I solemnly swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. You can’t handle the truth about Hip-Hop and its influences on our youths! Some view hip-hop music purely as a form of entertainment, others see it as glorification of violence, and some see it as a way to express themselves. Hip-hop music encompasses a vast audience, demographically and culturally. Whether you agree, disagree, or undecided hip-hop music for better or worse is impacting our youths and has found a home in our society.
Hip-hop music can be positive; it can also have a negative impact on the attitudes and behaviors of our youths. Hip-hop music is known for its realism and is used to talk about everyday life. Description about the drug trade and violent acts are a part of the lyrics in hip-hop music. For years mainstream radio stations ignored rap music because it was considered too loud, vulgar, and full of violence. Many argued that rap music is demeaning to women and rap videos depict women engaging in disorderly conduct. The rap artist who goes by the alias Snoop Dogg in his video “The Next Episode” portrays women in a negative way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZXc39hT8t4. These videos also showed men and women using drugs, drinking alcohol, and sporting guns. Many believed that the violent message in rap music has had a negative influence on the youths because it encourages crime rather than denouncing it. Hip-hop artists would refer to drugs that youths had not heard of or been exposed to and this could spark their curiosity about drugs. But who is really to be blame for the negative effects of hip-hop on the youths, believe me there seems to be plenty of blame to go around. In the article “The Hip-Hop Hearings Part 2 posted by Jeff Chang’s it states, “It is time to wake up and see the real issue – that media conglomerates are the gatekeepers of content and in essence control what opinions receive airtime. As might seem obvious, what best serves the public, and what best serves the bottom line are not always the same” The question here is, why is hip-hop having a negative impact on our youths? If they are not the one’s who control what is being aired on the radio. Corporations are the one who ultimately decides what is played on the radio because they are the one who profit the most from this kind music. It’s no different from these corporations whose advertisement target the youths knowing the dangerous effects of smoking. So why is Hip-Hop being single out for having a negative effect on the youth. In an interview done by Lisa Fager’s as a part of the Hip Hearings Ms. Fager states, “African American children listen and watch more radio and television than any other demographic. Although Top 40 and Hip Hop radio stations claim to target the 18-34 demographic their largest audience shares are the 12-17 year old segment. Recording companies, radio stations and Viacom networks are aware of their audience but have chosen to put the bottom line above the welfare of their audiences.” These corporations are well aware of the age group that they are targeting.
Some argue that the hip-hop culture has had a positive effect and help poor youths make it out of poverty and escape the violence. It is a way that youths express their frustration and anger, for others who live outside of their world to hear their voices, feel their pain, and understands their struggles. For example, rap artist Tupac Shakur in his song titled Keep Ya Head Up used a soothing melody to talk about his life as a poor youth growing up in the projects. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfXwmDGJAB8 it’s not just the lyrics that catch your attention, but it is also about how this song makes you feel and how it lift your spirits. The melody along with the calmness in his voice reassures you that no matter how hard life is and what issues you are face with, in the end it’s going to be okay. Tupac Shakur used the perfect melody and tone to help get his message to the youths. The emotions and pain in his voice as he talks about how we should keep our heads up, and that there will be brighter days as we go through life’s struggles. Hip-hop music is similar to folk music in that it too represents the voice of the people, fueling protest, highlighting injustices and defining generations. Folk and hip-hop music are known to inspired and represented the voice of the people. Sometimes you have to go beyond the lyrics and listen to the melody and the tone in order to understand folk and hip-hop music. Folk and Hip-hop music can inspire and bring us all together.
Some hip-hop artist has used their fame and fortune to be a role model, to influence inner city youths, and to raise awareness to social issues that impact our community. The hip-hop community came out in full force to support their candidates in the last two presidential elections. Artist such as Jay-z participated in the presidential election and influenced young voters and minorities to vote, so that their voices could be heard.
Hip-hop music expanded from the urban communities to the suburbs and has now become a global phenomenon among youths. The willingness to accept this form of music in spite of its violent, loud, and vulgar lyrics is a clear indication of the change that has taken place with this generation of youths. Many continue to use the music as away to express themselves, while others just listen to the music as a form of entertainment. Every time we turn on the radio, surf the web, watch a game, or watch an advertisement the voice of hip-hop is being heard. In the article “The Hip-Hop Hearings Part 2 posted by Jeff Chang’s it states, “Change the situation in my neighborhood and maybe I’ll get better. If by some stroke of the pen hip-hop was silenced, the issues would still be present in our communities. Drugs, violence, sexism and the criminal element were around long before hip-hop existed…Hip-hop is sick because America is sick.” Blaming hip-hop for the situations that many youths face is like putting a band-aid on a 3rd degree burn. The issues concerning our youths go far beyond hip-hop music. It’s time to stop blaming hip-hop and focus on the real issues that affect the youths in our community.