Crime as Pop: Gangsta Rap as Popu­lar Staging of Norm Viola­ti­ons (2023)

Peer reviewed / Buchveröffentlichung


Crime is quantified extensively, mostly in order to prevent it, therefore assuming it as something purely negative. With the concept “Crime as Pop” we argue that such a view is one-sided, since crime is often staged as something that can be attractive and that can be used constructively for different purposes. We investigate this perspective by studying gangsta rap, which we consider a pop-cultural phenomenon that young people relate to in the context of interactive practices of identity construction. The stories told in gangsta rap are used by the youth recipients in a situation-and location-specific manner to present themselves in a certain way. Young people reproduce motifs of success that often characterize gangsta rap. They portray themselves as agentive and stage forms of resistance against people and institutions to which they might otherwise appear passive and powerless. Young people’s engagement with gangsta rap thus shows how the pop-cultural phenomena can be appropriated in many different ways. “Crime as Pop” illustrates the contingent connections of cultural phenomena and their appropriation that require detailed empirical reconstruction.


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Dollinger, Bernd, and Julia Rieger. 2023. Crime as Pop: Gangsta Rap as Popular Staging of Norm Violations. Arts 12: 21.