts of the complex and came across a group of bad kids that my mom would warn me to stay away from. These kids lived in the complex area across the street from me. These kids were constantly getting in trouble at school or at home, and spent most of the day and night on the steet making noise or getting into something. This one particular day they ere all huddle around this one kid's boombox. They were listening to some song over and over again, bobbing their heads up and down to the beat with the hardest looks they could muster . The only thing I could hear was "Colors...cuh cuh cuh colors...colors...cuh cuh cuh colors..." They all were sporting blue bandannas and acting hard. Since I wasn't into being hardcore, I just walked by and kept moving. I just thought of just how ridiculous they all looked.
Little did I know what the future held for most of them. Each of those kids got girls pregnant as teens, got into drugs, crime, and jail time . I always wonder if songs like "Colors" helped glorify street life enough for these kids to try the stuff they talked about or if the music they were into was actually a symptom of a lifestyle they were getting into already due to other circumstances.
I was bumpin' the song today in my car and remembered this little anecdote. As an adult, when I hear this song, I understand much better what Ice-T was trying to convey (at least to me) about the mentality of gang life. Then I thought about how gang life destroyed many lives at that complex. Kinda sad to know that these kids could've been so much more.
For your viewing pleasure, I provided the video for the song. I'd like to point out that the commentary between verses in the video are not on the original song. I wonder if Ice was asked to add it by MTV for airtime to definitively convey the message that he wasn't glorifying gang life. I just think the deepness of the song is now compromised with all the social commentary in it and turns it into a confused public service announcement.
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Release date: 1990-11-21
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