Hip-Hop Database Wiki
Hip-Hop Database Wiki
Mafioso rap
Stylistic origins Hip-Hop
Cultural origins late-1980s
Typical instruments Various
Mainstream popularity flourished in the mid-1990s which later achieved mainstream success and great critical acclaim
Derivative forms Gangsta rap
Subgenres Hardcore hip-hop
Regional scenes Southwest hip-hop, West Coast hip-hop, East Coast hip-hop, Southern hip-hop, Midwest hip-hop, North Coast hip-hop, Northwest hip-hop

Mafioso Rap, (called Crime Rap, Mafiosa Rap and Mafiosi Rap) is a hip hop sub-genre which first started in the late 1980s and later flourished in the mid-1990s. It is the pseudo-Mafia extension of East Coast hardcore rap.

In contrast to "Conscious and West Coast rappers" who tended to depict realistic urban life on inner-city streets, Mafioso rappers tell stories organized crime, self-indulgence, substance, designer clothes, materialism, killings, drug dealing, drug trafficking and other luxuries of a mobster, while making numerous references towards notorious crime organizations of the Italian underworld, including the Gambino crime family and Cosa Nostra. Fantasized and fictional narratives told by Mafioso rappers are often adapted versions of classic crime thrillers, most notably Bonnie and Clyde, Casino, The Godfather, Goodfellas, King of New York, Once Upon a Time in America and Scarface. Another trademark feature of Mafioso rap is the idolizing of high profile organized crime figures. These crime kingpins range from legendary gangsters of the 1920s and 1930s, such as Al Capone, Frank Nitti, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, Lucky Luciano, John Gotti and to the drug lords of Latin America (including Pablo Escobar).


Kool G Rap is regarded as the first rapper to make the mafia lifestyle a major theme in his lyrics. With epic tales, chronicling the crime underworld of drug trafficking and the luxurious pleasures of the high-end illegal business, Kool G Rap inspired the related Mafioso rap phenomenon of the mid-1990s, which later achieved mainstream success and great critical acclaim with albums such as Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx..., AZ's Doe or Die, and Jay-Z's Reasonable Doubt. At the sub-genre's zenith in the mainstream, mafioso rap inspired albums such as Nas' It Was Written, The Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death, and P. Diddy's No Way Out, which all went on to become multi-platinum commercial successes. The act of taking the name of a famous mafioso character, or creating one's own, was first popularised by the Wu-Tang Clan and Nas with their adoption of the "Wu-Gambino" aliases, which appeared on Raekwon's seminal debut album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx In more recent years, Mafioso rap has seen somewhat of a re-emergence with albums such as; Ghostface Killah's Fishscale, Jay-Z's American Gangster, Rick Ross's Deeper than Rap and Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... Pt. II. Similarly, in recent years, many rappers, such as T.I., Fabolous, Jadakiss, Jim Jones, Red Cafe, Max B and Cassidy have maintained popularity with lyrics about self-centered urban criminal lifestyles or "hustling".

Notable Mafioso rappers[]

  • AZ - (Whose name he took from Manhattan drug dealer Azie Faison. His name is pronounced "AZ". He also has an alias by the name of "Sosa, from the movie "Scarface".)
  • Cormega
  • Lil' Kim
  • Nature
  • T.I.
  • Big L - (Who often referred to himself as "Corleone" , after the Corleone family from The Godfather.)
  • The Diplomats
  • Geto Boys
  • Capone - (Taken from Al Capone)
  • N.O.R.E. - (He is also known as "Noreaga" which is derived from the former Military General of Panama, that was Known for drug running in the U.S. Manuel Noriega.)
  • Cassidy
  • Rick Ross
  • Fat Joe - (Who often referred to himself as "Don Cartagena". The album cover to Don Cartagena depicts Fat Joe in an outfit reminiscent of Al Capone.)
  • Mobb Deep
  • Lesane Casino
  • Smoothe da Hustler
  • Mac Dre
  • Spice 1
  • French Montana - (Whose surname Montana used from Tony Montana from Scarface)
  • Foxy Brown - (Whose name she took from Pam Grier's character based on the 1974 blaxploitation film Foxy Brown)
  • The Firm
  • Ghostface Killah
  • Jay-Z
  • Capone-N-Noreaga
  • Junior M.A.F.I.A.
  • Kool G Rap - (Who is often cited as the founder of the sub-genre, and has stated that the "G" in his name stands for Giancana, which is the last name of Chicago based Italian-American gangster Sam Giancana.)
  • Nas - (Who, during this period, took on the alias Nas Escobar after the Colombian drug kingpin Pablo Escobar.)
  • The Notorious B.I.G. (Who took the alias "Frank White" after Christopher Walken's character in the 1990 film King of New York.)
  • Rakim
  • Raekwon - (Who is cited by numerous publications for reviving the mafioso genre, and turning it into a trend in the mid-nineties on his album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx and also has a mafioso alias called Lex Diamonds)
  • Scarface- (Taken after the character Tony Montana's nickname made famous in the 1983 film Scarface.)
  • Big Pun - (In several songs he declared "I'm the one and only son of Tony Montana" and made a lot of mafioso references.)
  • Diddy


See Also[]

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