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Does Rap Music Cause Violence

Since the late 1980’s rap music has been called the Anti Christ in our culture, because of it’s so-called influence in people’s life. People swear up and down that the music is why people, specially the youth resort to violent crimes. I think by saying this they are trying to cover up the real truth by giving simple answers.
Rap is defined as a  style of  popular music consisting of improvised rhymes performed to a rhythmic accompaniment.   The first rap song was made in the late 70’s, the songs were seven to eight minutes long and was mostly used in small clubs to dance to. It didn’t really become popular until the early 80’s. Over the years it has become mainstream music, everyone is listening to it. In the last four years rap made up 60% of music bought in stores in the United States. In 1989 a local group called N.W.A.(Niggaz Wit Attitudes) came from out of L.A. and changed rap, which was the start of Gangsta Rap. In their lyrics they talked about crime, street violence and killing. Once they were a huge hit, it caught on, and really that’s when all this madness started. Everyone started rapping Gangsta style.  More and more people started rapping about police brutality and killing people and with that crime rose to high levels. In my opinion it’s not the artists or the record company’s fault that crime rose. It’s not their responsibility to look after every person who listens to their music.
In all these years of rap though there are three people who took the most criticism from the public. Dr. Dre was one, after N.W.A. broke up he went on to do his own thing, and after he released “The Chronic” he became a star. He took rap to a higher level where it never been before and I think that scared a lot of people. He was rapping about drive by’s, having sex with hundreds of women, drinking alcohol all day and so on.

By this time the crime rate was sky high and a lot of people where looking for easy answers. It was mostly those few who just didn’t like rap from the start that spoke out and tried to ban it. Most rappers loved the style Dr. Dre created,  and so they tried to take the style and create something of their own. Along with Dr. Dre he helped a rising star Snoop Doggy Dog to become a big star by guest staring on his “The Chronic” album. Snoop released “Doggy Style” and it was a hit. His style similar to Dr. Dre made it a hit.  It was his best-selling album to date. Congress tried every way they could to keep youth from listening to this music because they felt it was making them commit crimes. Snoop was charged not to long after his release for murder which he soon was found not guilty. They made a label for CD’s and tapes that said “Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics” which actually in my opinion didn’t do too much. This way parents could be aware of the type of music their kids listen to and could choose if they would like to allow them to listen to it. If you sit down and think about it, when you buy a CD you by it because you want to listen to it, you don’t really pay attention to that little label. Besides you see little kids no older then 11 walking around listening to Lil’ Kim, Tupac, and all other rap artists cussing up a storm . . . what’s with that? Why didn’t the parents say anything about that, they have control over their children, yet critics and congress blame the rappers.

The third man to take the most heat and who still continues to is Tupac Shakur. They say he was the best rapper alive and the most successful which I also believe is true. He has been in trouble with the law and public since his first album to even now after his death. He was arrested for numerous charges such as battery, attempted murder, and rape. In 1994 two 17-year-olds shot some police officers and said they did because they heard it in Tupac’s music. Critics blamed him from the start with his to raunchy lyrics. Why blame him he didn’t tell them to go shoot police officers?  For the past three years, C. Delores Tucker has been talking and protesting rap lyrics saying that they are harmful to the spirit of black youth. She also filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the estate of Tupac Shakur claiming that his songs surrounding her in two songs on the 1996 album “All Eyez On Me” make slander remarks. She went into a court and said that the pain she suffered from those songs  has affected her sex life with her husband. What kind of since does that make? Just another person trying to bad mouth rap music for they’re own personal gain.

Congress says they are “concerned about children’s exposure to music with adult content,” but really can’t do too much because they have to respect the first amendment which says we have “Freedom of Speech.” In two states they have announced plans to possibly ban minors from attending concerts or buy things that could contain “objectionable” materials. I’m not going to say that some youth won’t listen to some rap music and get the wrong idea, but that also can happen with other types of music such as Alternative music which artists like Hole, Marilyn Manson, and the group Korn are big stars. If you notice Korn is the group that the “Trench Coat Mafia” listened to before they decided to go shoot up a school. In the beginning the president, and all other high profile people said they should put a stop to all this music referring to Korn and Marilyn Manson. This was last year how many times have you heard about that now. Sen. Joe Liebermann, and Raymond Kuntz, a Burlington, N.D., man said his 15-year-old son killed himself after listening to the controversial rock group Marilyn Manson. Bands like that are  noted for explicit lyrics and concerts, how many times have you heard about stopping them. They don’t put that much power in trying to ban Rock or Alternative music, but will use all their energy to stop a form of music that sells more then half of the United States music. John Woods, co-founder of a grassroots anti-censorship organization said in a statement that most attacks on the music industry are fueled by politicians and groups such as the Christian Coalition and the American Family Association. Later he also said “Quite simply, the federal government, state governments and local governments are very skillfully using the controversy created by religious organizations in an effort to completely render the First Amendment of the United States Constitution to be a relic from the past in the interest of gaining greater control over society as a whole.” I for one agree with that statement.

Dave Marvin, a spokesman for state Sen. Dale Shugars, said the Michigan Republican is working on a bill to be sent to the state Legislature in July. The bill would fine site owners who permit minors unless accompanied by an adult to attend concerts or buy music that has offensive acts or speech. The  manager of Pearl Jam, L-7, Rage Against the Machine, and rappers like JayZ, Ice Cube, Master P, and Russell Simons recently said that they will boycott any state that passes a law such as that. “It’s up to the artists to provide a much-needed spine for the industry by using their celebrities’ status to effectively draw the line in the sand to tell the would-be censors to stuff it if they are offended because we have a First Amendment guaranteeing our freedom of expression,” Woods said. One man they asked off the street said “Why do I hate rap? Well I guess the number 1 reason I hate rap is the lack of talent that a rapper needs. All the music is synthetic, made on machines. Another thing I don’t get about rap is that many rappers use the “Gangsta rap” theme. Then when a rapper gets killed, it’s a shock! They only rap about what they know! Yes, have someone murdered is horrible, but if they rap about it and they say how they were brought up in it, is it really a shock?”

Lately a lot of questions have been asked to anyone trying to take up for rap music. Does rap music promote violence? The most common answer was yes, and the murder of Tupac Shakur and Notoruis B.I.G. proves it. Those were some sad deaths but you can’t blame just rap alone for that happening. Tupac didn’t kill Biggie, and Biggie didn’t kill Tupac some dumb people who had nothing else to do did. When you think about it, doesn’t radio, movies, and television promote violence also, so you can’t try to ban one thing of violence and not another. There was another question that was Should rap music be censored?  Some answers were yes, but most were no. They couldn’t do it anyway it would be against the first amendment. Another was Does rap music make a positive contribution to society? No one answered that question but I think I will. Yes it does, rap isn’t just a money making thing to me it not only helps us relate to people who have gone through things we have, but it shows people who don’t know the things that really goes on. Also rap artists don’t just make albums and stay in there own worlds they also give lots of money to charities and sponsor programs that help inner city youth so violence can stop between young people.  Does rap promote violence, gangs and drug use?  Yes it does, but there was violence, gangs, and drug use before rap even came along, so you can’t pin that on rap, it’s something that has always been around and don’t see it going anywhere. Is rap music degrading to women? In a way yes it is, I don’t think any rapper would call there own mothers “bitches,” and “hoes” but out of know where women rappers are coming out of their shell and they are doing the same thing, So really everyone is degrading each other so it balances out.

You can’t blame rap for everything that goes on, I’m thinking if they could find a way to blame rap for every death they would. Even though they swear up and down that rap is like the worst thing, it has done a lot for the music industry and youth in general. Before rap all kids knew was that you had to know how to sing to become a big music star, but now for those who actually have talent for rapping they can dream of becoming a rapper. You would be surprised at how much more violence would be going on if rap wasn’t here. Youth would be out in the street selling drugs and killing people all the time, now half of them are working on demo tapes and their talent so they can have a career of there own. Also rap helps out inner city youth so they can get off the street and play sports and go to camp, it’s like for every bad thing you say about how rap is bad and how it should be banned, there is another positive thing that can get thrown right back into your face that would blow your mind and actually make you want to say “hey rap is doing more for us then what the public really tells us.” It would be the truth.  You don’t ever hear about how LL COOL J started a camp for youth in Brooklyn, or how Puff Daddy donated 10 million dollars to Biggie’s children. No you hear about how someone got shot and the killer was listening to Tupac right before he did it. People it’s time to wake up, even though I can’t force you to change your mind on any subject I’m hoping I gave you some type of information that will make you just think before you speak about rap music.


The New Grove Dictionary of American Music REF ML 101.U6 N48 1986
Encyclopedia of African American Culture and History REF E 185 .E54 1996 v.4
New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll REF ML 102 .R6 R64 1995

“Sex, Violence and the Media” November 17, 1995 p. 1028-1029
Current Controversies: Violence in the Media p. 149ff.
Opposing Viewpoints: Culture Wars p. 143-154
Opposing Viewpoints: Censorship p. 33-35
The Web Courier: Rap & Hip Hop Comment: http://www.cs.fsu.edu:/80/projects/sp95sug/group1.4/russ.html
Censorship of Music by Politicians: http://sac.uky.edu/ywkho0/politics.html

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