Content Analysis - Stereotypes in Music

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We are a group of 4 Second Year students pursuing a Diploma in Mass Communication. For our Communication Issues Group Project, we have decided to investigate the effects of Rhythm & Blues (R&B)/ Hip Hop music on our present day Society. R&B/Hip Hop is one of the more popular genres of music that our Youth listen to and with dedicated television channels such as Music Television (MTV) and Channel V telecasting music videos most of the time that they are in transmission, the music reaches Youth all around Singapore. With such a wide reach, R&B/Hip Hop music reaches the masses and influences them; as like all forms of Media.

We believe that Society’s stereotypes and prejudices are shaped by R&B/Hip Hop music culture; hence our research question for this research paper is “Do society's stereotypes influence R&B/Hip Hop music culture or does the music influence the stereotypes in society?”

The report was compiled by the means of surveying the public, as well as researching and compiling past studies done on the subject of stereotyping over the past 8 weeks by our group members. All precautions were taken so as not to have any bias opinions on the subject throughout the course of the report compilation.

Literature Review
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines stereotypes as “something conforming to a fixed or general pattern, (or) a standardized mental picture that is held in common by members of a group and that represents an oversimplified opinion, prejudiced attitude, or uncritical judgment.” (n.d.)

Music is then defined as “vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony” (n.d.)

Culture is defined as “the customary beliefs, social forms, and material traits of a racial, religious, or social group; (also) the characteristic features of everyday existence (as diversions or a way of life) shared by people in a place or time.” (n.d.)

As such, to hypothesis would stand that Hip-Hop music and its surrounding beliefs forms and characteristics play a pivotal role in shaping “a mental picture” of a certain person or a group of people, and this “picture” is often simplified or biased.

In this Literature Review, we wish to explore previous research done about music, its lyrics and how it has or has not perpetuated stereotypes in society.

Our hypothesis stands that society’s prejudices are influenced by by the culture of Hip-Hop/R&B music; and this stance can also be seen when Weitzstein (2008) quotes a Reverend Delman Coates as saying that “(the) music industry is perpetuating two of the most evil stereotypes of slavery - that black men are lawless and black women are hypersexual.” (para. 18) Rev. Coates feels that while it is “wrong for white men to degrade black women, it should also be problematic for black men to do the same” (para. 20)

Perry (1995) agrees, stating that “sex-talk flows through the veins of rap music and hip-hop culture.” (p. 524)
Furthermore, according to a study on the “Sterotyping Effect of Black Women’s Sexual Rap on White Audiences” conducted in 1997 by Gan, Zillmannn and Mitrook, the exposure of rap tended to destroy rather than improve these women's physical ability to attract. (p.16)

The study also showed that traits such as attractiveness, beauty, sensuality and sexiness were positive traits as rated by the respondents. Rappers were also found to be more “boy-crazy” than the performers of dedicated-love music. It also found that after being exposed to suggestive rap, as compared to devoted love music, Black women received lower scores on positive traits generally. (p. 15) We would like to see that as agreeing with our hypothesis that

In another study NAME NAME (2007), it was found that rap music videos had more illustrations of violence, eroticism, profanity, alcohol and inappropriate touching when compared to other forms of music videos such as rock and country....
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