Gangsta Rap and Mainstream America


cover photo: Gangsta Rapper Cardi B


One of the popular pioneers of rap music is Africa Bambatta of the Zulu Nation.

Africa Bambatta, a former New York gang member, who schooled him self in the philosophies of Marcus Garvey and Malcolm X, saw rap music as a way to unify young minorities behind songs that glorifies the importance of education and becoming stewards in their respective communities to combat social injustices.

In the mid 1980's and early 90's, rap music began to broaden its scope by directly focusing more on social and political displeasure, rotted at the feet of public officials, who led and patrol their communities. This extension of rap was called Gangster Rap.

Although, the lyrics became more inflammatory and demanding, its essential component of social consciousness continued to dominate its make-up and purpose

The first Gangsta Rap group N.W.A. (Niggas with Attitudes) was started by a young man named Eric Wright from Compton, California. The music world came to know him as Eazy E. The group members consisted of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Emcee Ren, Emcee Yella and Eazy E.

With the creation of Music Television (MTV) and Black Entertainment Television (B.E.T.), the world got to personally witness the hurt and anxiety that stems from injustices and inequalities in African American and Hispanic communities.

Mainstream America was able to view the struggles of young men of color in their living rooms.

In 1999, 21 rap albums went platinum and 24 went gold. The startling fact is, the overwhelming majority of consumers of those albums were suburban white youth

And despite that major fact, this new audience could not directly relate to many of the issues of social injustices experienced by young men of color growing up in urban communities throughout the country.

What started in Compton, California as a cry to correct and rid their communities of social injustices and inequalities has cleared the way for Gangsta Rappers of today.

However, today's Gangsta Rappers including 2 Chainz, 21 Savage, Young Thug and Block Boy, just to name a few; are unlike their predecessors.

Instead, the lyrics in their songs are void of experiences that focus on positive identification and self-affirmation and their struggles with social injustices in their communities. And instead, glorifies historical stereotypes that has unjustly marginalized many minorities.

Large record companies and their executives are seizing the opportunity to make large sums of money by promoting today's Gangsta Rap artists and their 'brainless music' to today's minority youth based on the failing urban public education system.

The unfortunate fact, public schools across America are unabashedly graduating hundred of thousands of students every year, who are reading, writing and comprehending at the 8th grade level and lower.

The large record companies has pounce on this fact by promoting and employing artists, who themselves are academically inferior or willing to play the game because of the financial windfall.

A genre of music that was created to enlighten the world of the struggles of young minorities and illuminate paths to success, is now part of the problem with its promotion of music that neglects unjust social conditions in minority communities and illuminates paths to self-destruction, unabashedly.

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