The Rap Culture and Today’s World The culture of rap was redefined when the music group N. W. A. released their debut album, Straight Outta Compton. This groundbreaking album was the center of controversy across the nation. Critics argued that gang violence, drug use, and crime were idolized in the group’s lyrics. Even the name of the rap group, Niggaz Wit Attitudes, sparked major controversy nationwide. This album began the evolution of the rap culture; a culture that has seen a rapid increase in popularity since the 1980s and exerts a major influence on the youth of today.
Lil Wayne’s CD, Tha Carter III, was one of the most anticipated albums of all time for any music genre, showing the popularity and the influence of rap music on today’s world. Although rap music is seen by some as liberating and empowering, rap has helped create a culture in our society that idolizes gang activity, drug use, crime, and has a degrading view of women. Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. , formally known as the rapper Lil Wayne, was born on September 27, 1982 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Lil Wayne grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in New Orleans, Hollygrove.
Hollygrove is notorious for its crime rates and poverty level. Wayne was no different from his neighbors, as he had many run-ins with the law. Lil Wayne has also publicly acknowledged his affiliation with the Bloods, the biggest criminal gang in America. He commonly mentions the Bloods in his songs and some of the criminal activity they have become infamous for. Also, Lil Wayne’s drug use has been well documented over the years. You can often see Lil Wayne smoking marijuana while being interviewed on radio broadcast or on the internet.
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The way Lil Wayne lives his life is portrayed in his music, just as most musicians put a personal twist on their art. With response to the influence of rap, Raquel Alvarenga states: “The lyrics of popular rap artists like Nelly and Jay-Z are much more than straightforward commentaries on social class inequity and the hardships of urban life”(13). Youth growing up in poverty stricken areas can relate to the words rappers “preach”. Many rappers have come from the ghettos across America, and speak of the illegal and illicit activities they used to participate in.
The youth idolize these figures not only because they made it out of the hood, but because they glamorize the very same criminal activities youths are participating in. Much of the youth growing up in the ghetto resort to gang activity because they lose hope and believe that crime and selling drugs are the only viable options to making it out of the ghetto. Rap stars are idolized by the youth, and whether they want the responsibility of being a role model or not, it comes with the territory of the rap game.
Additionally, rappers are notorious for their lyrics about “pimps and hoes”. Amongst other degrading things, half naked women are commonly found in rap music videos shaking their butts. Rap lyrics often refer to women as “hoes”, “tricks”, or “bitches”. Alvarenga says that “These lyrics, teeming with sexually explicit messages, encourage the subjugation of women and promote an ethos of disrespect against them” (13). The role of women has changed significantly over the last 20 years, but not the view and respect level given to them by their counterparts.
It is hard to have respect for women that are showing more and more skin and beginning to do promiscuous things that have never been acceptable in the eyes of older generations. The culture of rap music has helped shaped the behavior and perception of women nowadays. Gang Activity has always been a substantial part of the rap culture, as many rappers come from a gang related backgournd. Most rappers have some association with a gang; whether they are a member or they represent them in their music.
Top 6, a gang out of the Lake Worth area, is famous for creating and producing their own music. Their music is center around the drugs they sell, hatred for other gangs, and crimes they have committed. Being that rappers have strong affiliation to gangs it is inevitable that gang life is portrayed in their music. The youths that listen to these rappers’ music think that it is acceptable to participate in gang activity since their favorite rappers are doing it. Drugs have always played a pivotal role in rap culture, as many rappers support drug use and selling drugs.
Rappers often explain in their lyrics how they made it through the urban struggle by selling a multitude of drugs including marijuana, cocaine, and creak. Young Jeezy, a rapper from the Atlanta area, made millions by selling cocaine before he became a rapper. He often refers to his days as a cocaine dealer in his music. Many rappers have faced jail time during the height of their careers for drug related charges, including Lil Wayne who faced charges in 2010 for marijuana possession.
Drugs have always had a place in society, but there has never been an influx of celebrities that openly acknowledge drug use and selling drugs like many rappers do. The glamorous portrayal of drugs in the rap culture is harmfully impacting today’s society. Tha Carter III was released in the summer of 2008 and debuted as the number one album on the US Billboard 200 by selling over a million copies in its first week. A seemingly innocent baby picture of Lil Wayne can be found on the album’s cover, but anyone who has a deeper understanding of the rap culture knows this picture is not so innocent.
There are multiple tattoos on the face of the baby, but the tear drops below his eye spark the most controversey. The tattooing of tear drops below the eye has become a popular tradition of the Bloods after they commit their first real act of violence or murder. By having a deeper understanding of rap music and familiarizing yourself with the rap culture, you can then understand all messages found in rap lyrics and the potentially harmful effects they could have on audiences.
The rap culture continues to have a negative impact upon all social classes. Urban youths believe the only way out of ghetto is through gang activity or striking it rich in the rap game. With a large fan base of rap coming from white, middle class suburbs, we are also seeing a lessening respect towards women and who are viewed as nameless and faceless objects. Even though some view the rap culture as a way of freely expressing yourself, rap has created a culture in our society that glamorizes gangs, drugs, crime, and has a degrading view of women.
Rap music has become a multi-million dollar industry and is no longer considered a fad, but a mainstay in our world. With this realization, we must weigh the cons and pros that come with rap music and the culture it has created. As J. Annette Saddik explained, “Ice Cube was careful to make a distinction between occasions when rapper are just having fun and when they are performing more serious social messages”(110). Society, especially the youth, cannot continue to take the messages rappers are giving literally and try to imitate the lifestyles being portrayed in their music.
Today’s society is walking a thin line when it comes to the ideals and values that rap music is instilling into the youth that could have potentially harmful effects for future generations. Revision Changes: For the most part this essay was well written. There were not as many typos and grammatical errors as the first two. I thought I developed the ideas nicely and made a good connection between rap culture and society. Some of my transitions in the paper did not flow as well as I hoped. I added more substance to these sentences in hopes of making my paper less choppy.
The most challenging part of revising this particular work was making my transitions stronger and rewording sentences where I was going off topic or sounded wordy. Overall, this is the work I was most pleased with over the course of the semester. Works Citied Alvarenga, Raquel. "Hip Hop Generation: Sexually Explicit Rap Lyrics May Harm Youth. " Harvard Political Review 32. 2 (2005): 13-15. Print Saddik, Annette J. “Rap’s Unruly Body The Postmodern Performance of Black Male Identity on the American Stage. ” TDR/The Drama Review 47. 4 (2003): 110-127. Print
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