Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Gangsta rap, also known as hardcore hip-hop, was the name given to the subgenre of hip hop which often involved lyrical subjects based on the violence and misogyny inherent in the lifestyle of street thugs and gangsters. The term "Gangsta rap" is usually used to refer to the music describable as such coming from the West Coast or the South; East Coast hip hop artists and fans tend to prefer the "hardcore hip-hop" descriptor. The subgenre was notable for its chart dominance during the first two-thirds of the 1990s, after which a more pop-friendly sound (termed "pop-rap") began to dominate the charts.
Controversy over subject matter
The subject matter inherent in gangsta rap has caused a great deal of controversy, with many observers criticizing the genre for the perceived messages it espouses, including homophobia, misogyny, racism and materialism. Gangsta rappers generally defend themselves by pointing out that they are describing the reality of inner-city ghetto life. Given that the audience for gangsta rap has become predominately white, some commentators have even criticized it as analogous to minstrel shows and blackface performance, in which African-Americans or whites, made to look like black caricatures, acted in a stereotypically uncultured and ignorant manner for the entertainment of white audiences. Some performers, such as The Geto Boys, are even accused of being cartoonish and over-the-top.
Hip hop in the 1980s
Los Angeles' Ice T is often credited as the first gangsta rapper due to his influential "Sixn' da Mornin'" and other aggressive, gritty recordings (like Rhyme Pays, 1987), though Philadelphia's Schoolly D (The Adventures of Schoolly D , 1987), Kool G Rap ("It's a Demo", "I'm Fly") and New York's Slick Rick (The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, 1989) are both also contenders. The genre is usually credited as being an originally West Coast phenomenon, due to the influence of Ice-T and N.W.A., though Schoolly D and Slick Rick are East Coast rappers. Other major influences include the pioneering hardcore work of politically-aware performers like Public Enemy (It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, 1988), Ice Cube (AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, 1990) and Boogie Down Productions (Criminal Minded, 1987), and the similarly "poetic gangsta" prose and poetry of Ice-T's namesake, Iceberg Slim, and the proto-gangsta rap of LL Cool J (Mama Said Knock You Out , 1990) and Too $hort (Life Is... Too Short , 1998). Kool G Rap's epic tales helped inspire the related Mafioso rap phenomenon, which later achieved some mainstream success and great critical acclaim in 1995 (see 1995 in music) with albums like Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and AZ's Do or Die and Mobb Deep's The Infamous .
Hip hop moves west and gangsta rap appears
Until the very late 1980s, hip hop had been dominated by the East Coast (essentially New York City, though Philadelphia and New Jersey also had vital scenes), with West Coast hip hop a curiosity dominated by dance-heavy and critically reviled electro hop artists like Egyptian Lover and World Class Wreckin' Cru. The latter crew included Dr. Dre before he joined N.W.A.
Aside from electro hop, early pioneer hardcore hip hop artists, including most notably Ice-T, gained underground fame in the Los Angeles area during the early 1980s. Ice-T is often considered the earliest gangsta rapper, though paradoxically, he is not often associated with the modern form of the genre; many listeners associate him primarily with hardcore and rapcore music, especially after the controversy regarding "Cop Killer", a song from his heavy metal-hip hop band Body Count's debut album, Body Count . Aside from N.W.A. and Ice-T, early West Coast gangsta rappers include Too $hort (from Oakland, California) and others from Compton and Watts, Los Angeles, as well as Oakland, San Francisco and San Diego.
By the late 1980s, gangsta rap began to dominate hip hop. The first blockbuster hip hop album was the West Coast gangsta rap album Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A. in 1989 (see 1989 in music). Straight Outta Compton also established West Coast hip hop as a vital genre, and a rival of hip hop's long-time capital, New York City. Straight Outta Compton sparked the first major controversy regarding hip hop lyrics when their song "Fuck Tha Police" earned a letter from the FBI strongly expressing law enforcement's resentment of the song.
G funk and Death Row Records
In 1992 (see 1992 in music) former N.W.A. member Dr. Dre released The Chronic, which further established the dominance of West Coast gangsta rap and Death Row Records, and is also the beginning of G funk, a slow, drawled form of hip hop that dominated the charts for some time. Extensively sampling funk bands, especially Parliament and Funkadelic, G funk was multi-layered, yet simple and easy to dance to, with anti-authoritarian lyrics that helped endear it to many young listeners. One of the genre's biggest crossover stars was Dre's protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg (Doggystyle, 1993), whose party-oriented themes made songs like "Gin and Juice" party anthems and top hits nationwide. New York City native Tupac Shakur (Me Against the World, 1995) has endured as one of the most successful West Coast hip hop artists of all time. Snoop and Tupac were both artists on Death Row Records, owned by Dre and Marion "Suge" Knight, whose manic, violent ways quickly became the constant fodder for industry gossip. Snoop and Tupac also had troubles with the law, with Snoop's eventual acquittal for murder occurring just as his superstardom was peaking. Other artists like Warren G (Regulate... G Funk Era , 1995) and Lady of Rage (Necessary Roughness , 1997) eventually accused Knight of earning millions while they remained unpaid for songwriting and performing on albums including The Chronic and Doggystyle.
Bad Boy Records and the East Coast
Meanwhile, East Coast rappers like Busta Rhymes (The Coming , 1996), The Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), 1993), Nas (Illmatic, 1994) and the Notorious B.I.G. (Ready to Die, 1994) pioneered a grittier sound in hip-hop. B.I.G. and the rest of Puff Daddy's Bad Boy Records roster paved the way for New York City to take back chart dominance from the West Coast as hip hop continued to explode into the mainstream. Media hype created the notion of an "east coast/west coast" war in hip-hop, and a number of the artists, particularly Tupac and B.I.G., found themselves rivals and later enemies (see rap feuds). By 1997, the repercussions had manifested: Shakur and Biggie were dead, victims of still-unsolved drive-by shootings; Death Row Records sank quickly as multiple lawsuits, the incarceration of label head Suge Knight and the departure of Snoop, Dr. Dre and most of the label's other acts sank the company financially. Dr. Dre, at the MTV Video Music Awards, claimed that "gangsta rap was dead", which proved untrue. Bad Boy Records survived, though not untarnished. Puff Daddy's commercial empire continued to lose the support of the hip-hop fan base with a mainstream sound aimed at middle-class America, and challenges from Atlanta and, especially, Master P's No Limit stable of popular rappers.
Southern and Midwestern hip-hop
After the deaths of Biggie and Tupac, hip hop remained a major commercial force; though there was no clear victory from either coast. Most of the industry's major labels were in turmoil, or bankrupt, and new locations sprang up.
Goodie Mob (Soul Food , 1995) and OutKast (Aquemini, 1998) established Atlanta as a hip hop center early-on, drawing on the pioneering Christian hip hop group Arrested Development (3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of..., 1992), one of the earliest southern groups to have pop-chart success. Later, Ludacris (Word of Mouf, 2001) would become a successful southern pop-rap star for Def Jam.
Jermaine Dupri, an Atlanta-born record producer and talent scout, had great success after discovering youthful pop stars Kris Kross (Totally Krossed Out , 1992) performing at a mall, and later masterminded acts such as Lil Bow Wow (Beware of Dog , 2000), Da Brat (Funkdafied , 1994), and himself, in addition to a number of R&B artists.
Master P's No Limit Records label, based out of New Orleans, also became quite popular, though critical success was scarce, with the exceptions of some later additions like Mystikal (Ghetto Fabulous , 1998). No Limit had begun its rise to fame with Master P's The Ghetto Is Trying to Kill Me! (1994, 1994 in music), and subsequent hits by Rappin- 4-Tay (Don't Fight the Feeling , 1994), Silkk the Shocker (Charge It 2 Da Game , 1998) and C-Murder (Life or Death , 1998).
At the turn of the millennium, superstar Nelly (Country Grammar, 2000) and the rest of the St. Lunatics ("Gimme What You Got", 1996) put St. Louis on the hip hop map, while new Dr. Dre protege Eminem (The Marshall Mathers LP, 2000), hailing from Detroit, became a commercial and critical success.
The "hip-pop" era
The rise of Bad Boy Records signaled a major stylistic change in hip-hop; from the early darker, sample-heavy sound to a cleaner, more pop-friendly sound. The new style has been identified by many names, most usually identified as "pop-rap" or "hip-pop." Puff Daddy fashioned much of his output for direct pop audience consumption, using R&B-styled hook and instantly recognizable samples of soul and pop songs from the 1970s and 1980s. His style was showcased primarily in his latter-day work for The Notorious B.I.G. ("Mo Money, Mo Problems"), Ma$e ("Feels So Good"), and non Bad Boy artists such as Jay-Z ("Can I Get A...") and Nas ("Street Dreams"). The new "pop-rap" sound was also heavily influenced by the work of Master P and his No Limit label in New Orleans, and later buoyed by the material from the New Orleans upstart Cash Money label. A Cash Money artist, The B.G., popularized a catch phrase in 1999 that sums up what the majority of the new music focused on subject-wise: "Bling-Bling."
- Lyrical content, which shifted from the majority of songs portraying the rapper as being poor, or dependant on crime to make money while living in the ghetto, to being wealthy and having the best jewelry, clothes, liquor, and women. Compare Ice Cube's "Today Was a Good Day", to The B.G.'s "Bling-Bling". Some critics say that this shift is worse then the earlier shift into violent lyrics because it encourages materialism.
- Musical content, which shifted from the G-Funk West Coast and contemporary East Coast styles of the time to a new style most famously pioneered by Timbaland, which in general focused on creating tracks without the use of sampled loops. The decay on snare drums during this period became extremely short, as part of the style (called "the short snare"), and electronic keyboard sounds became prevalent in the music. Almost all songs featured some rythmic instruments in the very high end of the frequency spectrum, such as a synthesized triangle sound.
- Lyrical Presentation: The production values when recording lyrics went ever increasingly higher during this period and have not returned from that level. Almost all singles featured many overdubs, or recorded layers, of the rapper saying the same words, creating a dense sound. Often albums were recorded with basic vocal tracks laid down, and when a song was chosen for a single later, the rappers would go back and add more layers to the vocal tracks to create the distinct sound.
East Coast hip-hop after 1997
Baltimore-born DMX is often credited with reviving New York's hardcore hip hop scene with It's Dark and Hell Is Hot , his 1998 debut, which entered the charts at #1. DMX's work was clearly inspired by that of Busta Rhymes (The Coming , 1996) and Nas (Illmatic, 1994), and The Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), 1993). DMX's management company, Ruff Ryders Entertainment, ran a record label by the same name which featured also featured The wildly popular DMX helped launch a crew called the Ruff Ryders, who would eventually include Eve (Scorpion , 2001) and The Lox, defectors from Bad Boy (We Are the Streets , 2000). In spite of DMX's hype and popularity, Jay-Z (Vol 2...Hard Knock Life , 1998) became much more successful and remained one of the biggest hip hop stars of the 2000s. Irv Gotti established Murder Inc. Records and launched the successful career of his main artist, Ja Rule (Venni Vetti Vecci , 1999). Within a few years, releases by 50 Cent (Get Rich or Die Tryin', 2003) and Cam'ron (Come Home With Me , 2002) helped re-establish East Coast supremacy, though not without significant challenges from the west, south and midwest. East Coast hip hop also saw the rise of three of its biggest female stars during this period: Eve, Foxy Brown, and Lil' Kim (Hard Core, 1996), whose sexually and violently explicit lyrics (drawn from more militant female West Coast gangsta rappers like Yo-Yo (Black Pearl , 1992)) earned them the ire of some feminists, while others praised them.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details