First Advisor

Devorah Lieberman

Term of Graduation

Winter 1997

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech Communication


Speech Communication




Rap Music -- History and criticism, African Americans -- Music -- History and criticism



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 141 pages)


This thesis examines gangsta' rap as a form of narrative. It addresses the following questions: 1) Is gangsta' rap a form of narrative; most significant characterizes the 2) if yes, which narrative elements are to interpreting the stories; 3) what elements which are most significant to interpreting the stories and 4) what kinds of stories are being told? Data for the analysis included transcribed lyrics from a representative sample of gangsta' rap recordings. Journal articles, media articles and books germane to understanding the social and cultural context of gangsta rap were also used. It was found that gangsta' rap lyrics do in fact constitute narratives or stories. This thesis demonstrates through an application of narrative criticism, that the lyrics contained the eight elements of narrative, and that the elements of themes, events and setting were central to characterizing the stories. Moreover, it showed that six key themes - Black on Black violence, distrust of police, guns, prison, racism and rejection of a white power structure characterized the narratives. Implication for future research include metaphorical criticism, gender-based studies and content analysis.


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