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The Role of Hip-hop and Rap Music in Promoting Human Trafficking

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In the past few years, hip-hop as a genre has skyrocketed in popularity, even surpassing the popular reputation of rock. According to the end-of-year report published by Nielsen Music, “hip-hop represents 24. 5 percent of all music consumption in the US – the largest share and the first time it has led the measurement for a calendar year. ” Rappers have become a predominant part of pop culture in recent years, leading young adults to want to follow in their footsteps with explicit content in their everyday lives.

In the past few years, human trafficking has reached an all-time high with more than 400, 000 people living in modern slavery in the US right now – with author Mary Vanderslice Kelly calling it the “largest estimated number to date. ” Human trafficking, mostly regarding the luxurious lifestyle surrounding pimps, has become a predominant part of pop culture in recent years, leading young adults to be desensitized to this inhumane crime. Rapping as a form of music has been on the rise since the 1970s with singers like DJ Kool Herc, but its popularity only truly began to rise by the 1990’s with hip-hop artists like Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. It has been rising in graphic content ever since. For example, according to author Eleanor Ross from Newsweek, “our taste for expletive-filled lyrics and has grown hugely since the Billboard 100 started in 1958. Data shows that up till 2001, only five songs with explicit lyrics made it to number one, but since then, explicit chart toppers have rocketed by 833%”.

Prostitution as a form of human trafficking is “the world’s oldest profession”, but its prevalence and acclaim only truly began to rise when pimp culture became synonymous with pop culture in the 90’s. The severity of these crimes has been rising astronomically ever since. For example, according to a recent study conducted by the SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project), “prostitutes are 400 times more likely to be murdered on the job than the average worker. ” Because of the increasing popularity of rap music within the general public, many young teens have begun listening to content such as; “. . . I got a snow bunny and a black girl too you pay the right price and they’ll both do you. ” These lyrics come directly from the Academy Award-winning song, “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” by hip-hop artist 3 Six Mafia. Because of the increasing popularity of “pimping”, or trafficking girls for profit within the general public, many young teens are now more susceptible to STDs, drug addictions, and unwanted pregnancies while being trafficked. It has even been found that a colossal “90% of New York City prostitutes have had to give away at least one child to child protective services. ” These confounding statistics have shown to perpetuate human trafficking, as children with backgrounds such as coming from a broken family are targeted much more frequently. The rise of acclaim in this particular genre has led to numerous new changes in American culture.

Although explicit, lyrics in hip-hop give light to real-life situations that some may find comfort or relation in. Diversity in music such as this gives way to new perspectives from different people, which possibly widens the general populations’ horizons. Unfortunately, the romanticism of this crime has led to numerous changes in American culture. America’s youth have become more comfortable with crimes like this, desensitizing our youth to how inhumane the trafficking of people really is. Crimes such as this promote old stereotypes of viewing women merely as objects to derive sexual pleasure from, which greatly harms our future for solidarity and equality as a nation.

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The Role of Hip-hop and Rap Music in Promoting Human Trafficking. (2020, April 02). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 24, 2021, from
“The Role of Hip-hop and Rap Music in Promoting Human Trafficking.” GradesFixer, 02 Apr. 2020,
The Role of Hip-hop and Rap Music in Promoting Human Trafficking. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 24 Oct. 2021].
The Role of Hip-hop and Rap Music in Promoting Human Trafficking [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Apr 02 [cited 2021 Oct 24]. Available from:
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