Hip-hop and rap music has become a more and more popular genre of music. It has been my most favorite genre of music for many years. With such popular artists having such control and influence over America’s youth, it is easy to understand why so many people have problems with hip-hop and rap music. It is often said that rap and hip-hop music is misogynistic and praises violence. Also, it is argued that this genre of music deepens generalizations and stereotypes about the African-American community. Just how Tom Bissell describes his love for videogames in the essay titled Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter, as “an extra life” I too have a passion for hip-hop music and use it as an outlet from the real word (Bissell, 352). My own view is that hip-hop and rap music is beneficial to America’s youth because it breaks down cultural divides by using music as a way to unify all cultures. Hip-hop music is a music genre that consists of a stylized rhythm that commonly is paired with rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted. It has a strong beat and often has witty lyrics that depict an implicit meaning. Hip-hop and rap are part of an entirely larger culture. Listening to this music gives me a way to escape from my current stresses and just relax, even if it’s only for the duration of one song. Due to the creativity of the song lyrics, it allows for different interpretations, an aspect that I enjoy. Discovering these different meanings is just another reason as to why I am such a huge proponent of this genre of music. The reasons that I enjoy hip-hop music go far beyond the fact that I enjoy how it sounds and the lyrics. Tricia Rose, a professor and chair of the Department of Africana Studies at Brown University speaks about hip-hop and how she believes it is in a crisis. In Rose’s book, The Hip-Hop Wars, she discusses the negative influence of hip-hop on youth. She mainly focuses on whether or not hip-hop causes violence and if hip-hop is a “mirror of the ghetto li[ves] that the rappers live” (Rose, 34). Rose’s point is that these song artists use their music as a way to display the rough times they have experienced. In her book, Rose also maintains that, “rappers tales of aggressions and frustration were stirring up violent behavior among young listeners” (Rose, 34). In other words, the violent and disturbing lyrics of these songs had a strong influence over the listeners, even causing them to act out on these violent behaviors. In contrast to Tricia Rose’s research, Dr. Renford Reese, a graduate of the University of Southern California and currently a professor at the California Tech Polytechnic Institutetouches on hip hop culture and its positive effect on ethnic relations. Dr. Reese takes a more positive approach with his research, saying “the hip-hop culture has challenged the system in ways that have unified individuals, particularly youth, across a rich ethnic spectrum” (Reese). Reese’s point is that this genre of music is something that all people can enjoy, and it actually unifies ethnic groups, especially in young people. I agree that hip-hop and rap music are catalysts that provide cultural awareness and unity across several racial groups, a point that needs emphasizing since so many people only bring light upon the negatives of this genre of music. I also enjoy hip-hop music for much more superficial reasons as well. For example, I simply enjoy how the music sounds and when I’m listening to this music, it brings so many emotions to me; it can calm me down, make me excited about something, comfort me when I’m sad, puts my anger into words and rings me confidence. In my opinion, there is a hip-hop song for every occasion. Some may argue that Lil Wayne and other rapper’s extreme and widespread use of misogynistic terms like “bitch” and “ho” are enough to hate the entire hip-hop genre. Even hip-hop insiders are fed up with the genre. For example, the hip-hop artist Nas produced an entire album titled Hip-Hop is Dead expressing his concern for the genre and the direction that it has gone. When hip-hop artists themselves are bashing the genre, you know that there may be a problem; this problem being mainly the use of such degrading lyrics towards women. Although I grant that hip-hop and rap music is tainted with degrading language, I still maintain that it acts as a positive force. I believe that true hip-hop lyrics outweigh these negative lyrics. For example, in Kanye West’s song titled Roses, he relates get well gifts for his grandmother in the hospital with family members saying, “With my family we know where home is, so instead of sending flowers, we the roses.” This is just one example of how hip-hop is still alive, and if we just overlook the rappers who in my opinion do not deserve such fame, more people would understand why I love hip-hop music. Ultimately, hip-hop music diminishes cultural divides and allows for different cultures to come together and be aware of the hip-hop culture as a whole. This topic should interest anyone who favors a progressive lifestyle and wants to be accepting of all people. Even though many people argue that hip-hop and rap music is detrimental to society, I believe the opposite – that it develops relationships between all races. Instead of focusing on the negatives, we should view how hip-hop music is actually a jumpstart on progression and racial acceptance.
Reese, Renford R. "Dr. Renford R. Reese's Homepage." Dr. Renford R. Reese's Homepage. California Tech Polytechnic Institute, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <http://www.csupomona.edu/~rrreese/HIPHOP.HTML
Rose, Tricia. The Hip Hop Wars: What We Talk about When We Talk about Hip Hop--and Why It Matters. New York: Basic Civitas, 2008. Print.