Last Updated 22 Dec 2022

How To Grow Up in Gangster Rap Culture

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Almost any criticism against hip—hop will point out the violence, drug use and misogyny that the music genre and culture seem to support. The lyrics of Nas‘ “One Love” rap is essentially a short story, of a 12-year-old crack dealer, Shorty, and the advice that Nas gives him about growing up in the gangster rap culture. As hip-hop rose during the 60s in New York, it got most of its criticism from people who, from the perspective of a hip-hop artist, were narrow-minded and could not accept this new art form In the 80s, as the culture of hip-hop spread to Los Angeles, gangster behavior was rising hand in hand with the crack epidemic, and therefore gangsta rap emerged as a sub-culture of hip- hop This gangster behavior involves violence and drug abuse, which is, of course, very looked down upon by other members of society. However, it must also be considered that “gangsters” have been forced by poverty and oppression to resort to this unethical and dangerous way of life.

As Kiema Mayo points out in a chapter about Dr. Tucker, someone is very against gangster rap and behavior, that the, “major flaw in her fundamental belief that gangsta rap is a cause and not an effect: the cause of violence and misogyny in black communities, not the effect of these two proudly American social ills.” Gangster rap, which at first seemed to emphasize acting hardcore and embracing oppositional culture, had evolved into a dangerous way of life, full of crime and violence. Nas recognizes that, while the music may be good, the gangster rap culture is not the best community to be involved in, and that Shorty is unfortunately a victim of the less glamorous aspect of hip—hop. Nas approaches Shorty because Shorty has no success or certainty in his future, It is clear to both of them that being victim to murder is to be expected in this lifestyle.

Through rap lyrics, Nas has written a sort of poem to embody the hardship of gangster lifestyle This is unusual, as gangsta rap often glorifies the use of weaponry, treating women as sexual objects and abusing drugs; which is exactly the reason that people such as Dri Tucker believe it is damaging to society. Nas, however, expresses the danger and hardship of this lifestyle, and realizes how this culture affects people like Shorty, In his rap, Nas gives Shorty some valuable jewels as a way to escape this uncertain and dangerous lifestyle and poetically advises Shorty to, “try to rise up above” Nas himself has been a part of this lifestyle and has seen what it does to people. He has given Shorty a chance avoid the future hardships he may face, It proves that, while gangster behavior is by nature destructive, there continues to be a community of support and understanding that has always been a part of hip-hop culture.

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