Crime movies are the folktales of modern America. Where blues and jazz performers once unfolded narratives about Casey Jones and Stagger Lee, the culture now has Tony Montana and Don Corleone. You'd think the presence of actual film would negate the oral tradition, but it doesn't. Rappers don't simply rehash movie narratives: they embody the fictional heroes as a means of documenting their own lives. Characters on a page became timeless symbols for a culture that prizes tales of struggle, survival and self-determination by any means necessary. More recently, the fictional narratives have given way to true-life ones, as real-world drug kingpins like Freeway Ricky Ross and Pablo Escobar, Big Meech and Larry Hoover are incresingly cited and emulated.