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Does rap music affect the young black community?

Introduction

As Keyes puts it, rap music is a way of life amongst the youth that developed in the Bronx, New York during the 1970s (1). The rap music concept was developed by peripatetic Disc Jockeys known as mobile DJs who would mix yet to be recorded songs while reciting words which developed well rhymed phrases. The well arranged mix songs became popular and were later composed and recorded as rap music. Rap is a form of music that utilizes factors such as rhyming, street vernacular and other forms of speech in a soundtrack. Though rap did not get so popular until the late twentieth century, all along it has portrayed an aspect of identity among the black community. Many sociologists regard rap as an attitude delivered in the form of a stylized dress, signs and language that is connected to urban street culture.

Statement

According to Nugent rap music has become and imperative part of the youth, especially amongst the blacks, in term of culture and as a result, is now an essential component in many programs that serve them (59). Scholars are already appreciating the idea that comprehending the attitudes and perceptions of rap music can be en imperative step in updating various approaches to integrating rap music into initiatives that focus on the youth and most specifically the black community. Moreover, in spite of the restricted impact of the rap exposure on attitudes towards the government, this is still an especially appealing finding because many articles have described hip hop as the defining cultural appearance in the lives of young people globally. Literature acknowledges that hip-hop culture and rap music constitutes of what youngsters especially African Americans talk about, watch, listen to and probably imitate (Jacobs and King 280).

According to Jacobs and King, 58 percent of black youth listen to rap music on a daily basis (280). Even though a significant portion of current literature has come out detailing the history and current expressions of hip hop tradition, a considerable portion of literature highly warns of the likely impact of hip-hop culture on young blacks. Warnings of negative impact of rap music come from its apparent focus on promoting sex, drug and substance abuse, criminal activity and nihilism (Sanneh 1). Many researchers claim that rap music as a part of the hip hop culture has significantly contributed to poor sexual decisions amongst the youth. However, the methodical tests that have been carried out to substantiate this claim are still derisory. Maybe the only negative claim that has sufficient data behind it is the pessimistic attitude of young blacks to the government (Jacobs and King 280).

Lott and Pittman claim that because of portrayal of rap music by the media, rap is often seen by the middle class blacks as noise originating from young blacks (429). However, there is an imperative feature of resistance in rap music that counts so much as far as political ideology is concerned. Black youths become conscious that they are entangled under American apartheid and have utilized rap as a way to resist the ethnic attack on their physical and mental welfare. Use of rap music is alleged to give rap significance as an indication of a culture of resistance. Rap music challenges deeper and more fundamental assumptions about political arrangement.

In rap music, it is often a common practice for blacks to reevaluate their understanding of what it means to be an American citizen (Bollig 159). Rap music calls in to question the nature of the political association between the blacks and the state. By questioning the basic association between the state and the young black community, rap music has a definite political perspective and one which political theorists, urban communal workers and urban practitioners need to comprehend and evaluate if programs to reach urban youths are to be victorious. Even though not all rap music has political substance, there is usually a political perspective stated in much of the music. The opinion that the association between citizen and state is one of an agreement has a long history in American political perception. Definite rap songs and attitude rappers standpoint suggest that if there indeed existed a social agreement between the state and its citizens, it is now torn apart.

The impact of rap music and rap artists was evidently seen in the outcome of the Rodney King verdict (Lott and Pittman 434). In investigations of urban youth, rappers were seen as the only group that appreciates their predicaments and that spoke the truth about conditions in America. To countless urban youths, rap music and rappers are the only assured way of expressing their worries. This attitude towards rap music enables rapper influence youngsters especially amongst the black community to a great extent. While critics think that rap music is music like any other, youths are busy taking rap as a way of life and communication. Rap is a way of keeping the resistance alive and escalating news regarding oppression to various parts of the world (Lott and Pittman 434).

Rappers have a political ideology and efforts to claim this position from them can be proved by the negative handling of blacks in America. Rap music is now more than twenty years old and has spread to other parts of America and the world. Even in other parts of the world, rappers express their displeasure in happenings of the world through rap music. Rap music should actually be perceived as a way of expressing post-civil rights. Though young blacks have hardly encountered high degrees of oppression as the older generation, rap music unites them with their older counterparts to resist such occurrences in future.

According to Nugent, the 20th century has seen various programs devise innovative approaches that incorporate rap music for them to reach the youth effectively (62). For instance, a comprehensive research done by De Jesus in the year 2003 that included qualitative consultations with program directors and staff associated with youth programs revealed that utilizing rap music and hip hop changes the lives of the targeted youth significantly (Nugent 62). One of the programs that were found to utilize rap music in their undertakings is the Friends of Islands Academy which I based in New York. This program utilizes rap music to employ, engage and authorize the youth who are in the youthful justice system and are preparing to make the transition from imprisonment back into their neighborhoods. This program has an artistic group element that motivates the youth to channel their emotions through articulacy and exploration using poetry and music.

Maya Agelou Charter School, a program in Washington, DC, also utilizes rap music to help achieve its main objectives that include academic and career development and provision of working experience for youths who are previous juvenile offenders. In this program, the youth are trained on various education goals and critical thinking skills by use of inventive approaches such as rap music and poetry. Hip Hop Center which is situated at the University of Pennsylvania is also another program of this kind. This program that is located in lower regions of Philadelphia has two main plans: The African American Language and Culture Project and the Media Project. The first plan targets first, second, third and fourth grade students; students are motivated using rap music skills such as use of themes and rhyming which are alleged to make reading enjoyable. On the other hand, the media project which is intended for high school learners examines hip hop music and its customs. The Hip Hop center also offers additional training services to the youth; they are trained in computer, audiovisual and multimedia skills pertaining to hip hop music. The underlying principle of these studies done by De Jesus is that a tool that gauges rap music attitudes and views can be useful in screening youth who may require to scrutinize and alter, if need be, their approval of rap music before engaging in activities that utilize rap music as a motivational factor (Nugent 62.

A literature review on the impact of rap music on the youthful black minorities often appears to have two approaches towards rap music: a positive perception and a negative perception (Nugent 62). As opposed to earlier studies that examined rap music as a means of expressing a way of life, recent studies lean towards the negative side of rap music. Violence and misogynous themes are highly portrayed in today’s literature that examines rap music (Dawson 159). It is rather inopportune that the most fashionable theme of rap music is violence (Deterline and Jones 1). In pragmatic literature, the focal point of many researchers has been primarily the impacts of violence, chauvinist and misogynous rap music. These findings represent the misunderstanding that the substance and customs of rap music reflect hostility, bigot and misogynistic icons.

According to Jacobs and Kings the relationship between rap music and perceptions of government bureaucrats is shocking (279). There is a pessimistic perception of the government among youthful blacks who listen and view rap music and videos respectively. As young African Americans experience greater contact with rap music, the gap between them and the government become wider. Black youth who listen to rap music are 4 percent less probable to have optimistic feelings about the government than those with less contact with rap music. However, this is a mild but considerable effect.

Albeit negative perceptions have dominated the literature on rap music, there are also a variety of positive societal impacts of rap music amongst young blacks. For many years now, a numerous number of scholars and specialists in the field of adolescent mental health and instruction have studied the prospects of rap music in positively influencing of the youth. Nugent claims that an inventive smoking prevention program that included use of rap music was victorious with a group of basic school children. Recent findings have revealed that rap music is now being applied in therapeutic functions among juvenile African Americans. Rap music has been identified as a tool that has the capacity to empower youthful blacks; it can change their way of life, attitude and their overall behavior. For instance, the Young warriors which is a psycho-educational program, was proved to instill critical awareness to young members that is critical in their day to day struggles (Nugent 64).

The interest of a young person in rap music can be used to devise a tailored plan and perform an important, decisive counseling integrating rap music. Rap music has also made a considerable impact on critical awareness and resistance to tyrannical conditions. There is some experimental proof that rap music depicts an image of resistance to repressive circumstances. Some researchers argue that rap music instills a feeling of power amongst minorities and that delight in power motivates them to overcome domination. Rap music critiques unfair treatment in the social environment and motivates young people to comprehend better how to deal with such circumstances.

Even though the majority of research on rap reveals an unhelpful social construct, and to a lesser degree, an optimistic construct, there is a high probability that some listeners are inspired by originality and esthetic values of rap music (Rose 21). Since its innovation, rap music was meant to make people enjoy life and to improve dance festivity. Rap music is a genre of music just like any other and has amusement value. This feature of rap emerges to be lost amid the ambiguity and discussion surrounding its essence. Rap music is among the most creative genres only that its origin is African American. However, recent research has done little to disapprove the allegations that rap music lacks valuable content. Research has found out that artistic features and not the content is what makes it appreciated to a greater extent. However, artistic features are positive qualities and cannot be neglected when assessing the impact of rap music on youngsters among the black community.

According to Rose the dynamic anxieties and inconsistencies shaping rap music and rap culture can mystify efforts of construal by even the most skilled critics and spectators (22). Some analysts perceive rap music as an ideal postmodern practice while others claim that rap music has replaced the pre-modern oral culture. While some people delight in the rap’s assessment of consumer capitalism, others denounce it for its involvement in commercialism. To one zealous group of analysts, rap music combines features of speech and song, dance and display to build identity and position while to another group rap is just another form of capitalism. However, these controversies and post-modern interpretations of rap music claim a significant part in attitude towards rap music and are often characterized by prejudice against rap music. This does not, however, stop rap features such as its flow, construction and innovativeness from reflecting and contesting social roles within the context of youngsters amongst the black community.

Krims claims that the focus on rap music as a foundation of identity among its artists and listeners is not inconsistent with the current restlessness in popular music studies (9). All popular music studies acknowledge that all forms and genres of music are processes of collective self-identification. In reality, the connection of rap music with minorities and distressed people virtually guarantees that the slicing up of discursive presence will take center stage in grave discussions. In addition, it is debatable that rap music and rap culture, with its focus on reality and claims of cultural rights, foregrounds identity with openness that is exceptional even in ethnically and gender-burdened world of popular music. While it may not be implicit that rap’s identities automatically confront the most prevailing forms of domination, it is most definitely assumed that comprehending how identities are developed remains a basic aspect of rap and hip hop music.

By its communal situation, rap music invites perceptions from Afro-American studies, interaction, cultural studies and media studies which are all part of popular music studies. The intrinsic interdisciplinary feature of rap music can be explained by its relationship with the aforementioned disciplines among other disciplines like musicology and music theory. The undefined nature of popular studies may at times prove trying to people who appear to be talking across vast divides. However, popular music’s collection of disciplinary compels opportunities for new mixtures and crossroads. The chance for the new combination in rap music stems from a conventional function of music scrutiny which involves aesthetic explanation and its strange contact with, and concurrently suspect status in, popular music studies. It is both a peculiarity and a chance that in the scholastic world of popular music, the fact of scrutinizing a certain repertory often appears entangled with authenticating it. Although the combination of scrutinizing and validating is not restricted to popular music studies it could be claimed that any time one scrutinizes something publicly, one implies it is valuable of study. Scholars in such an area do appear to assume something of auxiliary burden of verifying their object’s worth. That extra load may stem from the historically disparaged place of popular music in music studies overall and the specific obstinacy of the high or low split in Western music customs.

The uncertain status of music analysis in popular studies is therefore indivisible from the question of corroboration. It is not possible to avoid having one’s argument bound up with perceptions of aesthetic judgments and the political outcomes both of such rulings and the music about which they are prepared. In the case of rap music, questions of artistic value and political benefits and hazards could not be more acute, or more publicly recognized. Rap finds itself, particularly in the United States, in the middle of public political tumult. Moreover, rap music finds itself targeting offsetting validation of art and identity of the black community. In fact, public battles over rap music are to some degree driven by the cultural unawareness of those who criminalize rap, especially ignorance of African American poetics and musical creativity. The risks of establishing how rap music works socially, what it is and what it does are usually high for popular music studies. Such a study not only applies to the United States but to the whole globe as well since the ways in which racial dynamics are internationalized, on diverse context globally.

In fact, even the somehow constricted project of validating rap via exhibition of some of its poetics, emerges to be a project that is of an amazingly high percentage of scholarship, occurring far more repeatedly than in any other music genre. With regard to rap’s unstable cultural position, much of the literature covering on rap music as a subject suggest that this type of music has logics that should be comprehended just like other music genres. Therefore, the project of explaining rap music against common misconceptions and tribal conversations cannot be undervalued in its necessity. The centrality of rap’s artistic nature raises further queries regarding music evaluation. For the likelihood, often proposed, that music assessment separates its youth listeners from social reality, rather than enlightening it, would debatably be catastrophic in the culturally influential case of rap music. On the other hand, if the validation of rap music relied on the music’s being separated from its entrenchment in the world; then music assessment of rap could be deemed to be something of a political and cultural blind alley. Therefore, music analysis may be a way of perceiving rap entrenchment and not a plot of generating a separate aesthetic enjoyment or a neutral verdict of value and complexity (Krims 26). 

Conclusion

For a long time rap music has been acknowledged as just a genre of music that is popular among youngsters in the black community; any attempt to acknowledge its importance in the society has often been masked by the negative perception that rap advocates for violence, sexism and misogyny. As a result, positive aspects of rap such as resistance of oppression, its artistic value and the political ideology that rap music harbors have not been adequately researched on.  However, critics and supporters of rap music all agree that rap music impacts significantly on its listeners particularly youngsters from the black community.

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