Schoolly D: Godfather of Gangster Rap

By: Joshua Bhujbal//

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Jesse Bonds Weaver Jr., also known as Schoolly D, is considered the originator of Gangster Rap. He first started off his career DJ-ing at the neighborhood block parties which is where he discovered he wanted to become an MC. He got a thrill from seeing the crowd stop everything they were doing and listen to him. After moving to Atlanta for some time, he came back to Philly to make music. 

Over time, his music is still relevant and praised throughout the industry. For instance, Schoolly’s songs have been sampled over 200 times. Starting with his initial single, “P.S.K ‘What Does It Mean’?” Schoolly began influencing hip hop’s biggest names such as Ice-T, Ice Cube, Master P, and N.W.A, with his infectious dance beats and boisterous, venereal lyrics. He brought exposure to what urban culture was like in the 80s and inspired the next generation of rappers to use more uncouth, drug and sex related language. 

Credit: TruMC Radio Show

Once Weaver Jr. gained more attention as an artist, he started utilizing his music to discuss topics such as black unity and fighting against racial prejudice. On his album, Am I Black Enough For You, he calls out the white population for using the n-word, questions what it means to be black in America, and expresses his pride for being a black man. Moreover, Schoolly’s album, How a Blackman Feels, has incorporated anecdotes that emphasize how America does not want to see a black man succeed. In addition to that songs like the title track and “Just Another Killer” spreads awareness about black men’s mental challenges from suicidal thoughts and constantly feeling worthless. 

On another note, Weaver Jr. also founded the first rapper-run record label, Schoolly D Records. Without him, we would not have artists like Jay Z, J Cole, or Kendrick Lamar in the forefront of the music industry. Hip Hop also would not be as politically charged, and utilizing African American Vernacular English (a dialect used very commonly in gangster rap) would not be as apparent in music today without pioneers such as Schoolly D. Some songs I would recommend if you wanted to listen to Schoolly would be “P.S.K. ‘What Does It Mean’?,” “Parkside 5-2,” “Dedication to All B-Boys,” “Mama Feel Good,” and “It’s Like Dope.”  

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