A Systematic Review on the Functions of Rap among Gangs

Jeffrey Lozon, Moshe Bensimon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Although the field of gangs is well studied, information regarding the way gangs may use or misuse music for different needs is sparse. The aim of this systematic review is to gather descriptive and empirical information to ascertain the important roles rap music possesses within gang life. This review suggests five main functions of rap used within gangs with an emphasis on the subgenre of gangsta rap. First, rap facilitates antisocial behavior by reinforcing such messages in its lyrics. Second, its deviant lyrics serve as a reflection of the violent reality experienced in many urban ghetto communities. Third, it operates as a means for constructing individual and collective identity, as well as resistance identity. Fourth, it functions as an educating force by teaching its members how to act and respond in the urban ghetto. Finally, rap glorifies gang norms among newcomers and successfully spreads its values to the general population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1243-1261
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© SAGE Publications.


  • antisocial behavior
  • gangs
  • gangsta rap
  • identity
  • rap


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