The Dangers of Rap(e) Culture
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While this may be an opinion that is heavily contradicted and seldomly talked about among teenagers, it is one that doesn’t receive the attention it deserves.
As a little preface, I believe that rap music has its positive implications. It is a medium for many struggling artists to become successful and it showcases the talent of many people who don’t have privileged upbringings. Take Notorious B.I.G., raised by a single mother; Kendrick Lamar of Compton, Los Angeles; Nicki Minaj who had an impoverished upbringing; and A$AP Rocky, who spent two years living in homeless shelters. It has been the platform from which many marginalized people have empowered themselves and others to protest and rise up against oppression.
Many people, including myself, listen to and enjoy Rap and Hip-Hop music. There is a sense of strong power and energy to this genre of music, at least that is how I can describe my reaction to it and the reaction that I witness in my friends.
Regardless of these strengths, it is important, if not necessary, to point out rap culture's flaws and offences--the ways in which rap music can be dangerous and harmful. While listening to rap lyrics, we often don’t hear all of the words together as they are presented so quickly or we blurt them out without actually processing the meaning of them. In this article, I intend to shed light on some examples of lyrics that may seem rare, but share similar offensive and hurtful messages from songs with more subtle lyrics.
In a content analysis of 279 songs published in the US National Library of Medicine, 67 percent of songs referred to sexual activity in a degrading way, and Rap music made up 64 percent of those songs. The researchers refer to degrading as 1) A person (often male) discusses many sexual feelings, 2) other person, (usually female) is objectified, and 3) “sexual value is placed solely on physical characteristics.”
But it doesn't take scientific research to figure it out. When you take a close look at the lyrics, you'll start to notice how the genre often rap lyrics objectify women. In lots of cases, women are seen as prizes and even referred to as ‘trophies’ (Like in “I won” by Future and Kanye West). While other genres of music also objectify women, Rap music comes with a culture of men seeking validation through women. They compare their ‘prizes’ with other men and ultimately try to possess as many women as possible for a higher status and self-esteem.
“I'm f***in' her friends now her friends ain't even f***in' wit her” - Lil Wayne
“I just want to f*** every girl in the world, every model, every singer, every actress, every diva,” - Young Money
“You should see the whip, promise I can take yo b****” - Post Malone
Because after I’m done I’m like “NEXT!” - Tray Dee
“All my young boys round me saying, ‘Get money and f*** these hoes’ - Drake
Many rappers act as if they own women and women are mere objects. Gender roles are framed as a woman’s purpose is to obey the desires of men, and men are encouraged to show control over women.
“And what are all your names, again? we drunk, remind us.” - Young Money
“If she let me in, I'm a own that p***y, go on' throw it back and bust it open like you 'posed to.” - Young Money
“I hit the strip club and all them b****es find a pole” - Lil Wayne
“One more f*** and I can own ya.” - Kanye West
“Maybe for the money and the power and the fame right now, she will, she will, she will uh - Lil Wayne
The “what are all your names, again?” may seem simple and innocent, as someone can easily forget a name. However, if you consider this sentence in context, women are dehumanized and limited to their appearance not even a simple identity such as having a name. And it is this sort of dehumanization that leads to rape culture.
It doesn't stop at dehumanization and objectification, several rap lyrics romanticize violent behaviour towards women and in some cases even glorify rape:
“My grandmother sucked my d*** and I didn’t come…I smacked this wh*** for talking crack, so what if she’s handicapped…I’ll rape you while Dr. Dre video tapes you (h*** yeah!)” - Fight Music by D12
“Put Molly all in her champagne/She ain't even know it/I took her home and I enjoyed that/She ain't even know it.” - Rick Ross
“Rape a pregnant bi**h and tell my friends I had a threesome.” - Tyler, the Creator
"Sl*t, you think I won't choke no wh**e / Til the vocal cords don't work in her throat no more?!" - Eminem
“Met her at 10, fu***d that girl at 11” - Lil Uzi Vert
Some examples could have also been pulled from other genres like rock and pop music, but I think that rap music more so than other genres encourages blatant violence and possession of women. Some rap music can be completely different than the examples that I have stated, but it is clear that there still is an abundance of horrific lyrics.
The dangers of youth worshiping rap culture is that both men and women can view a woman’s value based off of her physical attributes and that women are required to behave at the hands of men. This paints an unrealistic image in people’s minds, and contributes to the derogatory views of women in society, a problem that we must definitely work on improving.