Hip-Hop is the probably the most influential genre In our society today. Arthur Baker said, “l remember being told ‘Someone’s goanna make a fortune out of this rap thing’ and thinking ‘no way,” (“Rap Quotes” 1 Arthur Baker was one of the most noticeable and widely-emulated of the first hip-hop producers (“Arthur” 1). Little did he know what the negative effect that this form of music would have on today’s youth. With violence and drug use rising, one must wonder, “What’s the cause”” Though hip-hop Is definitely not the only cause, it doesn’t help.
With some minor changes In artists’ lyrics and persona, today’s youth wouldn’t be subjected to negative views of society, but rather the positive side of life. Hip-hop has a negative effect on today’s youth and something must be done about it. What is hip-hop? Webster defines hip-hop as, “a subculture especially of inner-city youths whose amusements Include rap music, graffiti, and break dancing,” (542). While the World Book defines rap music as, . “.. A form of popular music that Is generally spoken or chanted at a fast pace rather than sung.
Rap music is performed over musical accompaniment that emphasizes rhythm rather than melody. Often rap music consists of short segments of earlier recorded music combined in new patterns,” (141). Both definitions, however valid, do not fully describe what hip-hop means to the people who listen to It, Its fans. One fan calls hip-hop, “The expression of the relationship between urban youth and their environment. The art of the streets. ” (“Hip-Hop” 2). Hip-hop has a very deep meaning to the youth that listens to it, and thus carries a tremendous responsibility as well.
To start understanding hip-hop, one must first understand the history of it. HIP- hop originated In the early asses through a mixture of spoken word and Jazz rimming and Instrumentation. The art of “tagging” also began around the asses. Vic, a New York City mail courier, set a goal for himself to visit every subway and ride every bus in New York. He began to write his name and his courier ID number on every subway and bus he rode on. In the mid asses, a man by the name of Clive Campbell began to DC his own parties, playing soul, old funk and records on his turntables.
Campbell also brought his knowledge of the Jamaican sound system scene to the Bronx (“unofficial” 1-5) Hip-hop branched off into a form called “rap” near the end of the asses. More and more artists became interested in the new form of music out of New York. By the early asses, record labels were being formed left and right and rap was made public to the world. In 1 981, rap received media attention spanning from appearances on Saturday Night Live to exclusive coverage by 20/20. Throughout the asses many Show,” by Doug E. Fresh and “You! Bum Rush the Show,” by Public Enemy. The sass’s saw even more change in the hip-hop industry.
Early in the decade, artists fought for permission to sell their albums since most authorities deemed them “obscene. ” By he mid asses the divide between the east coast and west coast “giants” rap styles increased and became ever more violent leading to the shooting deaths of Tuba Shaker in 1996 and Christopher Wallace a. K. A. Notorious B. I. G. In 1997 (“Unofficial”, 6-15). If a person was born anywhere between the sass’s to the sass’s, he or she is considered a part of the “Hip Hop Generation”. Music is a gift that has been given to us, but the question is, “where is hip hop music going? Hip-hop is now one of the biggest and fastest growing businesses in the world. It’s creativity in sound, and its years have impressed and empowered many of today’s youth. But is hip-hop music taking today’s youths where they need to be? Lyrically, some of hip-hop’s most popular songs and musicians have negatively influenced violence, drugs, alcohol, sex, disrespect for authority, and disrespect for woman. For many young children and teenagers, this type of music can create an environment that can become harmful to their lives and education.
Parents teach their children to say no to drugs but the rappers whom children look up to are rapping about using drugs and imply that it’s Kay to use them. Therefore, children will listen to the side that has the most influential power to them. Many who constantly rewind a song and memorize the lyrics, are equally influenced Just as if they were placed directly in front of the violence and sex and observed them. Statistics has proven that many nightclubs that have had violence occur in them have been playing “violent” hip-hop music. Hip-hop is like a strong tornado that constantly sweeps us up and spits us back out.
But whom it’s sweeping up are the ones who cannot handle the fall once they are thrown back out. Hip-hop will become better once the artists not only think of their pockets but their listeners, who after all, are listening the most! Today, hip-hop artists are admired and emulated by its fans. With this type of attention comes a responsibility that seems to be lost on many present day performers. Through television, music videos, and other visual forms of media, artists are portraying negative stereotypes and acting in a manner that promotes corruption in today’s youth.
Earlier in the year the actions of these performers sparked a movement called “Take Back the Music. “Take Back the Music” is a campaign being run by Essence Magazine that focuses on the overly socialized and demeaning images being presented of black women in hip-hop (Ears 1). This captain and others like it prove that there is a problem with the portrayal of hip-hop artists through visual media. An example of visual negativity would be Knells popular video Tip drill, which has scantly clad women, profane language, and explicit acts.
This was perhaps one of his highest money making videos of all time. It was so explicit that the video was only aired on BET’s late night show, Uncut. The Tip drill video, for some happens to be a that the video has no effect on society and youth would certainly be an understatement. Often times, what society sees on television becomes their reality; when society see videos that condone illegal or high-risk activities such as violence, sexual references, and drugs they begin to imitate these images because they believe these are the right things.
Thus, it can easily be stated that hip and videos are leaving a negative effect on society and youth through its explicit content, women as sexual objects, and the degrading language. Negative hip-hop portrayal doesn’t stop at visual media. The lyrics that accompany the images are Just as dissolute. Throughout history, music has been used to express a range of emotions, as well as to influence, educate, and inspire. Too often, however, music contains lyrics with negative messages that promote and condone the illegal or high-risk use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs.
Hip-hop is certainly not an exception to this trend. While many hip-hop songs contain messages about alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, few provide an accurate portrayal of the negative uniqueness of substance abuse (“Big” 1). Not only do hip-hop lyrics have negative messages about substance abuse, but they also contain many racy lyrics that demean women and other groups of people. Looking back to the asses, some of the raciest lyrics included “You’ve Got to Give Me Some” by Bessie Smith. Moving up in time to the asses we hear “Soft and Wet” and “Erotic City” by Prince.
Both had undeniably require lyrics for the time, but neither can compare to the lyrics of today, which include, “Tip Drill” by Newly which is full of raunchy, demeaning lyrics (Bryant 1). This continuing trend of more and more raunchy lyrics has gone far enough. Some might say that these are Just lyrics and that the people who listen to them are not effected by their content. In contrast, the rate of gang activity and violence has risen over the last few years. According to recent youth violence statistics done by the Josephus Institute: Large cities claim that 72% of their school violence is attributable to gang activity.
Between 1986 and 1992, the total number of children killed by firearms rose by 144 percent. From 1985 to 1993, murders committed by people over age 25 dropped 20 recent; but they increased 65 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds and increased 165 percent among 14- to 17-year-olds. (“Youth” 1-5) Though it can be said that these statistics may be attributable to many factors, the years that violence rose is directly parallel to those of the rise in popularity of hip- hop music. Ergo, this is not mainly coincidental; hip-hop is having a substantial effect on the gang activity and violence in America.
However, some artists are trying to change this. Smith. By bringing comedy and positive meaning into his rap music, Will Smith has hon. himself to be one of the few true role models for the youth that buy hip hop music. Clean-cut, witty, and easygoing, Smith’s bubblegum approach was a stark contrast to the dominant, harder-edged rap sound of the period; viewed as a non- threatening alternative to his peers, he received the parental seal of approval, and his appeal spread across racial lines as well (Anyone 1).
Smiths success proves even though an artist has positive lyrics and portrayal, doesn’t mean they wont be popular. With all the negatives that come from present day hip-hop music one must ask myself, “What can be done”” One idea that would help the situation is to provide today’s artists with the information on present violence rates and let them know that they are the key to solving this growing problem.
If the most popular artists of today would try to make a positive change in their lyrics, then others would follow suit and make their lyrics positive as well. As long as artists realize they have a responsibility to their fans to advocate a positive outlook and good values; I have no doubt that that violence statistics would reflect that in a positive way. Also, making the media aware of the problem that faces America’s youth could help prevent the negative images that accompany hip-hop.
Just changing lyrics to artists’ songs isn’t enough if kids still see their idols performing illicit activities and treating women indignantly they will believe it is okay. The major television stations and music video producers have to step back and analyze what they are portraying. I think with these changes hip-hop can still be popular and still connect with its audience, but it will also give them something to strive for and allow them to have hope for their future.