The Study’s Origins
This book explores the ways that hip hop and gangster rap have influenced the lives of listeners and nonlisteners alike. As background, I review the origins of hip hop, focusing not primarily on the music but on the beginning of a social movement with cultural expression at its center. Rap music is one such cultural expression and was quickly commercialized in stages leading to the development of gangster rap, the founders of which were shocked to find that they had a vast audience. I then explore gangster rap in order to find answers to critical questions left unaddressed in the existing literature. Why is gangster rap so attractive? How is it distinct from other expressions of rap? Using national and industry surveys as a basis, I address the controversies surrounding who listens to the music and how extensive that audience is. Precisely what social world does gangster rap represent? Is it black music for and by black people that whites just happen to enjoy? All these questions must be answered before one begins to explore the impact the music has on both listeners and nonlisteners.
Once the background is set, this study presents overviews of the psychological and communications studies on media effects, along with small