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How Does Rap Music Influence Modern Day Youth?

by admin on December 1, 2016

Since the birth of hip hop and rap in the 1980s, the genres have swept away not only the nation but the world as a whole. Specifically teens are attracted to this controversial music style. The lyrics appeal to the emotional struggles usually felt in teenage years, and for teens in lower socioeconomic brackets, the financial struggles felt by many rappers mirror their own. An escape from reality is provided for teens in the “better tommorrow” depicted by some rap songs. Rags-to-riches stories can be appealing at many developmental stages. Youthful desires to break the rules and become one’s own person are condoned by rap music. Most of all, rap is enjoyed by teenagers because it brings people together. Writing lyrics and producing new beats is a needed creative outlet for young people.

The sheer popularity of rap music makes it nearly impossible for it to not influence youth culture. But the big question is: how does it influence them? Many people believe that all rap music exclusively talks about crime, drug use, sex, and violence. It is true that these themes are favorites of the record industry, making it much harder for a rapper with a unique message to get a record deal. Thus, for example, the popular rapper Macklemore who raps about sobriety and family values, became famous without a record deal. In a study done with incarcerated youth, most could only name Drake and Kendrick Lamar when asked about famous rappers with positive values. It is important for record companies to break this pattern, and allow more positive role models into the spotlight. Teenagers’ brains are highly plastic or impressionable. This means the messages they see from anything, including rap music, are likely to impact their behavior. These impacts can be both positive and negative.

There are two main positive aspects of rap music: providing entertainment and bringing social issues to light. The genre does a phenomenal job of both. Without making good entertainment, the genre would not have received the immense following that it has today. One of the biggest benefits of hip hop and rap is that it brings people together. Although it started in the African American community, it now has fans from all races and backgrounds. Being a college freshman, I have seen this first hand. I cannot tell you how many friends I have met and how many others I have seen kindle friendships, solely because of a mutual love for rap. Because rappers tend to be African American themselves, the genre can encourage respect for the race among fans who are not African American. This also exposes socioeconomic issues and racial issues to people who don’t experience them themselves. Rap highlights gun violence in the inner city, issues of drug use among lower class Americans, and racial issues experienced with police. It is important to recognize that bringing attention to these issues is key to fixing these issues. Making a song about these phenomena is sometimes misinterpreted as encouraging such issues rather than as a cry for help. Rappers who talk about these issues can serve as some of the only role models that inner city kids can actually relate to. This means rappers are detrimental to the confidence and development of kids who look up to them. There is a higher rate of violence and crime linked with exposure to rap music. However, this is likely because rap music is naturally more popular in areas that are already prone to these problems. We have to remember that correlation does not translate to causation.

One of the biggest negative impacts that rap music has on teenagers is the degradation of females. In the majority of popular rap songs, females are depicted as sexual objects, untrustworthy, and dependent on men. The reason these trends started in rap is because most rappers are males. When asked to identify a famous female rapper, most teenages can’t come up with anything more than Nicki Minaj. From of the lack of female artists, male rappers can use females as a way to elevate their social status without any consequences. This teaches young men to treat women with less respect, and even teaches young women to respect themselves less. Rap music can also glorify criminal behavior and street violence, especially for those who have never lived on the streets. For the most part, the artist is trying to give himself credit for the struggle he faced rather than actually encouraging that others go through the same thing. However, this can actually have a different negative impact for kids who actually are living on the street too. Some become so satisfied with rap culture that they forget that there are greater possibilities beyond the streets. Many drop out of school, convinced that they can make money from music when in reality this is very hard to do. Lastly, rap exerts a surprising amount of influence on teenagers’ vocabulary—an area that needs to be studied carefully. While rap contains much verbal artistry, if kids are not exposed to other ways of speaking, their communication skills can seriously be hindered.

To conclude, rap music will affect teenage fans for better or worse. The negative effects will likely be minimized if the teenager also has other influences, and if they fully understand the intent of rap culture. It is important to remember that rap music is supposed to make issues seem more familiar, not more acceptable. It is also important to remember that if you did not grow up in a lower socioeconomic class, many of the ideas and behaviors of rappers are influenced by factors that don’t apply to you. Eventually, if we can encourage record companies to support rappers with more positive messages we can create a new reputation for the genre. For now, we can improve its reputation by educating others about the social issues it brings to light. Although there is much progress that can be made, the genre still functions as an awesome form of entertainment, and a unique way of bringing people of different backgrounds together.

By Lauren Brown

Anna Lee Skinner December 6, 2016 at 6:03 pm

I really like that you addressed both sides of this issue and were able to maintain a pretty neutral tone. Your writing is well phrased. I liked that your topic was something we can all easily relate to and see every day.

Christian T Smith December 6, 2016 at 4:27 pm

I really appreciated you ability to incorporate both the positive and negative aspects of rap music and its influence on culture. I think that this article definitely showed your ability to establish authority when writing, and you did a good job of making clear and well informed statements. I also think you did a good job with you hyperlinks, attaching them to parts of the sentence rather than as a separate link in the work.

Kailey Hackett December 6, 2016 at 1:22 am

I loved how you used a topic so important in today’s society and especially college teens. It was fascinating to me that you were able to touch both the positive and negative sides of the arguments and inserting your own personal arguments made me able to relate to the topic even more. I thought that your statements were very firm and well backed up. It was clear to me that you did your research and that you were very familiar with this topic. I enjoyed reading about this and am curious to find out if bad teen behavior and rap music have a correlation or a causation and just what songs/artists exactly are key factors in this.

Lea Gilbert December 5, 2016 at 9:43 pm

I like how you gave a full review of rap music: both positive and negative aspects about it. I thought it was interesting that rap music can really effect communication skills that much. It does make sense that the music you listen to or the things you read affect your vocabulary and grammar skills. One of the interesting points you brought up was that when some rappers rap about drug use, sex and violence, they are using their rapping as a platform to inform people on what is going on.

Emma Berg December 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

You brought up a lot of great points about rap music affecting teenagers. I really like how you brought up both the positive and negative impacts because people often forget that rap music deals with issues like social justice. Also, I think it is important that you clarify just because a rapper makes music about drugs or violence doesn’t mean they are supporting that lifestyle, it is sometimes a “cry for help.” I felt your concluding paragraph did a great job clarifying your point by saying that if youth fully understand the intent of rap culture the negative affects would decrease because people would realize that rap music “is supposed to make issues seem more familiar, not more acceptable.”

Sarah Chao December 4, 2016 at 12:01 am

Lots of interesting arguments brought up. I liked how you bought a personal point of view to the topic to you, because sharing experiences can enhance the writing. You did a good job making firm statements and supporting thoroughly. I learned what rap music is, how it influences youth positively and negatively, and the misinterpretations. Great examination of weighing the issues rap music brings and solutions to consider. You wrote with such confidence and appreciation that I feel like I need more rap in my life!

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