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The Negative Influence of Southern Rap Music, Part 1
At the risk of sounding like a prude, I’d like to declare that I can now understand why so many teenagers from low-income families—especially those deemed “at-risk” and those in the Southern U.S.—have such openly lax attitudes about sex (however in my defense, it’s a sure bet that the majority of you probably are not nor ever been employed with the same type of organizations which allow me to observe this conclusion).
Currently, I work for a nonprofit organization charged with helping to change the negative attitudes of at-risk teenagers whose counter-productive behaviors have landed them in trouble at home, in school, or with the courts. While at work earlier this week, a couple of the male teens I regularly work with sought the need to entertain themselves by turning on a radio to one of the local radio stations with an Urban Contemporary format.
For those of you who don’t know, “Urban Contemporary”is the music industry’s euphemism for we play mostly rap music with intermittent tracks of contemporary crooning. Now granted, I haven’t actually listened to any good rap music for about the last 10 years—which is not hard to do since there hasn’t been any good rap music made during the last decade or so. What’s more, what passes for contemporary R&B/Pop music (the aforementioned “intermittent crooning”) is not too far behind in my disdain for contemporary “music” (for want of a better term).
At any rate, as I listened to the censored version of the a song by Gucci Mane on the radio at work, I thought about the times I have heard the teens I work with bellow out the uncensored, sexually graphic lyrics of this particular song, as well as other current rap music tracks with equally suggestive lyrics by the likes of Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, and a host of others. Needless to say, it was disturbing, if not eye-opening.
Now what makes the teens I work with “at-risk” is that they are, for the most part, socially dysfunctional by virtue of either having been born to and/or raised by parents who were totally inexperienced (read: “young”), or whose emotional demons were allowed to thrive for too long without intervention. Throw in being raised in community sub-cultures corrupted by multiple socioeconomic pathologies—poverty, dysfunctional public schools, single-parent households, and high rates crime—all of which have become the perverted norms for many of these teens. Finally, add whatever physical sexual or emotional abuses some of these teens have undergone and you have a population of young adults who are impressionable enough to accept whatever further distortion of a “normal reality” contemporary music seems to represent.
The teens I work with seem to represent the perverted norm among a new breed of modern teens, again, especially here in the South. They seem to know nothing about anything other than sex or sex-related activities. All I hear and/or observe day in and out from young males is how they much they’d like to “smash” (the in word for their favorite sexual activity which has mercifully replaced the somewhat more reprehensible f-bomb) this female or perform that sexual activity on another…despite (supposedly) having “girlfriends waiting for them.” Female teenagers are no different; I’ve lost count of how much many times I have heard from them how they would have no problem “getting” some young male they thought was cute if only they “had on” their overly-expensive and suggestive “tight pants.”
While I lived and worked with similarly-dysfunctional teens in the North, the level of overt sexuality and one-track mindedness is so far beyond the pale here in the South that one can’t help but take notice. My observation is that this is due to the rise of the Southern influence in Contemporary Urban (as well as Pop) music. With today's crop of musical (ahem) artists “reppin’” (that’s “representing” for the unhip) the South’s current dominance of regionally-based music, it’s not hard to understand why sex is such a pervasive theme (as well as urge) among today’s teens. The overwhelming majority of the lyrics in Southern rappers’ music brim with the same subjects of hard “partying” and strip club fantasies of unrestrained hedonistic sex. This is an observation that goes all the way back to the 1980s with Miami-based rapper Luther Campbell and his Two Live Crew’s shameless promotion of all things sexual and perverted cloaking itself in the protections of the First Amendment. Is it any surprise then that according to recent studies, the Southeastern U.S. has the highest AIDS rates in America (http://www.wellsphere.com/hiv-aids-article/hiv-aids-in-the-southeastern-u-s/439171)? To use the parlance of the rap community, don’t hate the truth people!