This morning on the way to work I heard an NPR story about the death of Rodney King. It was unexpectedly sweet, and moving. A few details stuck with me: He still had headaches as a result of the beating he received from the LAPD and a surgery he had afterwards in which the doctors pulled his eye out of its socket and put in a metal plate. He received over $3 million from the civil trial stemming from his beating, enough to buy himself and his mother nice houses. Even though he recognized that his plea "Can we all get along?" became something of a a joke or cliche, and some criticized him for saying it, he maintained his belief in the sentiment.
Rodney King was 47. (He was a month shy of his 26th birthday when he received his infamous beating.) A man who loved water—swimming and fishing were among his favorite activities—he was found dead by his fiancee in his swimming pool.
Poking around on Wikipedia later today, I noticed that Dr. Dre is also 47. Dre's track "The Day the Niggaz Took Over," from his 1992 album The Chronic (considered a masterpiece by some), is about as far from "Can we get along?" as one can imagine. The song is a celebration of violent rebellion and looting, interspersed with narration of the LA riots that erupted in response to the acquittals in the criminal trial of the officers charged in King's beating. Dre has gone on to a storied and highly lucrative career in the music business.
Realizing that Rodney King and Dr. Dre were virtually the same age, I found myself wondering if they ever met or talked. What did Dre think of King's "get along" comment? What did King think of "The Day the Niggaz Took Over"? Does Dre feel any differently about that track in 2012 than he did in 1992? King seems like he was a gentle, thoughtful person. I wonder if Dre would seem similar in an NPR interview at the age of 47.
Quarterly Conversation Issue 50
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