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Student Name: Danielle Ward

Student Number: 18022885


Degree Route: Criminology and Psychology
Supervisor: Jean Henderson

The influence of the hip-hop lifestyle on the


possession and use of weapons by young
male gang members in the UK.

Confirmation:
I confirm that this is my own work and that all sources used have been
fully acknowledged and referenced in the prescribed manner.

Student signature:

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- Abstract Following the recent media interest over the apparent increase of gang violence and
weapon use, and the government initiatives aimed at curbing gang involvement, it seems
that any influencing factors must be acknowledged in order to effectively tackle the issue.
This paper explores the supposed influence that hip-hop has on young male gang
members and their willingness to carry and use weapons. A systematic review of the
literature and a qualitative content analysis of six hip-hop songs from the last decade
confirm that three prominent themes are consistent with both the attitudes and behaviours
expressed by young people, and the music that they might listen to. These themes are
drug-dealing, territoriality, and at the heart of the majority of literature and hip-hop songs,
as well as the activities that young male gang members engage in, is the need for social
identity in the form of street-cred, status, power and most importantly, respect.

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- Acknowledgements First and foremost, I would like to thank my dissertation tutor, Jean Henderson for all of
the support and help she has given over the last year, and for her positivity which helped
me to stay calm in times of doubt and uncertainty.

Many thanks to my boyfriend, Jamie Dunn, for telling me off whenever I got distracted,
and for being incredibly supportive even when he was the target of my stress and
frustration. Many thanks also go to my housemates; Hannah Daykin, Sophie Wormleighton,
Dani Hammond, Jess Richardson and Philippa Watson, for being great distractions when
needed, but also in making my university experience what it was.

Finally, a huge thank you to my family; Adrian, Gaynor and Lee for their love and support
throughout the whole three years.

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- Contents Introduction........................................................................................................5
Chapter 1: Literature Review........................................................................8
Background....................................................................................8
The Problem with Definition.........................................................10
The UKs New Gang Culture......................................................11
Gang Membership.......................................................................12
Possession and the Violent Use of Weapons..............................13
The Influence of Hip-Hop.............................................................14

Chapter 2: The Research Process...........................................................17


Methodological Approach............................................................17
Research Design.........................................................................18
Analysis....................................................................................... 19
Ethical Considerations.................................................................20

Chapter 3: Analysis and Discussion.......................................................22


Analysis of Song Lyrics.........................................................23
Discussion................................................................................25
Street-cred status, power and respect..........................25
Drug dealing fast cars, fast money...............................28
Territoriality a way of life...............................................31

Chapter 4: Conclusion.................................................................................34
References........................................................................................................37
Appendix...........................................................................................................44

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- Introduction For the majority of the last Century, a great deal of interest regarding UK gangs and their
attitudes, behaviours and activities has emerged in the form of research and theory, and
more recently government reports and media speculation. Reports of postcode gang
violence (Crerar, 2011) and gangland feud[s] (Doward and Jayahama, 2010), have
instilled fear into the public, and the murders of several innocent young people involving
weapons in the last decade, such as Rhys Jones, Danielle Beccan, and Charlene Ellis and
Latisha Shakespeare, has highlighted the true extent of the problem. This in turn has led to
government initiatives, including the most recent Gang Injunction (part 4, section 34,
Policing and Crime Act, 2009) aimed at preventing young people from engaging in,
encouraging or assisting gang-related violence.
Research shows that gang members are not only more likely to be violent than non-gang
members, but are also more likely to carry and use weapons such and knives or guns (e.g.
Association of Chief Police Officers, 2007; Bellair and McNulty, 2009; Pickle, 2009), and
hip-hop music and rap artists tend to be classed as the main influence by politicians and the
media. However, when looking to academic or government research to support this, the
effect of hip-hop is often rejected with little or no evidence to support the dismissal. Could it
therefore be that claims made by politicians and the media are ungrounded? Studies in
America (Kubrin, 2005) and Canada (Miranda and Claes, 2004) suggest that some of the
themes in rap song lyrics were often reflected in the behaviours of deviant youth, therefore
suggesting a relationship between the two. However, no such research has been
conducted in the UK.
In response to this, the present study wishes to develop an understanding of whether
there is a realistic link between the street gang culture in the UK and the hip hop lifestyle
that, according to politicians and the media, influences young gang members to engage in
the possession and violent use of weapons. Therefore, the research question that the
author aims to answer is;

Does the 'hip-hop lifestyle' influence the possession and violent use of
weapons by young male street gang members in the United Kingdom?

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Ultimately, this paper sets out to explore if weapon use and possession is really
glamorised by the hip-hop lifestyle, or whether such suggestions from politicians and the
media are unjustified. The author also aims to;

find out if gang attitudes, beliefs and behaviours can be attributed to the hip-hop
lifestyle;

establish whether prominent behaviours in the literature and song lyrics are
associated with the use of violence and weapons;

and

to apply theory to certain attitudes and behaviours that are associated with gangs
to provide a more holistic approach to gang behaviours.

The author attempts to respond to these aims through the means of a qualitative analysis
and discussion of academic literature, government reports and media articles, as well as a
small scale analysis of some of the hip-hop, rap and grime songs that young gang
members may listen to. Chapter 1 provides a review of the background of gang research
and theory, while discussing why research from America may not apply to the gang
phenomenon in the UK. This is followed by discussing and outlining the definition that this
paper will use as the framework for the remainder of the study. From this, the UKs new
gang culture is discussed along with the literature surrounding the reasons for gang
membership, the possession and use of weapons, and the potential influence of hip-hop.
Chapter 2 outlines the approach that has been taken during the research process, including
the research design and the analyses to be used, followed by a discussion of the ethical
considerations that arose when designing the research study. Chapter 3 discusses the
analysis of the song lyrics and the prominent themes that have emerged following a
thematic content analysis of the literature. All three have been discussed with regards to
how hip-hop may have an influence when considering the possession and use of weapons.
The first theme is the need for street cred, status, power and respect, which is discussed
in relation to social identity theory and theories of masculinity. Secondly, drug dealing is
discussed through rational choice theory, and strain and differential association theories.

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Finally the issue of protecting territory is discussed through the lens of social capital theory
and social learning theory.
The author concludes that after an extensive exploration into the literature and a smallscale analysis of six hip-hop songs, it seems that the hip-hop lifestyle can be accountable
to some degree for the influence it has on the attitudes, behaviours and activities of young
gang members. The current study also adds to the research into gang membership by
suggesting that the hip-hop lifestyle may act as an influence to join a gang, while also
providing a basis for future primary research into the reasons for gang membership and the
influences of social factors.

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- Chapter 1 A review of the literature


The following chapter explores the literature surrounding gangs, violence and weapons,
and the influence that hip-hop may have on this type of behaviour in young males.
Government reports, research studies and newspaper articles have been examined and
reviewed in order to paint a picture of the current state of the UK regarding the reported
increase in gang violence. Following a glance at the background research into gangs, the
issue of a suitable definition for the term gang is briefly discussed in order to provide a
framework for the remainder of this paper. This will be followed by a discussion of the
literature surrounding the current gang phenomena, the reasons for gang membership, and
then the prevalence of the possession and the violent use of weapons by young people.
Finally, the inconsistencies between academic literature and the media with regards to the
influence of the hip-hop lifestyle on young male gang members will be discussed.
Background
In their study into gang membership and crime in the UK, Bennett and Holloway (2004a)
found evidence from national newspapers and government reports to suggest that the
number of gangs in the UK is increasing, along with the number of gang members. They
argued that with the apparent increase of violent offending and the possession and use of
guns, British gangs were not too dissimilar to the American stereotype that is often rejected
by the UK literature. Despite this, early research into youth groups and gangs (e.g. Downes,
1966) showed that findings from American research could not be generalised to the rising
youth culture in Britain.
The study of youth groups and gangs has been has been a focus point for subcultural
theorists in America for almost a Century. Thrashers (1927: cited in Schneider and Tilley,
2004) research into gangs in Chicago provides what is often cited to be the first systematic
study into gang culture phenomena. After this, research by the likes of subculture theorist
Merton (1938), and his students Cohen (1955) and Cloward and Ohlin (1961) became
incredibly influential in later research into delinquent groups. Mertons (1938) Social
Structure and Anomie thesis proposed that at the forefront of everyones aspirations was

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the American Dream. However, not all means of acquiring this, such as education, were
accessible to some people which in turn led to a sense of anomie. This feeling of strain
resulted in deviant behaviours such as petty crime and violence by the young working-class
males who felt most affected. Cohen (1955) extending the notion of social structure and
anomie by explaining that in order to explain that non-instrumental vandalism and violence
was due to status frustration. The individuals who felt such frustration would gravitate
towards one another to establish new norms, [and] new criteria of status (pp.66), which
ultimately formed a delinquent subculture. Cloward and Ohlin (1961) extended this further
by highlighting that everyone has access to legitimate and illegitimate opportunities, and
suggested three types of subculture. The criminal subculture was described as a group
with close bonds, who rely on theft and extortion as a means of acquiring a secure income.
the retreatist subculture fail to find legitimate or illegitimate means in order to succeed, and
so turn to alcohol or drug abuse, while the conflict culture is a type of gang in which the
manipulation of violence predominates as a way of winning status (pp.1). This last
description is most relevant to the current paper, although it is understood that a UK
definition may be more relevant.
Subcultural theorists in the UK struck an interest in gang research following the
emergence of youth subcultures during the 1950s. However, early research suggested
that violent street gangs were non-existent. Downes (1966) systematic review of the
admittedly sparse literature, found no evidence to suggest that Cloward and Ohlins (1961)
criminal-, retreatist- or conflict cultures existed in the UK, adding that youth groups
lacked the structured cohesion that their American counter-subjects boasted. Downes also
found little evidence to support Cohens (1955) notion of status frustration, but admitted
that by conducting his study in only one borough meant that his findings may not be
generalised to the rest of the UK. Despite this, he concluded that research into gang
delinquency in this country is [...] a fair reflection of its absence (pp.116). Further to this,
Campbell et al (1982) held the firm belief that the gang belonged to America while the UK
held host to subcultures. As a result, it was felt that a separate definition for youth gangs in
the UK would need to be developed in order to provide a framework for future research.

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The Problem with Definition


The issue of definition surrounding the term gang is one that remains dominant among
the majority of UK based literature (e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004a; Wood and Alleyne,
2009). While most early definitions have been developed with reference to Americas
understanding of gang characteristics (Fitch, 2009), it is argued that a new definition should
accompany the new gang culture in the UK. Ball and Curry (1995) investigated the logic
behind some American definitions of the term gang, and noted that while it is easy enough
to identify a gang, the real issue arises when attempting to establish a definition. The
authors concluded that although old definitions are often acceptable, new definitions are
always necessary due to sociological, political and cultural changes that affect the
phenomenon, or in order to fit the purpose for which the definition is required. Despite this
conclusion, many academics and government organisations agree that a fixed definition is
essential in order to develop policy or to further develop gang research. For example, the
Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) state that an agreed definition of gangs on
which to base data collection (2007: 14) was non-existent, and so it is difficult to determine
the proportion of crime that can be attributed to gangs.
Marshall et al (2005), along with the Metropolitan Police Service (2008), strongly believe
that the term gang cannot be used to describe all aspects of the phenomena. They instead
suggest that a three-tiered typology, consisting of peer groups, gangs and organised
crime networks is more appropriate method to determine the type of gang that is being
researched. Hallsworth and Youngs Urban Collective paper for the Metropolitan Police
Service (cited in Marshall et al, 2005: 16), provides the following description of a gang,
which will serve as the definition for the remainder of this paper. They describe the gang
as:
Relatively durable, predominantly street based groups of young people who see
themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and
violence is integral to the groups identity.

The Metropolitan Police Service (2008) also identify several other factors that differentiate
a gang from relatively small, unorganised and transient peer groups, such as a name, an

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organisable structure, and the use of violence and delinquent behaviour to promote group
identity and to acquire social capital.
This up-to-date definition will provide a framework for the remainder of this paper in terms
of distinguishing between the literature that surrounds gangs everyday peer groups.
The UKs New Gang Culture
Professional academics, government officials and the media have all, at some point,
noted their concern about the growing perception of the evolving gang culture in the UK.
While some academics argue that the gang problem is over-sensationalised by the media
(Alexander, 2008), others suggest that the need to understand and tackle gang violence is
more important now than ever before (Bullock and Tilley, 2008).
Heale (2008: xii) noted that youth street gangs have been particularly highlighted in the
UK since 2007, following the medias outcry regarding the increase in the number high
profile gang related killings and the brutality and callousness of the attacks. Headlines
such as; Boy, 14, is latest victim of gang violence (Brown, 2007) and Gang war probe
after girl, five, shot in [...] shop (BBC News, 2011), seem to dominate the newspapers. The
fatal shooting of an innocent eleven year old in Liverpool in 2007 is just one example that
caught the medias attention, where it emerged that Rhys Jones was shot by another youth
who was supposedly aiming at rival gang members (Carter, 2008). The media frenzy that
followed suggested that this particular case was revenge for the murder of another youth a
year earlier, and that gang warfare was subsequently sweeping through Liverpool (Heale,
2008). The cases of American style drive-by-shootings that resulted in the tragic deaths of
Danielle Beccan in Nottingham in 2004, and Charlene Ellis and Latisha Shakespeare in
Birmingham in 2003 (McLagen, 2009) also attracted vast amounts of media attention. This
alone suggested to the public that UK gangs were becoming a lot more like their American
counterparts. However, despite the evidence of gang violence taking place, academics
often criticise the media for focusing on the dramatic consequences of gang violence
(Fitch, 2009: 2) while exaggerating the true extent of the gang problem, claiming that such
sensationalism results in a disproportionate fear of crime (Samota, foreword in Alexander,
2008).

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So what is the true state of the new gang culture in the UK? It is estimated that over
30,000 young people are involved in gangs in England and Wales alone, with the average
age of members supposedly descreasing (Deuchar, 2008). Deuchar also suggested that
gang members tend to be predominantly from black or minority ethnic groups, although
Bennett and Holloway (2004a) found that the majority of the gang members in their
research study were white, followed by Caribbean and Bangladeshi. Such inconsistencies
in the literature surrounding the dominant race and ethnicity of gangs, suggests to the
author that race is not an important factor in determining the characteristics of gang
members. Therefore, race and ethnicity will not be specified in the current study. Bennett
and Holloway also found that the majority of gang members were male, and so the current
research will focus on male gang members.
Of the ever-growing amount of literature based on gangs, as well as looking at the
characteristics of gangs, a large proportion is devoted to the reasons why young people join
gangs.
Gang Membership
Young people, most notably males, are thought to seek gang membership for a variety of
social and psychological reasons (Bennett and Holloway, 2004a). Harris et al (2011)
suggests that some of the psychological motivations associated with gang membership
include; the desire for money, to acquire status and respect, for the feeling of
connectedness and belonging, and to obtain the perceived protection that the gang
supposedly offers from victimisation. This is particularly thought to be the case when there
is little or no effective support from social agencies (e.g. parent, teachers or police). Several
other studies have focused more heavily on sociological or criminological motivations. The
study by the NASUWT Teachers Union (2009) found that an absence or lack of positive
role models could mean that young people may look towards more accessible role models
when building a social identity. Findings from the study also suggested that young people
broken families often sought father-figures in the form of gang members or looked up to
older family members who may be involved in gangs. Wood and Alleyne (2009) also found
evidence that gang membership offers social support where it may be lacking in a familial

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environment, as well as protection from other gang members, the chance to acquire a
powerful status among peers, and the opportunity for excitement where day-to-day life may
usually be filled by boredom. Others suggest that gang membership is sought by young
people as a response to being excluded and alienated from mainstream society, particular
from education and employment (Marshall et al, 2005; Pickles, 2009).
While the reasons above offer an explanation as to why young people join gangs, it does
not outline the specific features of gang-member characteristics. However, evidence
suggests that gang members tend to be male, criminally active, involved in drug supply,
and more likely to carry weapons (e.g. Bennett and Holloway, 2004a)

Possession and the Violent Use of Weapons


A significant proportion of the literature that surround young people and youth gangs in
the UK focuses on possession and use of weapons (e.g. Bullock and Tilley, 2002; Bennett
and Holloway, 2004b; Marshall et al, 2005). Research by Lemos (2004) found that some
young people were likely to carry weapons through fear of being attacked by other gang
members or more worryingly because they associated it with being cool. This was also
reflected in Kinsellas (2011) report for the government, following the murder of her brother
Ben during a knife attack in 2008. Through visiting several projects across the country,
Kinsella found two prominent motivational factors that were highlighted in each project.
Those were fear and fashion. Some young people in the projects explained that they
carried knives because they feared that others were also weapons, and so felt it necessary
to carry knifes as a method of self-protection. More worryingly, others suggested that
carrying a weapon is a fashionable or a cool thing to do (pp.2). A large amount of the
recent research into gangs has noted the relationship between firearms and gangs (Squires
et al, 2008), and it appears that the number of gang-related incidents reported in the press
seem to be increasing. However, it is difficult to determine how much weaponised crime
can be attributed to gangs. Evidence from Bullock and Tilleys (2002) report suggests that
60% of firearm injuries in Manchester alone could be accounted for by gangs. Meanwhile,
Home Office statistics for firearm offences 2009/10 reported a 5% increase of injuries as a
result of firearms from the previous year, from 2,458 in 2008/09 to 2,574, although these

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figures actually follow a 41% fall from the previous year (Smith et al, 2011). It is also
important to point out that the Home Office definition of firearm enabled crime includes the
use of CS spray, pepper spray and stun guns (ACPO, 2007), while Marshall et al (2005)
notes that the increasing numbers of incidents involving imitation weapons are also
recorded as firearm statistics. It is therefore suggested that research concerning the use of
weapons should approach government statistics with caution.
The increase of young people carrying knives is also concerning. Marshall et al (2005)
found that 28% of school children admitted to carrying a knife to school. Furthermore,
Berman (2010) reported that in 2008, 6,368 offenders were found guilty of possession of a
knife in a public place, including schools, in England and Wales. While this figure is not
specific to young people, it still provides a worrying insight into the number of children who
may carry knives, especially in schools.
From this evidence alone, the need to establish what may be influencing young gang
members to carry and even use weapons seems to be the most logical starting point in the
attempt to curb gang violence.
The Influence of Hip-Hop
One factor that is commonly held responsible for the increase in gang violence is the hiphop culture, and the influence it may have on young people. In 2006 at the British Society of
Magazine Editors, David Cameron was reported to have asked the BBCs Radio 1 station;
"Do you realise some of the stuff you play on Saturday nights encourages
people to carry guns and knives?"
(Caesar, 2007).
Additionally, in Sally Pooks (2003) article for The Telegraph Rap music glamorises gun
violence David Blunkett supposedly told listeners during a radio discussion that idiots
like the So Solid Crew are glorifying gun culture and violence. Unsurprising, as only a year
before, member of the crew, Ashley Walters, was sentenced to 18 months in a young
offenders institute for possession of a firearm (ONeill, 2002). Despite this preconception
that rap music and the hip-hop lifestyle glamorises gangs and violence, very little research
on the subject has been done in the United Kingdom.

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Of the literature read so far, UK based research has been quick to dismiss the effect of
rap music on violence and the use of weapons by young gang members. For example,
Hallsworth and Silverstone (2009) suggest that style and music do not define the
relationships between the individuals and the violence they do, or the weapons they carry
(pg.362), yet offer no empirical support for this statement. However, they do suggest that
those who carry guns tend to adopt a particular style that is presumably influenced by
American hip hop. In Heales (2008) research into the UK gang culture, one youth worker
attempted explain that rap music was not responsible for youth gang violence:
The music coming from the headphones is not rap its grime. It has a
thumping fast beat and intense, aggressive lyrics. The rapper says that
anyone who beefs him will be killed: hell merk anyone
(pp.52)
While literature from the UK regarding the effect of rap music genres on deviant behaviour
in adolescence is sparse, academics in America and Canada have approached the subject
area in recent years. Miranda and Claes (2004) looked into a possible link between
preference of rap genres and self-reported deviant behaviours (violence, theft, street gang
involvement, mild drug use, and hard drug use) in French-Canadian adolescents, and found
that despite controlling for peers deviancy, violent media consumption and importance
given to lyrics, a significant link was still found between rap music and deviant behaviour.
However, despite these findings, they found no relationship between gangster rap and
street gang involvement. This in turn would suggest a need for future research in order to
completely out-rule the commonly held perception of the association between the two.
Kubrins (2005) study approached the issue of rap music lyrics and how they may have an
effect on American adolescents through a content analysis of rap songs in America. She
also addressed the use of guns, suggesting that the gun becomes a symbol of power and
a remedy for disputes (pp.363). Both Kubrin, and Miranda and Claes found evidence that
young people joined street gangs in order to acquire status and a social identity, as was
stated in the music they listen to. However due to these studyies being American and
Canadian, it is possible that the findings cannot be generalised to young street gangs in the
UK. The author of the present study therefore suggests that more research is needed in

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order to establish whether there is a relationship between hip-hop and gang attitudes and
behaviour in the UK.

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- Chapter 2 The Research Process


This section explains the methodological approach that the following research has
adopted in order to explore the relationship between the hip-hop lifestyle and the
possession and use of weapons by young male street gang members.
A systematic review of the literature and a qualitative content analysis of six songs from
the last decade has been conducted by the author to establish if such a relationship exists
in the UK. The present study takes an interpretivist epistemological position due to the fact
that knowledge has been formulated by the researcher through an analysis of available
research and theory while respecting that young people are independent of their social
settings and the objects around them. Through a constructionist ontology, it is implied that
the use of weapons by gang members is influenced by the hip-hop lifestyle but due to
popular music being an ever-evolving phenomenon, this idea will be in a constant state of
revision (Bryman, 2008: 19).
Methodological Approach
After reviewing the literature, a qualitative research study was initially considered as a
means of gathering raw data in order to answer the central research question. The majority
of government and academic research into gangs and the possession and use of weapons
takes the form of qualitative surveys, interviews or focus groups with current or previous
gang members and offenders an approach that is often seen in administrative criminology
(Jupp, 1989). Meanwhile, theory-generating research into gangs is often conducted by
means of ethnographic observation of deviant groups by cultural criminologists (Ellis et al,
2010).

With this is mind, it would be both difficult and potentially dangerous as an

undergraduate student to attempt to replicate either of these types of primary research, not
to mention the implications regarding a lack of time and the potential costs of a large scale
survey or observation. Quantitative statistic-generating research was also considered, but it
was decided that this type of study would be unsuitable when attempting to find out whether
the behaviour of individuals within a group is affected by external factors. By conducting a

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qualitative literature-based dissertation, the need for integrated theory in the study of gangs
and weapon use can be responded to.
Although the main limitation of this type of research is that the reading process is
incredibly time consuming, quality control and the discretion of the researcher means that
only relevant data will be used.
Research Design
The research design of the present study takes the form of a systematic review and
discussion of the literature. The author has reviewed government reports, published texts
and journal articles on the subject of gangs and violence involving weapons by young
males from the last decade. While the majority of research surrounding the possession and
use of weapons by gang members focuses on firearms and knives, the present study is
concerned with all weapons, including blunt objects. The materials that have been selected
for review are deemed to be trustworthy sources, although secondary data has been used
with caution as it is acknowledged that the original study may have been conducted for
reasons other than the purpose of this dissertation. An element of primary research has
also been conducted in the form of a small-scale qualitative content analysis of six UK hiphop songs.
The strengths of literature-based research fall mainly with the fact that by analysing data
that is already available, potentially expensive and time-consuming research has already
been done. The potential harm and risk involved in conducting primary research is also
minimised as there will be no contact with current or previous offenders who are currently of
have been involved in gangs and crimes involving weapons. This type of research is also
deemed to be incredibly valuable in terms of policy development and when formulating
intervention programmes (Bryman, 2008). However by not conducting primary research,
there is no control over the variables and so it is acknowledged that the rationale may be
different to the present study. The researcher has therefore made a conscious effort not to
manipulate the literature to support the hypothesis of the present study.
Of the six hip-hop songs that have been analysed, three are thought to demonstrate how
the hip-hop lifestyle may influence the behaviour of young male gang members,
particularly with regards to the use and possession of weapons. Two are considered to

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acknowledge social exclusion as a reason for delinquency, and a final song refers to strong
family connections and reminisces about youth. The last three songs have been chosen to
determine whether aspects of songs that do not glamorise gangs and violence are also
present in the lives of young male gang members. The song lyrics were obtained from an
online

song

lyric

databases

(www.lyricsmode.com;

www.sweetslyrics.com;

www.uppercutmusic.com), and although the validity and reliability of the lyrics from such
databases are questionable, all of the songs that have been used for analysis were
compared with an official audio version found through YouTube (a video broadcasting
website). Any errors within the lyrics have been corrected by the author. In cases where the
words or language in the songs was not understood, the online Urban Dictionary has been
as a means of translation. By conducting a qualitative content analysis of the song lyrics of
rap/hip-hop music, the researcher has hoped to establish whether the genre can justifiably
be held responsible for the behaviour of young male gang members, or whether such
claims by the media are in fact ungrounded.
Analysis
A process of thematic analysis during a systematic review of the literature has highlighted
the apparent key themes by noting repetitions, and similarities and differences (Ryan and
Bernard, 2003) in the literature articles. These themes have been developed and discussed
in relation to theory in the following analysis chapters, which is justified as a response to
one of the most common recommendations in the literature; the need for more theory to
guide future research (Miranda and Claes, 2004; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009; Wood
and Alleyne, 2009).
Similar to Kubrins (2005) study, the song lyrics are first of all discussed in relation to the
themes that emerged from the thematic content analysis in order to evaluate whether or not
the violent use of weapons by young male gang members is present in the music that is
marketed to urban youth. This is followed by a discussion of each theme in relation to the
literature while integrating theory in order to provide a more holistic understanding of youth
attitudes and behaviour. Following the initial process of analysis in order to identify the
themes within the literature, a critical discussion of the findings has provided the basis for
recommendations for future research.

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By using these types of analyses, a rich and detailed account of the influence of the hiplifestyle on young gang members can be generated from the literature due to its flexible
nature (Braun and Clarke, 2006). The findings can also be generalised to the population of
young male gang members, despite the fact that generalising results is often criticised for
ignoring individual cases which could in turn reveal valuable contradictions or
(in)consistencies (Joffe and Yardley, 2004; Braun and Clarke, 2006).
Ethical Considerations
With regards to ethical considerations, this type of research does not involve as many
ethical issues as primary research. For example, the absence of participants means that
there is no need for informed consent and there are no issues regarding an invasion of
privacy or deception. There is also no need to cosider data protection or storage, due to the
fact that the research studies and reports have been published and are available to the
public.
The following ethical considerations relate to the present study, and are in keeping with
the British Society of Criminologys (BSC) Code of Ethics (2006). As mentioned above, the
physical and/or emotional well-being of the researcher will be maintained as there is no
contact with past or current gang members (BSC, 3.ii). The BSC also states that
researchers should promote equal opportunity in all aspects of their professional work and
actively seek to avoid discriminatory behaviour (3.iv). While writing this paper, every effort
has been made by the author to correctly address young male gang members in terms of
age, gender and racial or ethnic group sensitively and by using non-biased language. The
views, beliefs and practices of young gang members have not been disrespected in any
way, as this dissertation is focused on developing a theoretical understanding of the
behaviour. Also, by conducting a systematic review of the literature and analysing it through
the themes that have been developed in the content analysis, arguments for and against
hip-hop influencing violence and weapon use have been established, and therefore the
views and practices of young gang members have not been disrespected.
With regards to participant consent (4.iii), young gang members (past or present) have
already consented to taking part in a published research study, and so any data from
interviews that have been conducted in previous studies is deemed acceptable to use as

- 20 -

secondary data. However, if an entire data set was used for the present research, a
Research Ethics Committee would have been required to conduct an expedited review
(Economic and Social Research Council).
One of the major limitations with this type of research is that some sources - especially
internet sources may not be reliable, so during the research phase, emphasis was placed
on using data and internet sources that are known to be reliable. In cases where perhaps
the reliability of internet materials was uncertain, such sources were approached with
caution as stated. Furthermore, a conscious effort has been made by the author not to
manipulate or misinterpret the findings to suit the research question. Further to this, no
preferential judgement has been made towards certain research findings in order to place
more weight on one side of an argument.
As stated in the BSC's Code of Ethics (3.iii) as being mandatory, all research papers,
theoretical articles and media articles have been appropriately referenced in order to give
the original author full credit for their work in the field.

- 21 -

- Chapter 3 Analysis and Discussion


The following section provides a discussion of the music that young male gang members
may listen to and the literature that surrounds gang research. Each section is discussed in
relation to the themes that emerged from the systematic review of the litertaure. These are
street-cred, drug-dealing and territoriality.
First of all, a qualitative analysis of the song lyrics is discussed, with a focus on those that
appear to promote violence and weapons, and gang affiliation. Although this paper sets out
to establish whether it is the lifestyle that influences the violent use of weapons amongst
young male gang members, it is understood that such artists often project their lifestyle
choices and attitudes in their songs. After this, relevant literature will be discussed with
regards to the themes that became apparent following the thematic content analysis.
Theory will be integrated within the discussion in order to provide a more holistic
understanding of how the behaviour of young male gang members may be influenced by
the hip-hop lifestyle.
The first theme that will be discussed is one that is most prominent in literature concerning
gangs and the possession and violent use of weapons. The desire for street-cred,
including the acquisition of status, power and respect, is discussed in relation to Tajifal and
Turners (1985) social identity theory along with theories of masculinity. Secondly, drug
dealing as a means of making the money in order to acquire such status and to live the
hip-hop lifestyle is discussed with relevance to Cornish and Clarkes (1986) rational choice
theory, followed subcultural strain theories (Merton, 1938; Cohen, 1955; Cloward and
Ohline, 1961) and Sutherland and Cresseys (1970) theory of differential association.
Finally, the notion of protecting territory is discussed through the lens of social capital
theory, and Akers (1998) social learning theory.
While it is acknowledged by the author that the majority of the theories discussed in the
following chapter were founded in America, it is understood that they are also accepted as
being applicable to the UK. Any that are currently specific only to America have not been
discussed.

- 22 -

Analysis of song lyrics


In order to establish whether hip-hop has an influence on the behaviour of young male
gang members, a small-scale qualitative analysis of the type of music that young gang
members might listen to has been conducted. Of the six songs analysed by the author,
three represent what are considered to be songs that glamorise gangs and violence
(appendix i-iii), while the other three look either at groups that are considered to be
excluded from society (appendix iv and v), or a reflection of being young, with reference to
family (appendix vi). From the qualitative thematic content analysis of the song lyrics, it was
established that two of the most prominent themes were the possession of weapons and
the willingness to use them along with violence, and drug-use and dealing. These were
either mentioned separately, or in connection with each other. Skepta (appendix i) and
Giggs (appendix ii) both referred to more commonly as grime artists, talk about owning the
best clothes and having the means to share drugs among friends so that they can party like
rock stars following their success as rap artists. While Skepta and Giggs draw attention to
being able to afford the drugs and having the ability to share among the crowd, Klashnekoff
(appendix iii) identifies with the men sellin rocks to make an earner, either in order to
acquire the means to live the hiphop lifestyle, or to simply get by.
Professor Green (appendix iv)
doesnt directly mention drug use
or dealing, but describes the
challenges faced when living in
Hackney
Professor
Professor Green Jungle. Gang members (actors)
brandish baseball bats at the camera (appendix iv).

in

East

Green

London.
describes

Hackney as a Jungle where

troubles what you find. Kids with sticks and knives, and theft in order to acquire material
goods is normalised - its how the majority of young people from the area have grown up.
The exposure to weapons and drugs is also highlighted in Devlins song, Community
Outcast (appendix iv), that represent[s] for the people who live amongst poverty as a
result of being socially excluded from society. Although there is no reference to drug

- 23 -

dealing in the song lyrics, scenes in the video suggest that drug dealing may be used as a
means of acquiring the funds to support the family.
Skepta, Giggs and Klashnekoffs songs all devote a large proportion of lyrics to the
possession and use of weapons, as well as violence. All three make a reference to at least
one particular type of gun that they previously or currently own, for example a Mac
(Skepta), a 4.5 (Giggs) or a Tek9 (Klashnekoff). Further reference is made to being
prepared to kill, for several reasons including being disrespected, and if other gang
members invade their territory. Skepta and Giggs both seem to brag about the amount of
guns they have in their songs. Giggs describes a weaponry orgy, and suggests that if he
is arrested for a murder then it could have been the man that had the weapon before.
Meanwhile, Skepta switch[es] clips like Hollowman switches chicks, meaning that he
switches his guns like Hollowman (a pseudonym for Giggs) switches his women.suggesting that weapons are often shared and used by multiple gang members. This is
synonymous with the ACPOs (2007) findings that firearms circulate for many years through
different gangs.
Another theme that developed through the analysis process was the need for social
identity and how in some cases being a rapper provided that. The rappers often cited the
groups that they are affiliated with, although the word gang is only used by Giggs when he
refers to his Black Gang (a name associated with the East London Peckham Boys).
Instead, the rappers prefer to use terms such as; crew or click. In other cases, the name
of the group is mentioned, presumably as a way of expressing that they are part of a group,
and therefore confirming their social identity. For example, Klashnekoff (appendix i) talks
about when men test the Terra Firma, while Skepta refers to SN1 (an abbreviation of
Spare No One), known as a group that are affiliated with The Peckham Boys in London.
The idea that gangs tend not to refer to themselves as such is supported by Katz (1988:
115) who identified that so-called gang members claim they are part of organisations,
brotherhoods or crews as oppose to gangs, potentially due to the negative connotations
associated with the term gang. The need for social identity and respect is discussed in
more detail in the following section.

- 24 -

The final song that has been analysed by the author, by Foreign Beggars, Ft Dr Syntax
(appendix vi), has not yet been mentioned in the discussion above. As mentioned earlier,
this song is a reflection of the rappers youth, in homage particularly to family members and
influential peers. The rapper reminisces about his childhood, first of all to his mama, then
to an old friend, and then about the first time he met a niece while informing her of her two
proud uncles who love [her]. While reference is made to selling personal belongings and
lying to his mother in order to acquire wealth, and blazing it beside the sea, the rapper
recognises that he has grown out of all delinquent behaviours, as is often suggested in the
literature (e.g. Youth Justice Board, 2007). This song does not glamorise gangs, violence or
weapons, but represents love for family, and recognising your roots. A strong family unit is
apparent to some extent in the literature, although usually in a negative way young males
will respond violently in response to honour attacks on family, such as insults or physical
attacks (Katz, 1988).

Discussion
Below is a discussion of the three most prominent themes that became apparent from the
systematic review of the literature. Each theme is discussed in relation to theory, with
examples from the findings of the analysis above.
Street-cred - status, power and respect
In the NASUWT Teachers Unions (2009) extensive study into gangs and schools, one of
the most highly cited suggestions by staff and pupils as to why young people joined gangs,
was the desire for street credibility, and the status, power and respect that comes with. This
evidence is supported by vast amounts of literature surrounding the reasons for gang
membership (e.g. Curry, 2004; Kubrin, 2005; Deuchar, 2008; Wood and Alleyne, 2009) and
furthermore by research into the motives behind possession and the violent use of weapons
(Lemos, 2004; ACPO, 2007; Squires, 2009; Kinsella, 2011). In Deuchars (2008) study of
gangs and marginalised youth in Glasgow, evidence suggested that some of the gang
members who were interviewed sought out gang membership as a means of acquiring
respect from others and the status that is associated with being in a gang. Some of the
other interviewees also acknowledged that a weapon would enhance that power. The

- 25 -

ACPO (2007: 41) support this by highlighting the perception among peers that carrying a
firearm is associated with respect, following the attractive portrayals of a gangsta lifestyle
that are evident in films, fashion and more importantly, music. This is evident in the
literature as it is often reported that young gang members tend to adopt the American hiphop influenced fashion style (e.g. Deuchar, 2008; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009). The
desire for respect and status among young male gang members is not just demonstrated by
possessing weapons, but also though a willingness to use violence in order to protect
oneself or the gang (Bellair and McNulty, 2009), which is a concept that is clearly reflected
in the majority of the song lyrics above. This type of intergroup behaviour can be explained
by Tajifal and Turners (1986) social identity theory which looks at the identity of the group
as oppose to the individual. According to Hogg and Abram (1988), through this lens the
group provides a shared representation of how the individuals within it should behave, and
therefore the identity that the group as a whole portrays to others. A willingness to act
violently as a group is perceived to portray an image of toughness, and according to the
social identity theory, the individuals within a powerful group will also be regarded as tough.
One way of emphasising the groups identity is through discriminating against out-groups, a
notion that is supported by the findings of Sachdev and Bourhis (1985; 1991), who found
that members of more powerful groups tended to be more discriminatory towards outgroups than other less-powerful groups. This notion in particular is highlighted in the songs
by Skepta, Giggs and Klashnekoff, where it is often stated that other groups should not
mess with them. This is often enforced with reference to weapons and the threat of violence
that the group will not hesitate to administer if they are challenged or disrespected.
Toch (1995, cited in Bennett and Brookman, 2009: 619) described the willingness to use
violence as a self-image promoting technique, which aimed to manufacture a formidable
and fearless masculine image whereby violence was a means of impressing an audience,
or self-image defending where males defend attacks on their masculinity, resulting in
violence in order to protect their self-image. Deuchar (2008: 96) also suggests how
recreational violence can be one way for young gang members to gain a sense of
empowerment in a society where they are socially excluded. This was supported by the
findings in Bennett and Brookmans (2009) study, whereby some of the young people who

- 26 -

were interviewed admitted to taking part in street assaults in order to maintain a reputation
for toughness, gain respect from others, and to avoid being victimised by other gang
members. However, while these findings were described as most often being associated
with gangs, the study was not exclusive to youth gang-members.
The possession and use of weapons by young male gang members may also be
explained by the need to portray an image of hegemonic masculinity, which was described
by Antonio Gramsci (1978: 12) as the way in which the dominant group exercises
throughout society. Until recently, the use of violence has been a very masculine trait, but
an increase in the use of violence by women and young girls may have led to males
question how they might maintain the equation of masculinity (Cobbina et al, 2010: 596). It
may be for this reason that young male gang members have turned to the possession and
violent use of weapons in the UK. The use of violence in such a context is reflected by
Barker (2005: 71), who suggests that the characteristics of worldwide male gang members
is reflected in their willingness to use armed violence to achieve ones goal and the
propensity to use violence in minor altercations and insults if male honour is disrespected.
However, while protecting male honour is deemed to be an important characteristic of the
identity of gang members, it is possible that this is responsible for the majority of gang
violence. In the Dying to Belong paper that was fronted by the Gangs Working Group,
Pickles (2009) describes gang violence as a cycle, where those who seek the reputation
and the respect are most likely to be target of attack for others who desire respect. This in
turn would be classed as an insult of honour, which may result in a revenge attack, and so
on. As Pitts (2007: 47) suggests;
[...] to be disrespected is to be fair game for anyone who wants to make a
name for themselves.
The propensity to use potentially fatal violence if disrespected is mentioned in all three of
the songs above that are thought to glamorise gangs and weapons. For example, Giggs
(appendix ii) is aware that Bitch niggas [...] wanna beef [him] so they can tell [...] a story,
and so warns them to be easy Ill put your mans in a box (a coffin).
Yet another area where young males may feel they need to protect and maintain their
male honour is in areas of employment. While traditional means of acquiring wealth and

- 27 -

status through hard-labour are being replaced with intellectual, emotion-wielding labour,
perceived elements of the hip-hop lifestyle, such as drug dealing may seem to some
young males to be a quick way to such symbols of wealth and power (Lammy, 2008) while
maintaining a masculine image.
Drug dealing fast cars, fast money
In the same article, Lammy (2008) suggests young males are at risk of developing
unhealthy attitudes towards sex, money and violence during adolesence, and it appears
that the media are quick to attribute the blame to hip-hop artists and rappers (e.g. Pook,
2003; Caesar, 2007). With hip-hop and rap artists seemingly bragging about sportin
Armarni (Giggs, appendix ii), having the pick of women, and making reference to how
many guns they own, its no wonder. While young people in the United Kingdom are not
short of positive role models such as sports personalities, it may be that young males from
certain social backgrounds feel they can only relate to those from similar backgrounds in
this case, rap and hip-hop artists. One way of acquiring the means to live the glamorous
hip-hop lifestyle is by selling drugs, and so it is assumed that young males may seek gang
membership as a means to do so. While it is accepted that not all gang members deal
drugs, and/or act violently, research suggests that gang members are more likely to be
involved in the drug market (Bennett and Holloway, 2004a), are more violent (Bellair and
McNulty, 2009), and more likely to carry weapons than non-gang members (Marshall et al,
2005; ACPO, 2007; Squires et al, 2008; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009). However, while
there is a vast amount of evidence to support the link between drug dealing and gangs, only
a small proportion of the literature, certainly in the UK and seemingly in America,
distinguishes between gang members who do sell drugs and those who dont. This begs
the argument that it may be the gang members who sell drugs who cause the association
between the gang membership and the possession and use of weapons (Bellair and
McNulty, 2009). Furthermore, some young gang members might not actively seek to deal
drugs, but are recruited by older gang members as runners or drug mules, with part of the
job description involving young people stashing weapon which may explain how young
people come to possess the weapons (NASUWT Teachers Union, 2009: 15).

- 28 -

So is drug dealing, and the violence that is associated with it, influenced by hip-hop?
Following the analysis of the literature and the song lyrics, references were made to drug
dealing as means to get by (Klashnekoff and Devlin), while some of the rappers referred to
the amount of drugs they could buy from the money they had made, with a little extra to
share among the rest of the group (Skepta and Giggs). With rappers and grime artists
describing how much money they make through dealing drugs, it is possible that young
gang members recognise this as being the quickest way of affording the glamorous
gangster lifestyle, that is far from reach for those with no legitimate means to acquire the
wealth to afford it. Evidence from Kintrea et al (2008) suggests that young people deal
drugs because it is seen as a better way to earn money than through any form of
conventional employment, suggesting that a rational decision to sell drugs has been made.
Kintrea et al also found that young people carried weapons, most commonly knives, to
protect themselves when dealing on the streets.
Cornish and Clarkes (1986) rational choice theory suggests that offenders base their
actions on two decisions; their readiness to act in order to satisfy a need; and the decision
of whether to actually go ahead with the specific action. Ultimately, and in relation to the
present research, the benefit of drug dealing wealth, respect and power must outweigh
the cost of getting caught, or worse being attacked. Therefore, according to this theory, the
individual may be aware that he is in the position where he may be attacked by another
gang member, and so he makes the decision to carry a weapon as a means of protection. If
the young person does come under attack, he will consider his readiness to use the
weapon, and then act accordingly. The possibility of attack is reflected in Giggs song in
particular when reference is made to the risk of gettin jumped in [his] vehicle (appendix ii),
and so it might be for this reason that he, and other young dealers, carry weapons when on
road (Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009: 360). However, while the rational choice theory is
successful in explaining why young people may carry or use weapons when dealing drugs,
this paper wishes to determine whether such behaviour is influenced by external sources.

- 29 -

Subculture theories may serve to explain how the hip-hop lifestyle may influence the
behaviour of young gang members, with particular reference to strain theories. According to
Merton (1938), Cohen, (1955) and Cloward and Ohlin (1961), those who cannot acquire
wealth and material goods through legitimate means (usually lower class individuals) will do
so through alternative routes - usually consisting of criminal behaviour. This suggests that
those who cannot afford the material goods that are associated with the hip-hop lifestyle
through legitimate means may see selling drugs as a way to afford such luxuries. With
regards to the song lyrics, Devlin raps about those that are jobless or have been made
redundant, and in the video the
actor is seen selling drugs in
order to make money. While
these lyrics are not specifically
about young people, it is a fair
reflection of how young people
from certain social backgrounds
or classes may seek to make
Devlin - Community Outcast. A young father who has
recently been made redundant, dealing drugs to
another male (appendix v).

money. While strain theories are


successful

in

explaining

why

some young people may look to drug dealing for a means of making money, they are
criticised for failing to explain middle-class delinquency, focusing on social class as a
barrier between achieving goals, and ignoring individuals who may be strained but do not
turn to delinquency (Agnew, 1992). Sutherland and Cresseys (1970) theory of differential
association accepts that criminal behaviour is evident across all social classes, and that
criminal attitudes and behaviour is learned through interaction with influential groups. This
could therefore imply that young male gang members learn that selling drugs is a quick way
to acquire wealth and power, and that in order to be successful and avoid attack, the
possession and willingness to use a weapon is essential. However, Sutherland and
Cressey suggest that interpersonal agencies of communication, such as music, play a
relatively unimportant part in the genesis of criminal behaviour (pp. 75). This would
therefore suggest that through the lens of differential association, it is the influence of the

- 30 -

peer group and not the hip-hop lifestyle that influences the possession and use of
weapons by young male gang members when dealing drugs.
Territoriality a way of life
The final theme that emerged from the literature, as well as the song lyrics, is the
protection of territory, which gang related research and government reports suggest as
being one of the defining factors associated with gangs, and more worryingly one that has
recently been suggested to rise when government budgets are cut (Crerar, 2011). As far as
Pickles (2009) is concerned, territoriality is classed as one of the main factors in triggering
violence by gang members, second to acts of disrespect. She also suggests that the two
are linked, in that defending territory or a postcode through violence is viewed by gang
members as a way of earning respect. However, it is important to mention that while
territoriality is often associated with gang membership, it is neither exclusive to gangs, nor
do all gangs engage in such behaviour (Kintrea et al, 2008). For those gangs who do
engage in territoriality, the ownership of space is viewed by academics not only as an
important aspect in the construction of identity for young people (Robinson, 2000), but also
as a necessary unsupervised environment in which to bond with peers and socially develop
(e.g. Deuchar, 2008; Hallsworth and Silverstone, 2009). Robinsons (2000) empirical study
into the organization of space by street-frequenting youth, found that young people tended
to organize their space based on where they felt safe and affirming, and when established it
is protected by marking the boundaries and excluding others. A gang name which makes
reference to such space, for example the postcode or town name, further enhances the
ownership of the groups territory (Bradshaw, 2005; NASUWT, 2009). As the analysis of the
song lyrics shows, a gang name is a symbol of social identity, as is the territory that young
male gang members strive to protect. Research also suggests that gang members do not
just defend their territory on the streets. The NASUWT Teachers Union (2009) found that
gangs used social networking sites, such as Myspace and Bebo, to post home-made music
videos that warned rival gangs not to venture into their turf. Pitts (2007) also found that
gang members would post videos on the internet in order to show fearlessness of being
caught by the law and therefore rendering toughness. Following Rhys Jones death in 2007,

- 31 -

several video clips that were said to glamorise gang culture and weapons, were supposedly
posted on YouTube by the two rival gangs said to be involved in the shooting (Doward and
Revill, 2007).
One explanation as to why gangs protect what they claim to be their territory is through
social capital theory. Putnam (2000) describes how individuals connect through common
values, which in turn provides social capital in the form of identity and emotional support.
However if there is an absence of positive norms, role models and networks, then selfdestructive means may be used in order to acquire it. By forming gangs and to protect
territory using violence and weapons, young males acquire social capital in the form of an
identity among the toughest group. The more people in the gang, and the more they identify
with each others desires (in this case the desire to protect territory and the group identity),
the richer they will be in social capital (Field, 2008). However, it is not just the identity that
young males gain from being part of a gang, but also the sense of belonging and safety
(Holligan and Deuchar, 2009). In a lot of cases, territorial affiliations were sought where
family and household relationships had broken down, although in others it was believed that
territorial behaviour was learned from older gang members and in some cases parents
(Kintrea et al, 2008). During his qualitative study in Glasgow, Deuchar (2008) was told by
the young gang members that some parents encouraged them to attack others, while
others would even offer incentives.
Another theory that may be attributed to territoriality and the possession and use of
weapons, is Akers (1998: 136) social learning theory which suggests that criminal and
deviant behaviour is learned from others who commit, model and support violations of
social and legal norms. By being in a gang, it can be argued that young people learn to
engage in territoriality through witnessing other gang members doing so. Young gang
members may also witness others brandishing weapons in order to warn off rival gangs,
and see this as a way of acquiring power. This theory can therefore account for behaviour
learned from peers, elders and more importantly, hip-hop artists.
While territoriality is a prominent theme within the literature, it seems as though young
people engage in territoriality in order to affirm their membership of the gang that they
affiliate with so that the identity associated with that group is maintained. Evidence from

- 32 -

Bradshaws (2005) study of gangs in Edinburgh supports this with findings that suggest that
conflict between gangs was often over reputation of being the toughest, as oppose to
protecting territory. By being in the toughest gang, a vehicle is provided for young males to
express their masculinity in terms of aggression and power (Deuchar, 2008). With this in
mind, it seems that maintaining social identity and street-cred is at the forefront of young
male gang members intentions.

- 33 -

- Chapter 4
Conclusion

The aims of the present study, as set out by the author, were to;
find out if gang attitudes, beliefs and behaviours can be attributed to the hip-hop
lifestyle;

establish whether prominent behaviours in the literature and song lyrics are
associated with the use of violence and weapons;

and

to apply theory to certain attitudes and behaviours that are associated with gangs
to provide a more holistic approach to gang behaviours.

Through a process of a thematic content analysis of the literature, three prominent themes
were identified; the need for street-cred, status, power and respect; drug dealing; and
territoriality. A qualitative analysis of the lyrics of six hip-hop songs has confirmed that all
three attitudes and behaviours were prominent in the songs that were thought to glamorise
gangs, violence and weapons (Skepta, appendix i; Giggs, appendix ii; Klashnekoff,
appendix iii), and referred to as a way of life in two more (Professor Green, appendix iv;
Devlin, appendix v). Furthermore, reference to weapons and violence were mentioned to
varying degrees in all but one of the songs that were analysed by the author (Foreign
Beggars, appendix vi).
The need for respect in order to maintain a powerful status is a notion that is prominent
not only across the literature, but also in some of the music that politicians and the media
claim to glamorise gangs, violence and weapons. Similarly, findings from the literature
suggest that the need for street-cred and respect among young male gang members is
central to their attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. These include drug dealing in order to
acquire the means to afford the hip-hop lifestyle, and territoriality which is assumed to
emphasise belonging to a group. In some cases, this is further enhanced by the possession
and use of weapons in order to maintain a tough image that should be responded to with
respect.

- 34 -

The final aim of the present study was to apply theory to the themes that developed from
the literature. The first theme, the need for street-cred, was discussed in relation to Tajifal
and Turners (1986) social identity theory, and masculinity theories. These theories are
used to explained why some young males seek gang membership in order to acquire a
masculine identity where other social outlets such as education and employment may have
excluded them. Through these theories, it is possible to understand how young males
identify with hip-hop artists claiming to be from similar backgrounds, who express their
acquisition of status, respect and power through gang membership, which is further
enhanced by the weapons they brandish and their willingness to use them.
Selling drugs as a means of acquiring the money in order to live such a lifestyle, has been
discussed through the rational choice theory, and strain and differential association theory.
Cornish and Clarkes (1986) rational choice theory was successful in explaining the
decision process that may lead to the violent use of weapons when dealing, but the
motivation to sell drugs in order to acquire wealth and status was better explained by strain
theories. However, Sutherland and Cresseys (1970: 75) theory of differential association
suggests that only intermediate agencies of communication such as the peer group
influences behaviour. This therefore suggests that through the lens of differential
association, the hip-hop lifestyle does not influence the possession and use of weapons by
young male gang members.
Finally, territoriality was discussed through the lens of social capital theory which
explained how this behaviour was a means of enhancing social identity, while social
learning theory illustrates how young male gang members may learn from others who
commit, model and support violations of social and legal norms (Akers 1986: 136), which
could include rap artists.
Through applying theory to attitudes and behaviours of young male gang members in
attempting to explain if hip-hop influences the possession and violent use of weapons, it
can be concluded that the hip-hop lifestyle may influence the motivations behind such
behaviours, while referring to the use of weapons to reinforce such attitudes and desires.
However, while the present study has suggested how such attitudes and the motivation
behind behaviours are influenced by the hip-hop lifestyle, it fails to explain why some

- 35 -

young males are more easily influenced than others, and if other factors further influence
such attitudes and behaviours as well. The author recommends that these findings should
serve as a basis in order to conduct a longitudinal qualitative survey that explores factors
such as the social background and preferred leisure activities of gang members and nongang members, over a period of time. It would be important to find out the views of young
people, and what they consider to be the main influences of their attitudes and behaviour,
other than peers. This would contribute to the current research by providing a more holistic
approach to the understanding behind the influences of gang violence and the possession
and use of weapons.

Word Count: 10,766

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N.B. Detailed information in appendices

- 43 -

- Appendix i SKEPTA Ft Giggs Look Out (2009)


Last accessed: 1st April 2011. Available:
http://www.sweetslyrics.com/760620.Skepta%20-%20Look%20Out.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ft7oby_NwZ0
Yeah, done know... Giggs, Skeps.
Browse it, boom productions. SN1, Boy better know.
Ahhhh, Look out you bastards... haha

Comment [D1]: SN1 Affiliated with


the Peckham Boys, London. Spare No
One
Comment [D2]: Record label not
crew

SN1 on my tee again, my black trousers D&G again (Yes). Looking like a G again (Yeah),

Comment [D3]: Threat to other gangs

that's right it's me again.


My big four 5s gotta flea in em. Think I've only got one Mac, got three of em (ummm).

Comment [D4]: Bragging about how


many guns he owns

Then you won't see me again, time to get the white in and the B again
(Yeah).
Just got some high grades from Vesra, I'm a real G so I gotta little extra (extra). I like hot

Comment [D5]: Just imported drugs,


can afford to get extra

girls cause I'm extra.


Thought about my lighty then I text her (woof). Impressed her, thinks I'm on shit cause I'm
doing it with Skepta.
Take off your whole head top, Hannibal lector. Black director shoot up shit then I cut in the
Vectra (cut).
Orange bud weed lookin nectar, strap a big boy spliff sotum nester(ummm).

Comment [D6]: Smoking marijuana


reference to drugs

Had to breeze upto Chester gotta new flake link gotta tester (Yeah). OOOHHHHH... potent
white girl so I pressed her
Hugh hefner pitch niggers like Scarface did hecter, breeze in there like car chase with feds
cah it's looking like them jakes wanna get us.

Comment [D7]: Reference to a police


car chase

I'm the best cause I ain't in the rap game were the best bruv... We got the best love. So come
Comment [D8]: Crew is a force to be
reckoned with

against us.

This is the ard shit. Makes you wanna lick out a cartridge.
Look out you bastards, we push out the hard shit. [x2]

Comment [D9]: Hard-shit means the


coolest, the most badass pushing out
the best rap

Now this might sound a bit cheeky but I don't even try fam I make it look easy, naturally
greazy. Me and Giggs run up and take all the gold coins like Mario and Luigi (pinng).
You wanna say sotum say it when you see me. Don't phone me save your credit cause if you
can't tell me what happens after you die I don't wanna hear it(NO). You ain't half a gangster
- 44 -

Comment [D10]: Reference to making


money as a rapper why young people
may see rappers as role models

Comment [D11]: Rivals are nowhere


near as gangster as their gang

nowhere near it.


Meridian that's my murdering force. Giggs beat the skeng in south I heard it in North and to
hate we got Boy Better Know t-shirts and SN1 wear for the whole world to endorse course.

Comment [D12]: Gang is well known


not to be messed with

Norths up in this bitch, I don't know what you heard but you can't take the piss. If you saw
what the kick back done to my wrist you would have never put my name on your murder
Comment [D13]: Will seek revenge
after prior attack - warning

list.
Fam if you interrupt the vibe that I'm in then I ride ride ride with my ting. So fuck them
niggers everyday I'm surrounded by killers like I was on a lifers wing.
See I'm a cool brudda with a heart of the wickedest, violate me I squeeze this till it finishes.
Then I switch clips like Hollowman switches chicks.
Rinse the machine like boombiy by, I call that Buju Banton light up your head like a lantern.

Comment [D14]: Everyone has killed,


or is prepared to.
Comment [D15]: Disrespect will not be
tolerated there will be repercussions
Comment [D16]: Switch guns like the
best rapper switches women

Boy Better Know standard Look Out that's the anthem. Ask all the mandem, out ere in the
grime scene I'm a champion (CHEEEZE) Until I get a mansion I'm a keep murdering spitters

Comment [D17]: High status

at random. Brapp!

Comment [D18]: Not literally - to


lyrically destroy or embarrass in a freestyle,
or on a track will keep going till hes the
best

This is the ard shit. Makes you wanna lick out a cartridge.
Look out you bastards, we push out the hard shit. [x2]

Haha, what they gonna say now? How can you have a hit yet? 2 bet nominees on one track.
We can write at home, but we wanna write in the studio and make it look good. Gemee.
SN1, BOY BETTER KNOW done know!

- 45 -

- Appendix ii GIGGS Talking the Hardest (2007)


Last accessed: 1st April 2011. Available:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/g/giggs/talking_the_hardest.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVFmMI0igWI
If your talkin the 'Ardest
Giggs betta pop up in your thoughts as an artist (Jheeze)
Tauntin' the market
Everybody wanna kno where 'Walk In Da Park' is
Walk in the party Sportin Armani
Half of the crowd all snortin my charley
Sorted the bar, time to sort the punnany
Chicks lookin at me like talk to me darlin (Jheeze)
Hollerin at man
Winkin, Smilin and wanna attack man
I think these lighties lovin my Black Gang
Everyones suit same colour as Batman's
Flippin like a quarter a brick
Bag 28 with a thought of a[j]ish
Anybody thinks they can talk to my click will end up covered in red like a portion of chips
(mmm)
Pour me a drink
Big fur jacket that's the thoughts of a pimp
I used to be quiet, did that sort anything?
So I had to run riot when I bought me a ting
Walk wit my ting
Peddlin morphine
Dem times deh I was lickin out more green
Skip couple years '07 the story
Now I'm Hollowman wit sum heavy Dior jeans (mmm)
Bitch niggas lookin for glory,
Wanna beef me so they can tell u a story,
It will get bloody and it will get gory,
Clapped in the neck like Amanda In Saw 3,
Yea I got my suttin deh pon me,
So much straps I'll have a weaponery orgy
Feds try nick me for a murder but it cudda been the man that had the weapon before me,
B, White and Green I been peddalin all 3,
Droppd P a box it was jus under 4g,
I told er weigh the 10s das 2grams,
And weigh the 8s about 4g
Bad mans on the block
Spenda, Yung Giggs, Mantis an Rocks
- 46 -

Comment [D19]: Reference to drugs


snorting cocaine.
Comment [D20]: Time to sort out the
women choose which one(s)
Comment [D21]: Will attack if
disrespected
Comment [D22]: Like the respect that
his gang has Peckham Boys, also known
as the Black Gang
Comment [D23]: Bag 28 = ounce of
marijuana so they can party like rockstars
Comment [D24]: Reference to violence
if anyone disrespects the click (crew)

Comment [D25]: Used to buy material


good through legitimate means didnt get
anywhere had to protect what he has
from others
Comment [D26]: Sarted dealing drugs
Comment [D27]: Now hes the best
rapper, and can afford the best role
model
Comment [D28]: Other gang members
want to beef (fight) in order to gain
respect from others.
Comment [D29]: It will get violent if he
is disrespected
Comment [D30]: Guns [shot] in the
neck
Comment [D31]: Boasting the number
of guns he has
Comment [D32]: Reference to
weapons being used by several different
people
Comment [D33]: Reference to dealing
drugs

TB, Tinie, Carlton and Jim Jones


Holdin it down while dey handle da Block (niggas)
Pussyholes got my mandem on lock
Straps we handle a lot
Clapped ur mandem are wot
Me and u are cool but you can stand there and watch
My PYGs will put their hands on your watch
Be easy I'll put your mans in a box
Young like TB, JJ and Shockz
I treat my lil niggas like fam not a boss (mm)
All my mandem are hot
But your mandem are wash
Beat couple shots and you ran to the cops
Big 4.5 they couldnt handle the shock
I talk about the handgun a lot
But that one Hollowman handles a lot
All the black gang fam are handled a lot
Me and Foss baggin up grams at the spot
Shots in my grind
Gettin jumped in my vehicle
All gassed up now ah mi slang me a rock (mmm)
Hollowman handles his job
Feds on the ground helicopters on top
Beautiful women wanna dock to my cot
A beautiful woman wouldn't stop gettin cock
(You kno what I'm Sayin, you niggas kno what hollowmans about now yeh)

- 47 -

Comment [D34]: Another reference to


possession and use of guns
Comment [D35]: Peckham Young
Gunners The younger crew (Giggs is part
of The Peckham Boys/Black Gang
Comment [D36]: If shown disrespect,
your mans will be put in a box a coffin
Comment [D37]: Look after each other
part of a family
Comment [D38]: Other crews are
wash waste of time/failures
Comment [D39]: 4.5 inch gun
Comment [D40]: Another mention of
possessing a gun

Comment [D41]: Reference to dealing


drugs
Comment [D42]: Risk of getting
shot/beaten up when dealing

- Appendix iii KLASHNEKOFF - It's Murda (2003)


Last accessed: 1st April 2011. Available:
http://www.sweetslyrics.com/478218.KLASHNEKOFF%20%20It%27s%20Murda.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lDGJd1LwQ64
K k lash ya rasclat neck off
I'll split you in half like a gun blast from Lennox
Hotter [than] flammable rocks
From the manor when man are animal yammin you like fox
Experts slosh we specialize in handlin' kop
With man's hatchin' and plannin' plots lookin' to jam in ya spot
But their stamina's not up to par get ripped apart like red rizzla tarars, rasclat
This Terra Firm dargart state of the art
But tell them jankrows to stay in they yard
Or get stabbed with a stake to the heart
I'm tryna walk a straight path but you dun say it's hard
Sick thoughts are flingin' on mask
N killin' ya clark
Keep runnin' thru the back of my head like old dance steps
Get dropped on ya doorstep like dando
Many men ran prang cuz my nine flows better than Taliban still ban shows
Spit flows over bhangra, spit so cold make you shock out like it was soka
Terra Firm take over take you thru the mind state of a tortured soldier
Who tells tales of unspeakable horror with lyrics lethal like bora
Leave you leakin' on the floor star
That's y I don't watch no talk
I read auras and books written by forbidden government authors
Infiltrate ya borders like ITN reporters
Then return with the slaughter
Captured on camcorder I'm trapped in a damn corner chattin' to Pandora
Bout boxin' a man for her
But she don't [me] Klashnekoff
That black cunt from out of stokey
Banana boat mango munchin' monkey kick off ya door like Jumanji
Dash you off the 28th floor like it was bungee, I want the blood cleaned
[CHORUS not in online lyrics transcribed by author
Its murda, when man test the Terra Firma,
Its murda, brares gettin buried in suburbia.
Its murda, men sellin rocks to make an earner,
Its murda, murda, murda, murda.
Its murda, them men cant test the Terra Firma,
Its murda, youll find your body buried in suburbia.
Its murda, its like tek man friggin Tina Turner,
Its murda, murda, murda, murda]
I'm not ready to die but ever ready for bury a guy
They're not ready for I
- 48 -

Comment [D43]: Lennox Lewis (boxer)


right hand punch is said to be a gun blast

Comment [D44]: Plotting to invade


other groups territory
Comment [D45]: Terra Firm[a] is the
name of Klashnekoffs crew
Comment [D46]: Jankrow means
cowardly male stay in their ends territory
Comment [D47]: Threatening to stab
anyone who enters their territory
Comment [D48]: Trying to get by
through conventional means, but its
difficult
Comment [D49]: Get killed on your
doorstep in your territory

Comment [D50]: Threat to enter


another gangs territory no fear

Comment [D51]: Like an animal from


Jumanji (the board game/film)

Comment [D52]: Men being murdered


is a regular event, even in suburbia not
just the cities
Comment [D53]: Men deal to make
money

Comment [D54]: Not ready to die


himself, so has to kill anyone who tries to
kill him, first.

I can see the fear in they eye


Scared of the rhymes that ricochet and tear them inside
N fear for they lives
Prepare and try to stare in they eyes
Wife cry bucket of tears
When the brare get iced but that's life
Its all lies write rhythms like a dive spit cyanide saliv'
N blind they left eye
Subliminal crime snipe you in the back of ya mind
With killer quotes and one lines that cuts throats like knives
Baffle da vibes come fathom how the fuck did he die
With tux and a tie with 21 bucks to the sky
Askin' me y a brethren is deeper then I
This piece by my side lookin' to eat a piece of the pie
So come in peace or draw for ya piece or please reach for the sky
My ether is 9 like 9 millimetres times 9 millimetres times 9 millimetres from ya spine
So take time my rhymes take life like tek 9's
And we take y from guys who flex their chest size

Comment [D55]: Feeling of power he


has when threatening someone with their
life
Comment [D56]: When the
*man/person+ get *killed+ but thats life
disregard for life, thats just the way it is.

Comment [D57]: Possession of a


weapon (piece)
Comment [D58]: Come in peace, or
draw for your weapon
Comment [D59]: Reference to gun
humiliate other person (ether)
Comment [D60]: Tek 9 is a type of gun

[CHORUS]
Batter the spanner banner with a black bandana
Darren d the dan dappa wrap the trees like strappa
Stab the beat with a dagger the hackney hack attacker
shabby like shabba shabba like shaggy verse oshuka
In the six sick cities situation get butters
Man switch like burukas
Come swingin' like McGuigan with a barrage of punches
The spit boxin' champion who spark man unconscious
And knock out they dentures
See the drugs don't work they jus make you worst
Man smoke a little merch and feel say he cant get hurt that absurd
He get sliced and served like hors d'oeuvres
Bury six feet deep like sword in the dirt
Where you frauds shot work from the back of ya mercs
I reverse the hearse stick 'em in the back of the boot
And baffle you fools you cunts cant ackle this yoot
Or tackle my cru get beaten till ya blacker then blue
While I'm strappin' a zoot you on the floor catchin' a boot
Lookin' to catch a bag blood but that's a catch 22
And you done know da crew

Comment [D61]: Reference to violence


stabbing with a dagger/knife

Comment [D62]: McGuigan Irish


boxer another reference to fighting

Comment [D63]: Reference to drugs


smoking some of the merchandise, and
lose inhibition feel invincible
Comment [D64]: Sliced/murdered
Comment [D65]: Suggesting other
dealers are frauds
Comment [D66]: Anyone tries to
disrespect/tackle the crew, will get beaten
up
Comment [D67]: Concealing drugs
while someone is getting beaten up
Comment [D68]: Klashnekoffs group is
superior

[CHORUS]

- 49 -

- Appendix iv PROFESSOR GREEN Jungle (2010)


Last accessed: 12th April 2011. Available:
http://www.sweetslyrics.com/790830.Professor%20Green%20-%20Jungle.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLfEU5lelUM
[Chorus:]
I see no point in living life that right, so I just take what I can find.
I see no point in living life that right, when your out here in this jungle.
It's wild round 'ere, you don't wanna spend a night round 'ere.
When your out here in this jungle, aint nothing nice round 'ere, troubles what you find round
'ere.
When your out here in this jungle, in this jungle.
Your always caught in this struggle, in this jungle .
But you keep asking for trouble, you love? You love when trouble comes your way, your
way, your way.

[Verse 1:]
Welcome to Hackney, a place where I think somebody's been playing Jumanji.
A Manor where man are like animals, an' they'll yam on you like they yam on food.
Cats with claws that'll stab a yout', act bad an' catch a slap or two.
We don't applaud success, all we clap are tools.
London aint cool to cruise through where the hunters pray, Looking lunch today, and your
chains looking like fresh fruit to a hungry ape.
They'll eat on you, then laugh about it like Hyenas do, so stick to breezing through, like
cheeta's do or be a piece of food.

[Chorus:]

Comment [D69]: No point in abiding by


the law, gain through illegitimate means
Comment [D70]: Referring to the
street every man for himself, dog-eatdog etc

Comment [D71]: Lifes a struggle for


lower-classes
Comment [D72]: Looking for trouble
through boredom?!

Comment [D73]: Hackneys known as


the murder capital Jumanji is a game
based on life in the jungle, where each clue
become real referring to Hackney having
an element of fiction in terms of the
amount of violence
Comment [D74]: Warning to others
that people from Hackney are like animals
Comment [D75]: Referring to violence
stab a yout*h+; catch a slap or two.
Cats might refer to cowards (pussies)
having to use weapons to fight
Comment [D76]: Acquiring
status/success through conventional
means is not an option for some young
males
Comment [D77]: Acquire material
items through illegitimate means - theft

[Verse 2:]
It's blitz admist the strife here, got kids with sticks and knifes here.
It's hype here, we know no different prick; it's just life here, life the way we know from
young the way we're shown.
Stacked trapped in flats where our front doors don't face the road.
God CID spinning round in cars, shifting criminals at large, it's hard, not to think the bits are
just a bing without the bars.
Jealousy's what the cheddar brings, for the cheddar it's anything goes, low enough to rob
newly weds for their wedding rings
Everyday is warring, never give a warning, violence is the only way you settle things,
everyday is hating, money that I'm making, jealous 'cause I'm moving on to better things,
everyday is fighting, rolling in the night now. All you do is watch everyone else get far, you
say that life is hard..
[Chorus:]

Comment [D78]: Normalisation of


kids possessing weapons
Comment [D79]: How they grew up
Comment [D80]: Thats the life these
young males know. Grew up this way,
thats just how life is dont know any
other way
Comment [D81]: CID Criminal
Investigation Detectives regular
occurrence in the jungle
Comment [D82]: bing prison the
jungle is not too dissimilar to a prison.
Comment [D83]: Those that acquire
money through conventional means results
in jealousy for those who do not have
access to such means e.g. education,
employment. Therefore acquire wealth
illegitimately theft/violence
Comment [D84]: Disputes are resolved
through violence
Comment [D85]: Status frustration

- 50 -

- Appendix v DEVLIN Community Outcast (2010)


Last accessed 15th April 2011. Available:
http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/d/devlin/community_outcast.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1L4iH89tjAM
[Devlin, Community Outcast.
And this one is for all of the characters that have been forgotten at the present time.]
[I represent for the jobless,
That have been made redundant,
That have got four kids and no ....... to fund them,
Ever since the wife and husband both lost their jobs in the office in London,
Now they both feel financially trapped,
And are locked with the rats in a dingy old dungeon.
Take this young father of two.
Signing on and the government says his family are spongers,
Hes let down, man, hasnt got a penny or a pound,
Let alone money for milk and nappies and trainers and jumpers.
He got taken off site cuz its cheaper to pay Europeans to labour in numbers,
Hows he gonna look after his youngers?]
(Above not including in provided lyrics transcribed by author.)
CHORUS
I represent for the people,
Let down by a nation,
And left in the streets where it's evil,
Little kids surrounded by knives and heroin needles.
Yea I represent for the people,
Let down by a nation,
And left on the streets where it's evil,
Community outcast, cold, tired and feeble.
I represent for the homeless,
Let down by a nation,
More interested in war [and invasion],
When children are sleeping at railway stations.
No home or money,
They wish they could [phone] their mummy to put a hot meal in their tummy,
So at night when the temperature drops,
I'm asking you to remember what you got,
These kids go home to a cardboard box,
They're the soul survivors,
Warming their hands with [the flickable] flame in their lighters,
All their life they've been frightened.
On the streets with their head down,
Knowing deep inside that they've really been let down,
By a country that's crippled,
And I thought mankind was supposed to be [civil].

- 51 -

Comment [D86]: Socially excluded


group
Comment [D87]: Not through fault of
their own not being lazy, as is often
suggested by upper-classes
Comment [D88]: Living in poverty
Comment [D89]: See above comment
Comment [D90]: Let down by society
Comment [D91]: Was making money
legitimately, but made redundant
Comment [D92]: According to the
video, actor starts dealing drugs in order to
make money to fund his family

Comment [D93]: Kids are exposed to


knives (and drugs) due to certain
communities being let down by a nation /
the government

Comment [D94]: Socially excluded


group, seemingly ignored by the
nation/government

Comment [D95]: Broken family life


no one to turn to

Comment [D96]: Socially excluded

Comment [D97]: Denied what all


humans have the right to, e.g. warmth,
safety, eg

CHORUS x1
I represent single Mums,
All alone on their own trying to put food in the mouths of her two sons,
And the fathers gone, there's no cash flow, lack of income,
But that's just the way it is,
She counts fifteen needles pushing her pram on the way to the lift,
And this is where [Brown] said it's safe to live and raise kids.
She finds her way out of the block,
With two kids in a pram and a rip and a stain in her top,
She goes to sign on just to maintain the little she's got,
For her kids sake,
But they'll never seen a decent life,
But they can dream and they'll sleep tonight,
They've been hung out and left to dry,
The kids are in bed, Mums left to cry.

Comment [D98]: Broken family life


Comment [D99]: Evidence of drugs in
community
Comment [D100]: Gordon Brown the
president
Comment [D101]: Deprived area
unsafe due to drugs etc
Comment [D102]: Has no other choice
socially excluded, no other help from
society
Comment [D103]: High risk unlikely
theyll escape poverty
Comment [D104]: Another reference
to social exclusion

CHORUS x1
I represent for the old folk, that live alone,
No family or kids at home,
And all he wants is someone to speak to but nobody [thinks to] phone.
Sits at home in the dark, no electric,
Since his wife passed, he can't accept it,
He feels isolated, neglected,
And now his council flats infested,
So he goes to the shop for his papers,
With a stick and he falls in the mud,
The people around him all pulled him up,
But to him that's just a reminder,
He's old and he's weak with no one to love.
He sees clouds up above,
Another bad day in the diary,
An old man by the many,
Killed by society, strangled quietly.

CHORUS x2

- 52 -

Comment [D105]: Another reference


to social exclusion

Comment [D106]: Another reference


to social exclusion

- Appendix vi FOREIGN BEGGARS Ft Dr Syntax Reach Out (2006)


Last accessed: 12th April 2011. Available:
http://www.uppercutmusic.com/artist_f/foreign_beggars_lyrics/reach_out_ft_dr_synt
ax_lyrics.html
YouTube : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w2j5F_815Q
Whats up mama
we havent spoken but you know I love ya
dont get offended cause I haven't dialled your phone number
you know my livin's kinda hectic and it's no wonder
you my role model thats why I'm catchin no slumber
you showed a brother what it takes get to living great
and though I make mistakes its only fate
dont let it shake your faith
I'm on the paper chase rulings embrace
and its a struggle but I promise all your efforts wont be laid to waste
remember when you asked me if I sold my drum kit
sorry I lied, you were right I was on some dumb shit
inside I knew youd be hurt
knowing I sold off the fruits of your work
when you were sweating blood and proving your worth
but since then we come a long way me and Kay
and if we dont speak for days
(dont you worry)
I got you future in my mind when I'm rhyming
and anytime you need me
(I'll be there and)

Comment [D107]: Expresses love for


family
Comment [D108]: Working hard like
his mother did
Comment [D109]: Realistic role model

Comment [D110]: Lifes a struggle, but


determined to acquire capital through
legitimate means

Comment [D111]: Feeling guilty for


acquiring wealth through moralistically
illegitimate means

CHORUS x1
(reach out for me)
(dont you worry)
(reach out for me)
(I'll be there and)
(reach out for me)
(dont you worry)
(reach out for me)
(I'll be there and)
hey whats up man, it's been a while still
been meaning to get in touch and let you know just how I feel
I saw your bro a couple weeks ago hes doing fine
everythings jiggy on the ends man its real nice
things have changed just a little since you went away
but everyones the same blud, it's just a different day
I feel away but deep inside I know its all good
you taught me things about this life that no college could
I remember ninety four was when we first met
you used to cotch a parking shop and
laugh at cocks next to peeps centre
ninety five and dont ya remember blazing it beside the sea
ninety six was when you got me listening to Hyper-D
it's kinda weird that I cant call you up or hear your voice
but Ima keep you in my heart for life
- 53 -

Comment [D112]: Everything is good


in the ends

Comment [D113]: Reminiscing about


youth grown out of delinquent behaviour
and drug-taking just part of being a kid

(dont you worry)


no matter what you were always happy never sad
love cause you like the older brother that I never had
CHORUS x1
Its about time I got this first penned
and by the time you hear this you'll've turned ten
and thats big cause your not in single figures anymore
and to me it seems like a week ago you were four
when you first came to England you didn't even know me
you'd look at me all worried like you didnt trust me totally but
soon you'd look at me for love and support
thats a responsibility I'd never known about before
I remember when you crawled way before you could walk
now you sound so grown up when I call and we talk
I feel like there's gotta be some advice you should know
but in honesty you'll probably be fine on your own
such a smart girl, thinking with a mind of your own
and I'm sorry I've been gone all this time while you've grown but
never forget you've got your mum to look up to
and elsewhere, two proud uncles that love you
CHORUS x1

- 54 -

Comment [D114]: Responsibility not


seeking love and support, but providing it
social capital

Comment [D115]: Strong family unit

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