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Rap Music Rocks!

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Ever since the era of rap music began in the 1970’s, violence among its audience has been connected to the lyrics of rap songs. Eventually rap music became something society was able to blame for teen violence. As the music got more disturbing and the lyrics got more violent and discriminating towards women, rap artists have gotten more blame for teens acting out. Unfortunately, this blame is misplaced. Rap music should not be blamed for teen violence because the theory is based on stereotypes of teenagers and rappers, rap is merely one genre of music that alludes to violence, and can only be blamed for influencing feelings not actions.
The studies done on this topic have only represented certain groups of people. In “Does Rap Put Teens at Risk?” Sid Kirchheimer shines light on a study that shows the effect of rap videos on African American girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen. The study showed that the girls who watched rap videos at least fourteen hours a week were more likely to act out in the form of hitting a teacher, getting arrested, and using drugs and alcohol. That’s a good statistic because African American girls between the ages of fourteen and eighteen represent the entire world. Oh wait, no they don’t. This article later goes on to state that rap video’s largest audience is white suburban youth. So where are the studies showing how rap videos have affected it’s largest viewing population? It could only be assumed that this information was left out of Kirchheimer’s article because the results would have contradicted his stance on the issue and therefore weakened his argument. The study also did not specify if these African American girls were prone to violence regardless of rap due to their role models or lifestyle. If the statistics regarding rap music causing violence are this far from exact and leave such important information out, they can not be used as a legitimate reason to blame rap for violence.
Not all teenagers are the same. Some may think that if violence is happening in a rap music video it is okay to do in real life, but others know that is not the case. It is a lot like advertising when it comes to knowing what is fake and just being used to attract an audience or sell a product. Teenagers are old enough to watch a teeth whitening commercial and not feel inclined to go out and buy that product because most likely that gorgeous woman’s teeth were whitened via computer. Those same teenagers are old enough to watch a rap video and not feel the need to go out and get a gun and some voluptuous women in metallic bathing suits to walk around with because the life being portrayed in that video is fake and only lasts for three to four minutes. The small number of teenagers who do not know the difference between music videos and reality are the ones causing the problems and forcing their parents and society to put the blame on rap music, but it is not fair to make the generalization that all teenagers don’t understand the difference.
Not all rap music is the same. Some rappers talk about life lessons and some talk about sex, drugs, and violence. They are all allowed to rap about whatever they want, but to group all of them together and blame the whole genre of music for that small group of teenagers is a stereotype. “Lumping all rap music together and dismissing it as incomprehensible noise can harm society,” said Miriam Fitting in her article “Who Takes the Rap?”. Theories based on large stereotypes should not be taken seriously.
Rap not only includes a wide variety of genres within itself, but it is also not the only style of music that contains lyrics regarding violence. Country artists like Miranda Lambert and the Dixie Chicks have put out many songs referencing weapons and murder. In Miranda Lamberts Kerosene she sings, “Now I don’t hate the one who left you can’t hate someone who’s dead he’s out there holdin’ onto someone I’m holding up my smokin’ gun.” In her controversial song Gunpowder and Lead about a hypothetical abusive boyfriend, Miranda talks about drinking, jail, cigarettes, shotguns and says, “His fist is big but my gun’s bigger, he’ll find out when I pull the trigger.” The Dixie Chicks are also famous for their political and controversial music. Their song Goodbye Earl is about two friends killing an ex-husband and makes references to poisoning, suffocating, and dropping a body off in a lake and says “they don’t loose any sleep at night cause Earl had to die”. Popular rock songs also have lyrics that talk about violence and suicide. “Cut my life into pieces this is my last resort, suffocation no breathing don’t give a f*** if I cut my arm bleeding,” screams Papa Roach in his song Last Resort. Although other genres of music clearly allude to the same violence as rap music, rap seems to be the only genre being connected to teen violence. Miriam Fitting, the author of “Who Takes the Rap?” believes that rap doesn’t deserve the blame, or the isolation. She said, “rap music touches each of our lives, and not just when cars with twenty-inch speakers drive by blaring it, shaking both the windows of our houses and the fragile membranes of our eardrums. It is a connecting thread running through today’s youth culture”. Rap music is a large part of youth culture and not only has similarities to other genres in the present; it also shared its rebellious start with other genres in the past. “Like other popular styles, it [rap music] has a history that is closely aligned with the rebellious attitude of it’s young creators; youth who rejected the contemporary music prevalent during the 1970’s,” said Kwaku Person-Lynn in her article “The Origin of Rap.”
People can say that music influences people, which it definitely does. It can make you feel sad or mad, it can even make you so mad you want to hurt someone. But when it comes down to it you are the one who committed the crime, you pulled the trigger, not the rap artist who sang about doing it. A song can make you feel any emotion in the book, but a song cannot make you do something. It is a classic battle of feelings versus actions. Blaming music for making you feel a certain way is valid, but to claim that a genre of music can make you physically do something is not. Famous rapper Eminem, who has spent every minute of his career being scrutinized by the public because of his controversial and downright disturbing lyrics, explains it all perfectly in his song Sing For the Moment. He raps, “they say music can alter moods and talk to you, but can it load a gun up for you a c*** it too? Well if it can then the next time you assault a dude just tell the judge it was my fault and I’ll get sued”. No matter what Miranda Lambert sings to you, that song can’t make you go out, buy a shotgun and pull the trigger on someone you hate. No matter what Papa Roach yells at you, those words can’t make you go out, buy a razor, and take it to your wrist. No matter what rappers spit to you, that rhyme can’t make you go out and commit violence. Lyrics can make you want to do something; they can’t make you do it.
Rap music has been viewed in relation to teen violence and rebellion almost as long as it’s been around. Contrary to popular belief rap music cannot be blamed for violence among teenagers. The studies trying to prove the opposite are based on stereotypes and therefore cannot be used as a credible source. It is the only genre of music blamed for promoting violence when country and rock lyrics clearly show that rap is not alone with its references to violent behavior. Lastly, rap music cannot be blamed for actions of violence because the combination of lyrics and melody can only go as far as to alter a person’s mood, but cannot force a person to commit violent crimes.





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