What is “gangsta rap”?
To answer those questions, we first need to look at the genre’s history and see if it is simply a product of the media’s constant desire to make a quick buck. For instance, in 2002, a magazine named Rap-A-Lot decided to use the word “gangsta” to describe a rapper who used gang signifiers in his music. Rap-A-Lot ran with it, and started using that term as an insult to describe rappers who don’t conform to traditional standards of hip-hop, such as the “gangsta” type of rappers. If the label is a result of cultural factors, we know something is wrong with the hip-hop label.
There are a number of other factors and trends in the hip-hop world, including the fact that a majority of artists who claim to be “gangsta” are not, in fact,. Take, for instance, the word “gangsta,” which is now used almost exclusively as a pejorative.
So why is the word used as a pejorative word? The word is a poor choice of words. It is not particularly descriptive. Most of our examples of “gangsta” rappers are already “gangsta” rappers, and not “gangsta” rappers as a whole. And the term isn’t even very clever. It sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
Most artists have a few words that are associated with them, and so it is a matter of making good musical choices in our usage of the term “gangsta.” It’s the difference between not using “dude” when you’re talking about a guy, and not using “turd” when it’s a term of endearment for a person. “Dude” is probably going to last, and “turd” has a better chance of staying around. In general, it’s the case of being too lazy to use any of those alternative words, and being too lazy to do better than “gangsta” either.
It would seem that by using a word and the idea of doing better can be connected, that if the term was just more accurate, it would be a good thing. We need to remember to be humble, as our own actions and culture is what we are based on. We have to be accepting of each other, and try to take criticism the way that a person who’s had criticism before, has already gotten it.
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