Rap has been around since the 70s Was originally used as a way for inner city youths to voice their daily struggles Most rap songs had a simple beat, with words spoken to the rhythm of the beat There were still many people that did not know what rap was Songs were usually upbeat, even when the subject material was serious we were still left with an impression that it will get better, as we have seen in blues music
With the rise of rap came a subgenre called Gangsta Rap Many rappers went from talking about how they want the killing to stop, to them being the ones doing the killing Because rap is widely listened to in the African American communities, the youth are listening to the music and thinking that it is okay to kill, steal, sell drugs, pimp, etc. In the late 90s Gangsta rap becomes more common, and record companies gain heat from the explicit lyrics and videos
Women joined the rap business as well, but never achieved the same success of male artists While they spoke of women’s rights and equality between the sexes, they were still sexualized in the media and marketed to be sex symbols The artists that weren’t marketed as sex symbols did not have long-lasting careers In the early 2000s, women rap artists started to embrace the word bitch, proudly claiming they are the “queen bitch” or the “baddest bitch”, and even referring to their friends as bitches.
Due to the successful marketing of gangsta rap to rebellious teens, both in the inner city and the suburbs, gangsta rap enters a new era “Studio Gangstas” emerge, which are rap artists that rap about being a gangsta, when in reality they have never even held a gun The stereotypical rap artist and videos are born: big suv, big house, lots of jewelry, and plenty of half-naked women Many artists start producing songs featuring female singers, or incorporating more of a musical element to the music and Hip Hop is born
Many of today’s rap artists grew up listening to classic rap, or at least the early 90s gangsta rap This new generation of artists emulates everything the previous rappers did and takes it to extremes The lifestyle that was once frowned upon is now glamorized and sought after
African Americans have been disempowered, disenfranchised, and under-represented in the past Post-industrial America left many African Americans in the inner city unemployed. Amidst the deteriorating low-income housing, low-paying jobs, mounting police brutality, and unjust depictions of young inner city residents, rap becomes black urban rebirth Growing up in poverty, rap music became a way for African American youth to voice their experiences and opinions
Even though hip-hop has now become commercially successful, it is distributed by white-dominated corporate America, and marketed by white- dominated mainstream media outlets While many rap artists create songs that are positive in nature, record companies rarely ever release them. Record companies seek out controversial artists that draw attention and free publicity in the media
The songs that glamorize the ghetto and the hustler lifestyle are listened to by African American teens across the US These African American teens emulate what they see in the rap videos; they strive to live the lifestyle of the rappers, and many end up dead or in jail. Many African American teens also see rap as a way out of poverty, but the chances of being successful are so slim, there are thousands of wannabe rappers that will never amount to much
Youths listen to rap music and feel that they can model their lives after what they hear Rap sends a message that there is no need to go to school when you can make more money than your parents “hustlin” There are very few rap songs with no crimes or violence in them, this desensitizes the teens and young adults listening to the music Committing these crimes and living the hustler lifestyle become an acceptable way of life Record company executives have full control over what type of images they expose these impressionable teenagers and young adults to
Women rap artists that refused to confom to the sexually charged music scene were quickly phased out Rappers like Lil’ Kim, Trina, and Nicki Minaj reinforce the negative “bitch” and “ho” stereotypes The “video ho” image reinforced the idea that women are objects Women are constantly disrespected in music, some rappers even discuss hitting their “bitch” Exotic dancing and prostitution is glamorized and encouraged in rap The music videos of women dancing half naked are played on mainstream music networks, reinforcing that the behavior is acceptable
Even though hip-hop has now become commercially successful, it is distributed by white-dominated corporate America, and marketed by white-dominated mainstream media outlets. By participating in its commoditization, young African Americans receive jobs, financial stability, and a medium to express themselves to an ever-growing audience. However, white-dominated corporate America’s control over the marketing, distribution, and production gives them the ability to control the image and the voice of hip-hop. Those in power get to reap the larger benefits of the artist’s labor, while simultaneously controlling the image and teaching the youth values that reinforce the same nihilism. They get to make money, villainize the black man, and prostitute the black woman all at the same time.
Special Thanks to www.youtube.com Hunnicutt, Gwen, and Kristy Humble Andrews. “Tragic Narratives In Popular Culture: Depictions Of Homicide In Rap Music.” Sociological Forum 24.3 (2009): 611-630. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Dec. 2012 Reid-Brinkley, Shanara R. “The Essence Of Res(Ex)Pectability: Black Women’s Negotiation Of Black Feminity In Rap Music And Music Video.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 8.1 (2008) 236-260. Academic Search Complete. Web. 5 Dec. 2012
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