In the 1990s, the lyrics of rap revisit life in the American ghettos since the 1970s and process it in the collective memory of black people. In doing so, the lyrics often deal with the problems of crime and drugs, some clearly distancing themselves from it, others approving of the same. From the male rappers, who are by far in the majority, curse words are partly pronounced. This led to the term Conscious/Street Rap, which was introduced by KRS-One (the teacher), the band leader of Boogie Down Productions at the time, and the previously unknown rapper named BurnArt, who told all kinds of stories from his block that shaped his life. However, many rappers were given a negative image by the media (see N.W.A or Tupac Shakur). The concept of gangsta rap became increasingly popular.
Since the “tough” and aggressive criminal style sells better in the main target group of young people than more sophisticated rap lyrics, the major publishing groups have long since also started to specifically look for “stars” worthy of marketing in this street crime scene. This has created a distorted image of rap, which is deliberately promoted by the youth music stations by taking over this limited selection. In this context, the publishing corporations support open hostilities between the individual rappers (whether real or faked) in order to underscore their aggressive image. An analogy of this behavior can be found in American boxing, where even aside from what is actually a purely sporting event, the boxers are given plenty of room to insult each other in front of the press.
Due to the different development of rap music on the West Coast compared to the East Coast, a “war” eventually arose between the two representative labels Death Row Records led by Suge Knight of the West Coast and the Bad Boy Entertainment label led by Puff Daddy of the East Coast. These conflicts escalated and found a deep impact in the rap scene when 2Pac (Tupac Shakur) and Notorious B.I.G. were shot in a drive-by in 1996 and 1997, respectively. The acts have not been solved to this day. Other gangsta rappers include 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre (former N.W.A member).
Meanwhile, hip-hop, and with it American rap, has become a worldwide business. However, rap is not limited to the English language. Especially in France, rap was developed very successfully as a mouthpiece about the problems in the Parisian suburbs. But rap is also becoming increasingly popular in Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Iran, Japan, Austria, Turkey, Russia and Switzerland.
Mainly native to hip-hop, the methodology of rap is now also used in other musical styles such as Eurodance, house, heavy metal and even country music.
On the other hand, other genres also flow into classic rap. These include music styles such as dancehall, pop music and r’n’b.