The niche of gangsta rap is easy to classify. Audiences had a difficult time deciphering how they should take in gangsta rap with its chaotic representation of society its brazen lyrics and its sexual connotations and blatancies, and the musical field was pressed to re-evaluate how African American music should be defined. It was with the subject matter that the gangsta rapper could best express him/herself. It is with this controversy over lyrics that gangsta rap has been hard pressed for allowance into mainstream society and as such gangsta rap has recently been converting to a more pop music feel.
Although the above statement is true for some cases in others gangsta rap is still sending shock waves into the nation with its honest portrayal of life on the streets, homelessness, prostitution, and addiction. The gangsta rap artist has not choice because the art form is dedicated to truth telling as the writer sees their own truth in a matter. The gangsta rapper is not advocating misogyny, racism or homophobia but is merely writing into their lyrics what they witness in their neighborhood and their lifestyle. Although in some cases the gangsta rapper’s lifestyle reflects wholeheartedly their songs, the message in the song isn’t really a message per se, but merely a tranche de vie. As a slice of life the gangsta rapper is given permission to record facts as well as opinions but each of these are up to the discretion of the artist, and are thereby represented how s/he wants them to be represented.
Gangsta rappers also defend their lyrics by stating that their songs and the people they play in these songs both lyrically and in videos is merely a character a persona of the gangsta rapper, and it in fact not a real life portrayal of them. In some instances, as in Spike Lee’s interpretation of gangsta rap, he states that most of the sales of gangsta rap albums are purchased by white buyers, and as such, the ‘performance’ value of the lyrics are comparable to black face or black minstrel shows where performers (both black and white) are instructed to paint themselves black to appear African American, and thus act in stereotypical fashions promoting their ill cultured knowledge of the world in order to entertain white audiences (Wikipedia).
Gangsta rap artists are not only performers but also managers in the music business and so, much of their music also has to do with cash flow and record labels and record deals. In the boom of recording history it is with gangsta rap that a major change in the wealth of the music industry is found. Gangsta rap has its roots with Hip Hop music, as well as Blues and other African American music. The distinction between Hip-Hop and Rap is very slight. Though Rap may be considered to have a more prominent hard edge such as in gangsta Rap, Hip-Hop is a more elaborated form of Rap. Hip Hop found its voice not with the melody, as most music has done, but with the rhythm.
It must be reemphasized that gangsta rap is an immersion into reality, and there is no catering to idealistic views, only the facts on file. Again, it is with the urban environment that gangsta rap laid its claim, in the dirty streets, the politics, the crimes, oppression, and small chances of hope, gangsta rap has risen in the last thirty years of the 20th century and early 21st century as an affirmation of reality.
So, in closing it is with the Blues that African American music has its roots, but it is in the urbanization of the Blues that gangsta rap has progressed, and in this progression the gangsta rap artist has found his/her niche. In the cityscape is found the necessary inspiration, and dynamic chord of truth that both musical genres base their lyrics, and their rhythm. The gangsta rap artist is not in advocacy of drugs when they rap about drugs but merely they are presenting the facts of their culture as they themselves have seen them illustrated on the streets. This is the grace of gangsta rap; the artists inclusion of self in the story allows for a greater perspective of the truth. Although the lyrics speak of violence and of drugs this is the song representing life not the rapper initiating drug use of violence against women. The songs, and the writer are presenting culture, and culture is a chaotic mess of all of the negative and positive aspects of humanity which are all included in the gangsta rappers voice.
Dean, Peter. (1998). Shades of Blue. < www.rhythmandtheblues.org.uk/pdhist.shtml>
Gospel Music Association. (2006). GMA.COM. <http://www.gospelmusic.org/gmainfo/aboutus.aspx>
Ream, Rundi. (2004). The Songwriter’s Guild of America. SGA.COM. <www.songwritersguild.com/index.html>
Regan, Bob. The Nashville Songwriters’ Association International. NSAI.COM. <www.nashvillesongwriters.com/index.ez>
Scaruffi, Piero. (2002). The History of Rock Music, 1986-1989.
Wikipedia. (2006). Gangsta Rap. (Online). Available;