Mafioso rap

Stylistic origins

Hip hop, hardcore hip hop, gangsta rap

Cultural origins

Late 1980s
New York City, New York, U.S.

Regional scenes

East Coast hip hop

Notable artists

AZ, Jay Z, Ghostface Killah, Kool G Rap, Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Raekwon

Mafioso rap is a hardcore hip hop subgenre, pioneered by Kool G Rap in the late 1980s. It is the pseudo-Mafia extension of East Coast hardcore rap, and is considered the counterpart of West Coast gangsta rap. Mafioso rap is characterised by lavish, self-indulgent, and luxurious subject matter, with many references to materialism, famous mobsteres, organized crime, drugs, and expensive champagne.

Although the genre died down for several years during the early 1990s, it re-emerged in 1995 when Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon released his critically acclaimed solo album, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., in addition to the releases of Doe or Die by AZ and 4,5,6 by subgenre originator Kool G Rap. These three albums brought the genre to mainstream attention, and inspired other East Coast artists, such as Jay-Z, The Notorious B.I.G., and Nas, to adopt the same themes on their albums Reasonable Doubt, Life After Death and It Was Written respectively. Though mafioso rap declined in the mainstream by the late 1990s, some rappers have maintained popularity with lyrics about self-centered urban criminal lifestyles or "hustling".

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