Rap Music: Is It As Bad As Some People Think?

A Look At How Rap Music Is Sometimes Misunderstood

Rap music has long had a reputation of being a form of music that represents violence, sexual exploitation and excess. The genre has been criticized in the media, associated with some of the nation’s social ills and seen by a good number of people as a bad influence on citizens in general. Although there are some aspects of rap music that can be construed as negative, blanketing the entire art form is unfair to the artists as well as the people who enjoy the music.

The reality is that rap music is greatly misunderstood. The media often portrays rap music as negative and focuses on rap music more when it is related to something undesirable. Many media stories identify rap music as a catalyst in problems such as teen pregnancy, crime or some other negative social issue that existed long before rap music became prevalent. The truth of the matter is that there is rap music that is positive and can serve the purpose of improving social consciousness by increasing awareness of some of the issues that many residents of our nation’s inner cities face. Just because a rap artist speaks of less than desirable subjects in his or her music does not mean that they intend to corrupt the minds of the audience. Rap music is entertainment and should not be treated any differently than any other form of entertainment out there. The bottom line is that all rap music is not degenerate and consideration should be taken when analyzing the message that the music is presenting.

There is some rap music that is created with the intention of sending a positive message to its audience. There are songs that denounce violence and call for more peace and togetherness in the inner city in an attempt to improve the quality of life. One great example of a rap song that sends this message is entitled “Self Destruction” and performed by the East Coast All Stars. Now for you Hip-Hop historians, I know that this goes back quite some time, but it is one of the best examples of the positive influence of rap music. A group of independent rap artists got together to make this song because they were aware of the great power and influence that they have with their music and were attempting to use that influence to make a positive change. This project served two very important purposes because it did not only create awareness of the inner city’s problems with violence, but it also showed that rappers could be socially conscious and make music that was positive.

When dealing with social problems, one of the most important ways of finding a solution to the problem is to make others within our society aware of it. Rap music is a great tool for facilitating that process because due to its popularity, it has the ability to bring a message to the masses. The vast majority of rap artists are from the inner city where sub-par social conditions and inequality can be seen the most. Many times, when a rapper writes a song that speaks of violence, drug use or other criminal activity, it is because it is something that they have seen in their living environment and therefore are in a good position to give a detailed account of how life is there. Some rappers may admit to participating in some of the aforementioned activity but again, it does not always mean that they are glorifying it. A certain story may be told to give hope and let a listener know that just because they have made mistakes in the past, it does not mean that they cannot change their life and be involved in something positive. The rappers use their music to raise awareness of these issues so that some focus can be put into improving them.

Even with the social messages of some rap music considered, rap music’s general purpose is to entertain its audience. Just because a rapper paints themselves in a picture of being associated in criminal activity, having sex with multiple women or spending millions of dollars on seemingly unnecessary items doesn’t mean that they actually do. Many times, the rap artist is creating a fictionalized account of certain events for the purpose of intriguing and entertaining people and sometimes uses characters to facilitate those accounts. Some of the more talented rappers are able to use their words to create these characters along with vivid storylines that often are related to urban subject matter. This is no different from other forms of entertainment, in particular, the movie industry. When our favorite actor portrays a gun toting, drug using, highly sexual character in a movie, it is not seen as degenerate. Some of the characters being created in these movies are no different than some of the characters that are created in rap music. Just because a rapper says that they do certain things in their music, it does not mean that they always do.

While the images that are presented in some rap music can certainly be considered a bad influence, it does not mean that all rap music is degenerate. Is it degenerate when
churches use Christian rap in their service to send a message? Is it degenerate when police officers, firefighters and teachers use it to spread their message and attempt to make a connection with the youth? Rap music is a great and powerful tool that can be used for good purposes. When critiquing rap music, one has to go beyond the surface of what they are hearing and attempt to ascertain the message that the music is attempting to send.

Positive Rap in Action

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Comments 12 comments

imatellmuva profile image

imatellmuva 5 years ago from Somewhere in Baltimore

Nice hub Curtis, but if rappers speak of undesirable acts in their lyrics, it does mean that they intend to corrupt minds. We only have control of what we say, but not how people will respond to it, especially an immature audience. Many people, still argue that it starts at home and ends at home, when it comes to our youth, but the middle is where the challenge is, and how not to succumb to negative influences.

While you state that social issues were prevalent before rap music, it is the tone and suggestion of the music that makes the issues more prevalent. When I was a younger parent, I didn't see how social media could negatively influence a culture, but then I matured even more as a parent, and saw how it does and in many many ways. Rap and other mediums have evolved into something that goes way beyond entertainment. "You ever hear of the saying, "One bad apple, spoils the whole bunch?" Well, that is what basically happens when there are negative stereotypes, that are portrayed, and who portray themselves only for financial gain, and have no interest in the common good of their fellow man. A lot of the music by artists with conscious lyrics, do not stay on, or make it to radio playlists. Listen to your local radio station.

AND Cristian rap music stands apart from mainstream rap, there's no comparison. There are Christians who are opposed to Christian rap, because they believe the word should not be spread with a secular vibe. But, nonetheless it is still the word!

This hub is a great conversation piece!!


Curtis Aron profile image

Curtis Aron 5 years ago from Metro Atlanta Author

Hello Imatellmuva. You made some excellent points in your comment. One in particular is the statement,"You ever hear of the saying, "One bad apple, spoils the whole bunch?" Well, that is what basically happens when there are negative stereotypes, that are portrayed, and who portray themselves only for financial gain, and have no interest in the common good of their fellow man." There are definitely entertainers, rappers in particular that are guilty of this. There are even some that do complete 180 degree turns with the content of some of their songs. I agree with you that a lot of rap music definitely has a negative impact. But there are also some bright spots out there that focuses on the positive. Thank you very much for your comment.


Mike Light 5 years ago

Let start by saying I love hip hop, and Hip Hop does deserve some of the negative press it gets but its the american way. First of all in all facets of mainstream media "ignorance & negativity" is the preference. People prefer to watch "dexter" over the latest pbs special. People prefer "jersey shore" over save a child infomercials. As a whole america loves dumb entertainment. And, rap music is no different. If Common & Mos def traded places with lil wayne and drake we'd have whole new batch of positive concious rappers coming out right now. But positivity(i.e. education) is boring to america, so lil wayne reigns as the 6 foot, 7 foot martian. Nicki Minaj keeps "going down, basement" and people keep thinking that common is some black guy that was in terminator 3 and wanted and nobody under 25 knows who Mos def is, or Talib Qweli, or saigon, or slaugtherhouse or anyone with something to offer in their verses. So, is Hip Hop the problem or the scapegoat?


Drew Breezzy profile image

Drew Breezzy 5 years ago from somewhere in my mind

Good observation made on how rappers have become "entertainers." Claiming to be involved with such and such and having less street cred than a nun. While there are plenty of rap songs that have no positive message, there are plenty that do but they are viewed as "vile." Most people associate hip-hop with negative connotations and are turned away by the dialect and rhetoric used. Ultimately judging the music before they actually try and understand the meaning and value in the song. For every Waka Flocka Flame there is a Black Thought. Problem is the media usually pays very little attention to meaningful artist and instead broadcasts artists that negatively affect race relations and urban communities. Thankfully hip-hop game is changing (moving away from gangster rap) largely in part to the internet, but artist like Wiz Khalifa will probably continue to get more national attention than a J. Cole because they are more controversial. Also as sad as it is to say politicians and media love to throw black entertainers under the bus to push their agendas to white America.

BTW thank you for linking my hub!


rroberts1 profile image

rroberts1 5 years ago from United States

There clearly seems to be an extreme difference between Rap and Hip-Hop. I can honestly say as a hip-hop fan; my life came to a screeching halt when I first heard the million dollar garbage played on the radio. Truth of the matter is, when rap music contains zero effort except for production and videos, the radio plays the garbage so much until it leaves these kids nothing else to listen to. All in the same sentence you can hear a radio station "promote stopping the violence." The at the same function play the music that supports sex, money, and murder.

Now on the other hand you had "Ed OG and the Bulldogs," "KRS ONE," "Mos Def," even "Whodini." These were all examples of Hip-Hop a means of communication for those who can relate. Inevitably everything isn't for everybody, and every art has it's fan base.

Thanks for the HUB!


DRG Da Real Grinc profile image

DRG Da Real Grinc 4 years ago from All over the USA

I love hip hop. It's a great mixture of ethics, music, vibes, instruments and artist. I am a Hip Hop artist, Google search Da Real Grinch if you have time.



3 years ago

vvvvv


south fl 3 years ago

the author of this site is one of those annoying hiphop purist. those type of people who feel like lyracism is the only thing hip hop is and should be. hip hop is devided up in categories. theres a place in hip hop for everything. if you want to go the club or ride in your car you put wake t.i or 2chainz. now if you want to sitdown and analyze lyrics and appreciate dope lines put kendrick lamar nas absoul ect..... like forreal let the game evolve yes before hip hop was more balanced you did have lyracism more on the radio then now but that's just the way it is. but its callled evolution watch in 5 to 10 years it will have its balance again look at kendrick he made the radio, j coles made the radio. and after maybe 5 years after that it will go back to party hip hop. Lyrical ability is not everything. if you don't like what's on don't listen to it do what i do i don't listen to radio i stick to music websites and find good music in underground artist and commercial. don't be upset by our generation just because the lyrics don't make the radio like they use to blame the big chairman guys for not pushing and pushing radio to look at the modern underground mcs that can really spit. you cant blame a waka or a gucci for the game being how it is. they just want to have funa nd make the type of music that they like to make. its the fans who choose to listen its the radio who except money for them to get put on and its the listeners that constantly request radio to replay those songs. its not the artsit fualt they cant control it they make music they promote it the best way they can and if it gets hott who cares. oh well. Music is good to the person listening to it stop saying oh that not real hip hop that's not hip hop NO everything is hip hop just because something is not lyrical does not mean its not good. sometimes i want to listen to dope lines and verses but when i want to be lighthearted and have fun ill put a song were yes the rapper sucks and his beats drive him as an artist ok so what, theres a time and place and a moment for that stuff. respect the lanes in hip hop and understand that you cant compare 2 different mcs from to different lanes to prove your point. like sayiing something like oh 2chainz sucks listen to nas that's real hip hop. woooow really that's a no brainer anyone can see that nas is a lyrical monster but people who like 2chainz don't go to his music for dope lines they go for his heavy bass beats and lighthearted lyrics. smh just deal with how the game is that's how it is. let it evolve


... 3 years ago

I listen to a lot of rap, and honestly the modern rap is pretty much pacified. They don't promote violence anymore, well some do but it is very few. Gangsta rap has been dead for five years now, most rap today is party rap, or stripper anthems. Honestly, I think rap talks way more about being rich now than they do about poverty and crime.


Beyond-Politics profile image

Beyond-Politics 18 months ago from The Known Universe (beyond.the.spectrum@gmail.com)

Worst thing that happened to rap....Southern rap!


T-Royal 10 months ago

Music is full of stereotypes. It's sad that many artists are cool with these stereotypes.

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