Monday, February 21, 2011

The Evolution from Gangsta to Feel Good Rap

I don't know what's better, the fact that either mainstream rap has stopped talking about violence or that now it only talks about drugs, money, and feeling good. I'm talking about mainstream as in Billboard or iTunes top 500. Sure we have Eminem who released his album this year, but his music has become much more mellow as he's started to coming to terms with a lot of things in his life like his wife and drug addiction. But, now the top mainstream rap are songs by artists like Lil' Wayne, Kid Cudi, Black Eyed Peas, and Kanye West. Now, I have nothing against these artists and I love their songs. Yet, it ain't no gangsta rap. Their songs are more limited to feel good type songs, party music, and if they have any more serious songs, they are social criticism. Although we do have some gangsta rappers like 50 Cent and he's more of a joke now than ever. Snoop and Dre are still around, but they also sold out years ago. The fact that Snoop Dogg is in a Katy Perry song already tells it all.

And so, let's be real. There are still those out there, limited mainly to more underground rap like Immortal Technique and Jedi Mind Tricks, who talk about violence and more serious subject matters. Listen to the song below, it's not only violent and shocking, but it's a heart-wrenching story about living in streets.

But is mainstream rap now too mainstream? I think it makes sense that many rap and hip hop artists would sell out for the money. Most of America consider themselves middle class and upper middle class families. Furthermore, I'm sure most of these artists themselves came from these kind of families. So how could they talk about growing up in a violent neighborhood and the streets when they didn't? At the same time, its a shame that as we focus more and more on these feel good type of songs that talk about money, fame, and recreational drugs, we'll begin ignore the more serious problems in society that continue to exist. It's also quite sad that people who listen to this music will crave being wealthy and rich more and more, rather than following their own hearts on what life means.


  1. Snoop Dogg's recent appearances in pop music are certainly a big departure from his earlier works. More recently, he could be seen in a "twilight"/lady gaga -like video by Emii, a newly debuted artist this year.
    Mr. Romeo:
    I don’t know what you might make of it, personally I find it rather comedic, although I'm not quite sure if that is the point of the song itself. Looking at the lyrics, it sounds more like a product of pussycat dolls instead – probably indicating the direction they were aspiring towards? But one thing is for sure: this is defiantly not “gansta”

  2. Can they even be considered the same genre? I'd call the first song pop music for sure.

  3. When gangsta rap first came out, many were shocked, censorship lawsuits were made, and the whole music industry felt the shockwaves. Now that gangsta rap has lost its shock effect, people are no longer shocked and now we see rap moving in all sorts of directions. How much of the shock value of seeing violence portrayed in new ways come from its novelty, its newness that eventually fades away? Maybe the reason why gangsta rap is no longer as popular as it once was is because we've already heard it all, with the literal deaths of Tupac and Biggie being the final statement of the genre in some way. What rapper attempting to work in the gangsta rap subgenre can hope to top their artistic achievements and on top of that their ultimate gangsta image, being both murdered in street violence?


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