Gangsta Rap is a genre of hip-hop that came around in the 1980’s. In these songs rappers express the hardships and times they have been through. It is used to describe harsh realities of life for a modern black male living in poor areas. A gangsta is defined as “a member of an urban street gang.” (Merriam-Webster) The definition of gangsta rap is, “a type of rap music with lyrics about the violence and drug use of street gang” (Merriam-Webster). “The romanticization of the outlaw at the centre of much of gangsta rap appealed to rebellious suburbanites as well as to those who had firsthand experience of the the harsh realities of the ghetto” (Britannica). This style of music usually upbeat with a lot of energy and relatively has a very catch chorus that is repeated throughout the whole song. This genre became roundly populated by music artist such as N.W.A, Ice-T, and 2-Pac.
Gangsta rap is based off of real life situations that these artists have been through. Music is supposed to be a form of self-expression and that is all these artists are doing. Although these songs can sometimes be bad or inappropriate, they can be used in a positive manner, such as talking points as to encourage their children to make positive life choices. I understand that art is often misunderstood, and that is no means fir it to be censored. Because these rappers are talking about real life situations, many are quick to judge and say that they are being a bad influence. When in reality they are just speaking the truth. Most lyrics of a gansta rap song is about the struggle they went through and how they made it out. The verse of Young Scooter’s song ‘Made it Through the Struggle’, goes as such: “I made it through that struggle, struggle. I grinded out that gutter, gutter. This a letter to my momma. I never had a fuckin' father. Ain't no mo going broke, ain't no mo' going broke” (Rap Genius). Here is talking about how he was going through a rough childhood and only his mother was there to support him, his father was nowhere to be seen. Although these lyrics have harsh words they can sometimes have a much deeper meaning then it appears.
Even with the harsh lyrics, they could be used as a learning tool. Parent’s can encourage their children to not live the young life that these rappers did. These artists go into detail about what they’ve been through, how they got there, and what they did while in that situation. These can all be helping stones for children and young adults in the steps in which not to take. These songs are also eye openers to society. Showing everyone what the “streets” are really like.
Gangsta rap helps with physical activity. Dancing and music go hand and hand. Gangsta rap is a high-energy upbeat style of music, so the dancing that goes a long with this is also. Physical activity is healthy and highly encouraged. One does not even have to listen to the words of these songs to enjoy the rhythm and beat of them. “Dancing to rap music is a high-energy way for teenagers to blow off steam and get cardiovascular exercise.” (eHow)
Although all the previous statements are good points, I feel as though gangsta rap is a bad influence. It degrades women, promotes violence, and is a bad influence on young males. Although this music is degrading to women as a whole it is mainly directed to black females. Music videos are included in this as well. Dr Johnetta Betsch Cole asks the question, “What value can there be in descriptions of Black girls and women as ‘bitches,’ ‘ho’s,’ ‘skeezers,’ ‘freaks,’ ‘gold diggers,’ ‘chickenheads’ and ‘pigeons’? (Ebony 94) Young black women are never showed to be a successful woman or mother in these videos. The have on almost no clothes and are gyrating as if they are strtippers and nothing more. These rappers use women to make their videos more appealing or to have a catchy rap lingo. “The presentation of baby mamma drama and single mothers as “golddiggers” is a misogynistic devaluation of black women, and obscures the actual challenges single mothers face in US society.” (Journal of Popular Culture 122) Many of these rappers degrade “baby mama’s”, but half the time the father is nowhere in the picture. These women are breaking their backs to take care of their children but they are being bashed for having a baby with the wrong man. These women are out here trying to make sure their kids have a great and successful life, but all these rappers are doing is bashing them. Not only do these songs degrade women but they also promote violence.
Gangsta rap promotes violence in its lyrics. The lyrics idealize a dangerous lifestyle. The beginning lyrics of the Boosie song ‘Set It Off’ goes: “You wanna talk shit? You wanna run your mouth? You want some gangsters front your motherfucking house? We'll set this bitch off, yeah set this bitch off” (A-Z Lyrics). This is the intro to the song and already we receive a hostile tone. Just imagine how the escalades as it progresses. Many gangsta rappers rap about wanting to fight people who look at them funny. This gives people the idea that anytime time some one looks at them the wrong way they have the right to fight them. Also, many of these rappers rap about their aggression towards law officials. The rappers curse the police and disobey laws. These artists are mad because they break the law and expect no punishment because of who they are. A lot of gangsta rappers have been arrested due to drugs or having weapons. Is this really the kind of music we want our children listening to? These songs have such a strong influence on young males.
Gangsta rap is corrupting to young males. The main audience of gangsta rap is young males, more accurately, young black males. Gangsta rap has a strong influence to make males feel as though they should partake in the actions that are recited in their lyrics. “Every generation has to deal with the influences in its social environment. The youth is looking for role models, trying to discover by themselves their future in society. Parents educate and create good citizens, good civilians that can be the best asset for society. But, violence is a new symptom among our teenagers. Frequently we hear in the news, the high rate of crimes committed by teenagers. All this new culture has been influenced by music, because the music industry has been recording some gangsta rap, music that sends messages of urban violence, drugs, sex and profanity.” (Free Republic) It’s not always the parent’s fault for why their children resort to violence, or drugs, or anything else. The strong influence can be coming from the music they “vibe” to while sitting in their room. The influence is more so on males although sources may say youth. Although it does have an influence on females it is not the same as the one on males. Females feel as if they are lower than males, while males feel as though they are rulers and what they say goes. This music also affects white males different than black, because African American males record majority of gangsta rap. These young black males look up to these grown men as role models, especially those who come from the same upbringing. White males may feel as though every black man who crosses his path has a strong hatred towards him because of the color of his skin.
Plato says, “Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue” (Brainy Quote). I feel as though gangsta rap is not fully bad, but it is not all good. I feel as of banning is not completely right to the reaction of this genre. A great compromise would be to not use as many curse words into the lyrics. I understand that these song are about the artists personal lives but foul language is not necessary. Also, the degrading of women should be taken out completely. This is just unacceptable. In music videos women should also have on more clothes than just a bra and underwear. I understand that the artist are trying to make their videos have sex appeal. But, if a young girl is watching these music videos and sees a grown “beautiful”, “sexy”, gyrating and seeing how much she is being glorified by these men she may decide that she too wants that same reaction from males. So she would go out her way to look and act just like these women. I feel as though gangsta rappers need to take into thought about the audience they are reaching out to. I understand freedom of speech and I fully believe that these are should exercise that, but there is a respectable way to do it.
In conclusion, gangsta rap has benefits and it also has factors that aren’t so good. It is a great music to listen to if you need something up beat, but it is not appropriate for all age groups. The common ground for this problem is to just tone down the lyrics and not come off too aggressive or angered. And if the artist is trying to come across as angry there is a way to do it without lashing out. Gangsta rap should be toned down to meet all audiences. All of the problems with gangsta rap are under the idea of it coming off so harsh and mean. So if it were to be toned down the music will much more appropriate and family friendly!
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