Cultural Influence of Hip Hop & Rap

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Influence of Hip Hop & Rap

Hip hop and rap as a musical genre is a very controversial subject for nearly everyone. Its influences are powerful, both positive and negative. There are many positive influences of hip hop, and a few examples are the breaking down of cultural barriers, the economic impact, and political awareness of pressing and urgent issues. Though there are many positive influences, there are many negative influences as well. Some of the more heated debates of the negative influences of hip hop are that it glorifies violence, and the fact that the music sexualizes women and degrades them as well. Attached to the negative outlook on hip hop, there are also many stereotypes assumed by society towards this type of culture that just aren’t true. Much of the negative viewpoints of hip hop and rap are misconceptions, such as; speculators believe hip hop has a destructive effect on the youth, when in fact, that is a small percentage of the musical genre, and in reality it has many positive and uplifting messages.

Rap is a product of the evolution of hip hop throughout the years. Hip hop is where it all started and is the root of it all. Hip hop emerged in the 1970’s in New York City, specifically the South Bronx. The pioneer of it all was a DJ from Kingston, Jamaica who immigrated to the U.S. to start a better life; this pioneer was named DJ Kool Herc. There were many inspirations and influences in the creation of the musical genre. Jazz, blues, country, and rock n’ roll were just a few of the styles of music that were influential. Influential artists include James Brown, Elvis Presley, and The Beatles to name just a few. Hip hop started small with funky, different beats resonating at house and block parties. This was new vocal style where the artist could speak lyrically in rhyme/verse, and usually told candid stories of the rough urban streets they lived in. With its growing popularity in New York, hip hop was a new way that black urban youths could express themselves in rhythmic form and within no time was dubbed the poetry of the street. The term “Hip Hop” was coined by three NY artists that were essentially the front men of the development of hip hop and went by the names Busy Bee Starski, DJ Hollywood, and DJ Afrika Bambaataa. Hip hop, as it developed over the years was an expression of former gang bangers like Zulu Nation, who when they had nowhere else to go for help in the situation, turned to hip hop culture in America to pull kids from gangs and violence. One of the biggest steps for hip hop culture was in 1979, when a group called the Sugarhill Gang produced the huge hit “Rappers Delight”, which gained a lot of attention. By the mid 1980’s, the music had started to evolve and become more aggressive, fast, and lyrically complex. Today’s children have parents and even grandparents that grew up on and around hip hop.

Rap does have many negative influences, one of which – gangsta rap – glorifies violence and focuses on the negative aspects of inner city life. This glorification of violence leads the youth to believe that it is cool and just a way of life and is necessary to survival. This mentality is thought to actually increase violence across America. There may be some rap artists that are opposed to gangs and violence, but the roots of the whole genre are tied to gangster culture. Another major negative influence is on young females. The music exploits females, promotes unhealthy lifestyles, and females looking at the sexual imagery every day can impact the functioning and healthy development of teenage girls. Researchers have said that this type of music makes women and girls think that it is ok or good to use their bodies to get what they want. That they can use their bodies to get material things, and instills the fact that they cannot be successful at anything in life without exploiting and using their bodies sexually. In an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the author writes...
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