Opposition Against Gangsta Rap

The explicit message N.W.A.'s “Straight Outta Compton” delivered caused a lot of uproar amongst the police. Ignoring the misogyny and drug and alcohol references, they fought to censor gangsta rap songs that portrayed any aggression or hatred towards the police; however, other genres of music including heavy metal and grunge were also promoting the same anti-police message (Leola 27). It was clear that the lower class African American gangsta rappers were being singled out because of their race and class. The National Political Coalition of Black Women (NPCBW) also rallied to censor gangsta rap because of the bigotry against women even though other African American institutions were promoting the same misogyny (Leola 27).

Ice Cube, one of the leading rappers from N.W.A., commented on his contributions to gangsta rap saying that the general public doesn’t understand his lyrical content knowing “that when he talks about a drive-by shooting, he's not talking about killing people with Uzis. He's talking about murdering ignorance and oppression. A white person has to listen ten times before he gets most of the words. And even after ten times, he still needs a lot explained” (Smale, Sager 78). His music was never intended for anyone not living in the hood, so of course there was a lot of controversy over N.W.A’s lyrics, but it was unjust for them to be scorned in the public eye because the general public didn’t understand the message they were trying to send. The public saw the album “Straight Outta Compton” as dangerous and disturbing. Rolling Stone magazine commented on Ice Cube saying he “had the best voice in N.W.A. and the most menacing lines ever.”(Thompson, Stutzman 90). Although an unfair amount of criticism was heaped upon N.W.A’s debut album, at the time, it is important to understand that this response can be attributed to a naïve and fairly biased mainstream musical audience.


Gangsta rap became the scapegoat for a large number of social problems occurring during the late 20th century in the United States and was taking a beating from politics and the media. Rappers were singled out for their explicit albums and many had to appear in court for allegations calling their lyrics too obscene. Luther Campbell, former member of the rap group 2 Live Crew, had to appear in a supreme court hearing concerning his songs “We Want Some Pussy” and “Dick Almighty” being too explicit (Katel, 545). After a long debate, the verdict was that they were not too obscene and a fair exercise of his rights to free speech. The fight to censor rap music continued with people like Delores Tucker from the NPCBW stating, "We've launched a crusade against rap music. We have made a mandate to stop the exploitation”(Leola 37). David Banner, a famous rapper from the south, argued against the attack on gangsta rap saying, “people go to NASCAR because they want to see somebody crash. They want to see ‘The Departed,’ with people blowing each other’s heads off-that’s cool, that’s trendy. We see what people buy. Gangsta rap is just a reflection of America. America is sick. There’s so many other things we should be complaining about, and we’re talking about hip-hop.” (Katel, 531) People were complaining about the music and actions against hip hop and gangsta rap began to surface. Gangsta rap faced an economic pressure with people boycotting the release of new rap albums