About this sample
About this sample
Words: 1352 |
7 min read
Published: Jan 29, 2019
Words: 1352|Page: 1|7 min read
Rap music is loved by many people, including myself, and has become one of the most consumed genres of music among people according to several studies and professionals. While it is one of the most popular music genres, it also has substantial influence on people, especially youth. Rap music has always had a history of being problematic and promoting anti social behaviour such as selling or using drugs, talking about violent crimes, and having misogynistic lyrics. However, in recent years, these topics have become a big concern for the genre because rapper’s lyrics and music videos have become more intense. These concerns need to be addressed and resolved, as many professionals and researchers say the influence of rap music has become of a negative nature.
Over the last decade, rappers have increasingly glorified the use of drugs significantly more dangerous than alcohol or marijuana, such as cocaine, lean, adderall, molly, percocets and xanax in their lyrics and music videos. Nowadays, almost every rap song talks about using these drugs. A study on drug references in rap, from 2005-2008, showed 77% of the most popular rap songs included a reference about drug use, as stated by a article titled The Progression of Drug Glorification in Hip-Hop History. These references continue to increase and it can be seen in their lyrics. Take Travis Scott’s and NAV’s Biebs in the Trap as an example when NAV raps, “I just poured an 8 in a liter, Throw some Jolly Ranchers in, make it sweeter, Versace my clothes, I’m with a white ho, And she snorting three lines like Adidas, Got a black girl rolling off Molly, Got a white bitch snorting up snow.” In these couple of lines, NAV has referenced drinking lean, snorting cocaine and taking molly several times. The increase of glorification of these drugs is alarming as these drugs have been proven to have serious health risks and rappers themselves are dying from overdoses. Lil Peep, who was an up and coming rapper, died on November 15, 2017 because of a xanax/fentanyl overdose. This is even more concerning as people, especially youth, are exposed to these references on a daily basis and are easily influenced. The Pacific Institute of Research and Evaluation conducted a study with 1200 participants from California, aged 15-25, and reported that 70% of the participants who listened to rap, also admitted to drug use, suggested by an article titled How Are Hip Hop and Rap Music Affecting the Youth. This reinforces that rappers glamorizing the use of these drugs influences people in a negative way because people are being influenced to try and use potentially harmful drugs that rappers glamorize in their music.
Similar to drug use, in recent years, rappers have been glorifying violence like assault, shootings, murders and a variety of other violent acts in their lyrics and music videos. Lyrics that mention these topics are common and can be seen in several songs. A notable example is Armed and Dangerous by Juice WRLD when he says, “Gun on me, No need for bodyguards, Aim at your body parts, Take off your body parts.” In these lyrics, Juice WRLD states that he doesn’t need a bodyguard for protection because he is carrying his own gun and that he will take off someone’s body parts when he aims and shoots at them. This is also a concern as it is promoting violence, and people who are easily influenced, like youth, might think shooting, stabbing or fighting someone are acceptable ways to handle conflict. Studies conducted by the Western Connecticut State University found that people who listen to rap songs with intense lyrics were also more likely to have an aggressive behaviour, as stated in an article titled What Influence and Effects Does Rap Music Have on Teens Today. The researchers also noted that social and financial backgrounds played a role on how the participant was influenced by the violent lyrics. This reinforces that lyrics that glorify violence impact people negatively as it makes them more violent and aggressive. It also indicates that different factors can potentially impact how violent lyrics influence a person.
Misogyny and degradation of women in lyrics and music videos are also prevalent concerns in the rap genre. Rap songs and music videos often portray women as sexual objects or lower status than men. There are countless rap songs where rappers talk about having sex with women and rapping about their bodies. One notable example of these lyrics is in Fefe by 6ix9ine, when he says, “Got that super soaker, Hit that, She a Fefe, Her name Keke.” According to Genius, a “Fefe” is a pretty girl, but it is also a sex toy or artificial vagina made and used by prisoners. These lyrics imply that he is having sex with a pretty girl. Not only that, but 6ix9ine is using a “Fefe” as a metaphor to compare the girl he is having sex with to a sex toy, which implies that the girl he is having sex with is just a sexual object or toy to him. Additionally, rap songs almost always refer to women as derogatory terms such as bitches or hoes. An article, titled Alleviating the Effects of Misogyny in Rap and Hip Hop Music, states that in February 2018, the top 25 rap songs on the Billboard were analyzed and it was reported that 18 of the 25 songs referred to women as derogatory terms. This is a particularly high number, especially since rap songs that were not in the top 25 were not analyzed. Furthermore, music videos also show women with little to no clothes on, or clothes that reveal their breasts or buttocks. Some examples of these music videos include Taste by Tyga, Drip Too Hard by Lil Baby and Gunna, and Pick Up the Phone by Young Thug. All of these music videos have women dancing in the background with revealing clothes or no clothes at all. These factors all play a role in devaluing women by making them appear as sexual objects and social unequals and changing how people see women. Derek Brown, a former gang member, expressed how rap influenced his life in an article titled Ex-gang member talks about rap music’s influence. He stated “I remember listening to N.W.A. and they were singing ‘(F-word) That Police,’ and I became somebody who believed in that kind of language, and low-grading women and calling them out of their names.” Derek Brown expresses that he was substantially influenced by rap, that even he was participating in objectifying women by using derogatory terms. In addition, an article, titled Impact of Music, Music Lyrics, and Music Videos on Children and Youth, stated that Fischer and Greitemeyer conducted a study and found men who listened to lyrics that were misogynistic were more hostile to women and perceived them in a negative way. Ellen Nikodym reported there was self-objectification among women who listened to misogynistic lyrics from rap songs, especially African-American women, in an article titled, The Effects of Objectifying Hip-Hop Lyrics on Female Listeners. These reports reinforce that rap negatively influences it’s listeners and can do so in several ways.
It is understandable why rappers choose to rap about and reference drugs, violence and women in their music, as they often rap about their life and experiences. However, there is a difference between rapping about these topics to tell a story or share an experience with the listeners and rapping about these topics to become famous, earn money or act gangster. These topics have become growing concerns and they need to be solved. Rappers can create a good song with little to none of these references. Songs like God’s Plan by Drake, This Is America by Childish Gambino and 1-800-273-8255 by Logic are just a few examples of great songs that do not reference these topics at all. Now, I am not saying we need boycott rap or stop listening to it, but we certainly need to stop praising rappers for rapping about these topics and rappers need to recognize that what they rap about in their songs influences people of all ages, genders and races.
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