Gangsta Rap: An anthropolohical overview

Essay by phoenixmolochia89University, Master's June 2006

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In the ghetto gangsta rap and hip hop sub-culture that has become so prevalent today, Africa-American youths are often portrayed as being violent, disruptive, sex-crazed, misogynist criminals. Critics decry the negative effects ghetto cultures have placed upon contemporary mainstream society. Hip hop artists and music have been blamed for the increase in crime, insubordinations at educational institutions, exploiting and disrespecting women, and overall street violence. However, in reality, through this genre the urban youth hip hop sub-culture of urban cities have induced a creative outlet for self-expression, influenced public consciousness and spawned its own sub-culture bringing together youths of all ethnic backgrounds.

The Sugarhill Gang's "Rappers Delight" in 1979 was widely recognized as being the first hit rap single . At the time, hip hop was considered to be little more than a novelty hit, yet its ensuing success showed the commercial possibilities of the genre. This spawned the first generation of rap artists in the 1980s: Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaata, and Kool Herc .

A host of small labels such as Def Jam were created as rap continued to spread its roots and diversified . Acts such as Run DMC, Big Daddy Kane, and Public Enemy introduced a variety of various sub-genres which covered topics ranging from radical politics to hip hop caricature . In a relatively short period of time this form of music concurrently skyrocketed up to top of the charts while entering the consciousness of the urban youth. While hip-hop music was originated as a supplement to a certain attitude that the youth of the times possessed, it quickly expanded beyond music. It became a culture, language, fashion, economic system, and allowed for the proliferation of unique perspectives and sets of values .

Hip hop music created an outlet for youth in urban cities to express...