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"Mama I aint going to school today wearing these same old clothes, Do you remember the look in her eye when she made you a meal and you didn't eat it, and all them tears she shed beside your bed over things that you needed, I still remember the way that I felt when I picked up a gun, I still remember the tears that I shed when my cousin was blasted with one, Do you remember the way that you felt when you walked out of prison, Or do you remember the pain that you felt from them sending you back for no reason"
—Bootleg from The Dayton Family
Ah, Gangsta Rap: probably one of the most controversial genres of music to ever hit the mainstream. A lot of Moral Guardians accused the genre (and Hip-Hop in general) of homophobia, and misogyny, while others saw the sub genre as a form of catharsis, and just pure entertainment.
The term Gangsta Rap actually came from the media not the artists themselves, though some have called the genre "Reality Rap", or prime time news in the form of rap music. The genre even has shades of Conscious Hip Hop, and Political Rap (at least in the beginning when the first wave of the genre was quasi-sociopolitical, this is rarely if ever brought up by the genre's detractors). There's also a lot of issues with mislabeling. Quite a few rappers who didn't fall into the Alt rap, or indie scene was automatically placed under the umbrella term Gangsta rap. Usually cynically and unfairly. There's also debate going on about whether the genre is still alive and well in the mainstream, or is it deader than a horse. Some proponents feels that it died a long time ago, while opponents (usually alt/indie rap fans) think a watered down version is still very much active, and continuing the Uncle Tomfoolery, and the dumbing down of the genre.
Gangsta rap tend to appear in four flavors:
- Type 1: The more down to earth, blue collar type. Usually raps about Real Life struggles, problems and horrors of their gang, poverty, and crime ridden inner city neighborhood in a realistic way.. Topics generally fall in the Justified Criminal territory. Could also have urban morality tales, with socio-economic and political undertones. Sometimes told from an observer point of view. Is also usually anti-establishment, and anti-authoritarian.
- Type 2: The more commercial type, basically a polished pseudo hardcore, toned down version of Type 1 & 3. keep in mind they still wanna sell records. Usually Overlaps with Glam Rap, and some music critics call this form Post Gangsta.
- Type 3: The darker over the top unapologetic no holds barred hardcore, drug pushing, psycho gangsta rap, sometimes bordering on Horrorcore. A Flanderization of type one in many cases.
- Type:4: Mafioso rap, gangsta rap which is more akin to romanticized mafioso films and organized crime, than typical gang violence.
An interesting point is that now that the genre's been around for twenty years, the rappers who were making hard-hitting (Type 1) albums have softened as they got into their 30s and 40s, and their projects have led to some serious Rated "G" for Gangsta (kiddie movies, Ice Cube? Kiddie movies?)
- 2pac: Type 1, with shades of type 2 and 3.
- N.W.A.: Type 1 (when Ice Cube was with them) and 3.
- Above the Law: Type 1, with elements of Political Rap
- Anybody Killa: Types 1 and 3.
- Blaze Ya Dead Homie: Types 1 and 3.
- Bone Thugs-n-Harmony: Their lyrics was definitely Types 1 and 3. As of recent mostly Type 1. But as far as tone goes their music varied though.
- Brotha Lynch Hung: Type 3.
- Dayton Family: A bleak, depressing version of Types 1 and 3.
- Dice: Types 1 and 3.
- Eazy-E, Type 3.
- Esham: Type 3.
- South Central Cartel
- No Limit Records
- Snoop Dogg: Types 1 and 2.
- Above The Law: Type 1.
- Jay-Z: Type 4 in the beginning, but then delved into Type 2 with shades of Type 1. On his concept album, American Gangster, his style is Type 1 and eventually a disillusioned version of Type 2
- Notorious B.I.G: Types 2, 3, and 4
- Schooly D
- Kool G Rap and DJ Polo: Type 1.
- Kool G Rap on his own was pretty much the precursor for many of Type 4 gangsta rappers like AZ and Raekwon. Check his 1995 solo debut album "4, 5, 6", then the 1998 follow-up quasi-concept album "Roots Of Evil". Still an active artist, his rhymes now incorporate elements of Type 1, 3 and 4, with Type 1 being the most predominant.
- KRS-One: Types 1 and 3.
- Dead Prez: Type 1 mixed with political rap.
- Ice Cube: Type 1.
- Ice T: Types 1 and 3.
- Three 6 Mafia: Firmly in Type 3.
- Compton's Most Wanted: Type 1.
- MC Ren: Type 1 and 3.
- Dr Dre: Types 1 and 2.
- Geto Boys Types 1 and 3.
- Scarface is purely Type 1 nowadays, although he ventured into Type 3 early on (especially with his debut, Mr. Scarface Is Back).
- Nas was Type 1, although his second album was more type 4.
- Clipse: Has elements of Type 1, Type 2, and Type 4.
- MF Grimm: Type 1 most of the time with a little bit of type 3. Mostly found in his concept album about a gangster gingerbread man.
- Top Authority: Type 1.
- Mobb Deep: Primarily 3 and 4, with occasional touches of 2.
- Psychopathic Rydas: Type 1.