Nuthin' but a "G" Thang: The Culture and Commerce of Gangsta Rap

By Eithne Quinn | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 5 The Nigga Ya Love to Hate
BADMAN LORE AND GANGSTA RAP

GANGSTA RAP is populated by two broad sets of archetypal protagonists: loosely, we might label them the nihilistic gangbanger and the enterprising hustler. Indeed, the genre title itself encompasses both street gang member and upwardly mobile gangster. In a roundtable discussion published in The Source, two leading gangsta rappers grapple with competing definitions:

MC EIGH: I don’t know why they call it gangsta rap ’cause ain’t nobody here wearin’col-
ors and rags and shit when we makin’ records. That’s bangin’ on wax. That’s gangsta
rappin’ right there: niggas claiming sets and colors and shit.

SCARFACE: [pauses, laughs] Gangsta. My definition, man, is somebody who has the
power to take over a whole city, state, or country. To me, that’s a gangsta. Like Al
Capone or John Gotti. That’s gangsta. Or the presidents, you know’m sayin’?1

Organizing binaries emerge here: alienation versus acculturation; physical versus discursive power; resistance through subcultural ritual versus resistance through financial self-determination. In sociological terms (as we saw in chap-

-92-

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