Why Dr Dre hated the term “gangsta rap”
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Why Dr Dre hated the term "gangsta rap"

Business mogul and legendary producer Dr Dre has made all sorts of music across his 30-year career. However, some of his most notable work was alongside his West Coast peers as part of the collective N.W.A. The collective’s 1988 debut album, Straight Outta Compton, sent shockwaves throughout the US and put California firmly on the map concerning rap music. 

The LA group were known for their raw and aggressive style that reflected the crime-ridden neighbourhoods from which they came. However, as the ensemble’s primary producer and musical visionary, Dre (real name Andre Young didn’t like the media’s response to his music, especially when it got labelled as “Gangsta Rap.”

Over the years, many MCs have been called Gangsta rappers. From 2pac to 50 Cent and more, the term has come to mean a style of lyricism that focuses solely on criminal activity and murder. However, Dre during the 1980s, Dre knew that his intentions were pure when he made music.

The same has been said by many other artists. In a 2017 interview with Drink Champs, the godfather of the subgenre, Ice-T, stated, “It wasn’t gangsta rap. It was reality rap. It wasn’t everyone’s reality, but it was my reality. I was just rapping for the people in my area.”

During his interview with Kevin Hart for his Hart To Heart television series, Dr Dre explained, “I’ve never liked it being called gangsta rap. That’s never what we went in to do. We [were] just making hardcore hip-hop, that’s all. I don’t know what it got that title or who gave it that title.”

Figures such as Ice Cube and Ice-t have attributed the title to the fact that Los Angeles’ gang culture has always been normalised, widespread and potent for much longer than any other region of the US, so when the gangsters made music, they just labelled it “Gangsta Rap.”

According to many, in the modern-day, gangsta rap is dead, and many cite the 2007 sales battle between Kanye West and 50 Cent as the death of the subgenre with 50 Cent’s low sales showing the loss of its appeal. You can watch Dr Dre’s interview with Kevin Hart below.