William Norman Lancaster ENGL- 1301 18 September, 2012 A Response to “Hip Hop: A Roadblock or pathway to Black Empowerment” Geoffrey Bennett’s article Hip Hop: A Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment illustrates the influence hip hop and rap music has had on not only the music industry but mainstream culture, African Americans to be specific. Geoffrey Bennett, a senior English Major from Voorhees, New Jersey goes over many aspects of how hip hop came to be “the forefront of American attention. He starts from its early history in the 1980s as an African American exclusive music genre to what is now a worldwide phenomenon.
He reviews the affect it has had on the lifestyle of many people and the ways it’s changed the way people speak, attire, hairstyles, and overall character. Bennett points out those rappers must be aware of the messages they send out as well as their intended audiences, and as long as there’s a mutual understanding between interested parties the special art form and rich African American heritage can be protected.
Points in the article have been made that are arguable to say the least, but if some of these points are addressed and maintained, the genre can survive. Rap music impresario Russell Simmons quotes in the article that, “Hip-Hop is more powerful than any American cultural movement we’ve ever had. ” which I would have to strongly disagree with for many reasons. Three cultural movements that are arguably more powerful than Hip-Hop would have to include the American Revolution, the civil rights movement, and women’s rights movement. The American Revolution is what created America, and gave us independence from Great Britain.
If the colonist had never stood up against the British Parliament, America would have still been under British control today, and would’ve never been granted independence. Another powerful cultural movement would have to be the civil rights movement. The idea of the civil rights movement was to bring equality under the law to all Americans, as well as end discrimination to African Americans and other minority groups. Segregation ended due to the civil rights movement, and allowed us to grow as a more unified nation. As prominent civil rights leader Martin Luther King said, “A man should not be judged by the color of his skin but by the ontent of his character. ” Last, but not least would have to be the woman’s rights movement. Some of the accomplishments achieved by this movement would include voting rights for women, equal pay for equal work, the right to serve on active duty in the armed forces, and many others. All three of these movements helped in some way to create the Hip-Hop movement, which clearly show that Hip-Hop was not the most powerful cultural movement America has ever had. A problem that Bennett makes clear is how impressionable the younger audiences are when they are exposed to rap and Hip-Hop.
There’s many debate on the topic of children listening to the music, but before we can argue over whether children should be able to listen to the music we must go over the pros and cons to the music genre. The positive side is that rap is an accepted form of self-expression, and educators have shown that it has inspired kids to write. Many kids feel they can relate to the songs, and it persuades them to write their own in an attempt to make sense of the world around them. On the other hand Hip-Hop can have some negative effects as well.
A large number of artists such as Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, Eminem, and others involve the use of profanity, violence, references to sex and drugs in many of their songs. Obviously exposing such things to children so young can affect their views at an early age. It can lead to what some could call “experimenting” to where a child could experiment with drugs and sex. Ultimately I believe it’s up to the parents to control what type of music their child is being influenced by. Parents have the ability to control what their child listens to up to a certain degree. Moreover it’s the parent’s job to be aware of what music is out there.
What they believe will have a positive or negative influence on their children is up to them, but they must inform their children of what is right or wrong. As long as parents focus on these things we’ll need not to worry about the negative influences rap can have on younger children. In recent years hip-hop has had a direction change in which what it started off as being that rap music is such a profitable commodity. Bennett states that, “rappers perpetuate images and stereotypes that will sell their products…” in other words rappers are perceived as being people who are generously wealthy or excessively violent.
Agreeing with this statement I believe not only is this something we necessarily can’t change, but it’s a business strategy. It’s simply a part of the image of the music genre and it’s what sells. Being that rap and hip-hop is associated with a lot of the things they portray I believe they are simply playing the part that will get them in the role of the business world metaphorically speaking. Being the Americans are astounded by the idea of stardom and being extremely wealthy, these musicians portray this image to stand out to what us Americans always dream about.
Fancy clothing, crazy sports cars, the high life, it’s what makes the music genre stick out over the rest. Without perpetuating these images some artist could not stand out and make the money they are making because it’s simply not what the people want. In Bennett’s conclusion he makes clear that in order for the heritage of the African American culture to be preserved as well as the distinctive art form, a dialogue between rappers and interested parties must be kept. Although hip-hop was indeed a powerful movement it was not the most powerful America has ever witnessed after going through the revolution, civil rights, and woman’s rights.
As well if proper parenting is conducted our young children will not be negatively influenced by the music, but in hope be inspired for a better cause. Though hip-hop may have changed from where it came from it’s all about keeping up with the times and thinking about what sells and what doesn’t anymore. As long as the rappers are conscious of the messages they are portraying out to the public, and these points are made across the culture the genre can stay alive and protected.
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A Response to “Hip Hop: a Roadblock or Pathway to Black Empowerment”. (2016, Dec 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/a-response-to-hip-hop-a-roadblock-or-pathway-to-black-empowerment/