Contemporary Urban Music: Controversial Messages in Hip Hop and Rap Lyrics

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Though Franklin B. Krohn and Frances L. Suazo portray hip-hop and rap as a protest to racism, poverty, and glorifying the drug dealing and gangster lifestyle I completely disagree with their views. Hip-hop and rap is way of life for young black men and women. It’s a language for not only blacks but white people that truly understand the content of the lyrics. Krohn and Suazo wrote, “More recently, the term hip-hop describes a culture, superficially characterized by performers with droopy pants, hats to the back, laceless sneakers, hoods, and loud radios.

One can’t characterize a rapper by droopy pants and his hat to the back. Many rappers such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and LL Cool J wear suits on stage for their performances. When hip-hop began in the 70s it was known for break dancing and great lyrical content. There was political rap, spiritual rap, and a more positive feel for the ladies. Hip-hop began to change with the times in the mid to late 80s. This is when drugs began to run rampant in the black neighborhoods. These shifts in black neighborhoods change black people’s points of views on many topics.

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According to Rose, T author of Black Noise, “Rap music is innovative uses of style and language, hilariously funny carnivalesque and chitin-circuit-inspired dramatic skits, and ribald storytelling. ” Rose is completely off base with his assessment of hip-hop and rap music. Nothing in rap is even close in design as the old 1920s chitin circuit. The design of hip-hop and rap is a sort of outreach or a way out of the ghetto for many young black people. Many of whom have made some terrible mistakes in life, but realize that society would never place them in corporate America, so they learn the skill of rapping.

Rappers have often been accused of demeaning women and glorifying the gangster lifestyle. Hip-hop does not glorify the gangster life, it merely serves as a warning to the youth that you don’t want to go down this road. Rappers can only tell you about their life and the choices that they made. The demeaning of women is in their perspective the correct way to approach a hot topic in the black community, this being how some women behave. I do believe that some of the songs are over the top, but I understand the songs. Some also describe rap as a product of the ghetto culture, but not all rap is based or formed from the ghetto. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. a professor at Harvard University said, “A lot of what you see in rap is the guilt of the black middle class about its economic success, its inability to put forth a culture of its own. ” Now I respect Mr. Gates, but he knows nothing about hip-hop or rap or its culture.

In my opinion, his comments are irrelevant and cannot be taken seriously. Many rappers have criticized politicians and police officers because the so-called leaders of the world do nothing to improve black neighborhoods, schools, and ways of life. To look through a rapper’s eyes and understand what they see you would have to have been born in a similar situation.

Born and raised in the ghetto, and viewing crooked police officers do horrible and dishonest things. Politicians won’t make any changes to the ghetto and routinely ignore black voices. A rapper and producer by the name of Dr. Dre have produced three of the biggest rappers ever in Eminem, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and 50 Cent. Dr. Dre’s first solo album titled “The Chronic” with a marijuana lead displayed on it was misinterpreted as him trying to promote the use of illegal drugs. Dr. Dre’s album was meant as that feeling one would get after the use of marijuana, and he clearly stated this on numerous occasions.

Rap is also described as a confusing and noisy element of contemporary American pop culture. Rap is neither noise nor confusing. It’s a lesson for those that have never lived in the ghetto, and a lesson for those on how to get out of that hell hole. It’s a lesson for people that have sold drugs, and have no other way of means to provide for their families. Do I glorify selling drugs? Absolutely not!! I just understand that mindset because I lived in the ghetto, and still have friends that reside there. Many critics of rap are the older white generation that is completely clueless as to the feelings of a young black man.

Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie states, “The vehicle of dissemination for pornography on a massive scale to children is gangster rap a type of music that is so filthy and vile that it far exceeds what even the most tolerant parent might accept as an inevitable result of the generation gap. ” This statement made by the Rabbi completely shows the generational gap between the older white generation and the younger black generation. The older generation cannot seem to wrap their minds around the idea that such violence, drug dealing and using exists in the black neighborhood.

They think black people; even the ones that are doctors and lawyers are ignorant. With rappers being so successful now people such as Oprah Winfrey and Reverend Al Sharpton have continually criticized rap music and its participants without really trying to get to the root of the problem. That problem relies with better education for black people, better neighborhoods, and better opportunities. Hip-hop and rap is simply a story that the younger generation is relaying to the public in the form of entertainment.

Work Cited

Krohn, Franklin and Suazo, Frances. “Contemporary urban music: controversial messages in hip-hop and rap lyrics. ” 1995.

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Contemporary Urban Music: Controversial Messages in Hip Hop and Rap Lyrics. (2018, Jun 12). Retrieved from

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