Gangsta rap

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Gangsta rap is a subgenre of hip hop that purports to reflect the reckless lifestyles of inner-city youths.[1] Gangsta is a non-rhotic pronunciation of the word gangster. The genre was pioneered in the mid-1980s by rappers such as Schooly D and Ice T, and was popularized in the later part of the 1980s by groups like N.W.A.[1] After the national attention that Ice-T and N.W.A created in the late 1980s and early 1990s, gangsta rap became the most commercially lucrative subgenre of hip hop. The subject matter inherent in gangsta rap has caused a great deal of controversy. Criticism has come from both left wing and right wing commentators, and religious leaders, who have accused the genre of promoting violence, profanity, sex, homophobia, racism, promiscuity, misogyny, rape, street gangs, drive-by shootings, vandalism, thievery, drug dealing, alcohol abuse, substance abuse and materialism.

Some commentators (for example, Spike Lee in his satirical film Bamboozled) have criticized it as analogous to black minstrel shows and blackface performance, in which performers – both black and white – were made up to look African American, and acted in a stereotypically uncultured and ignorant manner for the entertainment of audiences. Gangsta rappers often defend themselves by saying that they are describing the reality of inner-city life, and that they are only adopting a character, like an actor playing a role, which behaves in ways that they may not necessarily endorse.[2]

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