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Gangster Rap 

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Gangster Rap

What is gangster rap? 

Gangsta rap is a form of hip hop also called rap music that first became a popular and controversial art form in the early 1990s. The first gangsta rap song is usually considered to be the 1987 Ice-T song 6 in the morning. Earlier musicians likely influenced this early take on gangsta rap. Reggae music has a long history of describing conflicts with the law. The Bob Marley song I Shot the Sheriff, released in 1973, predates most gangsta rap by almost 20 years.

Gangsta rap on the whole tends to reference illegal activities including gang involvement, trouble with the law, prostitution, rape of women and many references to violence. References to violence were nothing new in music; heavy metal is replete with them. Yet, gangsta rapoften seems to glorify violence, sanction gang involvement and drug use, and specifically denigrate women.

Despite the controversial nature of the subject matter in gangsta rap, or perhaps because of it, it soon pushed rap into the mainstream, making it by far some of the most popular and best selling music in the US and U.K. Early artists of gangsta rap include Dr. Dre, 2pac, Ice Cube, Spice 1, and Sir Jinx. They are considered some of the most influential in the gangsta rap movement.

Gangster rap history 

Gangsta rap is a subgenre of rap music that emphasized the violent lifestyle of inhabitants of the United States' inner cities. In its early years, it was known as "reality rap."

  1. Origins

    • Some point to Schoolly D and his 1986 song "P.S.K. What Does It Mean?" as the foundation of gangsta rap; others point to Ice-T. Still others tout Boogie Down Productions' "Criminal Minded" (1987) as being the prototypical gangsta rap album.


    • However, it was a group called N.W.A. (Niggas With Attitude) who popularized gangsta rap with their double platinum album, "Straight Outta Compton" (1988). It yielded the anti-cop manifesto "F**k tha Police" and the hedonist anthem "Gangsta Gangsta" (the subgenre was actually named after the latter song), as well as establish the use of the word "nigga" in rap music.

    Money-Making Machine

    • A former member of N.W.A., Dr. Dre, released "The Chronic" in 1992. Selling mroe than 4 million copies, it became the most successful gangsta rap album up to that point, and it made gangsta rap the most lucrative subgenre in hip-hop.


    • Since it began to rise in popularity in the early 1990s, critics have lambasted gangsta rap as containing and promoting violent, sexist, racist and homophobic lyrics and images. Gangsta rappers usually counter that they are merely describing the realities of inner-city life.


    • Gangsta rap peaked in the mid-1990s with highly successful stars and albums from Death Row Records. Today, its influence--the violence, sex and materialism--can be heard and seen throughout mainstream rap music and videos.

Top 10 gangster rappers

Number 1:   2pac

Tupac Amaru Shakur (June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper. Shakur had sold over 75 million albums worldwide as of 2007, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In the United States alone he has sold 37.5 million records. Rolling Stone Magazine named him the 86th Greatest Artist of All Time.

In addition to his career as a rap artist, he was also an actor. The themes of most of Tupac's songs are the violence and hardship in inner cities, racism, other social problems, and conflicts with other rappers during the East Coast – West Coast hip hop rivalry. Shakur began his career as a roadie and backup dancer for the alternative hip hop group Digital Underground.

On September 7, 1996, Shakur was shot four times in the Las Vegas metropolitan area of Nevada. He was taken to the University Medical Center, where he died 6 days later of respiratory failure and cardiac arrest.

Number 2: Eazy E 

Eric Lynn Wright (September 7, 1963 – March 26, 1995), better known by his stage name Eazy-E, was an American rapper who performed solo and in the hip hop group N.W.A. Wright was born to Richard and Kathie Wright in Compton, California. After dropping out of high school in the tenth grade, he supported himself primarily by selling drugs before investing in Ruthless Records and becoming a rapper. When Ruthless artists Dr. Dre and Ice Cube wrote "Boyz-n-the-Hood", Dre, Cube, and Eazy formed N.W.A. After DJ YellaMC Ren, andArabian Prince joined the group, N.W.A released N.W.A. and the Posse. In 1988, they released their most controversial album, Straight Outta Compton. The group released two more albums and then disbanded after Eazy released Dr. Dre from his contract.

Number 3: The Game 

Jayceon Terrell Taylor (born November 29, 1979), better known by his stage name Game, formerly The Game, is an American rapper and actor. As a member of G-Unit, he rose to fame in 2005 with the success of his debut album, The Documentary, which earned him twoGrammy Award nominations. Followed by two more successful albums his second album Doctor's Advocate in 2006, and his third album LAX in 2008. Game also runs his own record label The Black Wall Street Records. Since then, he is considered to be a driving force in reviving and bringing back the West Coast hip hop scene, which had been overshadowed by artists from the East and South

Number 4: Eminem 

Marshall Bruce Mathers III (born October 17, 1972), better known by his stage name Eminem or his alter ego Slim Shady, is an American rapper, record producer, and actor. Eminem quickly gained popularity in 1999 with his major-label debut album, The Slim Shady LP, which won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. The following album, The Marshall Mathers LP, became the fastest-selling solo album in United States history. It brought Eminem increased popularity, including his own record label, Shady Records, and brought his group project, D12, to mainstream recognition. As well as being a member of D12.The Marshall Mathers LP and his third major album, The Eminem Show, also won Grammy Awards, making Eminem the first artist to winBest Rap Album for three consecutive LPs. He then won the award again in 2010 for his album Relapse and in 2011 for his album Recovery, giving him a total of 13 Grammys in his career. In 2003, he won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" from the film,8 Mile, in which he also played the lead.        

 "Lose Yourself" would go on to become the longest running No. 1 hip hop single. Eminem then went on hiatus after touring in 2005. He released his first album since 2004's Encore, titled Relapse, on May 15, 2009. Eminem is the best-selling artist of the decade on the US Nielsen SoundScan, and has sold more than 86.5 million albums worldwide to date, making him one of the best-selling music artists in the world. In 2010, Eminem released his seventh studio album Recovery. It became Eminem's sixth consecutive number-one album in the US and achieved international commercial success, charting at number one in several other countries. It stayed at number-one on the US Billboard 200 chart for five consecutive weeks and a total of seven weeks. Recovery was also reported by Billboard to be the best-selling album of 2010, making Eminem the first artist in Nielsen SoundScan history to have two year-end best-selling albums. Recovery is also the best selling digital album in history. Recovery was also named the best selling album worldwide of 2010 joining The Eminem Show which was the best seller of 2002 giving him 2 worldwide year end number 1 albums. With Recovery Eminem achieved the record for most successive US No.1 albums by a solo artist. 

Number 5: Ice Cube 

Ice Cube, whose real name is O'Shea Jackson (born June 15, 1969), is an American rapper, actor, screenwriter, film director, and producer. He began his career as a member of C.I.A. and later joined the rap group N.W.A. After leaving N.W.A in December 1989, he built a successful solo career in music, and also as a writer, director, actor and producer in cinema. Additionally, he has served as one of the producers of the Showtime television series Barbershop and the TBS series Are We There Yet?, both of which are based upon films in which he portrayed the lead character.

Number 6: 50 Cent 

Curtis James Jackson III (born July 6, 1975), better known by his stage name 50 Cent, is an American rapper and actor. He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and The Massacre (2005). Get Rich or Die Tryin' has been certified eight times platinum by the RIAA and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. His album The Massacre has been certified five times platinum by the RIAA and has sold 11 million copies worldwide.

Born in South Jamaica, Queens, Jackson began drug dealing at the age of twelve during the 1980s crack epidemic. After leaving drug dealing to pursue a rap career, he was shot at and struck by nine bullets during an incident in 2000. After releasing his album Guess Who's Back? in 2002, Jackson was discovered by rapper Eminem and signed to Interscope Records. With the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre, who produced his first major commercial successes, Jackson became one of the world's highest selling rappers. In 2003, he founded the record label G-Unit Records, which signed several successful rappers such as Young BuckLloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo.

Number 7: Dr.Dre 

Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), primarily known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper,record executive, and occasional actor. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and a former co-owner and artist ofDeath Row Records, also having produced albums for and overseeing the careers of many rappers signed to those record labels, such asSnoop DoggEminem and 50 Cent. As a producer he is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats.

Dr. Dre began his career in music as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru and he later found fame with the influential gangsta rapgroup N.W.A with Eazy-EIce CubeMc Ren, and DJ Yella which popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap to detail the violence of street life. His 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, released under Death Row Records, led him to become one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993 and to win a Grammy Award for the single "Let Me Ride". In 1996, he left Death Row to establish his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. Under that label, he produced a compilation album titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath in 1996, and released a solo album titled 2001 in 1999, for which he won the Grammy producer's award the next year.

During the 2000s, he focused his career on production for other artists, while occasionally contributing vocals to other artists' songs. Dr. Dre signed Eminem and 50 Cent to his record label in 1996 and 2003 respectively while contributing production on their albums. Rolling Stonenamed Dr. Dre among the highest-paid performers of 2001 and 2004. Dr. Dre has also had acting roles in movies such as Set It Off, and the 2001 films The Wash and Training Day.

Number 8: Jay Z 

Shawn Corey Carter (born December 4, 1969), better known by his stage name Jay-Z, is an American rapper and businessman. He is one of the most financially successful hip hop artists and entrepreneurs in America, having a net worth of over $450 million as of 2010. He has sold approximately 50 million albums worldwide, while receiving thirteen Grammy Awards for his musical work, and numerous additional nominations. Jay-Z co-owns the 40/40 Club, is part-owner of the NBA's New Jersey Nets and is also the creator of the clothing line Rocawear. He is the former CEO of Def Jam Recordings, one of the three founders of Roc-A-Fella Records, and the founder of Roc Nation. As an artist, he holds the record for most number one albums by a solo artist on the Billboard 200. Jay-Z also has had four number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, one as lead artist. He married American R&B superstar Beyoncé Knowles on April 4, 2008. On December 11, 2009, Jay-Z was ranked as the 10th most successful artist of the 2000–2009 decade by Billboard Magazine and ranking as the 5th top solo male artist and as the 4th top rapper behind EminemNelly, and 50 Cent.

Number 9: Snoop Dogg 

Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (born October 20, 1971), better known by his stage name Snoop Dogg, is an American rapper, record producer, actor and entertainer. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre's most notable protégés. Snoop Dogg was a Crip gang member while in high school. Shortly after graduation, he was arrested for cocaine possession and spent six months in Wayside County Jail. His music career began in 1992 after his release when he was discovered by Dr. Dre. He collaborated on several tracks on Dre's solo debut, The Chronic and on the titular theme song to the film Deep Cover.

Snoop's debut album Doggystyle, was released in 1993 under Death Row Records debuting at No.1 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. Selling almost a million copies in the first week of its release, Doggystyle quickly became certified quadruple platinum in 1994 and spawned several hit singles, including "What's My Name" and "Gin & Juice". In 1994, Snoop released a soundtrack on Death Row Records for the short film Murder Was The Case, starring himself. In early 1996, Snoop Dogg was cleared of charges over his bodyguard's 1993 murder of Philip Woldemariam. His second album, late 1996's Tha Doggfather, also debuted at No.1 on both charts with Snoop's Upside Ya Head as the lead single. The album sold only half as well, being certified double platinum in 1997.

Number 10: Lil Wayne 

Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr. (born September 27, 1982), better-known by his stage name Lil Wayne (sometimes stylized as lil wayne), is an American rapper. At the age of nine, Lil Wayne joined Cash Money Records as the youngest member of the label, and half of the duo,The B.G.'z, with B.G.. In 1997, Lil Wayne joined the group Hot Boys, which also included rappers JuvenileB.G., and Young Turk. Hot Boys debuted with Get It How U Live! that year. 

Lil Wayne gained most of his success with the group's major selling album Guerrilla Warfare, released in 1999. Also in 1999, Lil Wayne released his Platinum debut album Tha Block Is Hot, selling over one million copies in the U.S.

Although his next two albums Lights Out (2000) and 500 Degreez (2002) were not as successful (only reaching Gold status), Lil Wayne reached higher popularity in 2004 with Tha Carter, which included the single "Go D.J." Wayne also appeared on the Destiny's Child top ten single "Soldier" that year. In 2005, the sequel to Tha Carter, Tha Carter II, was released. In 2006 and 2007, Lil Wayne released several mixtapes and appeared on several popular rap and R&B singles.

His most successful album, Tha Carter III, was released in 2008 and sold over 1 million copies in the U.S. its first week of release. It included the number-one single "Lollipop" and won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. Lil Wayne released his debut rock album,Rebirth, in 2010 to primarily negative reception from critics. The album eventually went gold. In March 2010, Lil Wayne began serving an 8-month prison sentence in New York after being convicted of criminal possession of a weapon stemming from an incident in July 2007. While in prison he released another album entitled I Am Not a Human Being in September 2010, featuring Young Money artists such as Drake,Nicki Minaj and Lil Twist. His upcoming ninth studio album, and first since being released from prison, Tha Carter IV, is due to be released on August 29, 2011.

 Top 10 gangster rap tunes

(New & Old)


2pac - Hit em up

Hit 'Em Up is a diss song by rap artist 2Pac, featuring his group the Outlawz. It was released on June 4, 1996, from the album All Eyez on Me. The song’s lyrics contain vicious insults to several East Coast rappers, chiefly among them, Shakur's former friend and rival, The Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie. The song was produced by long-time collaborator Johnny "J" and samples the bassline from "Don't Look Any Further" by Dennis Edwards. The video, itself described as infamous, includes impersonations of Biggie, Puffy and Lil' Kim.

Hit 'Em Up is said to have played a part in exacerbating the East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry. Following its release, the East Coast rappers insulted in the song responded through tracks of their own. The controversy surrounding the song is due in part to Shakur’s murder only a few months after its release.


 Dr.Dre - Still Dre 

Still DRE is a song by Dr. Dre, released as the lead single from his multi-platinum second album 2001. This song features Snoop Doggon the intro, chorus and outro. 

The single was popular, helping the album reach multi-platinum status, announcing Dre's triumphant return to the forefront of the hip-hop scene. It was more successful in the UK where it reached number 6. Both Dr. Dre and east coast rapper Jay-Z wrote Dr. Dre's verses.


 50 Cent - I Get Money

I Get Money is the third single from 50 Cent's third album, Curtis. This song was #14 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2007.

I Get Money contains elements from Audio Two's "Top Billin'".It was recorded at 50 Cent's Connecticut mansion studio by engineer Alonzo Vargas. Although the track was a promotional single, it was also the official remix for 50 Cent's previous single, "Straight to the Bank". The song was produced by Apex. Initially, Scott Boogie was credited as the producer of the song: however, it was later discovered that Scott Boogie actually stole the beat from Apex. In the song, 50 Cent talks about the Glacéau acquisition by The Coca-Cola Company (as he had an ownership stake in Glacéau's parent company); he raps:

" I took quarter water, sold it in bottles for two bucks. Coca-Cola came and bought it for billions, what the fuck? "


  NWA - Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton is the lead single from N.W.A's second album with the same name. It was released in 1988. It also appears on N.W.A's Greatest Hits with an extended mix and The Best of N.W.A. After Fuck the Police, it is arguably N.W.A.'s best known song. It was voted number 19 on's Top 100 Rap Songs, and is ranked number 6 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

The opening verse is rapped by Ice CubeMC Ren delivers the second, and Eazy-E the third verse.

    NUMBER 5

   Snoop Dogg - What's my name?

What's My Name?, also known as "Who Am I? (What's My Name?), is the solo debut single from rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg's debut album Doggystyle. The song was a top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #8 in 1994.

The song, produced by Dr. Dre, features interpolations of Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep" as its bassline and George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" in its chorus. The chorus actually says "Atomic doggy dog", with original vocals mixed in.

     NUMBER 6

    Cam'ron & Vado  - Speaking in tongues

In late 2009/early 2010, Cam'ron released a series of mixtapes hosted by DJ Drama called Boss of All Boses which featured his new upcoming artist Vado. He released an album with Vado entitled Cam'ron & The U.N. Presents: Heat in Here Vol. 1 the first single off the album was this song Speaking in Tongues which peaked at number 82 on the U.S. R&B charts. 

     NUMBER 7

     Coolio  - Gangster's Paradise

Gangsta's Paradise is a rap song by Coolio featuring L.V. from the movie Dangerous Minds (1995). The song was later released on the albums Gangsta's Paradise and Dangerous Minds soundtrack in 1995. Coolio was awarded a Grammy for the song/album. The song was voted as the best single of the year in The Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics poll.

It sampled the chorus and music of the song Pastime Paradise by Stevie Wonder (1976). Wonder performed the song with Coolio and L.V. at the 1995 Billboard Awards.

The song was also listed at number 69 on Billboard's Greatest Songs of All-Time and number one biggest selling single of 1995 on U.S.Billboard. In 2008, it was ranked number 38 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

    NUMBER 8

 The Game  - Hate it or Love it

Hate It or Love It by American rapper and West Coast hip hop artist The Game, featuring vocals from fellow G-Unit member at the time rapper 50 Cent. It was released as the third official single from The Game's debut studio album The Documentary (2005), from record labels Aftermath EntertainmentG-Unit Records and Interscope Records in March 2005. The song features a music sample of "Rubber Band" (1972) by The Trammps from their debut album The Legendary Zing Album (1972). "Hate It or Love It" achieved commercial success worldwide. The track peaked within the top 10 in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, Ireland, Netherlands and New Zealand. The single was commercially successful in the United States, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks, becoming The Game's second top five single on the chart as a lead artist.


Warren G  - Regulate

Regulate is a 1994 song performed by Warren G and Nate Dogg. Released in the summer of 1994, the track appears on the soundtrack to the film Above the Rim and later Warren G.'s album Regulate...G Funk Era. The song reached No2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No8 on the R&B/Hip-Hop chart. It is considered the breakout single for both artists and makes heavy use of a four-bar sample of the rhythm of Michael McDonald's song "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)".

The music video featured scenes from the movie Above the Rim including an appearance by Tupac Shakur.

It was number 98 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and at number 108 on Pitchfork Media's Top 200 Tracks of the 90s.


Da Luniz  - Ive got 5 on it

I Got 5 on It" is a rap song by hip hop duo Luniz, taken from their album Operation Stackola. It features vocal contributions from R&B singer Michael Marshall. The song has become their most famous to date, and helped make Operation Stackola their best-selling album."I got 5 on it" is a phrase meaning to pay half for a ten bag (a 10 dollar bag of weed) with another person. The lyrics in the original song clearly convey this meaning. 

"Kinda broke so ya know all I gots five, I got five"  "Unless you pull out the fat crispy, five dollar bill on the real before its history"  " got 5 on it, let's go half on a sack of weed"

The single reached No2 in Germany, No3 in the United Kingdom and No8 in the United States. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA on October 31, 1995 for shipping of one million copies.

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