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In Defence Of Rap Music
Could there be a more provocative genre of music? Since hip hop's birth on the streets of New York in the 1970s, it has grown to become both one of the most popular forms of music and the most controversial at the same time. The question that needs to be asked now is "Is the criticism warranted?".
In short, the answer is "not really".
Originally, hip hop was derived from funk, soul, and several other genres. What made it appealing was its fresh incorporation of elements from different types of music. Hip hop encouraged creativity and for some, became a more effective means of expressing themselves, whether it be through MCing, DJing, break dancing, or graffiti art.
But I don't think it's specifically the genre that has millions of concerned parents, teachers, and other people up in arms. I mean, when hip hop first started, it was mainly dominated by benevolent lyrics such as "Don't push me 'cause I'm close to the edge/I'm trying not to lose my head" from Grandmaster Flash and his contemporaries.
No, it seems that people are more concerned with what rap lyrics have evolved into. When most people think of rap, they think money, cars, girls and drugs. Most would consider these themes as detrimental to the listeners. "Think of the children!", they say.
That's all well and good except for a couple of fallacies here:
1) The rappers that rap about these kinds of topics are, to the surprise of many, a minority. Yes, they do seem to take up the majority of the mainstream, but people seem to forget that hip hop still has a very strong underground scene. Painting the entire genre with the same brush is illogical and demonstrates one's ignorance of the issue at hand. People don't look at Justin Beiber and assume all of pop is the same. People don't look at Kristen Stewart and assume all actors are emotionless. Why must we do the same with hip hop? If anything, one should blame record labels for the types of rappers they promote.
2) Hip Hop, like most other genres, has become a big money business. Like any business, hip hop gives the people what they want. In other words, it is the market of music listeners that dictate what people will rap about. Basically, it is not the rappers who are responsible for the purported "deterioration of American values". In a sense, the rappers are merely a reflection of what many American people like and value nowadays.
3) Finally, it doesn't have to “affect you”, if you don't want it to! There's a certain laziness in North America when it comes to laying blame. It is extremely easy to point to a single person or song and blame it for the wrongdoings or lack of morales of a child. I have yet to encounter a credible study that indicates a single piece of music can be the sole contributor to one's development. Humans are much more complicated than that, but we like to simplify things by blaming a single source. If someone listens to a rap song about driving drunk and follows the song's lead by doing the same, their intelligence was in question well before the rap lyrics came along.
Overall, like most of society’s problems, rap music is not the sole cause. Nothing in real life is that black and white and simple to categorize. The general hatred for rap music amongst a large portion of the population says more about our collective psyche than it does about the genre itself. Music is a form of art and to blame any single form of art for ruining the youth, whether it be poetry, film or music, is irrational.
We have enough problems already. Let’s not make a new false dilemma for no logical reason.