Rap music is a pretty new addition to the many genres of music, and according to Tricia Rose, it is already in a crisis. She says, in her book The Hip Hop Wars, that “although its overall fortunes have rises sharply, the most commercially promoted and financially successful hip hop … has increasingly become a playground for caricatures of black gangstas, pimps, and hoes” (Rose 1).
This describes what has come from the evolution of rap music perfectly. There was so much meaning in the verses of early rap lyrics, but that has all disappeared.
The Change of Rap Podcast
In the beginning, there were three founding fathers of rap. These artists were Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, and Kool Herc. When these three started the rap game, it was focused on oppression. They wanted people to understand what they were dealing with in the streets. Money was not the end goal for them; they just wanted their problems to be out in the world. When rap would be launched into the mainstream, however, this would start to change. Run-DMC was a very popular rap group that preached about not doing drugs, and treating women right. This group was the reason the rap went mainstream. When Run-DMC did a remix (or cover, however you want to look at it) of Aerosmith’s “Walk this way,” the public’s exposure to rap music skyrocketed. When the rap and rock genres were mixed together in that song, more people became aware of rap and started to follow it. This led to many more listeners, and many more artists.
Grandmaster Flash “The Message”
Run-DMC & Aerosmith “Walk this Way”
When mass amount of people join a movement, a lot of times the ideas of that movement will change. That is exactly what happened to rap music. When new artists began to flood the studios to make some rap music, everything had shifted. The reasoning behind the music wasn’t to get their problems out to the world, but to get money. The stories in the lyrics wasn’t there anymore either. These new artists would almost solely rap about drugs, women, and money.
This is where the genre began to go downhill. With these new themes, rap was becoming incredibly vulgar and violent. That is not a good thing when kids are able to listen to the music whenever they want to. Kids are now being constantly exposed to high levels of suggestive themes, which could cause them harm while they are developing. If kids are constantly hearing about how their favorite rappers are smoking weed, then it’s a lot more likely that they are going to start smoking weed themselves.
Through iTunes, Spotify, and Pandora, kids are able to listen to whatever they want. There is nothing stopping them from listening to these vulgar and inappropriate songs. With songs being more inappropriate comes music videos becoming more inappropriate as well. YouTube is a very easy way to find your favorite videos, but it is also a very easy way for kids to find videos. What’s in their way of watching something along the lines of this music video?
Rap has gotten completely out of hand. A study published in March of 2003 shows that when teenage African American girls are highly exposed to rap music, they become much more aggressive. The study involved over 500 African American teenage girls that listen to rap music regularly. They would then be divided between high exposure and low exposure. After 12 months of them listening to this rap music, there was a noticeable difference in the aggressive behavior between those that had a high exposure to rap music than to those that had a lower exposure. The girls that had high exposure were 3 times more likely to have hit a teacher; 2.5 times more likely to have been arrested; 2 times more likely to have had multiple sexual partners; and 1.5 times more likely to have acquired a new STD, used drugs, and used alcohol over the 12 month follow-up period. (The full study can be found here)
This study shows that the music really does affect how teenagers develop. If they are given a stimulus that is constantly telling them to do bad things, then they are going to do bad things. When they listen to songs that constantly talk about breaking the law, they are going to be more inclined to break the law. If they listen to songs about how women should only be used for sex, then the kids are going to grow up believing that women should only be used for sex. The songs that people listen to influences their behaviors in life. With rap spiraling down into the depths of vulgarity and inappropriateness, the kids are going to go with it.
Do we really want our kids looking like this?
I definitely do not. Rap needs to change back to the way that it was. For the children.
Delaney, Kevin. “Run-DMC Bask in Old School Limelight.” Rolling Stone. Wenner Media, 15 Mar. 1999. Web. 29 Nov. 2013.
Khalifa, Wiz (wizkhalifa). “I forgot how awesome bong tokes are #Ripped.” 15 Nov. 2013, 3:53 p.m. Tweet.
Meghelli, Samir. “Remixing the Historical Record: Revolutions in Hip Hop Historiography.” Western Journal of Black Studies 37.2 (2013): 94- 102.EBSCO. Web. 21 Nov. 2013.
Rose, Tricia. The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk About When We Talk About Hip Hop-and Why It Matters. New York: BasicCivitas, 2008. Print.
Stafford, Neil. Personal Interview. 7 Dec. 2013
Wingood, Gina, Ralph DiClemente, and Jay Bernhardt. “Exposure to Rap on Adolescent Health.” NCBI. American Public Health Association, Mar. 2003. Web. 27 Nov. 2013.