From Eminem’s hardcore explicit lyrics, to Lil Kim’s outrageous outfits to the late Tupac Shakur’s “thug life” image, the rap subculture has been under a lot of speculation. Many rappers lyrics contain violent messages that parents fear are encouraging youth to become violent. The media has a field day covering protests against rappers, such as Eminem about their explicit lyrics towards gays, women and their promotion of violence. The main concern is how rap is influencing today, particularly towards the youth community, and the answer can be found in the media. There are a lot of articles, books, movies and documentaries written and produced each year with hip-hop being the main subject. This great plethora of media not only affects the youth but other people as well.
However, one needs to understand how the rap culture got started, and why the media found it interesting enough to give it a substantial amount of coverage. According to Webster, rap is rhythmic chanting of usually rhyming couplets to a musical accompaniment (Webster, 607).
The rap subculture began in the African community residing in the Bronx during the 70’s with rappers free styling-when artists rhyme without memorization or writing down lyrics-in the park, on street corners and in apartment basements (Watkins, 63).
This was a harmless way of determining who the best lyricist was. At the time artists such as Arrested Development made lyrics that sent a positive message to the African community. The group’s songs address topics ranging from homelessness to the search for spirituality and African Americans’ connection with Africa.
The concept of adolescence was presented near the end of the nineteenth century and characteristics were attributed to male youths where the adolescents were depicted as “passive and vulnerable”. This label, or stereotype, has greatly changed. Nowadays, young boys face varying forms of stereotypes that lead to judgments that were unimaginable in the past century. The mass media has ...
Through their positive influence they received “Best New Artist” and “Best Rap Artist” during the 1993 Grammy Awards (Boyd, 44).
During its birth, this subculture produced many other cultures such as graffiti art, break dancing and most notably rap music. This subculture was very expressive and paved the way for latter cultures’s uc cess. In his book, Fight the Power, Chuck D (a member of rap group Public Enemy) states, “hip hop is a subculture of Black culture. It’s another term for Black creativity. rap music is here to stay because it’s vocal over music, and as the music changes the vocals can remain the same because it’s one of the few live vocal styles ever used for recording music” (p.
He was right because as the 80’s were approaching; rap had spread almost to the entire nation. On a side note, although rap was primarily begun in New York it does have its California roots.
The dance known as breaking, which was influenced by earlier dances know as locking and popping (these dances required a lot of body control, mainly in the arms, legs, and torso) were established in L. A. The dances received national exposure on the hit show Soul Train, and ultimately swept the rap subculture (George, 133).
The next big wave in the subculture behind rap music itself was DJing. The ability to mix music on a machine and scratch records was a phenomenon in itself. Rap music in the industry was nothing without a beat, and in order for the song to be a hit, the beat must carry the lyrics.
Many of the beats at the time were fast pounding bah-bum-bah rhythms. DJing led to another culture in rap, which was beat boxing. Beat boxing was when a person made their voice sound like the beat in the song. Rhazzel, is not only famous for being a DJ, but also for beat boxing. Many times during a concert, he would just stop the music and beat box the melody.
... not only discuss and study rap music but also the other major parts of this subculture. ‘Hip Hop’ culture was also comprised of ... Second, both types of music relied on a strong beat by which they either rapped or toasted. American rap music relied on the strong ... minorities that are incarcerated at some point in their life. Once behind these locked doors prison officials usually remove ...
As a result of this influx of energy towards the rap subculture and its birth of many other cultures, Tricia Rose quotes: “It was not long before similarly marginalized Black and Hispanic communities in other cities picked up on the tten or and energy in New York hip hop. Within a decade, Los Angles County (especially Compton), Oakland, Detroit, Chicago, Houston Atlanta, Miami, Newark, and Trenton, Roxbury, and Philadelphia have developed local hip hop scenes that link various regional postindustrial urban experiences of alienation, unemployment, police harassment, social, and economic isolation to their local and specific experience via hip hop’s language, style, and attitude… In every region, hip hop articulates a sense of entitlement and takes great pleasure in aggressive insubordination,” (Rose 60).
This quote shows what happens in modern rap. Rap now tells a different story, one which does not send a positive message, but a negative perspective on police, and women. Critics even claim that this form of rap is not even “real.” Real rap, as they characterize it consists of artists like Common, R hakim, Eric B, Arrested Development and Public Enemy.
Real rap inspires the minority community to end violence while encouraging youth that there is more to life than being in a gang or selling drugs. The wave of gangsta rap in the 1990’s ended the positive lyrics of acclaimed artists. Gangsta rap was a new form of rap, no positive lyrics were heard here, just 16 or more bars-rhymes-of senseless violence. This was the so called “thug appeal.” Suddenly no once cared about uplifting the African community, they wanted to hear its ugly side; the side which consisted of drugs, pimping and malicious acts. Rap fans insisted at the time (and still do) that performers be authentic representatives of ghetto life: that they live the life they rap about; that life conformed to are, so to speak (Bruck, 47. ) The obsession of gang life corrupted late rapper Tupac Shakur.
For example, when he first came out, he read newspaper articles and wrote about songs that pertained to the community. He wanted everyone to know what was going on in the ghetto, for instance, his hit song “Brenda’s got a Baby,” was a story in the newspaper about a young girl who got pregnant from her uncle. His next single however, was degrading women, because he was following the mainstream of gangsta rap. Sake, a West Coast rapper and a friend of Tupac’s explained why many gangsta rappers commit crimes, “If you ” re rapping this hard stuff, you have to live it, otherwise people check your resume and say, ‘You don’t look like you ” re hard from your resume, let’s see if you are,’ ” (Bruck, 52).
When you hear the phrase "Hip-Hop", music, dancing, rapping often come to mind. Well, it's all of that and more...Hip-Hop is a culture. According to Webster's dictionary, culture is defined as "the concepts, habits, skills, arts, instruments, institutions, etc. of a given people in a given period; civilization." One artist defined Hip-Hop as "a set of expressions in vocalization, instrumentation, ...
This sort of “checking” a rappers’ thug resume, led to many rappers going to jail for assault and other barbaric acts of crime. With the rap subculture turning more rough and racy, this led many to believe that this kind of rap influenced the youth to join gangs, commit crimes and sell drugs.
Also they believed that real rap would never return. “A lot of times when the mainstream media projects the problem areas, they make the problem areas appear to be bigger than life… and the exposure makes the artists and the art form take a rebellious stance, ” (Chuck D, 249).
Once it takes its rebellious stance more people gravitate towards the subculture. For instance during the rock and roll era, when Elvis gyrated his pelvis on stage, many Americans were disgusted with that because it went against the mainstream. Some television stations would not even air his concerts because of this, but instead of making Elvis unpopular, it made him famous.
When something is publicized that is out of mainstream or “norm” you will have a group of people that will say, “Hey, it is not so bad,” and copy the style. Then more and more people copy the style and this will ultimately lead it to become a trend or a part of the mainstream subculture. The same thing occurred with hip-hop, it was once perceived as a nuisance; however, people still flocked to it because of its attractive rebellious appearance and in your face lyrics. So what sparked media concern for this subculture? Well there are many answers, the first being its influence of gang warfare. The most notorious gangs then and now are the Crips and Bloods. They emerged just as the rap subculture was making its mark in the world.
What is hip hop What are some of the common stereotypes and generalizations by which hip hop is conceived Is it a music that is for only one group of people Does hip hop promote violence and negativity Many people claim that it is a disgraceful, mea ng less din. Antagonists often claim that hip hop is offensive to many groups of people. I will agree that unfortunately these are sometimes true with ...
It is easy to distinguish which is which because the Bloods favor the color red, while Crips choose blue. Many rappers are in or affiliated with these gangs and use them in their lyrics or promote their gang attire (usually a blue or red bandana indicating who they represent) in music videos (Snoop Dogg could be seen with a blue bandana in his left pocket in his Drop it like it’s hot video, before MTV and BET blanked it out).
Some might affiliate rappers promotion of gangs to the numerous deaths of its members. Although the two gangs are rivals, studies show that Crips are primarily the killer of other Crips.
Not only can gang affiliation be witnessed in music videos but in the record labels as well. For instance, the FBI is looking at Irv Gotti, founder of Murder INC. because they think that a major drug lord is laundering money to his company. This gives many independent record labels bad reps because no one will see them as an entrepreneurship, but as a company supported by drug money. The main issue for public concern is rap’s influence in general. In Chuck D’s Fight the Power, he rightful claims:” There’s never been a time where we ” ve had as many Black voices yell and speak out like we ” re hearing now, and be so popular.
Angry black voices. That’s rap music. Previously there was the voice of discontent and rage being expressed through rock music, but many of those voices were from young whites protesting against the condition of society at that time. Rap is angry Black voices yelling and speaking out and being heard, and sometimes followed by Black and white kids around the world. Censorship and the attacks on Rap are an attempt to nip that in the bud. In this country, the Black man has never been allowed to be vocal about any situation What you have now is like three hundred Malcolm X’s, although twisted in a sea of chaos and disorder, but they ” re all yelling and screaming and not only being heard but they ” re being followed.” (Chuck D, 250).
So is media to blame for promoting this subculture? Technically yes. The rap industry is a big business. According to the Los Angeles Times, in 1990 rap brought in $600 million and in 1991, sales rose to $700 million (Lusane, 44).
Now over a decade later, rap must be at least 3 times that amount. Rap is generally attractive because it shows the good, the bad and the ugly.
Listening to music in today’s society, you will find that there are many types of music, some genres being similar to others, and some not so similar. Country (western) and rap (hip-hop) are most likely at the top of the list of being dissimilar. Country, originally brought up in the south is still very rural while rap is more of an urban style of music, originally performed on the two coastal ...
One can find out the new trends, the East Coast-West Coast beef and which is the best recording label in the rap subculture through media. “The problem is without control over our environment and our reality there develops a blur between fantasy and reality. It’s a serious situation when art no only imitates life, but life imitates art. When that takes place, you have art that dictates as well as reflects.” (Chuck D 250).
Fans want to feel like they can imitate their favorite rapper and the media gives them that access.
Hip-hop represents a particular species of social movement. The movement takes place on the field of popular culture, a site not immediately discerned as political, or capable of producing social change. It also enables its participants to imagine themselves as part of a larger community; thus, it produces a sense of collective identity and agency (Watkins 65).
The recent proliferation of African American film and televisual representation, with rap music serving as a primary means of influence, has led to new definitions of contemporary African American popular culture in both the academic and public domain (Boyd 38).
Movies about hip-hop are almost always a blockbuster hit. The movie 8 Mile starring rapper Eminem and Makai Phieffer, shows the art of free styling and how Eminem’s character B.
Rabbit, becomes the champion even though he does not fit the characteristics of the modern day rapper. The media gave us the image that all rappers came from a single parent home in the projects, had to sell drugs to survive, and lived in complete hell until they got their big break. Also the main characteristic is that they are Black males. What proves as a concern to those studying this subculture is what those who do not fit the characteristics do. They prove that they are hard and go out and get into fights etc. The mass media gives them that insecurity that they feel that they need to do what this “false” thug does in order to become popular.
Now on the other hand, hip-hop can be viewed as romantic. Take for instance, the movie Brown Sugar starring Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs. This is one of the few movies that portray hip-hop as a positive role in the characters lives. Hip-hop brings two young people together and helps them realize that their love is like the old school hip-hop, real and irreplaceable. It also gives back to the real rappers, by acclaiming their works throughout the whole movie. A lot of old school cultures are the primary influence for movies such as these.
“A Reflection of Hip Hop’s Past: Is it Still Relevant? ” Have you ever noticed the similarities between hip hop dance and African dance? Has the rhythm in African drums ever remind you of hip hop beats? How about Minstrel shows and the purpose behind them; are they similar to hip hop shows today? There is in fact a strong connection between the three topics and the hip culture. Hip hop is full of ...
The cultures that evolved during the beginning of hip-hop are always highlighted as a way to remember what hip-hop was all about. Recent movies tend to describe the modern rap and those are not usually movies that get much publicity. They tend to be made by a rapper or artists and star him and his label mates. Most of these films are low-budget, yet they still sell. Hip-hop has also been the basis for many literature works. The critically acclaimed book by new author Heru Ptah, tells a fictional story of two rappers who make it in the industry.
Fame consumes them and their hatred for each other keeps them popular. In the end one of the rappers dies and the other one can no longer speak after his tongue gets severed off. So does the media have the right to be so concerned about hip-hop mass media ending in violence when they campaigned the subculture? Should they have put limits on certain things instead of trying make a quick buck? Everyone knows bad news is always good news, but when the bad news is destructing the lives of participants in a subculture what should be done? The preponderance of television news stories highlighting black youth and violence stands out as a dramatic orchestration of a ‘moral panic” and demonstrates how news media organizations aid in shaping the way social problems are selected, defined, packaged, and disseminated to the public (Watkins 60).
There is no particular answer to solve the problem of influencing subcultures, particularly because there is such a small window to actually resisting the hype. It has been evident in previous subcultures, but we always seem to revert back to the old ways.
It is almost like Americans like the fact to be influenced and manipulated. Moreover, the collective mobilization around popular media technologies by black youth raises intriguing questions about their participation in a vast and rapidly expanding communications media and information economy (Watkins, 63).
Since we are encouraged to support what the mass media puts out for us, whether we like it or not, subcultures will always be a concern. Rap is just a big issue because there are many people following each other and not enough leading.
The problem is, is that we do not accept a rapper nowadays who lyrics teach us anything, we want to hear about the violence, and because that is what the media says is cool. The media puts a stereotype on subcultures so they have to follow the media, for instance when Brittney Spears came out, the media labeled her the “blond pop princess” and so everyone who came out at the time (Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson etc. ) was a blond. We allow the media to think for us and tell us what to like. In rap we are told to support the rappers who talk about violence opposed to the ones how teach us a message and we follow that.
In conclusion, one must think of how a subculture has influenced them to follow a trend or be more like their favorite artist. It is important to understand that youth are not passive victims of commercial media culture but are actively involved in its making (Watkins 65).
Rap is a prime example of how easy it is to get caught up in the hype and follow the crowd. However, media also plays a big part in promoting subcultures so that even people, who were initially against it, will develop some sort of tolerance for it. We must find a way to become more resistant to the trends and get away from being easily influenced.
Until then, we will continue letting the most rebellious subcultures to take over in mass media and in the generations to come. References 1. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Springfield: Merriam-Webster. 19972. Chuck D.
Fight the Power. New York: Dell Publishing. 19983. S. Craig Watkins, 1998. “Balck Youth and the Ironies of Capitalism.” In Representing Hip-Hop Culture and the Production of Black Cinema.
Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 4. Nelson George, Hip Hop America. New York: Penguin Books, 19985.
Heru Ptah. A Hip Hop Story. New York: Pocket Books, 20026. 8 Mile, starring Eminem and Malik Phieffer 7. Brown Sugar staring Sanaa Lathan and Taye Diggs 8. Clarence Lusane.
1993 “Rap, race and politics.” . Black America: The Street and the Campus. Special Issue of Race and Class: 35: 1. 9. Tricia Rose. Never Trust, 1996 page 6010.
Todd Boyd. 1994. “Check Yo Self before you Wreck Yo Self: : Variations on a Political Theme in Rap Music and Popular Culture.” Public Culture. 7: 1.
11. Connie Buck. 7 July 1991. “The Takedown of Tupac.” The New Yorker 12. Randall Sullivan.
7 June 2001. “The Murder of the Notorious BIG.” Rolling Stone.