It might be “hip” and even make you “hop”, but as innocent as it may appear this hip music has hopped and entire generation into a world of drugs, sex and gang violence.
Hip-hop or rap, is not only a genre of music, it is a language and a challenging lifestyle. From the distinct beats, the clothing and the seemingly aggressive use of language, it is almost undeniable that hip-hop influences its listener. The problem is that hip hop projects a certain image which can be very damaging to the listeners’ perspective. It is even a greater problem since the main listeners are children and teens between the ages of 12 and 18. This music directly influences how they identify with each other in terms of sex roles in society, creating violence among them and promoting the use of drugs. When children listen to this kind of music, they think that what they are hearing is not wrong or against the law. The lyrics in many songs contain violent and explicit lyrics that usually talk about killing someone. It is also music that refers to women as bitches, whores and sluts.
Unfortunately, parents have no control over what music their kids listen to since there is no age limit on purchasing such music. It is also unfortunate to see that the media promotes it all as fun and games and society easily embraces it.
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Hip hop music is definitely not the only source of violence, yet it is a very potent one. Not only is the music violent but the rappers lifestyle is also. A perfect example of such lifestyle is rapper Tupac Shakur who was murdered in 1996 due to hard core gang fights. Highlights of Shakur’s police records show that he was arrested for aggravated assault, charged with shooting two off duty police officers in Atlanta, but the charges were later dropped. He was also accused of beating a limousine driver in Los Angeles and threatening a fellow rapper with a bat in Michigan. To top off his record he was later found guilty of sexual abuse in 1994 and was serving time up to 4 Ѕ years in prison (Sims 84). Shakur lived the life tattooed on his stomach, Thug Life, and died living it.
My concern with artists like Shakur is that this generation looks up to him as a role model. Is that what we want in our society today? Little shakurs walking around town creating violence and abuse. When musicians conduct themselves in such a poor manner, they influence children to copy their actions. The lyrics of music are all an important influence on children. Warning labels have been placed on albums with provocative lyrics, but these warnings do little to prevent the lyrics from reaching the children. Chairmen, executives and the media claim that music is not the cause to society’s problems (MTV). I strongly agree, yet I also believe that it does a marvelous job in promoting and magnifying society’s ills when delivering it to kids at home.
Hip hop has also been criticized for its graphic sexual content. When confronted with the question as to why they refer to women as bitches and whores, their responses were quite similar. Snoop Doggy Dog, another controversial rapper along the lines of Tupac Shakur answered that what they say are only for women that are like that and if you’re a real woman, you are classy and elegant. He also said that he chooses to call them hoes and sluts because all the women he knows are like that (Farley 78). Sadly, this is the view shared by all these hip hop artists. Do these artists think they own women and can treat them anyway they want to? If so, what paths will the children listening to such artists who accept their behavior as normal follow? In my opinion, they will follow a path of destruction leading to a corrupted society.
Hip hop has changed for worse by taking the art form and transforming it into trash. Of course there are positive messages in hip hop, but if the entire album is about death, violence, sex and drugs, what kind of message is going to be placed first? Parents might have control within their four walls yet even then they cannot supervise every single moment of their entertainment. Many TV and radio stations do not allow this form of music on the air. It has literally been censored out of their programming the same way porno films have. Even though many stations have censored explicit hip hop, some still promote it heavily. Violence, sex, and drugs are a reality in today’s world, but should it be exposed and shared as if it is ok and make it sound like fun and games. We must draw the line and ban this form of music to enter our homes and lives. Hip Hop – Stop!
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