From the beats to the lyrics, the current generation of youth is engrossed in hip-hop culture, tending to idolize the artist behind the songs. Since the 1970s, hip-hop has influenced American culture tremendously. In the past, hip-hop held a central focus around inequality, empowerment and overcoming hardships. Today, hip-hop talks more about sex, money, a male dominant social standing, and drugs.
Hip-hop, from then to now, has drifted to the darker side of the social spectrum. The majority of today’s youth were subconsciously thrust into a time when the darkness of hip-hop was nearing its climax. Young African American males in today’s generation are the primary recipients of and most attentive audience to the negativity hip-hop portrays. Hip-hop’s inflammatory and controversial lyrics are a major influence in the general behavior of young black men. The lyrics spoken and images shown highlight negative stereotypes that are now commonly associated with black men.
The young black men who grew up without a positive male influence often tend to look to the males in hip-hop as primary role models. Hip-hop today says that males have to flaunt their masculinity, do drugs, get women, or be in a gang in order to be a man. Today’s idea of hip-hop negatively affects young black men in the way they dress, communicate, and act toward others. In the hip-hop industry, Americans generally see the common stereotype of rap artists wearing baggy pants, durags, oversized shirts, and having a materialistic mentality.
The main reason youth imitate the attire of these rappers is because they see the artists surrounded by money and women. The naivete of young black men allows them to have the mentality that copying this style of dress will reward them in money and women; but, that is a misconception. As an effect, society looks down upon males who dress in hip-hop attire because it is considered unprofessional dress. A recognized characteristic of hip-hop attire is sagging; the wearing pants below the waist, revealing much of the underwear.
When a person of color chooses to sag his pants, he inadvertently represents all people of color; emphasizing the stereotype. Taj Madhoo is a 21-year-old college student who has been affected by the negative connotations associated with sagging pants. Madhoo said, “I remember going to a post office and the associate behind the window telling me I wouldn’t walk like that if I pulled my pants up. But in reality, I had on sweatpants that were tied very tight and were on my waist(Miller). ” The situation Madhoo describes shows that some people assume that just because one is a young man of color, he must be sagging his pants.
Madhoo continued by saying, “I don’t sag my pants because I don’t think it looks good and when I see people doing it, I feel they don’t care about their appearance and what they represent(Miller). ” Sagging pants does not portray a positive look, but what they represent to different people is the biggest factor. When asked about what she thinks of when seeing sagging pants, Lorna Neil said, “When I see people sagging their pants, they honestly look like criminals to me, like they are up to no good(Miller). ” Neil did not say why she holds such a mentality, but perhaps it has some relation to the prison origin of sagging pants.
Hip-hop is one of the main reasons that sagging pants have not yet gone out of style. It is unfortunately a style celebrated by several artists, some of whom been in prison, and is a statement of rebellion that is proudly championed in their music. Kanye West, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, and Lil Wayne are all important figures in hip-hop culture and, at some point, having all sagged their pants. When impressionable young men see these images of the men they idolize, they think it is acceptable to do, and overlook the negative reactions associated with it.
The view on attire is not the only thing hip-hop has changed; it has also influenced the way people communicate with each other. The communication skills are not as strong today because of the influence of hip-hop. Hip-hop music is known for containing a great deal of slang. A slang word is a word that many people associate with poor grammar and questionable diction. What most of us do not realize is how much slang is used in day-to-day life. It is simply considered a part of normal and accepted language.
It has a negative effect on our young black males because they tend to learn slang before starting kindergarten, which contributes to the illiteracy of black people. The same people, who learn slang before learning proper English, begin incorporating slang into communications with other people, essentially deflecting from improving society’s view about black people. Hip-hop music uses a variety of slang terms that change as hip-hop evolves and changes. Much of its lexicon is drawn from African-American vernacular English. Hip-hop slang gives ordinary words new meanings.
Harlem rapper Lamont Coleman (stage name Big L) released a song on his posthumous album “The Big Picture” entitled “Ebonics”. In this song, Big L goes through various hip-hop slang terms and gives their proper meanings. Yo, yo A burglary is a jook, a wolf’s a crook Mobb Deep already explained the meanin’ of shook If you caught a felony, you caught a F If you got killed, you got left If you got the dragon, you got bad breath If you 7:30, that mean you crazy Hit me on the hip means page me Angel dust is sherm, if you got AIDS, you got the germ If a chick gave you a disease, then you got burned -excerpt from Big L’s “Ebonics”(Doody).
This is a blunt and clear analysis of slang and the people who use it, but a prime example of what many people consider slang to be, since they are taught to believe it from such an early age. For people who use slang on a consistent basis, regardless of surroundings, slang acts as a class divider. It is often that people hear someone speak in ebonics and immediately disregard what that person is saying because they deem the speaker uneducated based on the dialect being used. They expect that the one speaking has not learned how to speak proper English and therefore must not be intelligent in other ways.
Examples of this discrimination are commonly seen within the workplace. Two equally capable people may hold the same position, but if one speaks properly and professionally, and the other speaks in slang, it is considered that the latter employee is lazy, disrespectful, and unintelligent. Often, these people will not even be hired; yet, hip-hop still promotes slang as if it is not one of the many reasons why young African Americans cannot progress in society. Hip-hop also promotes the negative treatment of others thru exploiting women and degrading men.
The increasing gender separation as an effect of hip-hop is commonly seen in the lowering of female status. In hip-hop music, women are commonly referred to as bitches, tricks, or hoes. Much of the music and many videos specifically transmit, promote, and perpetuate negative images of women. All women, but black women in particular, are seen in popular hip-hop culture as sex objects. Almost every hip-hop video that is regularly seen today shows multiple women dancing while wearing nothing more than bikinis, with cameras focusing on their sexual body parts.
The images shown go along with many explicit lyrics that commonly contain name calling, suggesting that women are not worth anything more than money. Nelly’s Tip Drill video is a prime example of this. This video displayed African American women in the video which showed women in bikinis dancing and simulating various sexual acts, men throwing money on women’s breasts and buttocks, and Nelly swiping a credit card between a woman’s buttocks after which it starts bouncing. Women are described only as being good for sexual relations by rappers who describe their lifestyles as that of a pimp.
In many popular, rap songs men glorify the lives of pimps, refer to all women as a pimp would to a prostitute, and promote violence against women for disobeying. When people see African-American women dancing in the videos, many people form a general idea about them, assuming that all African-American women behave in that manner. When young African-American girls see these videos, they become negatively influenced by what they see. This is how false images are spread throughout the community. Television has taken notice and uses hip-hop as a means of reaching out to viewers.
For example, T. V. shows like Flavor of Love are a product of what the media generate from rap influence. The show is highly disrespectful towards women, depicting several women fighting with each other to be with one famous man. Media shows societal depictions of women’s destruction, justifying it in many songs and other forms of media. Hip-hop has made it acceptable for people to talk about women with such disgraceful terms. Hip-hop artists also tend to degrade another man’s manhood to whom they feel are not on the same level.
The greatest insult that one man could give another in American culture is to degrade his manhood, as Michael Dyson says, “To assume that he’s less than a man and to assign him the very derogatory terms that one usually associates with women(“Homophobia and Hip-Hop. ”). ” From California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger dissing his opponents as “economic girlie men” to rappers insulting each other as bitch niggas, this double-edged insult not only disrespects women, but also supports a stereotypical view of masculinity.
Homophobia is often rooted from a sense of insecurity about one’s own masculinity—an insecurity heightened by the limited ways in which men and boys can express themselves. Jelani Cobb explains, “It’s calling your manhood into question…it’s calling your sexuality into question…it’s saying that if you are not this you must therefore be gay, you must be a gay, you must be a faggot, you know, you must be a bitch nigga(“Homophobia and Hip-Hop. “). ” This generation has gotten the idea that one is a lesser person if he/she does not break the rules or do drugs.
Talented youths who are bright enough to realize the importance of preparing themselves for the future too often become demoralized and browbeaten into hip-hop conformity. The culture of hip-hop can cause some of the best minority students to be branded with accusations that they are acting white or not keeping it real. Hip-hop implants these ideas in the heads of black male youths who are highly susceptible and easily influenced. It is clear that hip-hop music greatly influences young black males.
The negative effects far outrun the positive effects. The way they act, dress, and behave shows that hip-hop is damaging our youth’s ideals on what is acceptable and what is not. Young black men need to be educated so that they can transcend the stereotypes that hip-hop sets upon them. When they display themselves wearing their pants below their waist so that their underwear is showing, modifying vernacular and calling men and women derogatory names confirms the influence hip-hop has on the young generation.
Future generations are in jeopardy of being caught up in the hip-hop’s influence unless there is a drastic change in the industry or in the mindset of today’s youth. Sadly, even when hip-hop devotees do take positive steps and attempt to enter the mainstream job market, they often find themselves lacking of the skills necessary for the best career paths. Since hip-hop is frequently the cultural norm for young black men, it is only natural for these young people to see no harm in applying for a job with unsightly cornrows, baggy clothing and using unacceptable English.
If young black men could accept hip-hop music simply as entertainment and not as a lifestyle, there would be a dramatic social change notice in the African-American community and beyond.
- Doody, Mr. “List of Slang Used in Hip-hop Music. ” Scribd. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://www. scribd. com/doc/16522469/List-of-Slang-Used-in-Hiphop-Music>.
- “Homophobia and Hip-Hop. ” PBS. PBS, 20 Feb. 2007. Web. 1 Nov. 2012. <http://www. pbs. org/independentlens/hiphop/gender. tm>. Hooks, Bell.
- “Selling Hot Pussy: Representations of Black Female Sexuality in the Cultural Marketplace. ” <http://frank. mtsu. edu/~jaeller/Hooks. htm>. Miller, Shane.
- “Sagging Pants, Negative Messages. ” The Bronx Journal. The Bronx Journal, 24 May 2012. Web. 04 Nov. 2012. West, Cornel.
- “Black Sexuality: The Taboo Subject. ” Race Matters Chapter 7 (1993): 81-86. Questia Media America, Inc. Beacon Press. Web. <www. questia. com>.