American Gangster



Honest look at thug life has drugs, some violence.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Jay-Z talks about being a gangster and working the streets selling drugs. A few songs celebrate this life, while others reject its glory ("We ain't doing crime for the sake of doing crime/We movin' dimes cause we ain't doin' fine/One out of three of us is locked up doing time/You know what that type of s--t can do to a N---- mind?").


The most violent thing on the album is the angry "Ignorant S--t" --"And with that said, I will kill N----- dead/Cut N----- short, give you wheels for legs/I'm a K-I-double-L-E-R, see y'all in Hell/Shoot N----- straight through the E.R." The intro has gunshots and some of the tracks talk about owning a gun. Most of the violence has a consequence ("bullet wounds'll stop your buffoonery/thanks to the pastor rapping at your eulogy").


"I grind slower than out in time" is the worst it gets. A couple of "bitches" here and there.


Jay-Z is loose with the language; most songs have at least one swear word (f--k, bitch, s--t, ass). He also uses the "N" word freely. "Ignorant S--t" is one long list of profanity.


Lexus, Timberland, Pepsi, Rolls Royce, Porsche, and more.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

"Party Life" compares lust to heroin ("she want those heroin tracks/that Sugar Hill, she call me her sweet thing/That Black Rain that take away your pain"). Some other drug references: "table full of powder," "head to the heights where big coke is processed," and "dope needles on the ground."

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that despite its title, this album isn't connected with the movie -- and contains much less violence than it could have. Other than in the song "Ignorant S--t," where Jay-Z talks about shooting someone, and a mention of a gun here and there, the CD really doesn't glorify the violence in thug life. It does, however, talk about working the streets selling drugs, and celebrates making money through the drug trade, but covers the consequences. There's plenty of swearing (f--k, bitch, s--t, ass) and the "N" word.

What's the story?

Jay-Z credits the movie American Gangster (about a 1970s heroin kingpin) as inspiration for getting back to his roots. On his AMERICAN GANGSTER CD, Jay-Z joins forces with girlfriend Beyonce and some of the big guns in hip-hop -- Diddy, Lil' Wayne, Kanye West, and Pharrell Williams -- to deliver songs about life on the streets, trying to escape that life, selling drugs, and growing up without a father.

Is it any good?


One album removed from his much-hyped "comeback" from retirement, rapper-mogul Jay-Z returns to form with an album that shows him reclaiming his title as one of the best rappers alive. He tackles his subjects with honesty and strength, and even though there's a fair share of drug references, swearing, and gun touting, teens and parents can appreciate Jay-Z's MCing talent -- and the life he's lived.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the image of hip-hop artists. Why do they use tough, real-life experiences such as selling dope on the streets as material for songwriting? Do you think singing about it glorifies it? Why or why not?

Music details

Release date:November 6, 2007
Parental advisory:Yes
Edited version available:Yes

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Learning ratings

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  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 17 years old Written bymeg10 April 9, 2008

LOved it !!

jay z is an old school rapper with knowlege about everything. I really liked this cd, and the vidio's that he came out with were hott! only jay z could get all the top rappers in one room and just chill and party like that. this cd is not for kids but for true lovers of hip hop.
Parent of a 6 year old Written bymadsmooney1214 July 22, 2012

american gangster

and the life he's lived. Families can talk about the image of hip-hop artists. Why do they use tough, real-life experiences such as selling dope on the streets as material for songwriting? Do you think singing about it glorifies it? Why or why not?
What other families should know
Great messages
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Parent of a 11 year old Written byjsharpe October 24, 2009
loaded with f-bobms
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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