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Gangsta vs. Gangster

January 4, 2008

OK, first post of the new year. Although I have whirlwind of things in my mind that I could write about, I’ve decided to show my “Generation X” (and my age) a little bit, and settled on this: Gangsta vs. Gangster.

“This life we live, this thing of ours, it’s not like it used to be…” OK, all joking aside, I’ve been listening to a lot of hip-hop lately thanks to my new iPod, and to be honest with you… it’s all crap! Now just to clarify; I grew up on hip-hop, I love rap music, and there are still a few artists that I listen to regularly. I like Xzibit, The Game, Scarface and I love Knoc-turn’al’s delivery style, but in today’s hip-hop scene there seems to be no shortage of rappers claiming to be gangstas, bragging about their cars, all the Crystal they drink, and the platinum around there necks and on their teeth. I grew up in the hood, I know what it’s like, for the longest time my whole word consisted of about a three mile radius and I didn’t even know what the fuck platinum was until Ice Cube’s War & Peace album came out! Then they want me to believe that they got all that from selling dope? BULLSHIT!

When I was coming up, you didn’t sell dope so that you could have all that flashy shit, you did it so you could survive, you did it as a means to put food on the table and keep a roof over your head. You did it because there was no other way to make it. I see so many of these so called “gangsta’s” fucking up their lives just so that they can be “cool” it’s pathetic. Hip-hop may have coined the phrase “gangsta” as a new age version of being a “gangster“, but what it’s become has turned into such a twisted and diluted version of itself it’s almost funny.

Being a gangster means being about your money and respect, cool never enters into the equation. If you’re not in the “life” for money then you don’t need to be in the life. If you just want to be cool then by all means, join a fuckin boy band, because being a gangster ain’t for children, and only children worry about being cool.

I’ve done my share of illegal shit when I was young, in search of money and I’ve got the criminal record to prove it, but you can be a gangster and have that “gangster mentality” without ever having to break the law. I run an adult club for a living, perfectly legal, but if you run a tab in my club… You.Will.Pay.It. One way or another I’m going to get my money, I’m not saying I’ll do anything illegal to get it, but they always pay… and I’ll leave it at that.

On the other hand I know more than a few people who were given opportunities that I would have given my right nut for, and totally fucked it up because they wanted to be cool. There’s this kid, I’ll call him Zack, that comes into the club every once in a while. He has a good paying job at a local factory pulling down about $15 an hour, but about a month or two ago he got busted by the police with over 75 individually packaged crack rocks selling them to undercover cops. That’s just stupid! He fucked up a job where he was making over 30K a year, and any future jobs he may have gotten, all over a little extra spending money and trying to impress his friends… that’s not gangster.

I should note that I knew he was a dope dealer, because at my club we have a zero tolerance policy for drug dealers, and I had to pull him aside one night and explain to him how important it was for his future to not sell dope in my club, and as long as he abided by my rules, I didn’t care where his money came from. But I had no clue he actually had a job until after he got busted.

This other kid I went to school with, Tim, has a Dad that’s a doctor, a Mom that’s a lawyer, and got accepted into a good college, but he’s sitting in prison for breaking and entering, and selling stolen guns. Again, not gangster.

Another guy I know, I’ll call him Mike, grew up dirt poor, he’s a convicted felon, has a newborn baby, and busts his ass doing whatever odd job he can find (legal and on occasion “not so legal“) to put food on the table for his family. He’s worked hard to get his G.E.D. and a partial collage education, but just can’t seem to catch a break. He’s a gangster.

The argument can be made that they were nothing more than “posers”, pretending to be gangsta’s, but to take a step back an look at hip-hop, that’s what it’s made up of. Rap has went from being music for and from the streets, to being music for the clubs and dance floors, and as a consequence that is what it has become, music for all those posers to listen to while they’re out at the club, so that they can feel like they are from the streets, and pretend to be gangsters.

Common – I Used To Love Her
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  1. September 13, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    first time ever on this site, and this is what i read. Your 100% right. I come from the “hood”, meaning Brooklyn, i’m not black i’m actually italian (no i’m not in the mob), but in certain neighborhoods you just subscribe to a certain lifestyle, and you grew up in a place where everyone else did the same thing. In my hood there wasn’t a lot of drug dealing, but there was a thriving stolen car market, selling hot shit, selling guns, running numbers, loansharks etc. I now live in the burbs and i never quite grasp why these kids think its so cool to emulate what they percieve as gangsters. “The Life” as we call it, isn’t something to be glamorized, its a fucked up lifestyle that can be compared to a very steep and high rollar coaster. One day you can be flush with cash, next day all your money could be blown on a bailbondsmen and your looking at 10 years. And 99% of these suburban kids couldn’t do 24 hours in a county jail. I love rap and mostly listen to mixtapes nowadays, and yea most of the rappers are fake, but i’ll end with a quote from 50 Cent, that pretty much sums up what a gangster is to me. ” My mama told me baby boy the lord gonna bless us/ and dope bought us shit the food stamps couldn’t get us/ they don’t understand we was just trying to MAKE IT/ but where i’m from, when u want shit u gotta take it”.

  2. Konstantin
    October 29, 2008 at 12:04 am

    It’s “Cristal”. You don’t need to pretend to be a hip-hop head. Neither do you have to pretend to be a gangster, whatever you think the term means.

    Being below the middle class line does not make you a gangster. It makes you hustle your butt off, true. But your friend Mike is not a gangster. Nobody is these days. That word is a shiny toy used for entertainment. Live your life, own your club, post your little blurbs about life but don’t put on airs about yourself that people can see through if they read between the lines.

    Rap has gone to the clubs because it’s where the money is. If you were cunning, talented and hungry you too would try to promote the only thing you could make that gave you an inkling of the life we all think we deserve. Squeezing every nickel out of your “art” or trade is just simple marketing to the masses. It’s a drug in some ways, yes people live vicariously through the lyrics but don’t pretend you don’t. That’s what music does; It helps you escape.

    Nothing but love. Your post was just flawed in my opinion. -K

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