“Things Just Ain’t the Same”: Hip-Hop’s Reconstruction of the Gangster Rap Identity

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Gangster rap, or hardcore rap, is typically considered a sub genre of the larger category of rap track, which itself is a subcategory of hip-hop. Gangster rap is differentiable from other rap music in that it makes use of pix of city life associated with crime (Haugen, 2). According to the Encyclopedia Britannica definition of gangster rap, the top 4 pix associated with the genre are violence, tablets, materialism and sexual promiscuity.

Gangster Rappers as Defining the Hip-Hop Social Group

As the hip-hop motion has received popularity all through the United States, it has hooked up itself as one of the quickest developing social groups everywhere. In the late buy music downloads Nineteen Nineties straight away following the murders of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, two nationally recognised gangster rappers, a propaganda marketing campaign escalated in opposition to rap music and the hip-hop subculture (Slaughter). Although gangster rap best represented a small percentage of the hip-hop culture on the time, all hip-hop and rap tune became right away stereotyped negatively as being “gangter-like”. Why? Well, this gangster version of hip-hop changed into the very best promoting and most diagnosed shape of hip-hop tune amongst the majority class. And many critics have decided that that is due to the fact America is in love with intercourse, capsules and violence (Whaley).

Hip-Hop’s Rejection of Inferior Social Group Status

Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist who advanced a idea of inter-group family members and social alternate, argues that contributors of a social group deemed inferior by means of a majority class can both receive or reject their inferior role in society. If a collection refuses to simply accept its inferior role in society as just, it’s going to attempt as a group to change matters (Coates, eight-nine). A huge number of hip-hop artists have used their musical lyrics to reject the inferior social status located upon them through the majority elegance.

The Reconstruction of the Gangster Identity

I have observed that hip-hop artists use lyrics, both musical and poetic, to redefine the negatives characteristics given to their tradition by means of the majority class, and inside the procedure, reconstruct the gangster identity. By examining these hip-hop and gangster rap lyrics as text, I will show methods wherein the lyrics try and reconstruct the stereotyped gangster rap identification via examining unique perspectives of violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity. In the end, one tends to marvel: Who precisely are the real gangsters?


That the hip-hop subculture represents gangster-like violence is possibly the largest disputed declare among hip-hop artists. In order to disprove this claim, many hip-hop artists have pointed to the violence that exists inside most of the people social organization, and the way it results in violence all over the world.
In “Violence”, 2 Pac demonstrates his notion that violence was customary lengthy before gangster rap existed:

I told em combat lower back, attack on society

If that is violence, then violent’s what I gotta be

If you inspect you will discover in which it’s comin’ from

Look via our records, America’s the violent one

Here, the poet factors to American society as “the violent one” and that he must be violent so as to “fight lower back.”

In “Who Knew”, Eminem showed a comparable viewpoint by using expressing his notion that violence is a commonplace incidence in American society, but no longer challenged in genres outside of the city surroundings:

So who’s bringin’ the weapons in this u . S . A .?

I couldn’t sneak a plastic pellet gun through customs over in London

And ultimate week, I visible a Schwarzaneggar movie

Where he is shootin’ all styles of these horrific men with an Uzi

Here, the poet questions the lifestyles of violence in a country that permits firearms and violent films.

In “Casualties of War”, Rakim blames the USA authorities, mainly its Head of State, as the organization causing the violence in society with their war-like methods:

I’ma get again to New York in one piece

But I’m bent within the sand this is hot because the town streets

Sky lighting up like fireworks blind me

Bullets, whistlin’ over my head job my memory…

President Bush said attack

Flashback to Nam, I might not make it returned

In this text, the poet refers to our u . S . A .’s choice to go to struggle as an example of the violence that exists among most of the people social class.

In “The Watcher”, Dr. Dre redefines the terrible feature of violence by means of pointing to the police pressure as the supply of violence, and consequently, referring to them as “gangster-like”:

Things just ain’t the equal for gangstas

Cops is traumatic to put human beings in handcuffs

They need to dangle us, see us lifeless or enslave us

Keep us trapped inside the equal place we raised in

Then they marvel why we act so outrageous

Run round burdened out and pull out gauges

Cause every time you allow the animal out cages

It’s risky, to those who appear like strangers

Here, the poet accuses the general public magnificence of maintaining them “trapped in the same location we raised in” and that the perceived violence is simplest because of the creation of “those who appear to be strangers.”

These are examples of the way hip-hop artists redefine the picture of violence by displaying the way it exists or changed into created within the majority social organization.


Another commonplace disputed stereotype of hip-hop artists is their use and distribution of illegal pills. In attempts to redefine this negative function, many hip-hop artists have pointed at the general public social organization as the facilitator of drug abuse.

In “Justify My Thug”, Jay-Z speaks immediately to members of presidency, elevating questions about who has made the availability and use of these drugs feasible:

Mr. President, there’s capsules in our house

Tell me what you need me to do, come break bread with us

Mr. Governor, I swear there may be a cowl up

Every other corner there is a liquor keep – what is up?

In this case, the poet inquires as to why there may be a liquor keep in “each different nook” of his community.

In “I Want to Talk to You”, Nas uses the equal technique to project the belief of drug distribution by asking his representatives what they could do in his state of affairs:

Why y’all made it so difficult, damn

People gotta pass create their own task

Mr. Mayo,r believe if this changed into your outdoor

Mr. Governo,r consider if it became your youngsters that starved

Imagine your youngsters gotta sling crack to live to tell the tale

Here, the poet claims that the distribution of drugs is not best an effect of the poverty that exists in his surroundings, but additionally a way of survival.

In “Manifesto”, Talib Kweli truly accuses the government of being the frame which permits tablets into the us of a:

Like the C.I.A. Be bringin’ in crack cocaine bailin’ out of planes

With the George Bush connections, I push Reflection

Like I’m sellin’ izm, like a dealer buildin’ the system

Supply and the demand it’s all capitalism

People do not promote crack reason they like to look blacks smoke

People promote crack reason they broke

In this situation, the poet accuses the C.I.A. Of flying tablets into the u . S ., and again reiterates the factor that it’s miles a means of survival due to the “supply and call for” of a capitalist society.

In “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster”, the Geto Boys absolutely redefine the poor function of drug distribution through accusing the President of being a drug supplier, and therefore, a gangster:

And now, a word from the President!

Damn it feels top to be a gangsta

Getting’ voted into the White House

Everything lookin’ properly to the people of the sector

But the Mafia family is my boss

So every so often I owe a want gettin’ down

Like lettin’ a huge drug shipment thru

And ship ’em to the poor network

So we are able to bust you already know who

These examples display how hip-hop artists redefine the image of being drug dealers and customers by way of once more pointing to most people class as the creator of the drug hassle in this us of a.


Hip-hop tune is likewise visible via most of the people class as a style ruled by using materialism. Again, artists point again to the majority elegance in an attempt to redefine this negative feature.