Hip hop has grown into a multi-billion-dollar entertainment industry and has given economic power to those who've been left out of the American dream. But some are wondering if the line between gangsta rap and gang affiliate is way too blurred.
You don't have to look hard for gang colors or tattoos in hip hop. Superstar Lil Wayne makes no secret of his affiliation with the notorious YSL Bloods gang in Atlanta.
And he is hardly the only one to rep the color red.
In Los Angeles, it's the game. Even R&B singer Chris Brown is often seen in red.
Allhiphop.com CEO Chuck Creekmur says when you're a successful artist, you become an easy target.
"I don't think there's any pressure on rappers to join gangs," he says. "However I do think when rappers get in the game it's much like jail or something, where when you get in you have to find an association that is stronger than you as an individual."
For many artists, gangs are what they see every day in their neighborhoods, says Bloods-affiliated rapper Big B'z from Brownsville. He is finding the rap game is better than the trap game, and is celebrating having his first video, called "Hurd Flow," on MTV.
The Crips have their own representation. The most famous is Snoop Dogg, who is now so mainstream that he does Super Bowl commercials. But up-and-coming hot boy rapper Bobby Shmurda is not so lucky. He is behind bars on murder conspiracy charges. Prosecutors say his GS9 music crew was actually a Crips-affiliated criminal enterprise.
Award-winning rapper Kendrick Lamar is trying to put a positive spin on the gang culture for profit. He is using his Reebok sneaker deal to bring Bloods and Crips together, with the inner sole imprinted with "Neutral."
But at the end of the day, B'z says the idea is to get beyond the street life that can end up costing your life.