The Media’s deceptive characterization of Rap Music
If the average person is asked to picture an image of a rapper, images of a man with his body covered in tattoos, wearing gold chains with smoke pouring out of his mouth and swearing to every second word he says would be some of the first things to come to his or her head. If the person is asked again to describe how they picture a rap music video to be like, her or she would probably describe the video centered on a rapper with the features previously mentioned, surrounded by women with alcohol involved being derogatory and vulgar. If the person was told that part of the reason the usage of crack cocaine has declined in the United States is because of rappers who have rapped about using it and how it has ruined their career, life and families ("Positive Influences of Rap."), he or she would have a hard time believing it because it goes against the things he or she is used to seeing in the media about rap music effects.
Rap music is an “American minority artist creation” that originated in the Bronx, New York in the 70s (Rhodes, Henry). Rappers first began to rap at local house parties along funky party music that people danced to. At this time of the music’s evolution, rapping would go on for about fourteen minuets and often times it would be turned into rap battles. Forwarding couple of years, rap music began gained popularity in the media and in the 80s it became a “distinct musical genre” (Wood, Joann). The more fame the music got, the more of a controversy it became in the United States. The explicit lyrics, usage of drugs, alcohol, and the violent behaviors that some rappers began to mention in their music became a big target for the media to depict as it was seen as a “negative influence” to the youth. Nowadays, rap music and the artists behind it is solely depicted and represented in a biased way by the media that the public’s main perception of the music is that it’s a nuisance and poisonous to the youth’s mind.
Rap music does in fact influence the youth negatively. There are many researchers who have analyzed the effects of rap music on the youth and concluded many different impacts it had on the youth’s life. In Gina Wingood’s study of rap music influences, she analyzed the behavioral changes rap music videos had on 522 female adolescents of the ages of 14-18. The participants were randomly selected from a group of volunteers and were contacted for monthly checkups over the course of 12 months. In the study, Wingood recorded changes the adolescents had been experiencing in their life like being in “fights, been arrested, used alcohol [and] or drugs”. After, 12 months she concluded:
37.6% acquired a new sexually transmitted disease 4.8% hit a teacher 12.1% reported being arrested 14.8% had sexual intercourse with someone other than their steady partner 44.2% reported using drugs 44.4% consumed alcohol
Many of the participants were in fact under the influences of the rap music videos they had been watching. However though, according to Cheryl Keyes, studies like these are not necessarily accurate (qtd. In Kirchheimer, Sid). She argues that at the ages of 14-18 the youth are likely to try drugs, start drinking, or engage in sexual activities so it’s hard to say that rap music is to blame for those behaviors. Anyways though, in neither of the categories that the adolescents’ behaviors were analyzed, were 100% of the adolescents acting on the influences that rap music video are supposedly promoting. In a similar study that consisted of one hundred African American males of the ages of 13-25 concluded that the participants were against the idea of “violence...
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