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Rap Music and it's Influences

Poetry Violence associated with rap music and rap stars is nothing new to anyone who keeps up with current events in the entertainment industry. What might be new to some people is the violent content of the actual lyrics. The following quotes have been taken from several rap artist’s albums and placed here to help show how wildly violent this music is becoming.

“One in your chest, the other 16 in your hat, let forensics try to figure out the meaning of that.” (Jadakiss, Walk Witt Me)

“Now you got what you came for (in the background “what’s that?”) surgery with the chainsaw.” (DMX, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot).

“Stab your ass in the esophagus with a switchblade, take it out and straight saw off your rib cage, pour gasoline on the mattress where your kids lay” (J-Hood, Walk Witt Me).

“… and if you got a daughter older than 15 I’m gonna rape her, take her on the living room floor right there in front of you, then ask you seriously: What you gonna do? Say you gonna kill me, but I’m gonna kill you, now watch me fuck just a little while longer, please, will you?” (DMX, It’s Dark and Hell is Hot)

“I can make the best die, cut your throat open, pull your tongue through it, that’s a fucking neck tie.” (Styles SP, Walk Witt Me).

Those quotes are from five different songs, two different rap albums, and four different rap artist. Now imagine how many rappers are out there, and think about the many songs created, and those quotes don’t even get beneath the dust on the surface. Hearing these words of violence, hearing this total filth with absolutely no social redeeming value over and over, everyday, and then idolizing these rap gods who promote violent actions just might be enough to turn a poverty stricken, low self esteemed youth, who is searching for an identity in a species that thrives on individualism, to possess a gun.

While holding that gun, and riding around town with his friends and hearing things like “If I don’t like a nigga I don’t pretend to, I’ll have the paramedics wrapping your fucking head like a Hindu” (50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin). “I do what I gotta do, I don’t care if I get caught, the DA can play this motherfucking tape in court, I’ll kill you, I ain’t playing” (50 Cent, Get Rich or Die Tryin). This troubled youth could easily be sucked into the violent world that we call rap music. When that gun gets used and the story is brought to the public on the 6 o’clock news, it’s just another tragedy. What of remorse after that crime? The platinum-selling group of rap artists that call themselves D-Block can explain that, "Pull it off my waist, hit you up fuck you, Watch you die on the streets fuck you, and whoever feels sad at the funeral, fuck them too” (D-Block, Money, Power, and Respect).

With these horrible messages playing repeatedly in the minds of our nation’s youth, it brings up an important question. Are these words able to influence our children? Can the violent actions these artists talk about justify violence in our children’s minds? The answer is common sense. Yes, it can.

"When man first comes into contact with crime they abhor it. If they remain in contact with crime for a time, they become accustomed to it, and endure it. If they remain in contact with crime long enough they finally embrace it and become influenced by it. This is the equivalent of saying that any impulse of thought, which is repeatedly passed on to the subconscious mind is, finally accepted and acted upon by the subconscious mind." (Hill, 32)

Repeatedly hearing messages does affect the subconscious mind, ”The subconscious mind makes no distinction between constructive and destructive thought impulses. The subconscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by fear just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by courage, or faith” (Hill, 34). That also shows that the subconscious mind will act just as readily to thoughts driven by violence as it will thoughts driven by compassion.

This music is a danger to our society. Our hometown of Richmond Virginia reported a 13 percent increase in homicides (Paige Akin, Richmond Times Dispatch, A6) from the previous year, moving up to the 14th most dangerous city in the United States. Chicago was number one with the outrageous number of 599 homicides. (Paige Akin, Richmond Times Dispatch, A6) With those statistics and a rise in crime rate, we just might need to take a step back and look at what we’re feeding into our young people’s minds. If our youth keep receiving these beyond violent messages, improvement in our cities will never happen.

There are many people who will argue that rap music doesn’t have any influence on anyone’s mind at all. They will say that people make their own decisions; people have total control over their actions. They will dispute the undeniable fact that the messages we send to our brain can actually influence our thought process and actions. This is not saying that people are not responsible for the crimes they commit; this is saying that people are more likely to engage in violent crimes when they feed hate and violence to their brain.

The weak argument used to combat all of the information provided in this paper has absolutely no scientific or psychological backing. With arguments such as “Music can make a good mood better, and allow us to escape or work through a bad one.” (Unknown author, Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection). It is impossible to use that as a credible argument against the information provided here. With that being said, wouldn’t it also be true that the aggressive suggestions, and graphic descriptions of violence associated with rap music could make a bad mood worse and recommend violence as a method to escape or work through a bad one?

Another attempt to defend rap music and its creators is, “Rap music is a form of art and expression just like any other music. Rap music in itself is not violent. Rap music is merely a reflection of the violence that many urban dwellers deal with everyday in America” (Unknown author, Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection). Rap music is violent! When rappers are talking about murder, they usually talk about it in the first person perspective. They are talking about themselves actually murdering someone. “A baby faced gangsta, product of my environment, hooded up, sticking your grandfather for his retirement” (J-Hood, Walk Witt Me).

The most commonly used argument in this dispute is, “Yes there are rap songs that are particularly violent, but lets look at what is more important in whether or not these kids act out of behaviors—their family structure and the type of parenting they get” (Cheryl Keyes, PhD, WebMD). Blame the parents. Good parenting can only go so far. Children and teenagers have their own thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. They are individuals. Many teenagers are raised in single parent homes in America. That single parent must work to bring food to the table; they cannot always be around. When the parents can’t be around, the other main influences on their brain is the media and their peers, who are also influenced by the media. Their environment and community also play a big role in how their mind works. If guns are easily attained in their community, rap music can make it seem cool to own a gun, and even to kill someone with that gun. Yea, be like Jadakiss, he don’t take no shit, blow that kid’s brains out and sell crack just like he talks about. Then you can live in a big mansion with countless exotic cars.

In closing, I have been listening to rap music since I was very young. From experience, I can say that rap music has had an influence on me. All the way from the car I drive to my style of dress, to the way I see people when I look at them, to the words I use when I speak, even to the way I see this world. This music is not healthy. Rap music creates hate. It hurts to trash the music that I have been a fan of for many years, but it deserves it. Rap music continues to get more violent, and I don’t see an end in sight.

Works Cited

50 Cent. Get Rich or Die Tryin. Shady Records, 2003

Akin, Paige. “City’s Homicides Rise as Victims’ Ages Fall.” Richmond Times-Dispatch. Sunday January 4, 2004. A6

DMX. It’s Dark and Hell is Hot. Def Jam Records, 1997

Hill, Napoleon. Think and Grow Rich. Published in the United States by The Ballantine Publishing Group. © 1960

Keyes, Cheryl, PhD. “Music, and it’s Possible Consequences” WebMD. January 20, 2003. Access date, 2/15/04. http://www.my.webMD.com

Sheek Louch. Walk Witt Me. Def Jam Records, 2003

The LOX. Money, Power, and Respect. Def Jam Records, 1998

Unknown author. “Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection.” Teen Violence and Music: The Real Connection. March 3, 1999. Access Date, 2/14/04. http://www.musicalenglishlessons.com/art-violstrife.htm

Written by Jamison Withers March 13, 2004

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