"backpack rapper" is a phrase usually given to a young aspiring musician who's lyrics are deep and dictate life experiences, often his own, or those of a social group to which he feels a strong association. The iconic "backpack" is literal, referring to the backpack in which many aspiring rappers carry as they travel. In urban settings many young musicians focus on the meaning of their raps, and tend to not bloat with pop cultural references. Many mainstream "pop" rappers brag about success, money, social status, material possessions, and how "tough" they are/how little the safety/well-being of others are to them. A pop rapper may write an entire track bragging about how much bling or swagger they have and how no one can compete. Whereas a backpack rapper may choose to focus on the injustice that he experiences or how his undesirable financial position makes daily life challenging. Many listeners relate to a backpack rapper and can compare the lyrics to their own situation. The backpack itself, refers to the actual backpack that's often carried by this type of musician as they navigate the urban sprawl via public transportation, and may contain CD's, music players, a notebook and pens for writing music. All though this is a common situation, it's a stereotype, as not ALL young inner city kids who ride the subway carry a backpack and write music. As well as, not all "backpack rappers" actually carry a backpack, are black, or even live in a big city.
Mainstream rappers rap about swagger, bling, hos, money, cars and success while being heavily auto-tuned, etc. Backpack rappers rap about their life, daily struggle, art, beauty, being "real" and true to yourself. They may have a moral. All Though backpack rappers can essentially write about anything, they typically tend to rap in a way to which others can easily relate... weather that be a positive or negative rap. The term backpack rapper is describing the person/musician, not necessarily the content of the rap.