There’s a very significant difference between a “gangster” and a “gangsta” and it ain’t just the spelling. It’s the agenda. See, a gangster is a businessman at core. The fact that his business is occasionally deemed “illegal” is simply an issue of timing, more due to some archaic or recently written laws that either exploit or prevent the exploitation of an otherwise lucrative enterprise.
John F. Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy, was a gangster. He made his son the President.
A gangsta, however, is a poseur. He’s probably just a thug and even more likely has no agenda whatsoever. His objective may be to beat, maim and murder, if he’s even thought it out that far. Chances are, however, he’s just a reactionary; reacting to the dictates of whoever does his thinking for him. There’s usually no cash benefit in this, no grand sense of accomplishment, no payoff, no nothing.
Now, conspiracy theorist would argue that Blacks have only the latter as an option and that the former is the province of white men exclusively. Wouldn’t that be some shit? Couldn’t even have a full range of access to crime despite Black incarceration rates proving oh so otherwise.
But maybe it’s our approach. Maybe it’s the fact that we are too often reactionaries. A perfect example of this is in Kendrick Lamar’s great “Sing About Me/I’m Dying of Thirst” where a young man is in distress after the murder of his own brother and you get the feeling that what he wants most in world at that very moment is revenge and not remorse.
And it’s here that I’d like to make the point that I’m all in favor of crime; organized crime. This isn’t some pussy-ass pathetic attempt to get niggas to stop getting their money on. Young nigga, move that dope. Bitch if you wanna sell your pussy, g’head. Shoot dice, play cards, smoke weed, get high, have fun, life live, make paper. But keep it among the people that have already committed to living in a similar fashion. Protect the children, the elderly and avoid the squares.
It’s the only way.
Enter, The Godfather, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 classic based, of course, on the novel by Mario Puzo, which chronicled the fictional Corleone Family. In the case of the gangstas, the scene I think they’d learn the most from would be the one in which Don Corleone, the patriarch of the family, first learns that his oldest son Santino, or “Sonny” has been killed.
Gangstas would have called for an all-out blitz. “Kill everybody and everything, fuck it!” But Don Vito is much smarter than this. He knows that he’s been sick. He also knows that despite the fact that his family’s been ostensibly at “war” with the Tattaglia family, there’s more going on. There’s something happening behind the scenes. And it will take patience to find out exactly what that is.
Now, we all know that any two rappers can get into a disagreement on Twitter and that’ll get labeled a “beef”, but only a genuine gangster could have done and said what next came from Don Corleone; “I want no inquiries made. No acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of The Five Families. This war stops now.”