Century Rap Music! What has the world come to? How has the music industry, specifically the rap/ hip-hop industry, in the 21st century world been allowed to use themes that include, but are not limited to, murder, drugs, sex, rape, misogyny, suicide, and more? What are the effects of such content found in contemporary, 21 SST century, rap and how does this affect listeners and future generations to come? Rap In the 21 SST century Is no longer constructed the same way as It used to be.
In the past, hip-hop had special meanings, like fighting for human rights, cheerful life experiences, testimonials of cough childhoods, and stories common people can relate too; that is what made rap popular and appealing. Listening to experiences and feelings expressed in hip-hop had listeners saying “That’s so true,” or “That’s exactly how I feel. ” That same appeal is used In the 21st century however In a totally different contest.
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Rap played on the radio In the 21st century Is all about partying, doing drugs, and sex, while songs off the radio are even worse with themes that include violence, suicide, harder drugs, rape, and prison. One can argue that these themes are in fact real life experiences, forever, the chances that any of these situations would actually happen to an average person is ridiculous. Another can argue that the themes of the present are the same as they were in the past, but to a much more explicit extent and this rationalization allows such content to become acceptable In 21st century society.
I This essay will Investigate the absurdity of messages and content of contemporary rap and how they affect morals of listeners and future generations of musicians and listeners. For example, most contemporary rappers talk about all the girls In clubs that are dressed so shamelessly and provocatively and having an endless amount of sex with them while drinking an endless amount of alcohol and smoking an endless amount of marijuana. These behaviors have semantically transferred into the norms and socially acceptable behavior among youths.
Starting as early as high school, teens and young adults go out to parties, drink, do drugs, and become sexually active at an early age because that Is the message contemporary rap songs are portraying. The most absurd fact about the direction that music Is heading is that there is nothing anyone can do about it: under freedom of speech ND creation in America, these artists are protected and are able to create and say whatever they want. The concept of a seven year old child listening to songs like “Rack City’ by Tag where he is “thrown’ hunnish, hunnish” as one would do in a strip club is absurd.
However because it has a catchy beat and is played on the radio regularly, parents are not aware of the song’s message and allow their children to messages by 21st century youths and adults that allow their children to be exposed to such topics. To answer these problems, I will analyze a few popular 21st century rap lyrics based off Billboard. Mom’s “Top 100 Hip Hop Songs” over the past 12 years and other scholarly articles on similar topics. This composition will study five major themes in rap music and explore each theme in depth: substance abuse, social context, gender roles, and the extremities. L. Substance Abuse! Substance abuse is one of the most common themes in rap music today. Rappers today endorse excessive alcohol consumption and drug use. Over the past forty years, alcohol and primarily marijuana usage has been incorporated in more rap music. Some artists even have their names made from having a reputation of Arizona usage, like Snoop Dog and Wiz Kalmia. According to Denies Herd’s article, “Changes In Drug Use Prevalence In Rap Music Songs, 1979-1997,” drug usage has increases significantly as a major topic in rap music.
Over the time span of 20 years, drug prevalence in rap songs has gone up from 11% in 1979 to 69% in 1997. This article also shows a change in attitudes towards drugs in actual songs; in 1979, there was a 16% positive attitude toward drugs in songs and a 68% negative attitude towards them, in 1997, there was a 58% positive attitude toward drugs in songs and a 4% negative attitude towards them. There is enough research to show that this is a strong upward trending use of drugs in rap music. This change in attitudes towards drugs from a negative opinion to a positive one in music changes the public opinion.
The positive opinion of drug use is making it more socially acceptable for recreational drug use; in the recent 2012 elections, Washington and Colorado have legalized recreational marijuana use. Is there a connection between rap music and these states legalization? Has rap music influenced the public with their ideas that has dad these activities acceptable? No research shows that there is but the prevalence of drugs in rap music definitely makes it clear that there is a growing social acceptance of partaking in drugs. Examples of drugs are all over the place in rap music. According to Billboard’s “R&B/Hip-Hop Songs” chart of most popular rap songs of the week, popular rapper 2 Chain has 3 songs in the top 20. His most popular song, No Lie (feat. Drake), highlights drug usage very frequently. The very first line of the song, “l am smoking on that gas,” and then every other line after has a drug reference. Chain references cocaine, heroine, and ‘lean,’ better known as purple drink which is a mix of Codeine and soda.
Another rapper with growing popularity and the number one rapper to look out for in 2012 according to “About Entertainment,” ASAP Rocky also has songs views and bestselling song on tunes, Purple Swag, opens with the line, “This is for my n*gas getting high on the regular/ Purple drink, I still sip, purple weed blunt still lit,” where in the first lines he mentions purple drink and marijuana usage. The opening line is a hook to pull listeners who regularly partake in illicit drugs.
This fleets most of Sap’s music themes and listeners who don’t do drugs may be influenced to try them because ASAP would be dedicating his music to them. ! The transformation of messages in rap music from political activism, an exposure of black culture, and the hardships of African American life to living a life full of materialism, drugs, and sex is absurd. The roots of hip-hop come from black suppression, hate, and the need to better African American culture and that fueled listeners to do something; it fueled movements. Hempstead, “Gangs Rap’s Heroic Substrata: A Survey Of The Evidence”) Rap groups like Www-Tang Clan, N. W. A. , and Public Enemy produced music about black empowerment and giving power to the people, and now today we have rappers like 2 Chain and ASAP Rocky who primarily focus on substance abuse, materialism, and women. Just like in the past, rap music is very influential on it’s young listeners and instead of empowering young people to stand up for their rights and use rap music as an outlet to channel their emotions, today rap music pushes the idea that doing drugs is an O.
K. , fun thing to do. There is enough research and evidence to show that doing illicit drugs is terrible for your hysterical and mental health, hence their illegality, but contemporary rap music is making it acceptable to do these drugs which is absurd.! II. Social Context! Rap and hip-hop today is very influential on most people but more influential on young African Americans (Chem., Miller, Grebe, “Influence Of Music On Youth Behaviors”). Rap music contains messages of how to have a good time, party, act in public, and even influences how people talk.
Because rappers are public figures, their actions are constantly in the spotlight, whether it be in the news, tabloids, music Gaines like “Rolling Stone,” or in music videos, making them “role models”. A role model, as defined by Dictionary. Com, is “a person whose behavior, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people,” (Dictionary. Com). Applying the concept that any public becomes a role model to rap music and this definition tells us that young people look up to these musicians as models of what is hip or cool.
Chem., Miller and Grebe anonymously surveyed 1,056 students (62% non-white, 57% female) in California ranging from ages 15-25 (mean age 18. 9) and asked them 5 questions: what music they listened to out of 1 5 genres, alcohol use and frequency, preferences for sensation seeking. The research showed that rap music was the most popular and was consistently and positively associated with use of alcohol, malt- liquor, potential alcohol-use disorder, marijuana, club drugs, and aggressive behaviors.! ! A very popular rap song that is considered an “anthem” by Billboard. Mom is The Motto (feat. Ill Wayne) by Drake. The song received the Greatest Gainer/Airplay award with an increase of 3. 5 million audience impressions from its release in November 2011 to January 2012(Billboard. Com). The message that became a phenomenon from this song is You Only Live Once, better known as YOLK, from the catchy and unforgettable chorus, “Now she want a photo/ You already know though/ You only live once/ That’s the motto, n*gag, YOLK. ” This song does not explicitly give directions on how to party, however, it’s message greatly influenced American youth.
YOLK, almost like a modern day carper diem, is used by teens as an excuse to either try something stupid or take a risk they normally would not take. It can be seen as a positive motivator, but in some cases it has been taken to far. Ervin Muckiness, a 21 year old spring rapper, died in a tragic car accident in September 2012 after tweeting, “Drunk [as f*KC] going 120 drifting corners #F*cult YOLK,” (Cockshies, The Huffing Post). This event shows a tragedy fueled by the YOLK hype, and shows the extent of influence that rap music has on it’s listeners. Another example of rap songs that influence social behavior is French Montana’s song Pop That (feat. Rick Ross, Drake, & Ill Wayne). If, as shown in Chem., Miller, and Grebe’s research, rap music influences how teenagers and young adults act at parties or in other social contexts, then this song is a perfect example of influencing it’s listeners to act a certain way. Pop That peak at number 2 of Billboard’s “R/Hip- Hop Chart,” and it’s main theme is telling women to dance by ‘popping their butts, everyone at the party to get drunk, have sex, and smoke marijuana.
If Chem. and co. ‘s research is viable, then this song influences young adults to partake in these activities. !! The absurdity behind this is the effect of rap’s influences. If absurdity is something that is wildly unreasonable, then these effects fit perfectly as absurd. Why is it acceptable to use YOLK as an excuse to do something dangerous and stupid? Why do children look at these rap stars as role models? Why has it become acceptable for young adults to act shamelessly and do what rap songs tell them to do?
It is absurd to thing that children as young as 15 who listen to rap music are more likely to partake in the use of alcohol, malt-liquor, potential alcohol-use absurdity comes from the fact that people can be so influenced by what they hear at parties, on the radio, or on their own that actually causes them to act a certain way in social situations, because rap music depicts how you should act. Rapper’s make the music they feel and enjoy, but what hey seem to forget is that because they are public figures; they are in fact role models that influence those who listen to the music.
It is absurd to think that these adults would be making songs that tell children as young as 15 that drinking, doing drugs, having sex, and being promiscuous is fun and acceptable, after all, YOLK. And what is also absurd is how rap has come to this; as Hempstead said in his essay, “Gangs Rap’s Heroic Substrata: A Survey Of The Evidence,” rap used to be about black empowerment, fighting the powers that suppress those being suppressed, and arsenal hardships, and now rap is about Rick Ross telling girls to “drop that p*sys, b*tech,” (French Montana, Pop That (feat Rick Ross, Drake, & Ill Wayne)).
Rappers like Public Enemy’s frontal Chuck D rapped about themes like standing up for what you believe in, political activism, and fighting for freedom, What has happened to rappers like Chuck D and Public Enemy? Where are the musicians that believe in a cause that has a positive influence on their listeners? There are no rappers in today’s most popular rap music that stand for something they strongly believe in with a positive sausage, instead rap is now heading in a direction that no longer carries the same positive influential meanings that it once has.! Ill.
Gender Roles! Rap is notorious for its constant themes of female subordination. Rappers constantly talk about women as material and sexual objects; not even as human beings (Conrad, Dixon, Gang, “Controversial Rap Themes, Gender Portrayals And Skin Tone Distortion: A Content Analysis Of Rap Music Videos”). In rap videos, men are generally seen in a more positive light than the women in the videos; women are generally seen as subordinate to the men and are usually wearing provocative clothing. Women in rap lose their identity and become objects of sex to the rappers.
The opinion of women is visible in both rap songs and videos.! In rap songs, rappers constantly talk about women as objects and put them down with demeaning terms. One of the most common words in rap music today is ‘pitch,’ which is defined as a spiteful or unpleasant woman and is most commonly used a very insulting and demeaning term towards women (Schneider, “Culture, Rap Music, “Pitch,” And The Development Of The Censorship Frame”). Rappers use the term so liberally to euthanize the women they speak to, this makes the women become SAP Rocky F*kicking Problem (feat.
Drake, 2 Chain & Kindlier Lamar) main message is that these rappers, as 2 Chain puts it, “Love bad bitched, that’s [their] f*kicking problem/ And yeah [they] like to f*KC, [they] got a f*kicking problem. ” A ‘Heating’s Song’ is a song that is most popular across all formats of music outputs by new or developing acts. This hook that is repeated throughout the song demonstrates that these artists do not recognize women as anything other than objects for sex. These artists have so much sex that apparently it has actually become a problem, but they eke sex and they love not the women, but the ‘bad bitched. The absurdity arises from the fact that women still listen and enjoy this music. Approximately 42% of rap’s audience are women according to Vociferate. Com; the fact that almost half of the listeners and implied supporters of this type of misogynistic music are women is ridiculous and absurd.! ! There is a larger effect of rap videos on female youth. Women in rap videos are seen wearing promiscuous clothing and in submission to male rap stars. Studies show that teenage girls, age 14-18, who watch the videos tend to be more remissions, more subordinate to black males, and dress and talk the same way as portrayed in the videos.
Also, teenage girls who watch more videos tend to partake in binge drinking, marijuana use, sexual activities with multiple partners, and have a negative body image (Davies, “Images Of Sexual Stereotypes In Rap Videos And The Health Of African American Female Adolescents”). It is absurd that teenage girls are more likely to act like this due to rap videos. The influences that rap music and videos have on female youth are evident through this research, and it is absurd that rap sic influences these youth in such a way to push them to behave in such a way.! ‘V. Extremes!
The final section of this paper discussed the extremities of popular rap music. One rap group I would like to focus on is the notorious Los Angels based Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, or OFFSHOOT. The groups most popular member and leader, Tyler, The Creator, has gained much attention for his controversial lyrics, videos, mannerism, actions – basically much attention has been focused on the controversy that is Tyler, The Creator. Teller’s claim to fame is his debut album, Goblin, where it debuted t the number one position on Billboards “Top R/Hip-Hop Albums” chart.
Tyler in the same year won the MAT Video Music Award for Best New Artist and his most popular song, Yonkers, beating out fellow musicians: Big Sean, Wiz Kalmia, Foster the People, and Greenshank. There is no research done to prove this, but the reason why Tyler was so successful with his major label debut was due to the shock value that came with his style and themes, not because people actually agreed with what he misogyny, domestic violence, sexual activities, homophobia, blasphemy, and multiple personality disorder. In fact, throughout the whole album, Tyler says the word fagged’ 213 times (Towel).
Even in the self directed music video for Yonkers, Tyler is shown eating a cockroach, having tattoos that look self made on his hand saying ‘kill’, having demonic, fully blacked out eyes, having a nosebleed, and finally proceeding to hang himself with a final shot of Teller’s twitching, hanging feet. If you watch this video, you are literally watching someone kill them self, and the best part is that this video helped Tyler win Best New Artist, and it was nominated for Best Music Video at the 2011 Montevideo Awards.! The lyrics Tyler has are beyond explicit.
In Sandwiches, a song from Goblin, Tyler says, “Come on kids, f*KC that class and hit that bony’ Let’s buy guns and kill those kids with dads and moms/ With nice homes, 41 KS, and nice ass lawns. ” Tyler is directly calling out to kids living in broken homes to drop out of school, smoke marijuana, and kill other kids. And this is only three lines out of one song on an album full of claims similar to this. In fact, on the opening track and title song Goblin, Tyler, in his eerie demonic voice says, “The devil doesn’t wear Pravda, I’m clearly in a f*kicking white tee. Tyler, The Creator is self proclaimed Satan. In it’s first week, Goblin sold over 50,000 units. Americans are actually buying music by Satan himself telling children to kill other more privileged children. He does not even stop there. The most notable lines on Teller’s iconic Yonkers, include killing other musicians, “(What you think of Halley Williams? ) F*KC her, Wolf Haley robbing ‘me/ I’ll crash that f*kicking airplane that that fagged n*gag B. O. B is in/ And stab Bruno Mars in his goddamn esophagi/ And won’t stop until the cops come in. ” Starting from the beginning,
Halley Williams is the lead singer of popular rock band Paramour, Wolf Haley is Teller’s alter ego, the “airplane” he talks about crashing is a reference to the song Airplanes by B. O. B which featured Halley Williams, B. O. By’s breakthrough song was Nothing On You which featured Bruno Mars, and Tyler hates them all so much that he Just killed them all. !! The absurdities with Tyler, The Creator are obvious. America has brought to fame a teenager, he was 19 when he released Goblin, who raps about killing people, raping women, doing drugs, and so on and on.
It is unbelievable to see people buying this sic and in a sense supporting what he does with his music; it is absurd. Everything Tyler says is figurative, and his fans still support this kind of imagination and thought. Even Just the fact that he says fagged’ 213 times in his album is absurd; that word is a word derived purely from hate of homosexual people, yet Tyler claims that he is not homophobic or even hates homosexuals at all. In an interview with NAME, Tyler said, “I’m means you’re stupid. I don’t know, we don’t think about it, we’re Just kids. We don’t think about that SSH*t. But I don’t hate gay people.
I don’t want anyone to think I’m monophonic. ” This statement and idea he has that using the word fagged’ is acceptable because he is not homophobic is completely absurd. It is even absurd and ironic that someone who says fagged’ 213 in one album would even go on to say he does not want people to think he is homophobic.! If anyone else was saying what Tyler says, they would probably be recommended for mental help, but instead Tyler is praised and respected for it. He was even given the award of Best New Artist. Saying that Teller’s music with messages of murder and rape is the best new thing in 2011 is ridiculous and absurd.
Even there artists like Indies duo Texan and Sara are offended by what Tyler stands for. Sara said in a post, “While an artist who can barely get a sentence fragment out without using homophobic slurs is celebrated on the cover of every magazine, blob and newspaper, I’m disheartened that any self-respecting human being could stand in support with a message so vile,” (NAME). This phrase summarizes the absurdity with Tyler, The Creator and the success and fame he has achieved. Teller’s recognition and praise for such extreme and grotesque rap music is beyond absurd.!
However, does Teller’s claim to fame and popularity foreshadow what is to come n rap? This type of extreme rap has been out there with rappers like Immortal Technique and Tech Nine, but now it is receiving mainstream recognition and praise. Rap has left the era of Public Enemy and messages of empowerment, and social and political Justice into the era today of 2 Chain and ASAP Rocky with messages of partying, substance abuse, and differences in gender rolls; is rap leaving its current era of partying into a new era of Tyler, The Creator, murder, and rape? Only time will tell, but what is very troublesome is the effects of this type of music.