Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas: Identity and the Code of the Street in Rap Music

Social Problems, Vol. 52, pp. 360-378, 2005

20 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2012

See all articles by Charis Kubrin

Charis Kubrin

University of California, Irvine; University of California, Irvine

Date Written: 2005

Abstract

Recent research on identity, culture, and violence in inner-city communities describes a black youth culture, or street code, that influences adolescent behavior, particularly violent behavior. I build upon such literature through analysis of gangsta rap music, exploring how the street code is present not only in “the street,” but also in rap music. I first consider how structural conditions in inner-city communities have given rise to cultural adaptations embodied in a street code. These adaptations help to create an interpretive environment where violence is accountable, if not normative. I then examine the complex, reflexive relationship between the street code, rap music, and social identity. These issues are examined through content analysis of 403 songs on rap albums from 1992 to 2000. Portrayals of violence in the lyrics serve many functions including establishing social identity and reputation and exerting social control: these are the central topics of the analysis.

Keywords: rap music, crime, media, communities, social identity, street code, content analysis

Suggested Citation

Kubrin, Charis, Gangstas, Thugs, and Hustlas: Identity and the Code of the Street in Rap Music (2005). Social Problems, Vol. 52, pp. 360-378, 2005. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2028168

Charis Kubrin (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Department of Criminiology, Law and Society
Social Ecology II, Rm 3379
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

University of California, Irvine ( email )

Department of Criminiology, Law and Society
Social Ecology II, Rm 3379
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

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