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Gangsta rap, also known as hardcore hip-hop, was the name given to the subgenre of hip hop which involves a lyrical focus on the lifestyle of street thugs and gangsters. Though hip hop's ghetto roots had always made violence and drug dealings common lyrical topics, they were rarely handled with anything more than a hard-edged variant of the perspective on inner-city problems seen in the socially conscious soul music of the 1970s; gangsta rap, however, completely focuses upon and in the vast majority of cases embraces the lifestyle of the drug dealers, thugs and criminals of the street. 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 also use the "hardcore hip-hop" descriptor. The subgenre is notable for being by far the most commercially successful strand of hip hop and achieved considerable chart dominance during the later two-thirds of the 1990s, when many artists moved towards a more pop-friendly mainstream sound.
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, and claim that when rapping they are simply playing a character. 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 (though many artists, particularly the Geto Boys, would be the first to freely admit this). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gangsta_rap [Jun 2005]
see also: music - hip hop - 1990s - rap
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