Happy Birthday Dr. Gatling: An Original Gangsta's Playlist

Categories: Miles-tones

dr richard jordan gatling courtesy of wikipedia sept12.jpg
This is the face that launched a thousand rap lyrics. You are looking at Dr. Richard Jordan Gatling, a mild-mannered inventor from the mean streets of Como, N.C., who started his career by inventing a screw propeller for steamboats, not knowing that someone else had patented one shortly before he completed his.
He spent most of his life quietly, teaching or owning stores while inventing various farming machinery. At one point he gained a medical degree, presumably so he could better visualize the full impact of his next invention. (He never practiced.)
Some inventors, upon hearing that more soldiers were dying of disease than by stopping rounds, would devote their lives to a developing medical technology to save lives. Not Dr. Gatling. He thought that the cure was more freakin' bullets.  When the Civil War broke out, Dr. Gatling stroked his magnificent beard and said...

If I could invent a machine - a gun - which could by its rapidity of fire, enable one man to do as much battle duty as a hundred, that it would, to a large extent supersede the necessity of large armies, and consequently, exposure to battle and disease [would] be greatly diminished.
1876 Gatling Gun by Wojciech Swiderski sept12.jpg
Wojciech Swiderski
Portability would come later.
And with that amazing bit of completely missing the point and ignoring the law of unintended consequences, Dr. Gatling took a seed planter he'd invented, threw some bullets in where the seeds used to go, cranked up the bass, and voila, now you have a machine gun (Ho! Ho! Ho!).   During Prohibition, gangsters began referring to their Tommy guns as gats in because of the Gatling gun, and in the modern era it has come to be slang for any type of gun, whether it's a machine gun or not. Today rappers - and Linkin Park but we're not talking about them - drop gat references all over the place like spent shell casings.

So in honor of the man we have to thank for massively multi-bullet volleys and approximately 80 percent of the rap songs in the world, here's a playlist.

5. Brand Nubian, "Pass the Gat"

brand nubian in god we trust sept12.jpg

Brand Nubian really got into the teachings of Malcom X in a big way, and accusations of hate speech followed them wherever they went. There's no doubt, though, that they knew how to throw down a good track, and they made a hell of a stand with their ode to defiance until the end with "Pass the Gat" from 1992's In God We Trust.

4. Brotha Lynch Hung, "Had 2 Gat Ya"

brotha hung lynch 24 deep sept12.jpg

The baby killer and the rabies dealer himself, Brotha Lynch Hung is a widely successful independent horrorcore rapper. Underneath all the "motherfuckers" there are some pretty clever twists of phrase he can come up with on the subjects of guns and killing people in "Had 2 Gat Ya" from his debut album 24 Deep.

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