Raps affect on society Essay

This essay has a total of 7331 words and 27 pages.

raps affect on society



THE AFFECTS OF RAP ON SOCIETY TODAY

When you listen to a rap song, what are you listing to? You are listening to words that
kids shouldn’t listen to. All you hear are explicit lyrics. This kind of music is being
sold to young children without any thought or concern. When many children listen to this
kind of music they think that was being said in the songs is not wrong or against the law.
The lyrics in many songs contain violent and explicit lyrics that usually talk about
killing someone along with sounds of gunshots in the background. It is also music that
refers to women as "bitches," "whores" and sex-dispensing "hoes"(Saunders B29). "Gangster
rap " has been criticized and debated over for its graphic sexual content, violent imagery
and misogyny.

When rappers were asked why they refer to women as bitches and hoes their replies were
similar. "Snoop" says, "that it is just for the women who are like that and if you're a
real women, you're classy and elegant. Those lyrics wouldn’t necessarily affect you. You’d
just groove to the music," (Farley 78). Richard Shaw, Bushwick Bill, says, "I call women
bitches and hoes because all the women I've met since I've been out here are bitches and
hoes." When asked, what he calls his mother at the [National Association of Black
Journalists] convention, he says he calls his mother a, "I call her a 'woman', but I'm not
f---ing my mother. If I was f---ing you, you'd be a bitch." He then apologized for what he
said to the reporter. (Raspberry A21) "If you don't give a f--- about a bitch/ Then you're
rolling with the row," are lyrics from Doggystyle. If all people were to think like this
what respect would women have? Some say, "If we don't have respect for our women, why
should anyone else?" (Raspberry A21). Do these rappers think that they own women and can
treat them any way they want to? If this is the way some people think, that the own women
and can disrespect them then what footsteps are the children going to follow in.

Young children and adults, 14, 15 and 16 years of age, that listen to and memorize these
rap songs, think that it is acceptable behavior. "Gangster rap" is hardly the only source
of violence, but it is a potent one.

Ortiz 2
Not only is the music violent but the rappers lifestyle is also. Many rappers have rap
sheets and young people see that and say, "Hey, they’re rich and money talks." Today most
young people think that if a person is rich and famous they can get away with anything.
Not all rappers have run-ins with the law, but the ones that do are very well known.

Tupac Shakur, who was murdered three years ago, had many run-ins with the law. Shakur was
arrested for aggravated assault, charged with shooting two off duty police officers in
Atlanta in 1993, but the charges were later dropped. He was accused of beating a limousine
driver in Los Angeles and found guilty of threatening a fellow rapper with a baseball bat
in Michigan. He was also found guilty of sexual abuse in 1994 and was serving time up to 4
½ years in prison (Sims E3). In some raps he glamorized the life of a gangster and fun
gunplay. He lived the life tattooed on his stomach, "Thug Life," and died doing it.
“Gangster Rap" has attracted a high-profile of enemies and no one may ever know who really
killed Tupac. The police are still not sure of who shot and killed Tupac, but they think
that it may have been linked to Death Row Record's ties with rival gangs. There are no
witnesses who can identify the driver or shooter in the Cadillac that pulled up next to
Tupak and driver, Marion Knight.

Calvin Broadus, better known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, was arrested in 1993 on
murder-conspiracy charges. He pleaded not guilty and was acquitted. He also has a police
file that (Hawkins 3) identifies him as a member of Long Beach Insane Crips, a notorious
street gang (Cheevers A1). He was also a drug dealer and user. His music also glorifies
violence and demeans women. Andre Young, a.k.a. Dr. Dre, served five months in a halfway
house in 1993 for violating his probation for breaking another rap producers jaw in 1992.
He was also convicted of hitting a New Orleans police officer in a hotel brawl and of
slamming a TV talk-show host into a wall at a Hollywood club in 1991 (Sims E3). His music
demeans women and generates bad vibes against police officials.

The Chronic, an album by Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg, has many explicit lyrics and
unnecessary foul mouthing. In one song they say, "That if you f--- with Dre you f--- with
death row...” more or less saying that if anyone messes with them they will have to worry
about everyone that is with Death Row Records. In the same song they tell a woman,
referring to her as a bitch, to yell-187 (police code for someone that has been

Ortiz 3
killed). In another song they ask another black man why he has been talking *censored*
about them, he says I didn’t do it. Then they put a gun in his mouth asking him, "What's
wrong can't talk with a gun in your mouth? Do you know Lucifer?” he replies, "No", and
they tell him, "Well you're about to meet him"(Rap).

All of the songs on this album contain foul language, violent and sexually explicit
lyrics, drugs and misogyny. Is this the kind of music that young children should be able
to listen to? William Drayton, Flavor Flav of the group Public Enemy, was arrested for
attempted murder. The police were lead to his home after a source told them that shots
were fired at a neighbor during an argument. The police found a loaded 38-caliber
semiautomatic handgun with one round missing. His music also glorifies violence. (Hawkins
4)

Eric Wright, known as Easy-E, has also generated bad vibes against police officials. He
died at 31 years of age after revealing that he had the virus AIDS. From his deathbed he
urged young people to learn about the disease. His music also talked about having the
lifestyle of being promiscuous and that lifestyle killed him. All of these rappers
criminal records depict their lifestyles. They say that their music depicts the harsh
reality of life in the hood. To these rappers, people dying young and going to jail is an
everyday thing (Marriott 75). Tupac says that violence is all we know and telling it like
it is is a way of getting the people to listen to what is really going on.

Ice-T's controversial album Body Count, produced by Warner Bros. Records, had provoked a
sharp debate in 1992 when the album first came out. The song "Cop Killer," with obscene
and violent lyrics, forced Time Warner to stop selling the album with the song on it. The
lyrics on the song said it was dedicated to the L.A.P.D. It also talked about "dusting
some cops off," with sounds of gun fire he then asks the listener to sing along for their
freedom-"Cop Killer" (Ice Body). "Cop Killer" is not the only song on the album that
glorifies violence. Even though the song was cut from the album the other songs on it were
just as bad. Another song talks about killing his mother by setting her on fire, hitting
her with a "Louisville slugger" and then cutting her up with a carving knife, all because
she was racist. Is this reality and was really going on in the world today? In other songs
the lyrics talk about being promiscuous (giving very explicit sexual lyrics) and yet the
album was still being sold to young children.


Ortiz 4
It has been debated on whether foul mouth trash should be censored. Many think it should
and are trying to do something about. Delores Tucker denounced (Hawkins 5) companies
claiming that "pimped porno rap" is being sold to children. She asks, "What would Martin
Luther King say about these rappers that demean women and glorify thugs, drug dealers and
rapists?” and "What kind of role models are those for young children living in the
ghetto?" (Philips A18). U.S. Representative Cardiss Collins, a chairwoman of the
congressional panel, complained the industry executive to cut out vulgar and violent
lyrics little was doing that. She said, "a sticker is not enough" (Congesswomen 7).

Some censorship has been incorporated in the radio industry. Inner City Broadcasting has
put a stop to playing hard-core rap and other misogynous and violent rap. It hopes to be a
model for other radio stations to follow (Cleaning 22). Most radio stations now do not
allow that kind of music on the air. Even though the radio has stopped playing hard-core
rap, record companies are still producing this kind of music. Death Row Records, the top
producer of rap music, has been under a lot of fire not only by Dolores Tucker, but by Bob
Dole and others conservatives. Death Row Records has recently had its own wake-up call.
The companies CEO, Marion "Suge" Knight, has recently been arrested for violated his
probation and is in jail. He was charged with assault with a deadly weapon in 1992 and was
sentenced to five years probation plus 30 days in a halfway house. A hearing later will
decide on what kind of sentence he will receive. Knight could face up to five to nine
years in prison if convicted. The company may suffer a great loss because no business
actions or even phone calls are allowed from prison. Before he began his fortune as CEO he
was an All-American defensive end and was on the dean's list at the University of Nevada,
Las Vegas. He the played pro-football for the Los Angeles Rams but later quit to become a
concert promoter.

Soon (Hawkins 6) after this his run-ins with the law started with his arrest for
trafficking guns. After other run-ins with the law Knight began recording "The Chronic,"
which refers or a type of marijuana, with Dr. Dre. He then was approached by Interscope
Records, who wanted him to produce records. He negotiated a $10 million deal to start up
Death Row Records (Cheevers A1). Now Death Row Records is known as the only label that can
do whatever they want. To some listeners Death Row's music is powerful and is also
reality, but to others their music celebrates drugs, murderers and misogyny. The FBI says
that this rap label has ties to gangs

Ortiz 5
and drugs. They are still trying to determine whether the company was involved in cocaine
trafficking, money laundering and racketeering (Leeds B1). The FBI has been investigating
Death Row Records and the individual members. Death Row Records is not the only record
company to promote rap, Time Warner has also been producing rap records.

Time Warner has pledged to do something about obscene and rude lyrics in rap music. The
new chairman of Warner Music Group, Michael J. Fuchs, was asked to talk with critics of
rap lyrics and to work with other record companies to come up with some regulations for
warning labels (Landler D2). Warning labels have been placed on albums with provocative
lyrics, but these warnings do little to prevent the lyrics from reaching children. The
chairman and chief executive claim that "music is not the cause of society's ills." That
may be true but do they have an influence on the people that listen to the music. Many say
yes and many say no. An experiment done by James D. Johnson shows that violent rap tends
to perpetuate the acceptance of the use of violence and an anti-education mind-set. He
thinks that this kind of music should have some regulation. He refers to rap music being
like nicotine- it is addictive; it is mood (Hawkins 7) altering and it is available with
some strains (Raspberry, "Does" A27). A person has to be 18 years old to buy cigarettes,
rent X-rated movies, or get into a strip bar/nightclub and has to be 21 years old to drink
or buy alcohol.

There are age limits on these things that can endanger young people and there should also
be an age limit on buying albums with explicit lyrics on them. Even though there is a
warning label on the albums young children can still buy them because there is no law to
prohibit sale. There are a lot of people who agree something should be done about the
explicit lyrics on albums. Stanley Crouch, a music critic and writer, says that rappers
are "a bunch of opportunists who are appealing to an appetite that America has for
vulgarity, violence and anarchy inside Afro America" (Sims 3).

Kevin Powell, a writer for Vibe magazine, believes that rap music is a legitimate art
form, but thinks that the genre has gone too far and the music industry is to blame for
not exercising some degree of control (Sims 3). He also thinks that it has made black
children think that being hard is the definition for being black in the 1990's. There are
many people who feel this way, but many rappers and defenders of rap disagree. Most
rappers do not think that their music causes violence and that they have no influence on
their listeners. Before

Ortiz 6
Easy-E died his lawyer read a letter from the rapper that said, "anyone could get AIDS,
that it does not discriminate" (Marriot 74). After the letter was read the Minority AIDS
Project in South-Central Los Angeles reported an 80 percent increase in requests for AIDS
testing.

This was more of an increase than when Magic Johnson made his announcement (Marriot 74).
His influence was seen in warning people about the AIDS virus just as Magic did when he
found out he had HIV. "Snoop" says that he hopes that listeners will see that any black
man out Hawkins 8 of the ghetto can do something positive with his life if he is dedicated
(Farley 78). He also says that if parents were as strict as his that there would not be as
much violence nowadays, yet he was in a gang, a drug dealer and user and he arrested for
murder-conspiracy charges. Rapper Juice, half of the duo of Juice with Soul, says that
listeners should realize that these rappers do not hang around the hard street life, they
go home to their fancy cars and houses. Another rapper, Masta Ace, agreed with Juice, say
that listeners should realize that rappers are creating characters to sell records. Biz
Markie says that critics take it to seriously and it is strictly entertainment (Marriott,
"Hard-core" A1 ). Joseph Simmons, known as Run of Run D.M.C., says that he has seen a rise
in disrespect to women lately. But he thinks that it has more to do with the parents
rather than the rappers.

M.C. Lyte, a pioneer among female rappers agrees that parents need to take more
responsibility for how their children act and behave. She also thinks that rap should not
be the blame for what young people are doing today because movies also show violence,
rapes, and people being killed (Marroitt, "Hard-core" A1 ). Russell Simmons, CEO of Def
Jam Recordings, says that no truly in-touch person believes that the state of society is
the result of rap music. He goes on to say that each type of music that comes later seems
more violent than before. There was a time when everyone thought that rock and roll was
the "devils' music". He says that many of these songs are like horror films and cannot be
taken literally (Proffitt M2). He also points out the good views of rap--that it is so
diverse and there are a lot of positive messages in the songs. Simmons thinks that rap are
just expressing the outrage of there community. His most important point would be that
when kids in Beverly Hills Hawkins 9 listen to rap they will know a little bit better how
the kids in the ghettos think (Profitt M3). Other rap experts point out the genre turning
points. In the 1990's the messages about black empowerment that started


Ortiz 7
national slogans and the wearing of African pride medallions were replaced by messages of
drug selling and survival in inner-city neighborhoods.

The marketing strategy of the record companies began to promote label with images of black
swaggering men carrying guns and drinking beer. This resulted the new "gangster" look.
This made young rappers that were hungry for fame and fortune take on the look of being
thugs themselves. The move of raps' homeland, New York, to the West Coast caused a
dramatic change to the sound. People tend to miss the true skill rather that all the
violence and how many people that get killed. Rap's image is being tainted by all the
scandals of the top rappers shackled in the courtrooms. The inspiration and energy from
rap reflects what goes on in the streets and in black life in America (Williams B1 ).
Maxine Waters also agrees that "gangster rap" is a new art form to describe the pains,
fear and frustrations that young people express to adults. She also thinks that just
because some people do not like the way the rappers use lyrics should not be a cause for
censorship (Jet 7). A professor of black studies thinks that many rappers have distorted
what black life really is and that white record companies are eager to sell black
stereotypes.

Rappers have distorted and divided black life and tried to incorporate it into street
life. Now people are doing what they hear and they want to shoot people and be rich
(Marroitt, "Hard-core" A1 ). If this is true should not there be a warning
label-prohibiting sale to minors. Rap music that pimps pornography and violence to young
children and that has messages of violence should have some kind of censorship. Defenders
of rap say that censorship is taking Hawkins 10 away their right to free speech stated in
The First Amendment. The First Amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an
establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise there of; or abridging the
freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and
to petition the government for a redress of grievances"(McNally 29). Censoring music would
be taking the right of free speech away. Most of the lyrics are protected by The First
Amendment and cannot be censored on the albums or records. Censorship has been made in the
radio industry so that the songs with explicit lyrics cannot be heard. Even though these
rappers say that they are reflecting what really happen on the streets rappers before them
do not have these explicit lyrics in their messages. Rappers such as Afrika Bambataa,
Kurtis Blow, MC Shan and the Fat Boys used music for fun and release to show good-hearted

Ortiz 8
Territorial rivals. Now it is about guns, treating women like trash and drinking malt
liquor. Rap has changed for the worse taking the art form and transforming it into trash
with some positive messages that are hard to grasp from the music. If the whole album is
about death, violence, misogyny and drugs except for one or two songs, what kind of
message is going to be placed first. If what can be heard on a porno film can be heard on
a rap album, then the album should have a age limit for sale. Since there is no age limit
on TV, today many inventions are being made to prevent children from viewing violence and
nudity. Is this not some form of censorship for children? If there is enough concern to
censor programs on TV that contain violence and harsh language should there not be concern
for children that listen to hard-core gangster rap.

When I asked my brother how easy it was to buy a CD that cares explicit lyrics, he said it
was easy. When you buy a CD that carries bad mouth lyrics the store is suppose to card
you. They have never once carded him when he has bought a CD. Than I asked him what he
liked about the lyrics? He said he like the way the talk about killing people, I had sex
with these many women, and about the drugs, and money they rap about (Ortiz). He says
“the music pumps him up to do things”(Ortiz). As you can see what kids my brother age get
influenced to do and listen to when they hear that music. My brother is only 17.

Parents should take more responsibility for what their children listen to and view.
(Hawkins 11) Parents can take charge of what there children view on TV and listen to on
the radio while they are in the house, but what kind of authority can they take when their
children are not home. Parent cannot control the kind of music their children buy on their
own. That is when it is left up to the law. Not taking away the rappers’ right to free
speech, but rather prohibiting sale to minors just as cigarettes. There is only so much
that parent’s can do to keeps their children out of harm. Violence is a reality, but
should it be preached about like it is okay and make it sound like fun and games. The
answer is no and something should be done about it.





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