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

Gangster rap, or hardcore rap, is generally considered a sub genre of the larger category of rap music, which itself is a subcategory of hip-hop. Gangster rap is differentiable from other rap music in that it makes use of images of urban life associated with crime (Haugen, 2). The top four images associated with the genre are violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity.

Gangster Rappers as Defining the Hip-Hop Social Group
As the hip-hop movement has gained recognition throughout the United States, it has established itself as one of the fastest growing social groups anywhere. In the late 1990s immediately following the murders of both Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, two nationally known gangster rappers, a propaganda campaign escalated against rap music and the hip-hop culture (Slaughter). Although gangster rap only represented a small percentage of the hip-hop culture at the time, all hip-hop and rap music was instantly stereotyped negatively as being “gangter-like”. Why? Well, this gangster version of hip-hop was the highest selling and most recognized form of hip-hop music among the majority class. And many critics have determined that this is because America is in love with sex, drugs and violence (Whaley).

Hip-Hop’s Rejection of Inferior Social Group Status
Henri Tajfel, a social psychologist who developed a theory of inter-group relations and social change, argues that members of a social group deemed inferior by a majority class can either accept or reject their inferior position in society. If a group refuses to accept its inferior position in society as just, it will attempt as a group to change things (Coates, 8-9). A large number of hip-hop artists have used their musical lyrics to reject the inferior social status placed upon them by the majority class.

The Reconstruction of the Gangster Identity
I have found that hip-hop artists use lyrics, both musical and poetic, to redefine the negatives characteristics given to their culture by the majority class, and in the process, reconstruct the gangster identity. By examining these hip-hop and gangster rap lyrics as text, I will show ways in which the lyrics attempt to reconstruct the stereotyped gangster rap identity by examining different views of violence, drugs, materialism and sexual promiscuity. In the end, one tends to wonder: Who exactly are the real gangsters?

Violence
That the hip-hop culture represents gangster-like violence is perhaps the biggest disputed claim amongst hip-hop artists. In order to disprove this claim, many hip-hop artists have pointed to the violence that exists within the majority social group, and how it leads to violence all over the world.
In “Violence”, 2 Pac demonstrates his belief that violence was prevalent long before gangster rap existed:

I told em fight back, attack on society
If this is violence, then violent’s what I gotta be
If you investigate you’ll find out where it’s comin’ from
Look through our history, America’s the violent one

Here, the poet points to American society as “the violent one” and that he has to be violent in order to “fight back.”

In “Who Knew”, Eminem showed a similar viewpoint by expressing his belief that violence is a common occurrence in American society, yet not challenged in genres outside of the urban environment:

So who’s bringin’ the guns in this country? 
I couldn’t sneak a plastic pellet gun through customs over in London
And last week, I seen a Schwarzaneggar movie
Where he’s shootin’ all sorts of these bad guys with an Uzi

Here, the poet questions the existence of violence in a country that allows firearms and violent movies.

In “Casualties of War”, Rakim blames the United States government, specifically its Head of State, as the group causing the violence in society with their war-like ways:

I’ma get back to New York in one piece
But I’m bent in the sand that is hot as the city streets
Sky lights up like fireworks blind me
Bullets, whistlin’ over my head remind me…
President Bush said attack
Flashback to Nam, I might not make it back

In this text, the poet refers to our country’s decision to go to war as an example of the violence that exists amongst the majority social class.

In “The Watcher”, Dr. Dre redefines the negative characteristic of violence by pointing to the police force as the source of violence, and therefore, referring to them as “gangster-like”:

Things just ain’t the same for gangstas
Cops is anxious to put people in handcuffs
They wanna hang us, see us dead or enslave us
Keep us trapped in the same place we raised in
Then they wonder why we act so outrageous
Run around stressed out and pull out gauges
Cause everytime you let the animal out cages
It’s dangerous, to people who look like strangers

Here, the poet accuses the majority class of keeping them “trapped in the same place we raised in” and that the perceived violence is only due to the introduction of “people who look like strangers.”
 
These are examples of how hip-hop artists redefine the image of violence by showing how it exists or was created within the majority social group.

Drugs
Another common disputed stereotype of hip-hop artists is their use and distribution of illegal drugs. In attempts to redefine this negative characteristic, many hip-hop artists have pointed at the majority social group as the facilitator of drug abuse.

In “Justify My Thug”, Jay-Z speaks directly to members of government, raising questions about who has made the availability and use of these drugs possible:

Mr. President, there’s drugs in our residence
Tell me what you want me to do, come break bread with us
Mr. Governor, I swear there’s a cover up
Every other corner there’s a liquor store – what is up?

In this example, the poet inquires as to why there is a liquor store in “every other corner” of his community.

In “I Want to Talk to You”, Nas uses the same approach to challenge the notion of drug distribution by asking his representatives what they would do in his situation:

Why y’all made it so hard, damn
People gotta go create their own job
Mr. Mayo,r imagine if this was your backyard
Mr. Governo,r imagine if it was your kids that starved
Imagine your kids gotta sling crack to survive

Here, the poet claims that the distribution of drugs is not only an effect of the poverty that exists in his environment, but also a means of survival.

In “Manifesto”, Talib Kweli actually accuses the government of being the body which allows drugs into the country:

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 don’t sell crack cause they like to see blacks smoke
People sell crack cause they broke

In this example, the poet accuses the C.I.A. of flying drugs into the country, and again reiterates the point that it is a means of survival due to the “supply and demand” of a capitalist society.

In “Damn It Feels Good to be a Gangster”, the Geto Boys fully redefine the negative characteristic of drug distribution by accusing the President of being a drug dealer, and therefore, a gangster:

And now, a word from the President!
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta
Getting’ voted into the White House
Everything lookin’ good to the people of the world
But the Mafia family is my boss
So every now and then I owe a favor gettin’ down
Like lettin’ a big drug shipment through
And send ‘em to the poor community
So we can bust you know who

These examples show how hip-hop artists redefine the image of being drug dealers and users by again pointing to the majority class as the creator of the drug problem in this country. 

Materialism
Hip-hop music is also seen by the majority class as a genre dominated by materialism. Again, artists point back to the majority class in an attempt to redefine this negative characteristic.

In “Respiration”, Black Star points to all the wealth surrounding urban areas, and how it absorbs the lower class in materialism, making them want parts of that wealth:

Where mercenaries is paid to trade hot stock tips
For profits, thirsty criminals take pockets
Hard knuckles on the second hands of workin’ class watches
Skyscrapers is colossus, the cost of living
Is preposterous, stay alive, you play or die, no options

Here, the poet talks about various materialistic aspects of the majority class, and how the lower class must “play or die” to “stay alive.”

In “All Falls Down”, Kanye West actually blames this materialism on American society:

It seems we living the American dream
But the people highest up got the lowest self esteem
The prettiest people do the ugliest things
For the road to riches and diamond rings

In this example, the poet blames the “American dream” for materialism, saying it causes people to “do the ugliest things” for “riches and diamond rings.”

In “Los Angeles Times”, Xzibit also blames this materialism on the majority class, claiming that is what the youth are taught coming up in urban environments:

Welcome to L.A.
Where you can see the whole city burning
Cause the cops got Uzis and the dealers keep serving
And your kids ain’t learning it, except this
Sex power and wealth, forget everything else

Here, the poet expresses his belief that certain aspects of materialism, including “power and wealth” are taught to children through occurrences in society.

These are examples how hip-hop artists redefine the negative characteristic of being materialistic by showing examples of how this materialism is prevalent in the majority class, and often created within that class.

Sex
And the final debated stereotype of the hip-hop social class is that they are sexually promiscuous, often leading to disrespectful treatment towards women. The poets also attempt to redefine this stereotype by blaming the core of the problem on society.

In “Pussy Galore”, the Roots claim that the country’s obsession with sex is pushed by sexually-driven marketing campaigns:

Lookin’ out the limo window up at the billboards
200 miles, she was the only thing I saw
Promotin’ everything, from the liquor to the nicotine
Cell phones, anti-histamines, chicken wings
You gotta show a little skin to get them listening
For real yo, the world is a sex machine

In this example, the poet retells a personal experience in which he saw sex advertisements as “promotin’ everything.” And in order to “get them listening”, he claims, “you gotta show a little skin.”

In “Get By”, Talib Kweli blames this sexual obsession on what we view on television:

The TV got us reachin’ for stars
Not the ones between Venus and Mars,
The ones that be readin’ for parts
Some people get breast enhancements and penis enlargers

Here, the poet expresses his belief that television creates a misconception of what people should be sexually, and that contributes to the promiscuity that is being blamed on the hip-hop movement.

Hip-hop artists have used their lyrics and poetry to influence the rejection and reconstruction of the gangster identity that plagues their social class. This is accomplished through the redefining of negative characteristics assigned by the majority class. In most cases, these redefinitions include pointing to the majority class as the real holders of these negative characteristics. The redefining of these “gangster-like” images through hip-hop lyrics helps to reconstruct the gangster identity by questioning “gangster-like” behaviors and which social class actually has these behaviors. So the question presented is: Who exactly are the gangsters?

Works Cited / Discography
2 Pac. 2Pacalypse Now. Jive Records, 1991.
Black Star. Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star. Rawkus Records, 1998.
Coates, Jennifer. Women, Men and Language. Longman Publishing, New York: 1993.
Dr. Dre. The Chronic 2001. Interscope Records, 1999.
Eminem. The Marshall Mathers LP. Interscope Records, 2000.
Geto Boys. Uncut Dope LP. Interscope Records, 1999.
Haugen, Jason. “‘Unladylike Divas’: Language, Gender and Female Gangster Rappers.” Popular Music and Society: December, 2003.
Jay Z. The Black Album. Def Jam, 2003.
Kanye West. College Dropout. Roc-A-Fella Records, 2004.
Nas. I Am. Sony Records, 1999.
Rakim. Don’t Sweat the Technique. MCA Records, 1992.
Rawkus Records. Lyricist Lounge Volume 1. Priority Records, 1999.
Slaughter, Peter. “Attack on Rap Music.” Barutiwa Weekly News. June 14, 1997.
Talib Kweli & DJ Hi-Tek. Train of Thought. Rawkus Records, 2000.
Talib Kweli. Quality. Rawkus Records, 2003.
The Roots. Phrenology. MCA Records, 2002.
Whaley, Angela. “Hip Hop is Not for Sale.” Colorado State University’s Talking Back: Volume 3, Issue 1.
Xzibit. 40 Days and 40 Nights. Loud Records, 1998.

Article Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-articles/things-just-aint-the-same-hiphops-reconstruction-of-the-gangster-rap-identity-4040.html

Author: Nathaniel Long
Source: http://www.articlesbase.com/music-articles/things-just-aint-the-same-hiphops-reconstruction-of-the-gangster-rap-identity-4040.html

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • del.icio.us
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
  • Blogplay

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 20th, 2011 at 8:35 pm and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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

  1. Sarah Says:

    I just wanted to comment and say that I really enjoyed reading your blog post here. It was very informative and I also digg the way you write! Keep it up and I’ll be back to read more in the future

  2. Moira Says:

    Mancini covet ibrahimovic already for a long time, but a high salary hinder
    nike vapor 9
    Manchester city’s coaching staff have become accustomed to mancini in front of them sing and praise the Swede, roberto mancini often says he is a “perfect striker”.
    Zlatan ibrahimovic has and his salary phase matching personality. His autobiography is considered to be “individualism peak”. Reason is obvious, autobiography name is called “me, zlatan”.
    In the Paris saint germain, it is said that Qatar boss for ibrahimovic open the salary as high as 11.5 million pounds. Ibrahimovic salary after eto ‘o – he is not bad money and large money AnZhi team took annual salary of $16 million. But ibrahimovic salary has enough to become the main impediment to pursue his roberto mancini the. Such salary, plus about the 拢 50 million, spent on a 30 players, even have the uae consortium support Manchester city, but also it is difficult to bear.
    Thing is the most desired striker roberto mancini. But the problem is, 31 Swedish star salary high, even the Manchester city are can’t afford to.
    Nike Tiempo Legend
    Nike T90

    ljpojvgf1wnrg

  3. dfhnzsu Says:

    Crystal palace approach to Blackpool manager HuoLuoWei

    49 HuoLuoWei once in Bristol city, queens park rangers, Plymouth and leicester city manager, in 2009 he may take over Blackpool, in his first full charge of the season, he led the team in the league has 6 grades, and in the play-offs beat Cardiff city to the premiership. And the crystal palace since the 2004-05 season, can have the opportunity in the top league appearance. 3 this season after losing streak, they last seven games to six wins, has come, the fourth place Nike Mercurial Vapor VIII AG in the table. The former charlton athletic coach Lawrence – column, the way to the reebok stadium before to friedman, once to agency boss mercurial 2012 identity led his team hurricane.
    Crystal palace approach to Blackpool manager HuoLuoWei
    Since the dodgers – Milton friedman October to left bolton, crystal palace still have not found a new manager. Crystal palace chairman Steve Parrish told the BBC sports department said: “we have a letter to Blackpool, the hope can approach the team coach, but now all distance eventually reach an agreement still have a long way.”
    Since the dodgers – Milton friedman October to left nike mercurial 2012 new bolton, crystal palace still have not found a new manager. Crystal palace chairman Steve Parrish told the BBC sports department said: “we have a letter to Blackpool, the hope can approach the team coach, but now all distance eventually reach an agreement still have a long way.”
    49 HuoLuoWei once in Bristol city, queens park rangers, Plymouth and leicester city manager, in 2009 he may take over Blackpool, in his first full charge of the season, he led the team in the league has 6 grades, and in the play-offs beat Cardiff city to the premiership. And the crystal palace since the 2004-05 season, can have the opportunity in the top league appearance. 3 this season after losing streak, they last seven games to six wins, has come, the fourth place in the table. The former charlton athletic coach Lawrence – column, the way to the reebok stadium before to friedman, once to agency boss identity led his team hurricane.

    erhdfvd2wfwwr

  4. Gednekjkdee Says:

    Louis Vuitton Malletier, S.A. (鈥淟ouis Vuitton鈥? part of LVMH, the world鈥檚 leading luxury group, announced that it has won the lawsuit it filed in 2007 against the California based Internet hosting business of Akanoc Solutions, Inc., Managed Solutions Group, Inc., and Steven Chen (the 鈥淎kanoc Defendants鈥? in the United States District Court, Northern District of California (San Jose). On August 28th, the jury found the Akanoc Defendants liable for contributory trademark and copyright infringement, and awarded statutory damages in the amount of $32,400,000.00. The court is expected shortly to issue a permanent injunction banning the Akanoc Defendants from hosting websites that sell counterfeit or infringing Louis Vuitton goods. Nathalie Moull茅-Berteaux, Intellectual Property Director of Louis Vuitton, said, 鈥淲e are very pleased that the jury recognized the Akanoc Defendants鈥?contributory liability. This decision is another important step towards reducing the illegal activity of websites selling counterfeit merchandise and enforcing the rule of law on the Internet. The Akanoc Defendants鈥?specific business model of providing unmanaged server capacity to web hosting resellers does not exempt them from taking active steps to effectively prevent infringing activity upon notification from an intellectual property rights owner. This case is a particularly important one in that it involves the successful application on the Internet of the theory of contributory liability鈥攖hose who know or should have known that the business operations, for which they provide venues are conducting illegal activities, have an obligation to ensure those business operations are legal. 鈥淭he size of this award should make it clear to Louis Vuitton Belts all Monogram Macassar Canvas Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that they cannot act, or fail to act, with impunity when a trademark owner provides notice that websites hosted by the ISP are selling counterfeit goods. We believe the size of the damages awarded should serve as a deterrent to other ISPs who may consider ignoring counterfeit trade on the websites they host. Louis Vuitton will continue its fight throughout the world鈥攃oncrete and virtual鈥?to protect its brand and customers against counterfeiting.鈥?Andy Coombs, Louis Vuitton Factory Louis Vuitton鈥檚 counsel, said, 鈥淭his verdict clearly establishes a standard for infringement complaints on the Internet based on trademark. It represents a positive contribution to existing case law and marks the first time statutory damages have been awarded against those found contributorily liable for trademark infringement. The standard applied to copyright infringement claims must also be applied to trademark infringement claims. The jury recognized that having an appropriate use policy is not sufficient. Internet Service Providers have an obligation to effectively enforce that policy as well.” The world leader in luxury, Louis Vuitton has been synonymous with the art of stylish travel since 1854. Since 1987, it has been part of LVMH/Mo毛t Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world鈥檚 most prestigious luxury goods group headed by Bernard Arnault.

    Louis Vuitton Discount

    fesuduft1121gk

  5. Gedneyjvdee Says:

    The South London Gallery, the Hayward Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery launch REcreative. REcreative is devised by young people as part of the Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project.The Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project has won the inaugural Jumeirah Group Arts and Culture Award at the 15th Annual Luxury Briefing Awards. The award recognizes leading international enterprises actively supporting artists and advancing artistic practice through innovative creative collaborations in the business world. The Young Arts Project was awarded for providing young people with the opportunity to immerse themselves in the concepts and ideas of the contemporary art world.In acknowledgment of the changing nature of luxury, this year鈥檚 Luxury Briefing Awards recognised 鈥榗ommitment to sustainability鈥?and 鈥榚merging luxury leaders鈥? highlighting that the industry needs to be at the forefront of the issues facing the wider world.In a category of seven top-tier luxury nominees, including Fendi, Rolex and Montblanc amongst others, it was Louis Vuitton鈥檚 鈥榊oung Arts Project鈥?that won the Jumeirah Group Arts and Culture Award. The Young Arts Project offers British students the Authentic Louis Vuitton opportunity to immerse themselves in the concepts and ideas of the contemporary art world. Thatcher Brown, Vice President-Brand Strategy & Management for Jumeirah Group, Louis Vuitton New Arrivals presented the award to the director of the LV Factory South London Gallery, Margot Heller. Katherine Gass, Jumeirah Curator, was a judge on the panel.The Louis Vuitton Young Arts Project is a ground-breaking project which brings together the young people’s forums from the Hayward Gallery, the Royal Academy of Arts, the South London Gallery, Tate Britain and the Whitechapel Gallery.

    LV Outlet

    fesuduft1121gk

  6. Celeste Says:

    Roberto Mancini admits Manchester City’s Champions League exit not unexpected
    2012 Adidas f50
    “We have the Premier League to play, we are on top, and we have the FA Cup. That’s two competitions and we want to have a good year. It’s disappointing to be out of the Champions League but now it is finished we can do nothing. I want to be in the Europa League if possible.”
    “I am disappointed as normal, like everyone here, but when we started this group we knew it was a difficult group.
    Roberto Mancini admitted the foundations of Manchester City’s early exit from the Champions League were built long before their 1-1 draw with Real Madrid.
    Mancini’s name was chanted by City’s fans throughout the closing stages of the game and he called on them to continue their support in the Premier League despite their European disappointment.
    mercurial 9
    Adidas Predator LZ

    tivbhjhj15lhk

  7. Sauvegarde Externe Says:

    Consulter mon nouveau site : Sauvegarde professionnelle

  8. click here Says:

    each time i used to read smaller articles that as well clear their motive, and that is also happening with this paragraph which I am reading here.
    click here

  9. eebest8 Says:

    wow, awesome post.

  10. ShantaeUFantazia Says:

    It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d certainly donate to
    this fantastic blog! I guess for now i’ll settle for book-marking and adding your RSS feed to my Google
    account. I look forward to new updates and will share this
    blog with my Facebook group. Chat soon!

  11. EarleXAlbach Says:

    Its like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this, like
    you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with a few
    pics to drive the message home a little bit, but instead of that,
    this is excellent blog. An excellent read. I will definitely be back.

  12. DeenaYMontell Says:

    This info is invaluable. How can I find out more?

  13. IleneCMacnair Says:

    Wow, marvelous blog structure! How long have you been running a blog for?
    you made blogging look easy. The whole glance of your website is magnificent, let
    alone the content material!

  14. LouanneQAbar Says:

    Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely think this
    site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably
    be returning to read through more, thanks for the
    information!

  15. MarqueriteAGolds Says:

    I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This article
    posted at this web page is genuinely good.

  16. DamionLBrannin Says:

    I used to be suggested this blog by my cousin. I’m not positive whether or not this publish is
    written via him as no one else know such specified about my trouble.
    You are amazing! Thank you!

  17. DoyleJChainey Says:

    Hey I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found you by accident, while I was searching on Digg for something else, Anyhow I am here now and would just like to
    say thanks a lot for a fantastic post and a
    all round exciting blog (I also love the theme/design), I don’t
    have time to go through it all at the moment but I have saved it and also
    added your RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back
    to read more, Please do keep up the superb work.

  18. ChristalEHoruath Says:

    I really like reading through an article that can make men and women think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  19. ReidRHardnette Says:

    It’s impressive that you are getting thoughts from this
    article as well as from our dialogue made at this time.

  20. BryonJBoclair Says:

    Great post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed!
    Very useful information specifically the last part :) I
    care for such information much. I was looking for this particular information for a long time.
    Thank you and good luck.

 

Leave a Reply

 

About - Contact - Privacy - Terms of Service