One thing that makes America an interesting place is the influence of different cultures from all parts of the world in our lives. Music in America is just the same. The beats, lyrics, and everything in-between all contain elements of cultures from around the world. In this week’s post, we’re going to take a look at the influence of Italy on rap music. This will be part one of a two-part series. Look for part two the Italian Influence on Rap Music to drop tomorrow. So, on that note (see what I did there?), let’s get started with part one.
Unfortunately, violence is a part of every culture. For Italian culture, the Mafia is a part of the violence. The media, especially American media, has glamourized the stereotype of the Mafia lifestyle. This includes rap music, which has never shied away from violent or illegal topics. While the issue of glamourizing the Mafia is something that needs to be discussed, it isn’t really what we’re here to do today. This post will simply highlight ways Italy has influenced rap.
Rap is a style of music that loves to namedrop. Pick just about any rapper from any country, if you listen to their music you’ll notice that rappers rarely turn down the opportunity to reference another famous name. This is no different with references to the Mafia. Two of the most famous names in the world of organized crime, Al Capone, and John Gotti, have thousands of references in the rap game. Checking a popular music website Genius.com, Capone’s name brings over a thousand results, while John Gotti has over eight thousand results.
The Mafia and its lifestyle have influenced rappers all over America, but the strongest impact was on East Coast rap in the 80s and 90s. Mafioso rap is the name commonly used to describe the music from this period. Most say rapper Kool G Rap was the one who started the trend, using the theme in many songs such as “On the Run” in 1992. Some of the most famous names in East Coast rap followed the path including Nas, Raekwon, Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang, and more.
Why is the Mafia such a large part of rap culture? The answer to that is the lifestyle that has been presented to us by movies and TV. Movies like the Godfather and Goodfellas put an attractive view on the Mafia life. Rappers see the nice suits, the money, and drugs and envy those people. The characters in the movies and the real-life mobsters that inspired the stories become idols. Also, the aggressive, untouchable personalities of the Mafia is everything rappers portray in their music. Simply put, the two were made for each other.
That’s a wrap for part one! As usual, comment and share this post and look for part two coming tomorrow! Ciao! A Presto!