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HowTo:Be a Gangsta

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That's you in your happier days. Are you sure you still want to do this?

“Fo' sure, nigga.”

~ Quentin Tarantino on Being Gangsta

“Yo man this is da real shit now, you not playin mafia wars behind yo dell. ”

~ A swell neighborhood gangster

Sitting on a park bench, you assess your life. You live in an affluent suburb, attend a country club regularly, own every technological toy known to man, and your prospects for an illustrious future seem bright. You of course conclude, as any rational person would, that your life sucks. As you walk down the oft-trodden path, listening to your iPod, your pubescent mind lights up.

What if you could be cool? Not like that douchebag jock John, no way. As techno drumbeats roll over sexual tales that would make John Wayne Gacy nauseous, you know what you must do. Turning your hat sideways, you pull your pants halfway down your ass and crank up the tunes. You are going to become a gangsta.

Step 1: Learn the Lingo

Before you can properly ingrain yourself in the gangsta culture, you must first learn the jargon in which they converse. It goes by many names, from African American Vernacular English to Ebonics to Black People Talk.

A typical gangsta. Are you sure you want to keep doing this?

It is essentially the same language as English, with a few minor adjustments. The first thing one must do to speak Black People Talk properly is to distance oneself from all attachment to good grammar, spelling, and taste. Now that you have freed yourself of the boundaries of "speaking English good," you must now make some rather drastic (yet, in principle, simple) changes to your vocabulary.

The most noticeable difference between Black People Talk and English is the alarming amount of z's present in an average sentence of BPT as opposed to English. Also, the frequency of the suffixes "natch" and "izzle" is substantially larger in BPT (outnumbering the occurrences in English 29:2, or thereabouts). So, simply note these changes and add them into your lexicon, and you are ready to move on.

For example, in English:

In BPT, however, it becomes:

This advanced[1] level can only be achieved once you have reached enlightenment from the eightfold path. Moving on...

Step 2: Emancipate Yourself from your Friends

Who the hell let the white guy in?

Being a gangsta is tough work. It requires membership in a gang (Hence gangsta. No, don't hold back your awe, I can wait....................OK, that's enough). However, gaining this coveted membership requires hardcore awesomeness, a gunshot wound, and lack of association with "crackas."

A "cracka," for all you uninitiated, is BPT slang for white person. Since, as previously mentioned, you live in an affluent suburb, chances are you know quite a few of these. Thus, you must leave all of your friends behind, preferably in a flamboyant fashion that will eventually lead to an attempt upon your life. However, there is certain etiquette involved in unceremoniously dumping your friends that must be addressed first. One must understand the delicate balance required, because presented now is something of a catch-22.

You must be able to display intense loyalty to your "homeboys" (as they are so called) while simultaneously leaving them in the dust. However, though you may not know it, the solution is simple. To accomplish this seemingly impossible task, one must simply fake a personal tragedy and complain and bitch to them about it. Odds are they will abandon you, and if they don't, you may abandon them. This simplicity (which is brief and makes for great stories for the kids) will allow you to blame them entirely for the dissolution of friendship. This will be helpful when the next task comes along. However, before you move on, be sure to refer to Figure 1 to see if you've accurately embodied the gangsta persona.

Step 3: Initiate Yourself into the Gang

Certainly, the hardest thing about becoming a gangsta (harder, it has been argued, than joining a college fraternity) is getting into a gang. In fact, it is so complicated that, for optimal ease of use, we have split this guide into separate parts.

Step 3a: Be Black

This could be difficult if you are not, in fact, of African American descent. Many an aspiring gangsta has been shot down by this caveat. At their funerals, many eulogists have lamented the fact that the teen was "not black enough, dawg." This sort of remark, often perceived as racist by born-and-bred gangstas, has occasionally led to violence at said funeral. In one such case, they were quoted as saying "You crackas is gonna pay. Inferior whiteys!" If you wish to spare your family this senseless violence and cruelly pungent irony, you will do well to heed the steps outlined here.

"Bling," as flashy jewelry is called, is a crucial component of African American stereotype emulation.

Don't give up, though! Though your skin burns easily in the sunlight, do not fear! You too can be a gangsta through the magic of modern technology. Many solutions exist for you, whether it be black paint (not recommended, as black people aren't usually "black," per se), plastic surgery (which "has a knack for changing a person's skin color," according to Michael Jackson), or an unnamed third possibility. Any way you choose to go about it, however, remember. Be Black.

Step 3b: Stop Being White

This may seem rather redundant. "Don't I stop being white when I become black?" You might ask. However, this belief is a misconception born of naïvete and whiteness. See, being white is not only about the color of your skin, but the way you live. An aversion to violence and a penchant for peer mediation are just a couple of examples of the "whitey" lifestyle. To avoid death at the hands of laughing gangstas, rid yourself of any mannerisms you may have learned in your life. Finally, you must make sure you are able to get by with gangsta mannerisms as well. In this, exercise caution. Taking cues from 50 Cent or Chris Rock will certainly get you shot, so be careful.

Step 3c: Approach The Gang

Alright, this is it. You've mentally prepared yourself by wiping away every trace of your Caucasian ancestry and your suburban upbringing. All that's left is to approach the gang. Likely, when you do, you will be laughed at and shooed away. It's OK, stop crying, this is normal. No, seriously, stop crying. You just need to do something that will induce respect in the eyes of the gang. In many cases, simply killing or otherwise incapacitating another human being (preferably one belonging to a rival gang) is sufficient. Simply bring a trophy of your deed to your next attempt at joining. If they still deny you, go to the rival group and do the same.

Damn son, you black as hell!

Step4: Sag Your Rants Real Low

All Gangstas got to be sagging Minimum sag length is past your crotch and maximum should be around your ankles. Make sure you have at least the minimum or you'll probably get jumped for not being Gangsta enough.

A couple of Gangstas demonstrating minimum sag length.

Step 5: Don't Ruin It

Alright, now you're in! I knew you could do it![2] Now all you have to do is continue to Be Black and Not Be White for the rest of your life and you're golden. It can be a catchphrase, if you will. Just be sure not to let on that you are, in fact, white and continue speaking in BPT[3] and I guarantee you will have no difficulty at all remaining a gangsta for up to three months[4]. However, should you not follow these rules, then the inevitable next step will come sooner than you might imagine. That next step? If you insist....

Step 6: Get Shot

You knew it was coming. You couldn't possibly keep up the charade for much longer. I'm surprised you've kept it up for this long as it is! But, as all good things must, this too must come to an end. And, in a not-too-surprising turn of events, you will be shot by your own gang members for lying and generally being a dipshit.

You will not necessarily die in this, and you may even be able to work it to your advantage should you choose to. However, chances are you're not going to want to be a member of a gang after you've experienced this. In this (very likely) case, go back to where you started. And, for the love of God, make sure your friends don't make the same mistake that you did. Gang violence was just starting to get better. What's this? Another contemplative moment? Ah, Jesus, here it goes again....


  1. Term used loosely
  2. Unless you didn't make it, in which case I predicted your failure
  3. Don't call it that, you jackass!
  4. Not a guarantee
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