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Rated G for Gangsta

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Water safety? Now that's gangsta.
I believe in this, and it's been tested by research
That he who fucks nuns, will later join the church
The Clash, "Death or Glory"

There is a trend of entertainers developing Lighter and Softer material after they reach the "mainstream," when their original stuff was much more... well, R-rated.

This is more obvious with rappers, who usually begin as anti-establishment and cynical musicians, and, as they go to Hollywood after they manage to get a hit out in the public's ears, begin to make more presentable appearances, going from "baggy pants and wifebeater" to "sport jacket and unbuttoned shirt" to "three piece suit." The only thing that doesn't change is the bling, it seems.

And it's not just the wardrobe that changes. A Saturday Night Live guest spot today, presenting an MTV Video Awards tomorrow, a little "Sesame Street" Cred, and before you know, they'll have a Reality Show about raising their kids.

The reasons for that are several. Either the entertainer actually changes their worldview after being exposed to a lifestyle until then unthinkable, they want to try something new (like acting!), the Moral Guardians excessively bashed the songs their kids insisted on listening to, or perhaps their pockets were lighter than they thought. But, the most common reason is having children—the entertainer doesn't want their kids to think of them as nothing more than the guy who shouted obscenities on TV, or they now feel how other parents felt about having their kids exposed to such obscenities.

Compare Tom Hanks Syndrome. Related to Badass Decay, Lighter and Softer, Kinder and Cleaner (if the rapper cuts down on their language use), Scary Musician, Harmless Music and Self-Censored Release (when a work distances itself from its NSFW beginnings). So My Kids Can Watch happens when a performer does family-friendly fare with every intention of going back to business as usual afterwards.


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  • Eddie Murphy went from a famously profane and edgy comedian and actor in R-rated movies, to a mainstream comedic actor who often appears in Disney and family films, with the occasional edgy film thrown in.
  • Though never necessarily relenting of being a potty-mouthed edgelord on stage, George Carlin narrated the US version of Thomas & Friends.
  • Robin Williams's stand-up material was rather edgy and profane, yet the majority of his movies (Mrs. Doubtfire, Aladdin, Jumanji, etc.) were family-friendly. A similar but more one-off example occurred when Sarah Silverman voiced a little kid in Wreck-It Ralph.
  • Bob Saget built his television career on family-friendly roles, but his standup routines are among the raunchiest in the industry
  • Redd Foxx became Rated G for Gangsta through Sanford and Son. As Mark Evanier noted, many people who came to see Foxx in Las Vegas were expecting to see the G-rated geezer he played on NBC and also that if they sought out some of his old "party records", they would be in for another shock.

  • This can happen to franchises, too.


Hip-Hop & Rap

  • The entire genre of hip hop as record companies discovered it and subverted it to broaden it to a larger audience instead of the inner cities. From "Rapper's Delight", Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's "The Message", "Fuck the Police" from Straight Outta Compton and "Public Enemy's "Fight The Power" from Fear of a Black Planet, to ... whatever it is they do today.
    • Specifically, some individual rappers do it because they are getting older and wealthier and thus some feel the subjects they dealt with don't relate as much anymore, while others do it because they want to adopt an attitude of a "safe rapper", someone who can work with non hip hop artists and not scare off the latter's intended audience.
    • Jay-Z is a good example. He started his career with a drug-dealing background and a "don" persona. As he got older, wealthier and more famous, he obviously wasn't going to still deal drugs, so matured as a person, fully embraced the star lifestyle and it reflects in his music. He's no longer a gangsta because he doesn't need to be, and in a sense it's a natural evolution.
  • Anybody in this Rotten Tomatoes article.
  • Sean Combs. Started as "Puff Daddy", a pot-loving rapper. Now, he owns a clothing line. Sure, he was never actually badass, but still, he went from advocating use of a illegal substance, to, well, whatever he is now.
  • Snoop Dogg. Went from rapper to violent movie star, then to comedy movie star (with a stopover in porn), and now has his own reality show about raising his kids. He even features regularly on Futurama, notably as the Supreme Justice of the world. And, probably the ultimate, as of 2016 was co-hosting a cooking show with Martha Stewart (read that again, slowly). Slightly zig-zagged as he's never stopped being an advocate for cannabis.
  • Ice Cube — same thing, from rapper to horror movie star, to Are We There Yet?. He does go back from time to time, alternating roles between "badass thug" and "Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist". His character in the 21 Jump Street movies manages to be both.
    • Referenced on The Boondocks episode "The Story of Gangstalicious":
      Gangstalicious: You know who my favorite rapper was when I was your age? Ice Cube.
      Riley: That dude who does family movies? He was a gangsta rapper?
    • Ice Cube's last three albums pretty much re-established his street cred because of his return to form, especially the controversial song Gangsta Rap Made Me Do It. His music is still as raw as it was on his debut, and that's saying a lot. This trope only kicks in during his acting career.
    • Cube gave a rather sobering explanation for why he's taken family comedy films, saying it's the path of least resistance in Hollywood. According to him it's hard to get serious dramatic black films funded, and that Hollywood prefers to finance black comedies instead.
  • Ice-T went from rapping about being a hustler and killing cops to playing a detective on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and starring in a reality show with his model wife CoCo Austin. Subverted in that while he hasn't really gone back to gangsta rap, he continues to release hard-hitting thrash metal via his band Body Count.
  • Dr. Dre went from being in the terrifying rap group N.W.A and being a notorious woman-beater, to being the Only Sane Man as his peroxided protege and muse Eminem cartoonishly rampaged in his videos. In the decades after that, he got progressively more domesticated and ended up as a billionaire Apple executive. Now, if his name is mentioned, it will be in his capacity as a sensitive, genius artist. In the 2022 Super Bowl Half Time Show, he's presented as a sort of patriarch of West Coast Hip-Hop nurturing his retinue of grown-up heirs.
  • Eminem:
    • Eminem first rose to prominence as a shock comedy rapper who relied on disgusting, violent, and bigoted lyrics sung in-character as the stage persona of Slim Shady, attracting outcry from Moral Guardians. After an assault conviction in 2000 forced him to quit the drugs that powered his early songwriting, he toned down the aggression in favor of both serious material and playful Toilet Humor before a near-fatal battle with Ambien addiction motivated him to channel his experiences in the horrorcore album Relapse. The backlash it generated resulted in him embracing Pop Rap on his next three albums, focusing on his Recovered Addict status while still retaining his dark lyrical style. Eventually, he moved back to his more aggressive roots after Revival earned an even bigger backlash than Relapse, though by then his image had already changed to the extent where his music was turning up in trailers for children's films, like the Despicable Me franchise and SHAZAM! (2019).
    • Eminem, by his own admission, enforced this on Proof's Horrorcore group D12. Several members of the group, in particular Swift, were legit gangstas, and at first the group made music playing off Gangsta Rap tropes. However, once Eminem broke out, he realised his relative fame would lead to him coming off as the band front man (even though he started out as just another member, and still viewed himself as such) and that being the Token White in charge of a group of black gangstas would have Unfortunate Implications. Therefore, he pushed them into becoming more of a pop-hip-hop band, producing their music in the same melodic, Subverted Kids' Show style he used on his own work. While D12's album tracks retain that edge ("don't think because we do popular music you won't get popped!"), their singles fit within the tone of Eminem's work at the time of release; their biggest hit, "My Band", with its Adam Westing of Eminem's superstar persona, would be right at home on Eminem's Encore.
  • Inversion (though not in the musical field): Will Smith, the Fresh Prince, another who was never badass, but went from actual rapper to gimmicky actor in his own sitcom, to serious actor. This was actually beneficial, and he has been nominated for two Oscars.
  • Bushwick Bill from Geto Boys (a Jamaican-born one-eyed dwarf—yes, really), started violently in the early 90's. His new solo album is a gospel album.
    • Getting shot in the eye by your girlfriend might cause you to reevaluate your life, though. That happening because you were holding her child near the window saying you'll drop it if she doesn't shoot you... that makes things a little confusing.
    • This was justified, as Bushwick was quite depressed, and was also suicidal. The everclear he was drinking and the PCP he was taking certainly didn't help matters.
      • He even made a song about it called "Ever So Clear".
  • Looptroop, Swedish anarchist rap group. Never really gangsta, but some change detectable. On their first album they had a song endorsing shoplifting; on the newest album, a cover of Bon Jovi's "Living On a Prayer"
  • Public Enemy: Chuck D now stars in a series of public service announcements for colonoscopies.
  • Finnish rapper Steen 1, first album was rather profanity filled anti-authoritarian rant, the second album more calm, (still zealous, though), on one single expresses remorse over glorifying a cop-killer on his first album.
  • Hardcore, alchoholic, Thug LOC from Aarhus Vest and part of the West-Coast inspired crew BANGERS is now part of "Selvmord" (Suicide), making Gangsta-gone-sensitive music with former Suspekt and Rune Rask (also all examples of this trope). Development... growing up... quitting alcoholism.
  • Three 6 Mafia is well on its way to being Rated G for Gangsta, seeing how their first album was about Satan Worship, and their latest includes a radio playlist hit
    • Their G-rating more or less began when they won an Oscar—before Martin Scorsese, no less!note 
  • KRS One is a bit of a variation: one of the creators of Gangsta rap Hardcore Hip-Hop, he made one of the genre's defining albums with Criminal Minded, but went through a bit of a spiritual crisis after his friend and DJ Scott La rock was murdered. His music eventually became a lot less gangsta and a lot more Christian: he actually released an album called Spiritualy Minded.
    • KRS One is today a political black activist... Still gotta love the 10 classics on Criminal Minded.
  • Played straight and inverted multiple times by Nas. From Illmatic, to "Oochie Wally", to battling Jay-Z and declaring hip hop "dead", to signing with Def Jam and Fila shoe endorsements; all the while collaborating with the entire gamut of hip hop from DJ Premier and Pete Rock to Trackmasters and Puff Daddy.
    • And even non-hip-hop artists such as Korn and Damian Marley!
    • One of the many themes on Nas' 2012 album Life is Good is deconstruction of this trope.
  • LL Cool J used to be hard as hell.
  • Both played straight and averted by various members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Whereas Method Man has had an acting career including a Fox sitcom and a cameo in a Zach Braff movie, Raekwon, GZA, and others have stuck to simply making hardcore hip-hop.
  • Over in Britain we have Dizzee Rascal. He started out making grime, and now he makes much more poppy, lighter music.
  • Karen Mukupa. She started out in a hip hop/dancehall fusion duo with pot-smoking, anti-racist Natasja. Then Natasja died. Mukupa's music is now more down-to-earth and mainstream, and she devotes much of her time to writing kid's books about Africa and hosting reality shows.
  • OFWGKTA started out as something like rap's answer to GG Allin, gratuitously rapping about rape and breaking pretty much every social taboo you can think of just to piss people off and goad reactions out of sensitive listeners, but with their first group studio album The OF Tape Part 2 they shifted toward a more sensible form of Swag Rap with less lyrical (and musical) abrasiveness, albeit retaining their scatological sense of humor.
  • Flo Rida’s debut album Mail on Sunday had a Parental Advisory sticker and was rated unsuitable for minors by Common Sense Media, but he quickly transitioned to making generic party-oriented pop-rap.
  • PSY was considered a divisive rapper during his earlier days whose his songs contain vulgar and explicit lyrics, and he was on evasion from mandatory military service in South Korea despite him working at software development interim. Upon his return from military service in 2010s, he shakes up everything anew and begins lessening some profane lyrics as well as going clean for his main songs and music videos. While he does dabble in gangsta rap music, he shamelessly parodies it.



  • Ozzy Osbourne was known as a particular family-unfriendly rockstar with Satanic undertones and lurid legends of his backstage exploits. Since the airing of The Osbournes, however, he's viewed as a befuddled and doddering old man. His harmless media appearances since then include pitching World of Warcraft.
  • It is often theorized that this happened to The Beatles sometime between 1960 and 1962, thanks to their manager, Brian Epstein. Leather jackets to mohair suits is definitely going Lighter and Softer.
    • Epstein also required the group to shed their seamier Hamburg performance habits, such as drinking beer and smoking onstage, and cussing out the audience.
    • They may have been behaving better by the early 60s than they did in the fifties, but Ohhhhhhh boy did their subject matter in the late 60s reverse the trend... "Why Don't We Do It In the Road," anyone?
      • Word of God says that was intended as a comment on how humans have all these "horrendous problems" with the act of procreation while animals don't and will happily "do it in the road".
  • When this picture surfaced of Metallica singer James Hetfield, a lot of people had this attitude. Metallica's confessional, tell-all documentary Some Kind of Monster didn't help much either.
  • Red Hot Chili Peppers started of as an energetic, sex-obsessed punk-funk band who were not afraid to use explicit sexual references in their songs... and then they had a hit with the ballad "Under The Bridge", and gradually turned into one of the blandest alternative rock bands of the past few years. The difference in frontman Anthony Kiedis from his 1983 debut to now is striking.
    • Whether or not this was a bad change is hotly debated, but it's undeniable that they've become more family friendly, with the occasional radar slip like "Purple Stain" or "She's Only 18."
  • Aerosmith becoming more prone to Power Ballads kinda fits... but not as much as Steven Tyler joining American Idol.
  • Goo Goo Dolls started out as The Sex Maggots and were exactly the sort of band you'd expect to be named The Sex Maggots, a loud, abrasive Punk Rock band who performed songs with titles like "Don't Beat My Ass (With a Baseball Bat)". They only changed their name because an offended promoter refused to book them. This changed in The '90s as guitarist Johnny Rzeznik took over singing duties from bassist Robby Takac, culminating in what was then their Black Sheep Hit "Name", and since then they've become a staple of adult alternative who have never looked back.
  • In The '50s, Elvis Presley was a sexually charged Rock & Roll star whose hip-shaking performance on The Ed Sullivan Show had to be heavily edited for television by showing him only from the waist up. That ended in 1958 when he was drafted, and when he completed his service two years later, he reemerged (in no small part thanks to his manager Colonel Tom Parker) as a Lighter and Softer romantic lead in a long string of teen musicals. Even as rock music in The '60s got increasingly daring in ways that would've made even '50s Elvis seem cuddly, Elvis himself spent the '60s growing increasingly cornball. After his 1968 TV special reenergized his career, he settled into becoming a nostalgia act for the now grown-up children of the '50s and an elder statesman of rock. John Lennon, upon Elvis' death in 1977, famously said that Elvis "died when he went in the Army" and that his entire career after that was "a living death".

  • Avery Brooks was known for, outside of his Shakespeare work at least, monosyllabic gangsters. That is, until he got picked up by Star Trek and became the first black Captain. His first impulse was to turn it down, because Worf.
    Brooks: I had an agent at the time and he called, and he said, 'Are you a Trekkie?' I said no. 'Well, would you be interested in reading this pilot?' And I started to laugh; I said, 'Whoa, man. I'm not putting anything on my face.'

    Video Games 
  • Homestuck has copious, elaborate, Sophisticated as Hell swearing from nearly all characters and a lot of its humour revolves around ironic use of creepy internet fetish imagery. Both of its video game adaptations so far have used much tamer language and content, due to being presented in much more mainstream fashion and needing to find a common audience.
    • Namco High is a lot cleaner in content than Homestuck, which is especially noticeable with the Homestuck characters who cameo. For a specific example, Dave Strider, whose quirk in Homestuck was that he spoke like a rapper (complete with loads and loads of swearing), doesn't swear at all in Namco High, although he does retain his gangsta speech patterns.
    • Hiveswap doesn't contain any swearing despite treading similar plot territory to the mothership (such as Xefros being a rapper). Partially justified in that Joey is characterised as having a fairly prudish personality, up to the point where she draws clothing on artistic nudes. The squicky sexual elements are toned down a lot too - there's a statue of a musclebeast and musclebeast milk, but the horse-fetish implications are entirely not touched upon (for the best, definitely).

    Web Original 
  • Pink Sheep from Exploding TNT is also a good example of this. The main reason is that kids watch him and had to let go of his teens-to-adult random and narcissist personality and become a kid friendly MLG 'gangster.' He even censored the Dat Boi theme song to include the clean majority, which was from "Watch him rollin'... to ...rollin' to the beat."
  • Courtesy of Cracked: "5 Shocking Early Versions of Famous Musicians," which provides the examples of Michael Bolton and the Goo Goo Dolls listed above under "Music". The others on the list, however, aren't examples of this trope.note 

  • Dwayne Johnson was once known exclusively as The Rock: a wrestler who hit you as hard in the ring as he did verbally outside of it, and if you didn't like it, you could keep your dislike to your self. When he first started acting he took roles like a mercenary-turned-Scorpion King, a professional bounty hunter (The Rundown) and a grizzled Gunnery Sergeant Space Marine (Doom). Then he showed up in Race to Witch Mountain, Planet 51 and The Tooth Fairy. And even his wrestling career was a step down from his college football career, when he would spark bench clearing brawls by taking a swing at an opposing team's mascot. He's now doing a complete 180 in his film career as Faster was Darker and Edgier than any of his other movie roles, and he's also starred in Fast Five. When he came back to WWE in 2011 he still had to tone himself down a lot, since Monday Night Raw is TV-PG now. To his credit he at least tried to push the envelope a bit, as much as WWE would let him get away with anyway. Dwayne would continue to zigzag this trope, however, by co-starring in Moana, a 2017 Disney musical film—and millions of viewers would hear him sing a musical number for the first time.
  • John Cena is basically wrestling's version of this trope in effect. There was a time where he actually was rather profane, at least by wrestling's allowed standards. He himself chose to be more kid-friendly, just as WWE as a whole now is. It's been rumored that at one time WWE considered making SmackDown live, but UPN was terrified of giving Cena a live mic; this is the same man that later, live on Raw, tagged a limo with graffiti reading "JBL is poopy".
  • "Stone Cold" Steve Austin joked that when he hosted Raw after the PG switch, it greatly limited his vocabulary.
  • Trish Stratus portrayed a vampy seductress whose initial storylines in WWE were seducing Bubba Ray Dudley via his table fetish, and having an affair with Vince McMahon. Around 2002 she started being pushed as a serious wrestler, toned down her ring gear and was more of a Plucky Girl in the ring. Even after a heel turn in 2004 she was subject to Slut-Shaming.
  • Candice Michelle was a straight-up Ms. Fanservice with Les Yay in her stable Vince's Devils - being promoted for her spot as the sexy girl and cover on Playboy. As she progressed in the ring she toned down her outfits and dropped most of the overt sexuality in her character.
  • Melina debuted on WWE TV doing a striptease and her time as a valet to MNM saw her performing the splits on the apron wearing a short skirt - allowing a panty shot for the fans. She switched to long pants and transitioned to full-time wrestler - though kept the sexy entrance - but was pushed as a top babyface during the PG Era.
  • Mickie James's initial WWE character was a Psycho Lesbian who cornered Trish Stratus under the mistletoe and had a memorable segment where she rubbed Trish's crotch and licked her hands afterwards. Even after that, one Finishing Move of hers was usually a kiss followed by a knockout kick. Thus it's very surprising that she was pushed as a Token Wholesome after a while. She too swapped the skirts she wrestled in for long pants.