Sunday, May 3, 2009

Hip-hop gone wild!

Hip-hop, ghetto, graffiti, rap, d-jing, break dancing, nick names, what do all these terms have in common? All these words are in common because they all portray the hip-hop lifestyle. All these words take part in the world of hip-hop. But the foremost and most important question should be, how did hip-hop grow to be a lifestyle? What influenced hip- hop music to become more than just a type of music? Different people may have different answers, but one answer that numerous people agreed on and has shown to be true, hip-hop music has become a lifestyle for the reasons the lyrics and the rap artists. The lyrics that hip-hop artists song today send out horrific messages that influences the listeners to live a violent, immoral, and more sexual lifestyle.

When you watch MTV and BET, what do you think of? When I watch MTV and BET, I wonder to myself, how in the world did hip hop become this lifestyle? How has hip-hop become more than just a type of music? There isn’t just one straight answer, there are many and it goes back as far as when hip hop was first introduced to society. Through Dj-ing, break dancing, rap-records, and graffiti, hip-hop developed a style. Along with those things are the lyrics that hip-hop artist sings and the idea that they seem to enforce. Artists send out terrible messages that influence the listeners to live a hip hop lifestyle. A lifestyle that includes very violence, immoral, and sexual behaviors. A lifestyle that would have been totally the opposite of Plato’s ideal lifestyle, which was to only teach children the good things in life.

Dr. Delores Tucker, who is the National Chair of National Political Congress of Black Women, gave an example of youth violence influence by hip-hop lyrics in her speech to congress. The example was sixteen years old and his friends from New Mexico, who killed his eighty years old grandparents over something as little as beer and what got them to work their nerves up to murder the grandparents was by listening to “Serial Killer” by Snoop Doggy Dog (Tucker 12). Now, why do you think this was used as an example? This was the perfect example to use to show that hip-hop lyrics do have an influence on the listeners. Artists sing songs with lyrics that send messages saying that being violent is an okay thing. For example, N.W.A’s album called Straight Outta Compton, with the song name “Gangsta Gangsta.”
Now I’m the mutha fucks that ya read about
Takin a life or two
That’s what the hell I do don’t like how I’m livin
Well fuck you
This is a gang and I’m in it
My man Dre’ll fuck you up in a minute
With a right left, right left your toothless
And then you say goddamn they ruthless!
The first nigga that I saw hit em in the jaw
Ren started stompin em, and so did E
By that time got rushed by security
Out the door, but we don’t quit
Ren said, “Let’s start some shit!”
I got a shotgun, and here’s the plot
Taking niggaz out with a flurry of buck shots
Boom, boom, boom yeah I was gunnin

Rap artist are singing songs with these types of messages in them, and sending them out to people to listen to. With more than half of the listeners being minors who are too young to know better than not to follow what the lyrics are saying. “Young people often look up to perform artist for moral guidance and inspiration, as well as entertainment, but when these artists glorify guns and beating, they are injecting poison into the veins of America’s future,” said Tucker (qtd. In Tucker 12).

Many people disagree that they lyrics of hip-hop music has an influence on listeners. But when you get cases like the sixteen years old and his friends from New Mexico, who killed his eighty years old grandparents over beer, can you really say that the lyrics don’t have any influence what so ever? The problem with hip hop music is that, 780 million worth of rap records were sold in 1993, with more than half of the age of 17 and 50 percent of these minors were between the ages of 10-14 years old (Tucker). The point here is that they majority of the people who actually buys these records with bad messages don’t know any better than to follow the footsteps of the lyrics that they listen to. These minors don’t know what they are getting themselves into because they lyrics make it sound so good to steal, be violent and use drugs. A very good example is a letter from a prisoner that Dr. Tucker used in a speech to congress. Rappers make it sound so good and look so real that I would drink and smoke drugs just like on the video, thinking that that was the only way I could be somebody. My hood girls became hoes and bitches. What is so bad about it is they accepted it. You know so why? Because they put themselves in the video too, and the guns, money, cars, drugs, and men become reality. Look where this kind of thinking got me, facing 25 years to life in jail.

People may argue that rappers are only singing what is true and real. But what is the truth and reality? Is killing each other, stealing, and using drugs they only real thing going on here? Like Pierre Bennu said, “Yes criminals and violence come from the streets, but so do men and women who love their lives with kindness, and within the realm of the law.” There should always be more to life than just what’s happening on the streets in the hood. If it’s isn’t the case I think it’s pretty depressing that they don’t have more going for themselves. Instead of just singing about the problems, why don’t they try to do something about it?

In an interview Charlie Rose had with Ice Cube, “To be an American is to flaunt what you got […] and try to have more than the next man.” (Saddik II0). It is messages like this that gives young youth today the wrong idea about life. Being an American doesn’t and shouldn’t mean you have to flaunt what you have and you don’t try to have more than your neighbors, or the people around you. Being an American means you are free and equal. It would be nice to be rich and have everything you want, but it shouldn’t always be about things like that, and that’s what some rap artists are making it seems to be. In the interview, Ice Cube was asked if rap lyrics have any messages that goes out to the listeners. Ice Cube said that there’s a difference between when the rappers are just having fun and when there is really a message for the listeners (Saddick II0). This could be true, but how does the listeners know the differences? How are they suppose to know that lyrics like the one in “Gangsta Gangsta” was just the rapper having fun, and it’s not a real message to the listeners? Ice Cube also said that the violence described or used in the lyrics should be viewed as representation. He also compares it to movies with violence such as Heat and Terminator and said the violence in the rap lyrics should be viewed as “theatrical” just like the movies (Saddik II0). But the problem with that is that a lot of the listeners are from the hood just like some of these songs. This lead people to think that if it’s being said in the lyrics than it must be true and they must follow what is being said because they are from the hood too. This is not just true in the United States it’s even true in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “In regard to hip-hop culture, some authors conclude that marginalized youth (those who experience the most dramatic social pressure) who listen to rap are likelier to be violent,” said Miranda and Claes 2004 (Perullo).

Not only does hip-hop persuade people to live a violent lifestyle, but also an immoral one too. Throughout the hip-hop history, the lyrics have created a negative portrait for women. Many lyrics some more extreme than others look down on women, disrespect them, and put the thought that treating a women like a sex object is okay. People can say that this isn’t true, but when topic such as the right to use bitch and ho in lyrics comes up at hip-hop conferences, can you really say that it isn’t true (Sharpton)? After all, it is like what Rev. Al Sharpton said, “They wanted the right to call a woman a bitch something the slave master called black women with impunity.” McCluskey also said, “Black women’s bodies, historically, have been sites of sexualized commodification and spectacle for the White mind. During slavery their bodies represented production and reproduction, allowing slave owners to increase their property while satisfying their lust” (Keels). Why would people especially black men want to negatively portray black women when that’s what slave owners did to their mothers, great grandmothers, or their kind in general?

What’s really immoral about this whole topic is that, it’s not like giving women a negative portrait is a latest thing. It goes all the way back in history, as early as the lyrics of “The Message” by Melle Mel and “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang. For example from “The Message” by Melle Mel:
Crazy Lady, Livin’ in a bag
Eatin’ outta garge pails, used to be a fag hag
Said she’ll dance and tango, skip the light fandango
She went to the city and got so so seditty
She had to get a pimp
She couldn’t make it on her own.

On top of all that, hip-hop music has influence young youth to be more sexually active at younger ages especially in the African American youth. And it’s causing them to suffer from AIDS and HIV at a very young age. People especially young kids don’t need to take notice of the rapper singing about “his” sex life and how good it is, and how many women he slept with. Like Dr. Benjamin Hooks, former Executive Director of the NAACP said, “Some argues that these artists are merely speaking frankly about their reality and the black cultural experience, but our experience does not include debasing our women, glorification of violence and the promotion of deviant sexual behavior.” I’m pretty sure that not all the rappers out there are really like this in real life, but that’s what annoys me the most. If they are not really like that than why are they representing it? Why are they influencing young kids to be violent, immoral, and more sexually active if they themselves wouldn’t want to be like that? Instead of enforcing something like this, they should try to do something about it. Throughout the paper I have been talking about how music artists and their music are responsible for the actions of young children today, but parenting has a lot to do with it as well. A lot of what kids get themselves into these days has a lot to do with their parents and how they are raised. I always believe that good parenting can make a great impact on the children’s lives.

Hip-hop music has been to blame for young youth’s immortal behaviors. Although there has been a lot of proof that hip-hop and rap music have an influence on the youths that listens to it, there are also things that parents can do to help reduce these things from happening. If parents have good parenting skills to start out characteristics that help promote moral development that was given by the Indian child website of theories were: honest and trustworthy, faithful and loyal, hard-working, responsible, and self disciplined, kind, with concern for their fellow human being, independent, able to resist the pressure of the crowd, generous, giving, and gentle, concerned for justice, and respectful of legitimate authority rules, and laws, respectful of themselves and the rights of others, respectful of life, property, nature, elders, and parents, courteous polite, having good manners, fair in work and play, merciful and forgiving, understanding and futility of holding a grudge, service oriented, willing to contribute to family, friends, community, country, religious organizations, and school, courageous, peaceful, calm, and serene.

It was to believe that if children with these characteristics, it will help them to have a better moral development, therefore they would live a more moral life. In order for this to happen, the parents would have to do the following: respect their children, teach by examples, teach by telling, help children learn to think, help children take on real responsibilities, balance independence and control, love children and help them develop a positive self- concept, and lastly, foster moral development and a happier family.

When parenting, parents need to respect their children, but should also require the respect in return. When punishing or disciplining, the discipline should be with restraint, respectful, fairness, and gentleness. Once the children are getting older, the parents should ask and consider the children’s opinion, before setting rules and consequences. Parents should also teach the children’s by examples; it’s one of many ways to help children turn their moral reasoning into positive moral behaviors. An example of this would be how the parents talk and treat others outside their family. But because children will always be around bad examples as well as good ones, parents need to use words as well as actions. Knowing how and why to do certain things will leave a better impression. Not only do parents tell the children what to believe, but also help them to think for themselves. By giving children constant encouragement to stop and think and to take the viewpoint of others into consideration, it can help children’s moral development. It has been shown that children who thinks about and discuss moral issues make better progress through the states of moral reasoning than the ones that don’t. Taking real responsibilities can also help children’s moral development. Completing chores around the house, take responsibility for their own homework, or volunteer in the community are all ways that can kelp. When parenting, giving children independent is good as long as there are limits to them. Giving too much independence will only lead children to feel like they are overwhelmed because they are not really ready for all the freedom. Not only that, but the children may feel as if the parents don’t care what kind of people they will become. But not giving enough freedom can be a problem too. By not giving enough freedom, it leads children to rebel to get the freedom and that can lead to making poor choices. Also when there is parental love, children have a better understanding of the parents’ values and rules. Overall, when parents gives their children examples to learn from, people to identify with, way of life and values to maintain, and a support system to turn to in times of need, their children are going to be in better shape when it comes to being moral.

So as you can see, even if children are exposed to bad music such as hip-hop and rap music, the bad mortals that get sent out in the lyrics may not affect them if the parents helped developed a good moral development with children. The hip-hop and rap music are always going to be there, and the messages that are being sent out may never change from the way it is now, or even get worst. But if good moral developments are exposed to first, there can be a reduction in immoral behaviors.

Overall, hip-hop music has become more than just a type of music; it has become a lifestyle, a violent, immoral, sexual lifestyle. Of course not everyone that listens to the music gets influence by it, but the big picture is that there are many listeners who do get influenced by this music and it’s not a positive influence. Yes, the music can represent the person who sings and listens to it and it can represent who they are, but like Dr. C Dolores Tuck said, “Principles comes before profit.”

Bennu, Pierre. “Fuck Hip hop: A Eulogy to Hip Hop.” Dissdent Voice. 18 Dec. 2002. 03 May. 2009<>.
“Parent Skills.” Parenting Skills-Rearing Moral children.2003 Indian Child.03 May 2009<>.
Roach Ronal. “Black Issues in Higher Education.” Find 22 Apr. 2004. 03 May 2000. <>.
United States. Senate Subcommittee on Junenile Justice. Shaping Our Response to Violent and Demeaning Imagery in Popular Music. Washington:GPO, 1995.

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