The brazen multiethnic hip-hop crew Egotrip summarizes the gangsta-rap phenomenon with this haiku from its Big Book of Racism: "Fuck that nigga dead/Fuck them niggaz, kill niggaz/Our first gold record." There are few iced-out thugs who have much to say about narcotics and firearms that wasn't said better by N.W.A. or Notorious B.I.G., but the genre offers up a Jay-Z or DMX every few years to keep suburban white boys interested in what's happening in America's inner cities.
50 Cent and Clipse don't have B.I.G.'s storytelling abilities or Ice Cube's once-strong knack for biting social commentary. They do, however, boast killer disses (50 has made a cottage industry out of publicly questioning Ja Rule's status as a murderer, thug, and heterosexual) and some undeniable Dre- and Neptunes-produced club bangers that feel light years ahead of most street-life sounds.
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