Hip Hop has always been a platform of rebellion against the world and society and an iconic representation of Black culture and life in the urban ghetto. It’s been a way for people to voice life in a devastated community to the rest of the world. it’s been a way for the people to connect with where they come from and a window for people to delve into for those that don’t live the lifestyle.
“Gangsta” Rap a sub-genre of Hip Hop emerged with artists like Ice-T and Schoolly D who went on to inspire gangster rap groups like N.W.A (Nig*** With Attitude) and the Beastie Boys. Gangster Rap was a new sound, something exciting, daring and rebellious and a testament to the lives that many people in urban slums live. Years later and hundreds of artists later the genre has seen much change and development to mirror the part of society that listens to the genre. Compared to the newness and originality of the early gangster rap genre, in 2015 the rate of growth in the diversity and sound of gangster rap has begun to merge together to sound incredibly similar.
Times are changing and more and more people are going to college instead of jail and moving out of the ghetto once they reach a plateau of success. This is simply because people are becoming more and more educated and the ignorance that’s hung deep in the ghetto like a mist is starting to be lifted. Hip Hop has always gone hand in hand with gangster rap because of the hardcore aspect of hip hop but as it’s becoming okay for artists to be themselves and not have to fit a “gangster” image, alternative rap only gains popularity.
Especially as non-black rappers who are not from ghetto areas like Macklemore and Iggy Azalea are emerging and excelling in terms of sales and popularity, the gangster rap genre is growing stale. You can only tell the story of the ghetto and point out it’s violence and impoverishment in so many ways. If people took the time to research many of the rappers they’d find that many gangster rappers fabricate their lifestyles in order to sell records to their target audience. What record label would sign a real criminal who sold drugs and was involved in gang violence? As Tupac shakur hailed as one of the greatest rappers stated: “Let me say for the record, I am not a gangster rapper and I never have been.”
Even though Tupac made music like a gangster rapper, he recognized that he was playing a role and at the end of the day he had a job as an entertainer. More and more rap artists are making positive music and debasing gangster rap like J Cole, Childish Gambino, and even Kendrick Lamar with his Hiiipower movement that encourages knowledge over the violence of the streets. With the death of gangster rap the ghetto can only begin to progress as they are influenced by positive rap artists.
By Levell Zarate