What is the difference, if any, between a 'gangsta' and a 'gang member'.
Is a gangsta a 'wannabe' gang member?
Are all 'gangsta's' criminals, selling drugs, hurting people, doing whatever, or can they just be 'pretending' or acting the 'role' of a tough guy gangsta.
Similar to how some of the violent criminals will call themselves "soldiers" when all they are is thugs or murderers.
(and now I take off my linguist hat. If you'd like the full academic treatment, let me know and I'll talk your ear off about exclusionary language, high- vs low-prestige dialects, and sociolinguistics)
Gang is a denotation of a formal group with its own "bylaws" and traditions. Most of the gangs in my school would not be called "gangsta." A member of a gang is not a gangsta but rather is referred to by their color or their gang name.
Contrary to what you might expect, the gang members that I have taught were subtle. The always wore their colors, but they were disciplined and polite unless they felt like they had been disrepected or their colors (the beads or bandana or whatever they associated with the gang) had been disrespected. This was often a problem, since staff takes all such items away from students and stores them for the day with cell phones and other personal belongings.
I've worked with people with trauma histories for a long time and feel compelled to say that gang involvement is a very complex situation, usually based on safety. I think because it's somewhat glorified, it's tempting for people to use words like gangsta without really knowing much about what that means.
In my experience,people who are in gangs or who are familiar with them don't refer to themselves or other people as gangsta or gang members. They usually use the name of the gang. As in "he's a GD" or "she's a Latin Queen."