Monday, September 3, 2007

Rap Music Makes You Angry?

HERE'S A STORY about Colorado Springs, Colorado from today's New York Times:

After a spate of shootings, and with a rising murder rate, the police here are saying gangsta rap is contributing to the violence, luring gang members and criminal activity to nightclubs.

Does mass media have the ability to influence people that much?

“We don’t want to broad-brush hip-hop music altogether,” said Lt. Skip Arms, a police spokesman, “but we’re looking at a subcomponent that typically glorifies, promotes criminal behavior and demeans women.”

Does the music reflect culture or does the culture affect society?

Don't forget: media use logs are due on Thursday.

67 comments:

Andrew said...

Music dose have the power to make you feel a certain way or even influence the way you think, but cant be to blame for violence or things of that nature. Although not played in night clubs you have to take a look at hardcore or goth music as well and even during columbine art was under fire for peoples outlandish behavior.

Joshua McAdams said...

This is just yet another case of blaming everything under the sun for violent behaviors. First movies, then video games, and now music. I do not doubt that there are people in this world who are easily effected by violence in movies, games and music but from my personal experience in all three of these art forms, not a single one has ever led me to do anything else other than gain or lose respect for the creators of the music. People have different tastes, some may like hearing demeaning music, the police and the government taking action to quell the growth of said artists music to others is just another example of censorship that seems to be happening a lot lately in this country. The record labels already have the parental advisory labels on cd's, now it's up to the laxed parents in today's times to step it up and be parents.

danielle harvey said...

One only has to look as far as the "stop snitching" campaign to realize that something has to be changed in today's urban communities. Young people are growing up today with few outlets other than violence and music. This is how violent rap comes into play, and why violence continues to be passed down from generation to generation. Rappers cannot be fully blamed for their words and ideals, since they are commonplace among their peers, but at the same time, rappers must realize that they have a purpose. If rappers decided to rap about something other than guns and violence, then youths in poor communities would realize that there are other ways in which they can live their lives and feel fulfilled. Instead of rappers like 50 Cent bragging about being shot 9 times, they need to come to grips with the fact that they are role models, like it or not, and that they have the unique ability to change the ideals of thousands upon thousands of loyal fans. People keep blaming rap as a whole, as if rap music always equates into violence. I say we all stop simply pointing fingers and start working toward a solution.

joshua mcadams said...

@Danielle

You are right, they (rappers) do have the ability to change the ideals of the thousands of loyal fans, but rapping about the violence is how the got those loyal fans in the first place. Btw I agree with the "stop pointing fingers and work towards a solution" line, but you live in a society that loves to complain, action rarely happens unless tragedy or other extreme measures wake us up.

Kathleen Gill said...

Music can definitely have an affect on the way a person thinks or acts. However, an individual is ultimately responsible for his/her actions. A person can blame rap music in this case for increased voilence, but when it comes down to it people have the power to make decisions.

Donnie said...

First, there are more forms of media being referenced here than just rap, so step back and consider ALL the forms of media that glorify an illegal lifestyle. Second, rappers are COMPLETELY to blame for what they rap about. I agree with kathleen, people are ultimately in control of their actions. Third, don't consider poor communities solely. The issue needs to be viewed on a larger scale.

But most importantly, consider the DIVERSITY of messages that media outlets offer. Yes, some things act like being a pimp and going to jail is the life, but there are at least an equal number that talk about loving not hating, forgiveness not revenge. The fact, plain and simply, is that people CHOOSE what to listen to. If there seems to be a correlation between violent people and violent music, it is probably because they can relate to the lyrics. Instead of considering the masses to be at the mercy of the media as a whole, imagine the media to be a reflection of the masses. 50 Cent, Ludacris, T.I. would none of them rap what they do if it didn't sell. And lets be honest, they didnt magically create a market for themselves with violent teenagers and disgruntled parents.

John D. said...

Just like one genre of music doesn't speak for all of the music culture, one scene of people doesn't speak for an entire culture.
Think of two mirrors facing one another, one is music and the other is society. No matter what, they both reflect the people in between them.
Music is a production of a person's ideas. Although people choose what they do to a degree, music that people accept desensitizes them to those ideas. It boils down to the whole nature vs. nature debate: is it what people are exposed to or their biology that tells what they will become? I'd say both, regardless, music can become a medium of expressing certain ideals as 'normal' and sometimes those ideals aren't exactly kosher (i.e. random acts of violence, demeaning women, etc...) When a person is exposed to those kinds of things over a period of time they become normal for them, just like listening to a song on the radio that you detest that you find yourself bopping along to in a week or two.

Anonymous said...

Stephanie Schaefer said...

I completely think that mass media has an ability, in some people, to influence their lives. I mean for years people believed Barbie to be the perfect woman and that made young women strive to be thinner and thinner. I believe that yes it can influence you but you don't have to accept it. I think that to blame rap for the rise in crimes is ridiculous. Don't use rap as a scapegoat, use the neglectful parents of today's society. The fact of the matter is some parents have become so seperated from their childrens' lives that, their children have not been taught what is right and wrong. Blame the parents, not the music.

davonne said...

Art imitates life or life imitates art?

timeless question. Who really knows truely? In my experience every piece of art I've produced whether it was a sketch, a poem, a short story, or a song it has been a reflection of how I've been affected by something. On the other hand I have also written poems and drawn pictures of this I've only dreamt of and never experienced. So the bottom line is, it truely depends on the consumer and their nature, how they react to the art and the situation of their life.
By the way if this blog was posted 9 or 10 years ago it would have read, Heavy Metal Makes You Angry?; a decade from now it will be the same scapegoat just a different genre and/or medium. this time it was rap/hip hop's turn.

Geo said...

Davonne -

Excellent point about the heavy metal stuff. You're dead on.

Did anybody see the 80's movie Footloose? The premise of the movie was that the local townspeople thought rock and roll and dancing were tools of the devil. They banned dancing as they said it promoted promiscuity, individualism and subversive behavior.

The music the movie chose to represent evil? Kenny Loggins. You really can't be more on the opposite end of the spectrum from gansta rap than Kenny Loggins.

- George (the teacher)

Jacqui said...

i agree with the comment about life imitating art or vice versa- you can't really choose. its another what came first scenario

first- violence occurs, causing rap artists to glorify it

or first- rap glorifies violence, causing violence to happen, or at least happen more often

Colleen Reese said...

But what leads rappers to say such things? There wouldn't be an issue had it not been for the years and years of oppression and historical inequities of African American people. At least, that's how I see it.

The "problem" is deeper rooted than the people who listen and identify with rap music, but how frighteningly accurate the music is as a reflection of the majority of urban life.

For example, Immortal Technique? He could be considered a political rapper--more obviously so than maybe Nelly. But at the same time the sex culture that Nelly raps about is as equally political (think Janet Jackson's first provocative music video and its response by the authorities, sex scandals in the Whitehouse) as Immortal Technique rapping about how the US is the biggest importer of Latin American cocaine.

The actual production of the music is what matters to me, at least.

But I also think there is a racial threat underneath this. White America is threated by the overhauling of the music industry by black rappers.

Plus country music is as criminal (bar fights?!) and demeaning to women (make me a sandwich?) as rap music is. Country music traps most women into traditional roles.

Lauren L. said...

Rap music as well as other genres of music promote a slew of different ideas and ways of life to the audience that listens to it. While, there is an arguable point that much being said in this genre of music is negative and therefore negatively affecting society...I have to say that ultimately an individual will decide which actions they will perform. You are in charge of your own life, your behavior. Music has the power to influence. An idividual has the power to choose.

Casey said...

Music is a culture of its own. It is a way to express feelings. You can learn a lot about a person by what type of music they like. Music should be an influence on a persons life. There is the point of what extent you let it and what type of music is doing the influencing. Most people people can listen to gangsta rap without it having an affect on them but there are those out there that take it to the next level and try to imitate what they are hearing. It can change their life style and and how they interact with society. I am not sure if there is the right to totally wipe out gangsta rap completely just because some people let it influence their lives. The lyrics tend to be violent but more than likely the beat is what make the song. How much it influences a person and in what way depends on what the listener is paying more attention to, the lyrics or the beat?

greg adomaitis said...

No one seems to have mentioned that Nas was booked to perform a welcome back/benefit concert at Virgina Tech. Oh the irony...

Kara said...

john d., i love the mirror analogy. i think it's an insightful way of looking at the situation.

i believe that there is no one reason at fault for the increase in violence, but it involves many factors..such as family life, morals and values, enviornment, etc. that said though, it is possible that music contributes to this increase. (and that is not to say only hip-hop music alone) i believe any type of music can be at fault for contributing to potential violence through the lyrics in the music. musicians, many times, are seen as role models. their lyrics could have a strong effect on their fanbase. this effect doesn't always have to be negative, but it does have the potential to be. again, music can not take all the blame, hip hop music especially. if one is going to pinpoint hip-hop music, consider other genres or artists with demeaning lyrics. take marilyn manson, for example, who writes and sings about death. his music is not hip hop, but the common factor here is the message being sent through the lyrics.

overall, there is no right answer to does music relect culture or does culture affect society.i believe they go hand in hand together. music is powerful and has the ability to effect how people dress, socialize, and even think. musical followings are almost cult like in some cases. some people go as far as obsessing over an artist or musician. when this occurs in large numbers, collectively, this "musical culture" has great potential of affecting society.

Doanh said...

I definitely think that mainstream rap affects violent crime. Growing up, all children tend to want to act like people have similar struggles as they do. It's a common stereotype: the young black male growing up in an urban setting and struggling to survive, then going through whatever it takes to earn boatloads of money. These rappers epitomize this image. These qualities they possess like fame and fortune are seen as the Mecca of urban life. Everyone wants to make it. But with these qualities come the negative. Children don't know how to separate the good from bad. They think it's mandatory to be tough since they live such hard lives. You can't be a "punk." You have to get money anyway possible, even if it means committing crimes like drug dealing. It's important to wear flashy clothes and bling to hide the fact that most urban youth come from the same situation. Women are seen as expendable and easy once you have money. You can't make a good music video with a guy in a business suit preaching a college education and responsible financial goals. I don't think that rap itself can transform a good kid, but I do think that kids that are halfway there will definitely be swayed by these images.

Jessica Gray said...

As a loyal listener to all types of music genres, I listen to Rap music to an extent. I can only take hearing the f-word, and other unnecessary words for so long. However, before Rap music became so derogatory, violence was still occuring in the world. In my opinion, the level of violence, in Philadelphia for example,is directly related to the increase in the use of foul , and violent references in rap lyrics. Like it has been stated before, there are many sources of influence nowadays, and Rap music is only one source. To be able to blame Rap music solely, we have to create a perfect world where Rap music is the only source of such disrespect and violene. Until that perfect fairytale world comes into existence, teenagers among others, have Rap music and the Nightly News to use as credible sources for violent acts and thoughts.

Geo said...

Jessica Gray finally hits a point I've been waiting to see: if people are influenced by what they see, isn't the nightly news only perpetuating the violence?

Is the media doing more harm than good by reporting the steady stream of violence? Aren't we only pointing out to people that this is a fact of life? Aren't we telling people to stay away from some bad neighborhoods?

And by people staying away from those neighborhoods, won't those places only further deteriorate?

- George (the teacher)

doanh said...

The nightly news reports on violence with the indication that they are unfortunate events. People usually aren't happy to watch the murder rate climb. Rap on the other hand, glorifies violence. I think people that compare such unrelated factors are reaching for answers to an obvious argument.

Aden Gideon said...

Come on. Someone is always looking to blame rap music with all the violence going around. People have their own minds telling them to shoot people up and things like that. Mass media does have a way to influence people but definitely not THAT much. You might be influenced to a certain point but not to the point where you want to kill people.


With the nightly news, its always negative things shown. It is a fact of life but sometimes they need to show the good as much as they show the bad just to level it out.

Anonymous said...

For a large part, this is the old which came first the chicken or the egg. It's not a simple answer. As someone who has listened to rap for 20+ years and seen the changes take place, it has gone from what Chuck D referred to as "the CNN of the ghetto", to the prostitute of corporate america. I think it's important to realize what you hear on the radio and see on BET and Mtv aren't the only examples of rap music. Immortal Technique like Colleen mentioned, dead prez in the same vein, Def Jux or Anticon for the backpackers, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli... and so on. Not perpetuating the images mentioned above. Do they get as much airtime/radio play? No. But how about the payola scandals when it comes to hiphop? Funkmaster Flex anyone? It's being shoved down people's throats, airtime bought by the labels, and people end up liking it or buying it (although I should digress and mention that while album sales are in a downwards spiral for a variety of reasons including downloading, executives are now making a push for single/jingles that will sell as ringtones. Execs barely care about album sales, everyone knows the money is in ringtone sales. Lil' Flip was the first to get a million dollar ringtone deal). Why aren't rappers rapping about pink ballons? Probably there aren't pink balloons in the hood. What is there? Drug dealing. And it's hard to ignore the fact that the life expectancy for young black males, especially those in urban areas are so short, who couldn't expect them to live it up? Who is to blame? I believe it's shared. By people not able to take responsibility for their decisions or actions, for the environment the system has created, etc. I am disappointed that rappers have not taken the platform they have to be more proactive in making a change. Although, as witnessed by the last presidential election with the Vote or Die campaign, they are finally starting to realize they can have a positive effect and affect change. I think that trend will continue.

It always confused me as how music/video games/films, etc. became the target, like it is the first cause of violence. There are no other factors. I bet everyone who has ever killed someone has eaten broccoli at some point in their life. Why not blame broccoli?

And what about the millions that listen to rap or countery western music or judas priest and DON'T emulate what they see and hear?

And what about the police spokesman commenting on how it demeans women? Is he now also a part of the thought police?

I also decided to post this anonymously because I own a publication and have had the opportunity to meet, talk with, and interview a bunch of the rappers mentioned above. Tonight in fact, I'm on my way up to the studio in NYC to meet with Cassidy, who is from Philly, and got out of jail recently for killing his best friend. I will ask him his thoughts about music reflecting the streets or streets reflecting music...

Charlotte Levins said...

I do not believe that the news perpetuates violence. Violent murderers do not care what channel 6 has to say about violence or suffering. They are probably selling drugs or lingering on street corners while we sit on our couches and watch the 10 oclock news.

Rap music does not perpetuate violence any more than flamanco dancing perpetuated promiscuity and the Tarantella cured the spider bite. Humans have been listening to music since they could bang on rocks. If someone intends to kill, they will do it regardless of the music.

Seshat Young said...

"Does mass media have the ability to influence people that much?"

Well, when you take mass media, lace it with a loud beat and curse words, play it in a dark room full of alcohol, and fill that room with a large group of hostile, brown people--sure. There are certain songs that instruct listeners to get rowdy ("Move", "Throw Dem Bows", "Nuck if you Buck", etc). Club-goers follow the emcee's instructions, unnecessarily push people, and it escalades into violence. This sub-genre of hip-hop and is so small that it can't be blamed for all nightclub violence, and the typical rap song about grills, girls, and guns (85% of what's played in a hip-hop club) isn't going to get Pookie mad enough to kill somebody. Do I believe that music is "luring gang members...into nightclubs"? No: girls do that. Do I believe that "rap is contributing to the violence"? In some cases, I believe it is.

Todd Miller said...

This is a joke. I am so tired of people saying that music is the reason bad things happen. Eminem writes a song about killing someone and stealing rims off a car so that means every kid is going to go out and do it? No, not at all. The reason people do stupid things is because some people just aren't bright. Personally, I don't like rap, but I do not think it is the reason for bad things happening.

Anonymous said...

I feel mixed emotions towards this particular topic. What is addressed in hip hop culture is a reality, and it has been an on going reality for people that experience that type of life style. However I do believe that certain rappers do galmourize the type of life styles they live, making it perhaps seem okay to outsiders who are not familiar with that life style at all. Many people can relate to the whole hip hop culture. But then there are the people that have no idea what it is like to grow up in "the ghetto", yet they hear all this music and try to seem as if they what the ghetto life is truely about. However I do not feel as if it is hip-hops fault because we can not look up to rappers and other hip hop artists to raise the future generations of America. Yes the music effets our society, but its purely entertainment and people should be aware of the difference.

Geo said...

Rap music itself probably does not directly evoke violence.

But think about this: in Hollywood, there is a serious lack of roles for strong, positive African-Americans, especially African-American men.

So imagine yourself being a young black child in search of a role model. And all the people you see in the movies and on television are gangsters or addicts, struggling blue collar folks or cheesy comedians. You don't see Denzel as a CEO. You don't see Will Smith as president.

Things are slowly improving, but the message that has been transmitted for decades is that African Americans are of a different level. Can you count the number of black characters who appeared on Friends? Seinfeld? You probably only need one hand.

That has an impact on society. That instills beliefs and values.

Music influences you. If you only listened to angry music, you would probably be pretty angry. But we're so inundated with media that there is probably not one single media outlet that has that much influence these days.

- George (the teacher)

Chris said...

Music influences you. If you only listened to angry music, you would probably be pretty angry.

If you started listening to songs about a different political party, would you switch?

If you started listening to songs about a different sexuality, would you switch?

And I do agree that it is sad, unfortunate and wrong that minorities that appear in film or on movies are not portrayed in a more positive light. But I don't think that means you blame the individual.
Jadakiss had a song called "Why?" where he asks:
"Why Halle have to let a white man pop her to get an Oscar/
Why Denzel have to be crooked before he took it"
Oh wait, rappers only have and promote the negative, ugly aspects of society, and has little or no redeeming value... Or is that just what the media likes to portray?

Donnie said...

Long story short, you cannot deny that an influence exists. The LEVEL of influence is what matters. And who's to say you wouldn't switch sexuality or political party if all the media you were exposed to glorified the other. I think many times the effect is washed out so to speak because of the sheer number of media outlets. But especially when it comes to music, fans are generally devoted to their genre. And while there are non-violent rappers, if you ask someone who isn't a music fan if they've heard of 50 cent or Anticon, they'll say 50. Point being, violent rap is whats getting the attention and getting the air-time.

In short, I think, yes, rap music does make people more violent.

John D. said...

It isn't rap music that makes you violent.
It's the message that is portrayed in the rap music. Will smith rapped about chillin in Miami and hanging out in the neighborhood during the summer; does that make you want to go sell drugs or slap a woman?
A musician could compose a poppy tune that glorifies random acts of violence JUST AS WELL AS a rapper could write a song about picking flowers and doing random acts of kindness towards your fellow man.
Roping the entire genre of rap and hiphop music together is wrong. Because it's about the message being sent, that is the content not the type of music. Think about barney showing kids how to properly shoot heroin and then think about the guys in braveheart doling out hugs instead of blows. Completely different messages given now, eh?

Shari DaCosta said...

What we listen to is affected by our mood, so to say that rap music makes us angry is crazy. You can't define a person by what they listen to. Different experiences shapes us as we mature.

Shari DaCosta (Student) said...

As long as you have a core set of values you can't be entirely transformed by a single media outlet. That's easier said than done in our society because we're constantly bombared with information. Education then becomes key, formal and informal.

Anonymous said...

Rap music is not the source of some of the negative aspects of the black community. All rap music does is entertain, and rappers write about what they know or what will sell records. So the issue is not the music itself, but people who are buying the music. The community needs to do some inward reflection on what do they really stand for, what is an acceptable representation of their lives. If the black community would stop monetarily supporting rappers because of the negative lyrics, then the rappers would be forced to change the lyrics to make a profit.
-Jasmine Cooper

trudy said...

anonymous...if you've ever attended a rap concert it is mostly european descended 'fans' in the audience. and most record labels, aside from new innovations from Sean Carter and his ilk, are not black owned. The community does need to do any reflection. 50 cent and Lil' Jon do not represent the africana community. Each individual is responsible to make his/her own cultural choices about what media to consume. It is not the africana community monetarily supporting these rappers and it is certainly not the africana community who reap the greatest financial reward from the bafoonery. The lyrics won't change because record labels have found a prototype and it works.

Kristen said...

In all honesty, I believe that WE, as people, are the only influences towards our actions. Sure, rap music, and even other genres, may bring out and draw attention to: violence, sexual harassment, demeaning women, etc. but would crime and such actions really be stopped if the music stopped? No. Everything around us influences us. Even something as simple as a small gesture someone may give can create an event. It's all in the human nature (ie: survival of the fittest) to be on top, to be the best, to be number one. Of course, we may not all portray this nature or even act on it, but it's in our blood. Violence will occur no matter what.

It's also in the nature of how people think, just as the book 'Freakonomics' has pointed out: in the book it questions why places with more cops seem to have more crime, and areas with less cops seem to have less? Sure, it may seem because there is so much crime that is why more cops are necessary, but maybe more crime happens because we EXPECT it to happen. This is just all my personal thinking, and of course points from the book.. but in my own opinion, sure music may add on to some things, but all in all it's our decision what goes on.. not a line of rap or a hard core metal jam.

trudy said...

I look at hip hop as social commentary. Rappers did not invent misogynism and they didn't invent materialism. I think it's time everyone stop acting as if hip hop is the source when really it's just a side effect of a much more pervasive issue. One that can't be reduced to a genre of music. Eradicating hip hop will not in turn eradicate drugs, bling, or hoes from neither the urban experience or the urban vernacular.

Colleen Reese said...

" Music influences you. If you only listened to angry music, you would probably be pretty angry. "

I disagree with this entirely. At one point you have to start taking some responsibility for your decisions to allow these things to dictate your life.

Back home (Lansdale) I used to help fun a local music scene. Much of the music was hardcore (not radio screamocore) and the people who listen to that--including myself--are not angry people. In fact, we use that alloted time as an outlet to prevent ourselves from being angry thereafter.

Whether by social influences or by music, the decision to assimilate these qualities is ultimately left for the individual. That's why I think that the media does no wrong by informing the public of violence, or providing a new perspective via rap music.

The point is to create an educated public. Only by deciding and actively choosing what one believes can something be truly educated.

That's why our job as journalist is to provide the entire variety... and that includes what some people find "offensive" or "dangerous"

Rachel M Heuckroth said...

Honestly, I think rap music (not to generalize.. but more specifically - the music with aggressive lifestyles depicted within the lyrics) can certainly be a contribution to the increase of murder and violence in our country. I enjoy rap music. And I'm as much of a peaceful, tree-hugging hippie as you can get. But I have always been a downright hater of Eminem simply because he has influenced so many young adults in a way that isn't exactly encouraging success in this world. He's vulgar, disrespectful and a bad role model. But am I going to come out and say that specific murders are due to his influence? No. However, I certainly do feel that he has made a negative impact on society in some way shape or form. Other rap artists I cannot vouch for because I haven't researched any as much as I have him. You tell me - is this a trend in rap music?

Aimee Otis said...

I believe that rap music has the potential to be harmful for society. In some songs, it makes it seem like it's okay to kill people you hate, or rob banks, or treat women poorly.
Of course, it seems that rap music isn't out to tell people to do bad things; its merely I guess getting out aggression.
But I think some people don't see the difference. Young people look up to these rappers, and try to be like them. If they talk about killings like other people talk about going to the mall, they will think killing is something normal to do to people they dislike.
Sometimes I don't think people realize how much the media affects people. It gives people views on what is okay, and what is not okay. It helps develop what we think "normal" is.
So yes, I think the media can affect society a lot. I believe that the music affects culture and society.

Shannon Phillips said...

I believe that rap music influence the younger generation more so than regular adults. I do agree that rap music demeans women and in all ways possible rap music do give the message of killing. But I wouldn't necessary say that is the reason why people kill. People have their own motives and violence isn't just in music its in movies and television also, so you can't necessarily say that rap music contributes to violence.

Morris Khamsaen said...

Music does influence your life, but only in a minor way. I believe that to specifically point to rap music and say that it is the cause of everything wrong in society. People make there own decisions, and they have to realize that before they go and blame their problems on something else.

morris Khamsaen said...

oops. I meant to say that to point to rap music and say that it is the cause of everything wrong in society is not fair.

black_winged_rose said...

People need to take responsibility for their actions and stop blaming everyone else for the world's problems. Rappers write about what they know, just like any other musician. A certain kind of person listens to rap music--namely, someone who can relate to the subject matter. I appreciate music to which I can relate. Some of it is angry, because sometimes I'm angry. Some of it is silly; some of it is happy, and some of it is sad. It's just music; it's an outlet for emotion. It doesn't force me (or even encourage me) to do anything. I make my own decisions.

Kylee said...

Honestly I think we have to treat any media case on violence based on the individual, not the masses as a whole. I listen to rap music; I don't feel the need to go to the army&navy store and buy a gun, nor have I ever heard a song that said "Go beat up your neighbor," or "Go buy a gun." However, someone else might be influenced, like the above comments said. Remember, people harm people; take some responsibility.

Amanda Carden said...

I think that people listen to music that they can relate to. So, if someone is listening to violent music its because they feel violent already. There is no reason why a peaceful person would buy a CD that talks about beating and killing others. On the same note, a violent person wouldnt listen to extremely peaceful music. Not to put stereotypes on music listeners but usually this is the case. There are always exceptions, like if a young child who hasnt figured out their emotions or beliefs is subjected to listening to music, or watching TV about violence they may grow to think its acceptable behavior. But, grown people who have their morals already arent going to be persauded to go against them because they heard a song or watched Scarface (for example).

Chris said...

First, to address the Eminem piece... I think there are a few reasons for his popularity. I think he tapped a nerve of many of the youth in the country at the time. There were a TON of suburban white kids who listened to rap (myself included) and while you could identify with the emotion (anger, resistance to authority, etc.), it was hard for most to identify with the content and specifics (Whiteboyz was an incredible poigant and on time movie commentary on this. Danny Hooch has always been on point with his commentary on the subject). Eminem was successful for two reasons: he justified white kids like and appreciation for rap, AND he was who he was and kids could finally relate to the content on a more personal level. That's part of the reason why he was accepted within the hip-hop community. He didn't claim he was from the hood. He didn't claim to be robbing people. He had a tough upbringing, was from the lower class (and from a sociological standpoint what people usually incorrectly label as racial, is usually more socio-economic), and almost above all, had a PHENOMINAL ability to spit (maybe two or three have ever been able to TRUELY freestyle like Em). So I say all this to say Em didn't create a nation of Stans, they already existed. And I think the same can be said about rap in general. Am I so naive to think that there has been NO influence? No. But to blame and target a whole genre of music, and not be willing to look any farther is illogical and responsible. Are they killing each other with their bare hands? Let's take a look at the laws, the big business, the lobbing and take on the NRA. Oh wait. That would be too tough. And their lobby is way to strong and way to well financed. Let's talk about the minimum wage versus cost of living. Or the welfare system. NAh, again too difficult. Lets go back to blaming the rappers. Much easier targets..

So, this came up in class today in reference to 50, and I thought I would mention it. If you believe in freedom of the press, and first admendment, then what follows is a belief in freedom of speach. And that includes 50 Cent. You know who else it includes? The KKK, Neo-Nazi's, politicians, the church, anti-gays, etc. Part of the package is it's not just free speach for the things you believe in. It's free speach for the things you don't believe in, hate, and despise. Don't get me wrong, when lines and the law are crossed, I believe that people or groups should be held accountable, but people have and should have the freedom of speach.
And while this might be somewhat idealistic, I don't believe the press' job is to decide what's acceptable and what isn't. The press' role, in my opinion, is to put the facts out there and let the individual decide. But, I also realize that the press is a business. Editors make decisions, and right or wrong, they are affeted by advertising (Very little of and media that is purchased, is reliant upon sales generated through purchase of the newspaper/magazine. It ALL comes from advertising. I have some exoperience with all this). So what to do, what to do? In some ways, I wonder if the future os media isn't through blogs and whatnot, online. It is less relaint upon generating money, which means being tied to advertising, which ultimately means more freedom.

Ok, I'm off my soapbox.

Jessica Grimm said...

First off, I would say the music made by rap and hiphop artists reflects current culture and society more than culture and society imitate the music. Someone brought up the point in class today that maybe there wouldn't be songs about violence if the artists weren't constantly exposed to violence.

Music has, is, and probably always will be blamed for peoples' actions. In the 50's Elvis' swiveling hips couldn't be shown because it was making the youth sexual, in the 60's and 70's Jefferson Airplane and other bands of that genre were blamed for the growing popularity of drug use, Judas Priest was taken to court in the 80's because some kids killed themselves....you get my point. It's easy to point to music and other forms of media as a scapegoat because media is in everyone's lives. Looking at how the kids actually felt, looking at how their parents raised them, looking at society as a whole is too difficult.

I think another thing that should be done is to look at hip hop music that isn't so much in the mainstream. Talib Kweli, Common, Mos Def and many others put out albums that are more thought-provoking and positive than the more mainstream stuff that is typically just catchy.

Amanda Carden said: There is no reason why a peaceful person would buy a CD that talks about beating and killing others. On the same note, a violent person wouldnt listen to extremely peaceful music.

This is a very bold assertion, as I (and I know many, many, many others) have a broad musical taste. In my CD case, you will find NWA right along with Aretha Franklin.

Geo said...

Are musicians creating art based upon their experiences?

That is an interesting question.

50 Cent was at one point, a hoodlum. He was shot multiple times and he lived life on the edge. His songs often reflect that dangerous lifestyle.

50 Cent has made a ton of money. Is he going to start rapping about five-star restaurants, spa resorts, financial planning and retirement accounts?

Or will he continue rapping about street violence?

- George (the teacher)

davonne said...

just to prove my previous point about Rap being the genre of the week for blame in terms of violent music: i was browsing the bulletins on myspace.com and saw one about a Machine Head concert being cancelled. For anyone who is unfamiliar with Machine Head they are a slightly classic metal band. now because i have tickets to see them and Arch Enemy when they come to Philadelphia on the 26th i read said bulletin. In short the bulletin read, Disney cancelled Machine Head/ Arch Enemy show at the House of Blues in Disneyland in California tomorrow because the lyrics in the music of all four bands participating in the Rise of Tyranny Tour is too violent. Imagine my surprise to read this on a totally different website when we have been discussing it in class. For the entire "article" here is the site address for machine head, the news is recent and as soon as you enter the site it's at the top of the page. www.machinehead1.com

Chris said...

50 Cent has made a ton of money. Is he going to start rapping about five-star restaurants, spa resorts, financial planning and retirement accounts?

please refer to:
Kingdom Come, Jay-Z


It has to be tough to come from the bottom, make it to the top, (partly off the help, love and support of a fanbase), and then get to a place where rapping about how you are living alienates most of the people that helped you achieve your success. Big rapped about this a lot too.
I have heard some intersting interviews with 50, and one in particular where he was on Angie Martinez's show on Hot 97 in NYC, where Cam called in, but the interesting part was when Style P called in (anyone following me? Or care?). Anyways, Styles and the rest of the Lox are known for being pretty good on the mic, but without sounding all bling, or all "I will kill you". Styles talks about how he's cool with selling 200k, and 50 talks about how he isn't, and is after the money. So what's an artists goal? Expressing themselves, or getting money (money I got...)? And is either inheritantly wrong?
And like the girl said in class today, we aren't seeing much of the 50 circa Whoo Kid mixtapes... It's all Merry-Go-Round stuff. I credit Jay and 50 as extremely smart and sucessful business men, but they have lost credit as MCs... 50 is still capable though (Southside is a really good track), but they are few and far between. Mostly pop stuff.

Charlie C said...

Every piece of "popular" music these days seems to be of the 'gangsta rap' genre. Take a look at this years VMA finalists and none (with the exception of Timberlake, who isn't that great anyway) is mostly of that genre. What ever happened to real American musicians like Billy Joel, Bob Seger, or Springsteen. Unfortunately, with all this horrific rap music, I am not sure how long radio stations like B101 will last!

Rachel M Heuckroth said...

Just because this thought has been floating around in my mind since class this morning....

If anyone recalls the young man who said that there was an experiment done on MICE to see how they reacted when exposed to angry music. I was just thinking - since I live in Hardwick Hall, where mice are just another population along with the residents - if I have a mouse, let's call him Mickey, living in my room and I listen to alternative (or as i like to call it, "hippie") music all the time, will he be more inclined to hang out in my closet, eating soy beans and doing yoga? Whereas the mouse living down the hall in a young man's room who listens to ska all day long is throwing his cheese against the wall and dying his fur black.

Just thought I'd lighten the conversation a little bit... :)

Jessica Grimm said...

Charlie C.-

Technically, true gangsta rap doesn't exist anymore. It was an era that still influences artists, but--like Punk--doesn't really exist.

Also, trying to get a view of music as a whole by watching MTV is like trying to learn all about women by reading Cosmo.

Robin Tarleton said...

I think it's irresponcible for any person who has committed a violent act to blaim any violent media. However you can not ignore that by seeing constant scenes of violence and hearing it in music that is being played constantly from stars who people come to admire it leads people especially younge teens to develope a numbness to those things and makes it harder to understand the seriousness of those offenses when they hear their idols confessing to these acts (even if they've never really done any of them) and seeing them where they are now.

Chris said...

Nas responds to Bill O'Reilly and the Virginia Tech performance

Chris said...

Nas VA show

Ok, I'm retiring from this thread.

Anonymous said...

Enea said ...

I think that people can be influenced by the media. People listen to music and they have thoughts. Sometimes words and thoughts become actions.

Anonymous said...

Melissa said...................
Rap music yes is violent, but that isn't the only media that contains violence. You have movies, video games, and the simple acts made in the streets we live in. Therefore I don't think that someone should head straight to rap music for the blame of outragous behavior.

Brian Berrodin said...

Not only is it the music that is influencing the listeners to act the way they do but music videos and movies contribute to the mimicry of these (gangster) rappers. This is apparent with all genres of music.

Michel'Le Daughtry said...

Rap music makes no one angry. If you are an angry person and you just so happen to listen to rap music so what. I have listened to "gangsta" rap music and I am one of the happiest people you will ever meet. If a person is angry, let's blame the parents or maybe they have an illness, but music is not to blame. It is no artists' fault that some people are very easily persuaded.

Anonymous said...

Most rap artists choose to describe their living conditions within their songs to state how they have made it and to inform their listeners that they had a rough life but were still able to pull through and make something of themselves. In most rap music the artist is describing what is going on in the streets which to me seemed to be a cry for help. People realize what is going on in society, but it is hardly broadcasted. Rap artists put the facts out there showing that it is in fact real, their is people killing others and people dieing and drugs are infecting the lives of young children. But on the contrary how people decide to take that information and what they decide to do with it is up to each individual person.
-Brittany Leopanto

Leslie Silva said...

I have very strong feelings about rap music "making people angry". The way I see it is, first off you choose the music you want to listen to. Secondly, how can music influence a person more than movies or tv or friends. If a person is can be influenced by the garbage on the radio, then in my opinion theres something wrong with them not the music. I happen to love hiphop and the music i listen is not on the radio. Everyone person has the ability to choose their own paths in life which includes the music they listen to. My advice out there to the little kids listening to the crap that they play on Q102 and Power 99, is turn off the dam radio, find good music online(it's out there) and read a book. Stop letting corporate America tells lies to your children, use your mind.

Anonymous said...

a lot of rappers when they first come out only talk about violence and things of that nature but after a while there styles change and they start talking about other stuff . The reason most rapper rap about violence is because that’s all they know. As a rapper or even as artist you use what you see how you live. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t look at Mona Lisa and paint a garden. So why would 50 cent s go in the booth after getting shot 9 times and rap about anything else. On the subject of 50 cent now that his stock in vitamin water earned him an outlandish 400 million dollars everything he writes now is about money. What where his last two singles I get money and Straight to the bank. I guess it all boils down to the fact that music imitates life and its not rappers fault that their lives were filled with violence. Their product of society point blank.

Camille Booth

Anonymous said...

This is an absolute joke. There are many people who listen to rap music who are not influenced by the gang activity that goes on. I'm from Harlem, where there's gang activity going on all the time. It didn't turn me into a gang member. There are many other places in this country that have a lot of gang activity as well. All of them are not influenced by the rap music they listen to. I support hip-hop, because it's something that I've been listening to my entire life. But that doesn't mean that I'm going to grab a gun and shoot somebody, because someone said it in their songs!
Andrew Lecointe

Anonymous said...

I wish I had a dollar for every time Rap/Hip-Hop music was blamed for the violent state of our society, I would be on a financial status surpassing that of Oprah.

I am so tired of it!

It was once said that people, write about what they know. So shouldn't someone, rather than pointing a finger at rappers for what they are rapping about, be looking into and why so much violence is prevalent in the African-American society??

I am not a Philadelphia native, but my hometown is increasingly over the years (Newark, NJ) becoming more violent. It hasn't always been that violent, but something is going wrong. I am not going to deny that Rap has an influence on the attitudes of the youth since they are so impressionable. But Rap/Hip Hop isn't the only thing that has violence in it, nor is all of the music in that genre violent.

In one action or even horror movie, how many acts of violence can you count will occur in the 2 hour traffic of that production?? I'll bet the shoe box of singles under my bed it will be far more than 20. What about rock music? Last time, I checked all their songs weren't about rainbows, peace, and love.

The Colorado police department instead of jumping to say its Rap music, because they do not know for a fact that every child 'acting up' is listening to rap, they need to check if its the household of these kids, or if its drugs.

Amazing, they commercialize Rap/ Hip Hop and allow masses of negative rappers to have a voice, and its their fault. The people in charge signed them and gave them a voice! So who should the finger point at??

-Myriam Wilson

Anonymous said...

Adia Barboza

Music reflects culture. People sing, rap, or scream into a microphone about what they know. There isn't any reason for an artist to be punished or banned when all that they are doing is expressing themselves creatively. When violence occurs in neighborhoods were you are likely to here pop or rock music no one protests songs like Aerosmith’s “Janie’s Got A Gun”. If you’re looking for music that demeans women you cannot only look at Nelly’s “Tip Drill”. You must also consider Motley Crue’s “Ten Seconds To Love” Music does not need to be censored. Adolescents who are living the lives that these rappers are speaking about are not doing so because a song told them to. They are surviving the only ways that know how. What they, like all young Americans, need is a strong foundation to grow and learn from. That must come from their families at home and from the public education system; which is another story about how American children are being failed.

Geo said...

Cut and paste this link into your browser:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQlgJQgoytk

It's a Chamillionaire song about current events, including a great fake news anchor reporting nearly every hip hop star being arrested.

Great social commentary on rap music being blamed for society's ills.

- George (the teacher)