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Gangster Rap Music: An Informal Study of Its Message and Correlation to the Gang Environment

NCJ Number
R Stallworth
Date Published
83 pages
This study of gangster rap music and its correlation to the gang environment was initiated in 1989 to determine what social forces influence gang members, what motivates their destructive nature, how gang members see themselves and their role in society, and what they think of mainstream values.
The lyrics of gangster rap music are rooted in black history and culture. The music is all about attitudes and distinctions between inner-city minority youth and their suburban middle-class counterparts in the white community. Gangster rap attitudes relate to anarchy and rebellion against established social mores and figures of authority. Insight into the gang mentality can be gleaned by understanding the lyrical content of gangster rap music. The control and eventual eradication of gangs can only be accomplished through a multifaceted approach. An understanding of the hip-hop culture, especially the aspect of that culture encompassed by gangster rap music, and its impact on the social environment and attitudes of young people should be part of such an approach. Primary themes of gangster rap music are identified, particularly with respect to glorifying the gang lifestyle and mentality, violence, racism, the black male sexual stereotype as a lover, and sexist attitudes toward women. In addition, gangster rap terminology is defined.