The Influence of Hip Hop on Today's Youth

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Anaya Ragland
April 30, 2012
English Composition II
Dr. Janardanan
Research Analysis Essay

The Influence of Hip Hop on Today’s Youth
“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” This profound statement from English writer, Aldous Huxley, demonstrates the importance that music obtains in today’s society. Simply, music is a form of expression, not limited to any specific genre. Although this expression is not limited to one genre, there is one that seemingly obtains the title of most controversial. The Rap/Hip-Hop genre has been harshly criticized for the topics of discussion in which many songs entail, and the various projected images. Everything has its pros and cons; many people have lost sight of its purpose. Student of Dartmouth College, Rebecca Heller states, "Many people don't realize that hip-hop began by bringing communities and neighborhoods together on the streets of the South Bronx." Hip-Hop is not only a tool of personal expression, but it is also a tool of communal empowerment. Tricia Rose, author of Black Noise, writes that “it is a black cultural expression that prioritizes black voices from the margins of urban America” (2). Hip-Hop is a social movement. It is a way for the African-American community to identify, as the search for identification is a struggle. “Hip hop emerges from a complex cultural exchanges and larger social and political conditions of disillusionment and alienation” (59). In today’s society, the best method in connecting to the youth is the media outlet, through music or television. So how does Rap/Hip-Hop influence today’s youth? It influences each individual differently; life is what you make of it. Hip Hop influences today’s youth either positively or negatively; it creates a sense of awareness, cultural connection, and empowerment or creates a negative image for admiration and enforces negative stereotypes. Altogether hip hop is a powerful force, not to be taken lightly. In the words of Busta Rhymes, “Hip-hop reflects the truth, and the problem is that hip-hop exposes a lot of the negative truth that society tries to conceal. It's a platform where we could offer information, but it's also an escape.” Much of hip hop’s negative conotations derive from its bold and daring nature of expression. Most artists of this genre are very blunt and aren’t afraid to speak their mind. “Rap music and hip hop culture are cultural, political, and commercial forms, and for many young people they are the primary cultural, sonic, and linguistic windows on the world” (Rose 19). The discussion of controversial topics through a creative outlet encourages the youth to become politically and socially engaged. The majority of today’s youth does not watch the news; this is a more appealing manner. An idol, role model, or favorite celebrity’s discussion of social and political issues sparks an interest in the minds of the youth. For example, the activism from celebrities in the Trayvon Martin case increased awareness and interest of the youth. Rapper, Plies, created a tribute to Trayvon Martin, and the YouTube video received over 500,000 views. Hip hop has the audacity to speak on issues that others are afraid of.

To speak to the second part of Busta Rhymes statement, hip hop is an escape for many. It is a way to temporarily leave a current state of endurance. Whether this endurance is school stress, home life, or whatever the case may be, music is an escape method. With hip hop, there is a sense of association, an item that humans thrive on. To know that another person is enduring a similar struggle is mind-easing. This allows a state of relaxation and ease. For youth, the harsh realities of life sometimes become overwhelming, and hip hop is an outlet or escape. Head phones in, tuning out the world.

Today the sense of black pride and empowerment is scarce. Hip Hop is an attempt to revamp this movement. Hip hop is an attempt to keep the dream that...
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