Gangsta Rap Music Video Clich?s

A Chunklet Industries Study

This has been done before. That can be said about many of the motifs, visuals, shots, and mannerisms that are in gangsta rap music videos. It can also be said about a list such as this.

But being the person I am, I wasn’t satisfied with just a handful of examples. Because of course rap videos are similar. Having seen as many as I have though, you start to notice the nuances of these clichés. And by having dedication only when it serves exploring the inane, I thought I could do better.

But what does this all mean? Through this close examination of rap videos will we have a better understanding of rap culture? Or music in general? Will it give us insight into the objectification of women? Will it explain just where all our money went? No. It won’t. That’s the nature of rap music. It’s to put those questions at ease with a beat, provocatively dressed women and money. And that’s all it ever wanted to do.

The following has appeared in at least one video. Rap culture in general is heavily based on replication, leaving us to understand that if it was done once in one video, it’s been done in other videos that followed (most of which probably will never see the light of day and shouldn’t).

The list is not complete, by any means, but it’s a start.

Intro credits for the video like a movie.
Funny skit before song starts to play. (Often featuring fat comedians)
Video is a parody of a movie. (i.e. Eyes Wide Shut)
Police car/foot chase.
Stuffy reporter on the scene. (i.e. Party, chase, etc)
The rapper’s “Crew” rolling into a suburban white bread neighborhood, stereos blaring.
Old white people shaking their fists at the loud music.
White people dressed like thugs and dancing stiffly.
A boy or girl, younger than 8 years old, dancing surrounded by a circle of people.
Flashback to rapper’s childhood.
Shot of street signs, at the intersection where the rappers grew up. (And where video will be taking place)
Shots of people rapper knew from the hood to show his cred.
Rapper playing multiple characters a la Tyler Perry.
Standing in front of a mansion as if to say, “I live here!”
Standing in front of a row of expensive cars. (Generally in front of the mansion they eluded to living in)
Craps game about to pop off.
The “Look at my grillz!” smile.
Rapping in front of massive pools.
Rapping in the studio.
Two shot. (Usually the rapper and a video girl)
Low shot of rapper rapping in front of a city landmark.
Bypassing the club line and entering the club with a simple handshake (or nod) with the bouncer.
Chorus of the song printed on the screen. (Much like a sing along)
Video girls lip-syncing with the lyrics.
Buff dudes lifting weights, excessively.
Rapper using women for exercise. (Not in a dirty way)
Knowing everyone at the barbershop.
Strip clubs.
Bedrooms turned into strip clubs.
Women having money, literally thrown at them.
Women dancing on elevated platforms. (Stage, table, etc)
Rapper checking out the girls in a car stopped at the red light next to him.
A woman licking a lollipop.
Shot of two girls who look like they are about to make out, but NEVER make out.
A woman’s shirt cut way to high, exposing the bottom parts of her breasts.
A woman grabbing her knees in full booty jiggling mode.
Only one white girl in a video that features an abundance of black girls.
Rapper’s face next to a booty jiggling.
Rapper sitting in a collage (only way to describe it really) of hot biddies.
Fat guy pointing at the camera.
Fat guy eating.

Basketball game between rappers.
Sports celebrity cameo.
Wearing a basketball jersey.
Wearing a football jersey.
Clothing brand that rapper is wearing, blurred out.
Camo clothing.
Wearing bulletproof vests for fashion, not protection.
Wearing no shirt.
Rapper dressed like a cowboy.
Spinning shirt over the head like a helicopter.
Color coordinating.
Rapper pulling on their platinum chain as if to break it off their necks.
Rapper holding the chain on their neck like they are playing cat’s cradle.
Wearing a wrestling belt. (OK maybe that’s just Pastor Troy.)
Comic interlude in the middle of the video.
Close up shots of rappers tattoos. (Generally featuring a hood, family member, rap group member or Jesus)
Rapping with a crowd of people in the middle of the street with the camera at eye level.
Rapping with a crowd of people in the middle of the street with the camera above them.
Biting a stack of cash like a dog with a bone.
“Let it rain” money toss (generally hunched over and below the waist).
Duffel bag of cash. (Usually given in exchange for a series of cars, houses, jewelry, etc.)
Sexy women cutting up a drug of some sort or counting money.
Shots of money counter, counting money.
Rapper rubbing their hands together as if they are cold, but clearly not.
Soapy bathtub/hot tub scene, generally covering the ladies…features.
Close up shot of rapper’s shoe as they step out of expensive car.
Slow motion shot of a vehicle (motorcycle, car, three wheeled motorcycle) burning out in one place, creating smoke.
Slow motion anything. (Especially in the Juvenile music video for “Slow Motion”)
Ghost riding.
Suicide Lamborghini doors opening.
Standing on top of vehicles, rapping.
Limo versions of regular cars.
Shot of the rapper, in an expensive car, making a left turn.
Shots capturing the extravagant insides of the vehicles.
Jump cuts (cars driving, walking) to the rhythm of the beat.
Image frame cut up by black bars, in rhythm with the beat.
Dogs barking menacingly. (Almost exclusively bull dogs)
Rapper, who has nothing to do with the song or album, is featured in the video to up the “star factor” of video.
Producer in the video for no real reason, but to be in the video. (i.e. Damon Dash, Puff Daddy, Pharrell)
Showing where you are from, with accompanying jersey grab.
Saying where you are from, with accompanying hand signal (i.e. ATL).
Rapper wakes up out of his sleep/day dream/fantasy to realize it was all a dream.
Close up on a license plate (i.e. Da Ruler), before the car pulls away.
Quick shot during the fade out of the video, where the rappers break character and do something silly.

by Meseret Haddis
(Additional material by Rudy Behrens)