By Joanne Kim
There has been much controversy surrounding the issue of rap music and its role in society. To sum up the issue, Fox’s Geraldo Rivera said, “hip-hop has done more damage to young African Americans than racism in recent years.” Rivera made this statement in response to Kendrick Lamar’s song “Alright,” which alludes to police brutality and the constant struggle of growing up as an African American in the United States.
Police brutality has become a big issue that not many are willing to discuss, even after multiple unnecessary and preventable deaths in the black community. So why would we want to silence a song that realistically portrays the ills of our society?
There has always been an air of contempt for hip-hop as a music genre. Over the years it has been regarded as garbage and trash talk and has even been believed to be potentially dangerous for listeners who may feel motivated to act violently because of the lyrics.
This is a false assumption considering that rap music does not elicit violence or create radical changes in personality. In fact, research shows that people may have negative ideas about rap due to subconscious racism. According to Jennifer Copley on galegroup.com, some people have a predisposition to what they believe rap music is about and therefore associate it with a negative connotation.
“Subjects who were given a violent lyrical passage were more inclined to rate it as dangerous or offensive if they believed it came from a rap song than if they were told that it originated from a country music song,” Copley said. Many of these listeners don’t take the time to divulge into the poetic and metaphorical tones that underlie hip-hop songs.
Another important point to make that I have noticed is that a majority of hip-hop haters happen to be white. There is a disconnect between white listeners and hip-hop because, in essence, rap is black culture. It is a voice for many artists who have lived through immense struggles and oppression due to the color of their skin. It is an outlet for those who have had their voices smothered by a racist and dominating society.
Hip-hop has always started out with the intention of spreading a message and telling a story. It sometimes speaks about violence because it is an unavoidable reality for many people growing up in urban and impoverished areas, yet it is dangerous to assume that all rap music is one specific style or that it always focuses on violent or criminal themes.
Skeptics need to take the time to give the genre an earnest listen. Maybe they would be able to appreciate the music and learn more about a culture that is not their own instead of criticizing the differences. After all, rap is revolutionizing our culture with each new song aimed at closing the gap between the races.
Students share opinions around campus
“A lot of rappers, especially Eminem, talk about their life experiences in the form of rap. Some situations do (promote violence) but it’s not intended.”
“The few artists I’m familiar with, they’re just trying to tell their stories. Like Eminem is just trying to share obstacles he’s overcome.”