The Negative Influence of Southern Rap Music, Conclusion
Continued from Part 2, http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Negative-Influence-of-Southern-Rap-Music-Part-2
So what is it about Southern rap music which feeds some of the most negative elements of current pop culture? It could be the gratuitous levels of raw sexuality. “Artists” such as Trina and Nicki Manaj both exude and typify this aspect of Southern rap in spades. With their explicit lyrics and their over-promotion of their own sexuality, Southern female rappers often seem to lack originality or novelty of content; how original are sex-laden lyrics in music? Granted, sex may sell music, but true talent sells itself. Packaged images of ever-ready-to-romp sex vamps who lyrically brag about their sexual experience or “how ‘wet’ they are” do nothing in the way of promoting what should be an outlet for cultural expression…not sub-cultural expression.
And on that particular note, Southern rappers in general not only have nothing in the way of positive messages (except one or two token gestures that one or two of them may actually create as an incidental way of portraying themselves as “socially conscious”) coming from their music, but they simply lack the lyrical talents of either of their Old School predecessors or their East/West Coast counterparts. Part of this can be attributed to the proud butchering of the English language. As I listen to the music coming out of the South, I actually find myself marveling at the way in which Southern rappers routinely manage to force two disparate-sounding words to rhyme in a song (which under normal circumstances shouldn’t be grammatically possible). Take for example the following lines from Gucci Mane’s “Sex in Crazy Places:”
I wanna do you at cho momma house,on the couch,
Do you in the bathroom or the air-o-plane.
Do you on a balcony, in the taxi,
Cause I can't get enough of that thing
If you missed it, Mane actually made the words plane and thing rhyme—you have to imagine a strong Southern dialect on the word “thing” (read: “thang”).
For those who would defend such a mangling of proper English, this is not “talent”—it is a distortion of verbal communication which plays to and supports every negative stereotype of both blacks in particular, and Southerners in general. It’s almost farcical for the undereducated and unsophisticated to pass off what they do as “going hard” (slang for “an incredible rhyming display,” again, for the un-hip among readers). As a personal addendum, most of these lyrics sound dumb as anything, and their simplistic verbiage seems better suited for Sesame Street, not praise by those who are too young to have a frame of reference for what good rap sounds like. This caterwauling is not a “style” or a “change in the (rap) game.” It is a dumbing-down of what was once a praiseworthy form of artistic and cultural expression. How can anyone with an ear or sense of appreciation of true art put today’s crop of “rappers” in the same vein as Chuck D., Heavy D., Rakim, or even Eminem? Simple Sesame Street or Leapfrog-level lyrics hiding behind heavy, occasionally semi-catchy beats are not the stuff of good or true rap music.
So what is it about Southern rap music which makes it more of a deleterious influence on modern pop culture over its previous other-regional incarnations? Is it the heapin’ helpin’ of the use of the word nigga is its lyrics? Well, it obviously has an impact on the kids who listen to it. Without active parental rearing teaching them the negative history of the word in historical America, the at-risk teens I work with tend to use the word so often in an average day that I find myself preferring to paid by its use rather than by the day or the hour—I’d be able to retire in a year. And given how much I personally hear the same kids intermingling the lyrics of the current “hottest” track amongst their overuse of the racial epithet daily, you get a near-indisputable picture of where their lack of sensibilities comes from in part (that and the sub-culture of the ‘hood).
Even without the overuse of the N-word, Southern rappers evidently lack the talent as well as an appreciation for the pragmatism of creating “clean” versions of their songs. Many the times I myself could remember being able to purchase (or download during the early days of the Internet’s popularity) singles of some of my favorite old rap songs in both adult versions (i.e., “uncut edits”) and less explicit “clean versions,” which would often be heard being pumped at clubs. Not only did having these different versions make sense from the perspective of un-denied airplay by radio stations/television music programs, but was a way of generating more potential profit for the artists and their labels. More importantly though, it provided a sense that certain aspects of our culture—some would argue questionably—were still not meant to be exposed to young people. Today, we have an unhealthy merging of previously (and responsibly) segregated adult ideas/concepts and impressionable but no longer closely-monitored teenagers, an environment created by greedy music executives and reckless “artists” who contribute to creating the modern ethos where teens think that they are the equal of adults…and we adults wonder where their defiance comes from.
Now, I have already steeled myself for the catcalls of “hater” and “shut up old mans” that are sure as sunrise to come from chronicling these views. However, I probably sleep better than those Southern rappers whose massive bank accounts allow them to “make it rain” in clubs knowing that I have produced some food for thought for those who haven’t given any thought as to what is happening with our young people today like those I work with.