Gangsta rap was originally a West Coast phenomenon, and first
went mainstream in the 80's with the group N.W.A. (Niggaz With
Attitude) from Southern California. Since then, members Eazy-E,
Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, and M.C. Ren have broken apart and released
their own music individually. Gangsta rap has rapidly spread across
the country and probably around the world. Gangsta Rap has affected
no generation more directly than mine, as we have come of age
during the height of its popularity.
Many people have expressed concern over Gangsta rap's presumed
effect on youth. Gangsta rap has been shocking from its inception,
with more cuss words per sentence than a South Park episode and
the constant bragging about the ruthless murders a rapper commits
in his or her metaphorical rap world. There are "parental advisory;
explicit lyrics" labels, which have graced most "hardcore" Gangsta
rap songs, but many parents and educators would like more at their
disposal to battle what they see as Gangsta rap's harmful effects.
In African American ghettos there is fear that Gangsta rap is
just one more thing putting young black men in jail or in the
The usual defense rappers and rap fans have made against accusations
of immorality has been that rappers are just expressing themselves,
and that Gangsta rap gives young black men a chance to make money
and avoid the street life, and that rappers are helping ease crime
by telling the world the horrors of life in the ghetto. Of course
there's the blanket defense for all arts under fire that censorship
is wrong. I am also sure there are those who would defend Gangsta
rap by defending the Gangsta lifestyle, saying it is a way of
life that is hated mostly because it is misunderstood. Rappers
say that it is just a reflection of real life.
I myself have listened to far more than my share of Gangsta rap.
It's hard to say how it's affected my generation. It definitely
seems to have affected our dress code. As far as crime goes, most
statistics show crime decreasing steadily since the late 80's,
which could seem to support the idea that Gangsta rap has actually
helped by spreading an awareness of life in the streets. Even
for some of us who have listened to and liked Gangsta rap, it
has gotten more repetitive and shallow, where once it was new
and powerful. It is always a curiosity for me, as I watch it change
and grow and affect the world around me.