In the mid-1980s, gangster rap didn’t have a name; but virtually everyone who heard it realized its potency. Artists like Schoolly D, Ice-T, Boogie Down Productions, Eazy-E, and N.W.A had created a new style of rap, one that contained graphic, X-rated stories of violence, drugs, and sex and served as first-person street reporting that recounted the violence ravaging black, urban America at the time.

From still-swirling conspiracy theories about the murders of Biggie and Tupac to the release of the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, this era of gangster rap continues to fascinate music junkies and remain at the forefront of pop culture. The History of Gangster Rap is a deep dive into this compelling phenomenon from one of its most noted documenters, journalist Soren Baker.

Sixteen detailed chapters, organized chronologically, examine the evolution of gangster rap, its main players, and the culture that created this revolutionary music. With a critical eye and insider’s perspective, Baker covers all the most important singles, albums, and projects, and reveals how their music led to the next generation of artists and the evolution of the genre.

Filled with interviews with key players such as Snoop Dogg, Ice-T, and dozens more, as well as sidebars, breakout bios of notorious characters, lists, charts, and more, the book hones in on the story of the music itself. The History of Gangster Rap is the essential book that contextualizes the importance of gangster rap as a cultural phenomenon.