Gangsta Rap and Black Masculinity in
Contemporary Los Angeles
Damn, I'm such a "G," it's pathetic.
— Ice Cube, "Down for Whatever"
In a relatively short period of time, American popular culture has witnessed a radical shift away from Bill Cosby's prominent image of Black masculinity, which seemed to define the 1980s.In less than ten years, the most visible representation of African American maleness, which was previously defined by wealth, status, and what many would call an overall "positive" image, has been transformed into an oppositional image, which exists in poverty, remains marginal, and is characterized by what many have called "the scum of the earth" in a colloquial sense, but which fits more closely with the idea of "the truly disadvantaged." I am specifically referring to the image of the gangsta and his embodiment in the cultural medium of gangsta rap.
The focus of this chapter is the cultural context that defines gangsta rap, with specific attention to the issues of historical significance, the