Early gangsta rap often showed significant overlap with political and conscious rap. Pioneers in the gangsta rap genre such as: Ice-T, N.W.A., Ice Cube, and the Geto Boys blended the crime stories, violent imagery, and aggression associated with gangsta rap with socio-political commentary, using the now standard gangsta rap motifs of crime and violence to comment on the state of society and expose issues found within poor communities to society as a whole. These early gangsta rap artists were influenced in part by the bleak and often "revolutionary" crime novels of Iceberg Slim as well as hip-hop groups such as Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions; groups that mixed aggressive, confrontational lyrics about urban life with social-political commentary and often radical political messages. The controversial debut album Straight Outta Compton by N.W.A, released in 1988 brought gangsta rap to the mainstream, but it also contained harsh social and political commentary, including the confrontational track "Fuck tha Police." Ice-T's work would sometimes focus on other topics: for example, he rapped about free speech on his third album, and about drunk driving, domestic violence and Nelson Mandela on his fourth album.
After his departure from the group N.W.A in 1989, Ice Cube embarked on a solo career and released socio-political and conscious rap with gangsta rap elements in his 1990 debut album Amerikkka's Most Wanted and the companion EP Kill at Will; the 1991 album Death Certificate; followed by the 1992 album, The Predator. Ice Cube's first two albums were produced by the hip-hop production team the Bomb Squad, known for their work with the socio-political rap group Public Enemy. Furthermore, Ice Cube produced and appeared on the controversial and radical political rap/gangsta rap album Guerillas in tha Mist by Da Lench Mob in the wake of the 1992 Los Angeles Riots. Though Ice Cube would continue to sporadically insert political and social commentary into his music throughout his career, he once again focused on conscious and political rap with his 2006 album Laugh Now, Cry Later and 2008's Raw Footage, featuring the single "Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It", a song dealing with the perceived correlation between music and global issues (i.e. the Iraq War, school shootings, etc.).