gangsta-rapper155x140.jpgRemember back in the day when music artists and movie stars would take time away from showbiz to go to college or serve a stint in the military? In the world of hip-hop, that ritual has been replaced by stars who take time off from entertaining their audiences to serve prison sentences.

Rapper Lil Wayne is just the latest in an ever-expanding lineup of popular rappers and hip-hop artists whose fame and riches would seem to give them every motivation to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, in hip-hop culture fame and jail time seem to go together like salt and pepper. (No offense intended to the good ladies of Salt-n-Pepa, who, as far as we know, have not been to jail.)

What do you make of the ongoing phenomenon of hip-hop stars getting in trouble with the law — in some cases for alleged crimes as severe as murder? Is it art imitating life? Or, in the minds of the artists, does the credibility of their craft require them to live life on the edge?

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