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Mafioso rap

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Mafioso rap

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Mafioso rap is a hip hop sub-genre which flourished in the mid-1990s. It is the pseudo-Mafia extension of East Coast hardcore rap, and was the counterpart of West Coast G-Funk rap during the 1990s.


In contrast to West Coast gangsta rappers, who tended to depict realistic urban life on the ghetto streets, Mafioso rappers' subject matter included self-indulgent and luxurious fantasies of rappers as Mobsters, or Mafiosi, while making numerous references towards notorious crime organizations of the Italian underworld, including the Gambino crime family and Cosa Nostra. Fantasized and fictional narratives told by Mafioso rappers are often adapted versions of classic crime thrillers, most notably Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, Goodfellas, Casino, King of New York, and Scarface. Another trademark feature of Mafioso rap is the idolizing of high profile organized crime figures. These crime kingpins range from legendary gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s such as Al Capone, Frank Costello, and Lucky Luciano, to the druglords of Latin America (including Pablo Escobar).


Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is credited with popularizing Mafia and gangster movie motifs in Mafioso Rap Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is credited with popularizing Mafia and gangster movie motifs in Mafioso Rap

The Mafia has been a staple reference for hip-hop artists since the genre's earliest days. LL Cool J, for instance, was among the first rappers to do so in his song "I'm Bad": "Not the last Mafioso, I'm an MC cop.". Similiarily, Kool G Rap was one of the first rappers to make the Mafioso lifestyle a major theme in his lyrics. On his debut album, Road to the Riches (1989), Kool G Rap showcases graphic narratives about the "glamorous life" of a criminal:

Gettin' richer and richer, the police took my picture
But I still supplied, some people I knew died
Murders and homicides for bottles of suicide
Money, jewelry, livin' like a star
And I wasn't too far from a Jaguar car
In a small-time casino, the town's Al Pacino
For all of the girls, the pretty boy Valentino
I shot up stores and I kicked down doors
Collecting scars from little neighborhood wars
Many legs I broke, many necks I choked
And if provoked I let the pistol smoke
Eyes of hate and their hearts get colder
Some young male put in jail
His lawyer so good his bail is on sale
Lookin' at the hourglass, how long can this power last?
Longer than my song but he already fell
He likes to eat hardy, party
Be like John Gotti, and drive a Maserati

Kool G Rap's epic tales, chronicling the crime underworld of drug trafficking and the luxurious pleasures of the high-end illegal business, inspire the related Mafioso rap phenomenon of the mid-1990s, which later achieved some mainstream success and great critical acclaim with albums such as Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, AZ's Doe Or Die, and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt. At the genre's zenith in the mainstream music industry, mafioso-inspired albums, including Nas's It Was Written and Biggie's Life After Death, went on to become multi-platinum commercial successes.

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This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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