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Do The Lyrics Of Hip Hop Music Actually Promote Violence?

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Hip hop is an art form that is increasingly becoming popular all over the world. It started out in The United States among the black people of the country, and for the longest period of time, it made its way into people’s minds that it was the music of the black people. However, this has brought up something about hip hop music that a lot of people found objectionable: the lyrics. The lyrics seemed to be promoting violence.

Lyrics Of Hip Hop Music

But to understand what this is about, we need to see some examples. In his song ‘Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em’ MC Rakim says “I’m the arsenal, I got artillery, lyrics are ammo…”. MC Solaar from France compared his mic to body armour and warned the listeners about his cache of lyrical bullets in his song ‘The Haemoglobin Concubine’. Kendrick Lamar referred to himself as Kung Fu Kenny, a reference to a character played by Jackie Chan in a 2001 cop movie Rush Hour 2. There are several other references as well, but the point seems to have gotten across. There are a lot of references to guns and artillery in hip hop songs. But there seems to be a reason as to why. And it stems from their history.

Hip hop can be dated back to the construction of Cross Bronx expressway, displacing hundreds if not thousands of black and Hispanic people from their families while white people fled the area. This was further made worse after renewal projects of the Bronx made more economically delicate people shift to the South Bronx. The black people were left with hardly any resources from the city, fragmented leadership and limited political power, and the South Bronx began to be depicted as this place drained of energy, life and vitality. The troubled black youth, hurt and abused, began  looking for ways to channel their creativity, aggression and made their voices heard, and soon hip hop was born. In her critically acclaimed book Black Noise, Tricia Rose states that hip hop emerged from jazz, blues and southern soul music. The important point to be noted here is that these forms of music were historically very close to the black community, and it only makes sense that they created an art form for themselves from everything they hold dear.

Cross Bronx

So as you can see, hip hop isn’t just a musical art form, it was the voice for the oppressed, a mode of communication for the people in the marginalised community. This was not the only reason though. Hispanic and black people were and still are the victims of the most brutal mob violence, both from white and other black people. This may also cause these metaphors to come up in their writing, because when art is a reflection of the mind, it is definitely on their mind.

Hip Hop: A Genre For Everybody

Hip Hop

Hip hop is a music art form that has come far from the streets of Compton and South Bronx. It is today a big industry worth almost two billion dollars. Hip hop or rap music as it is often referred to, is a genre of music that is universal. It evolved in the United States of America among the black community. Hip hop music soon became the voice of the black community. It came to be used synonymous with the black community and the music became representative of them. However, the commercialization and globalization of the genre has diluted its message over the years and critics argue that it no longer represents the black community.

Hip hop is not an ultra modern manifestation, but a subtle growing subculture that has been building momentum over the years. Hip hop can be dated back to the construction of Cross Bronx expressway, displacing thousands of black and Hispanic people from their families while white people fled the area. This was further made worse after renewal projects made more economically delicate people were forced to move to the South Bronx area. The black people were left with hardly any city resources, fragmented leadership and limited political power, and the South Bronx began to be depicted as this place drained of energy, life and vitality. The troubled black youth, hurt and abused, began  looking for ways to channel their creativity, aggression and made their voices heard, and soon hip hop was born. In her critically acclaimed book Black Noise, author Tricia Rose states that hip hop emerged from jazz, blues and southern soul music. The important point is that these forms of music were historically very close to the black community, and it only makes sense that they created an art form for themselves from everything they hold dear.

Rapper Mos Def in 1999 made a statement that was way ahead of its time. In his very famous song ‘Fear Not Of Man’ he says “We are hip hop”. At first glance we might think that he was referring to the black community, but pertaining to the context of the song, we see that he meant everybody. He saw hip hop as an art form for everybody, with everyone having a say as long as they love the art form. He saw that anyone who promoted hip hop, whether it be black or white, rich or poor, American or foreign, literally anybody who loved hip hop could identify with it.

Rapper Mos Def

In today’s scenario, hip hop is far from just the South Bronx style art form that it was in the 1970s. Hip hop has clearly grown out of the shell of the black community and reached all over the world. It represents a vibrant subculture that has grown wings and flown out into the world as a new world order music art form. So Mos Def was right, hip hop is bigger than the black community.

How Hip Hop Moved Online Due To Covid-19

Hip Hop

2020 has been a tough year, and it is not just the virus. People are depressed and isolated while the whole world is dying. People don’t have much to think about and this is where entertainment venues hit their mark. Streaming music and movies has gone off the charts with everyone wanting to get some form of entertainment to pass the time while staying home and staying safe. And this has led to a never before seen rise in the number of listeners in the hip hop genre.

Hip hop is not a solo sort of art form. It was invented among people, for the people and by people who wanted to let out some steam. Back in the 1970s when the South Bronx flooded with black and Hispanic people due to the construction of the Cross Bronx expressway, they were in poor health and sanitary condition, cut off from city resources and lacked good leadership. This made them create a subculture of their own, and as a way to express themselves fully, hip hop was born. It combined what the black people were already known worldwide for: jazz, blues and southern soul music and mixed it up with a modern beat. So such an art form that was created to express strong emotions does not hit its mark without an audience. However, people did come out in support of all the artists there are. Akon came out on Twitter to thank his followers for streaming his song ‘Locked and Lonely’ during the lockdown, and that it was a tough time for everyone and everyone needed to stay strong. Similarly, several artists reported an increase in streams on their social media platforms because of the pandemic.

Pandemic

Several other artists are now moving towards Youtube, Spotify, Facebook and Instagram to extend their reach among the people. Nadiah Biddle, a hip hop dancer from Melbourne, started a Zoom video conference class for ‘Krump Dance’. Krump dance was popularized in the 1990s and is characterised by the energetic, expressive and exaggerated movements.

Hip hop dance contests are being held all over the world as well, just online. The B-Side Hip Hop Festival winner Lowe Napalan says that it was a bit strange dancing to music being played from laptop speakers. There was a fair share of internet lag as well, but despite all that Napalan says he was glad this happened and that he truly enjoyed every moment of it. The competition is usually held in Birmingham’s Hippodrome Theatre, but was moved online accounting for the pandemic.

 

Hip hop is a living breathing global subculture that has invaded almost all cultures. It is an art form by the youth for the youth and therefore it is the responsibility of the youth to make sure that hip hop does not die, but it is least probable to go away anytime soon.

Why Hip Hop Needs More Classroom Attention

Hip Hop

Hip hop started out in the Bronx in the 1970s and is still one of the most popular forms of music in The United States and around the world. Even in 2020, hip hop artists rule Spotify, and their popularity is at an all time high. So what makes hip hop so attractive? And why should hip hop make its way into classrooms?

To answer that, we need to understand what hip hop stands for. No, not an abbreviation; but what it signifies. The construction of the Cross Bronx highway made a lot of black and hispanic people lose their homes and livelihood. A renewal project further made them move to the South Bronx. The people of colour had nowhere to go, no legal system to support them and no leadership among them. This frustrated the youth among them, and combining the age-old genres of music that the black people pioneered, namely jazz, blues and southern soul music, they made rap music. Hip hop was born.

Classroom Attention

Hip hop today is not just a voice for the black community; it is a form of artistic expression. Since the art form is literally just rhyming poetry on a beat, it can be done by almost anybody. This also gives the common people power: they no longer had to have a great voice to put their ideas across. Some of the most powerful messages in the music industry have come from Hip Hop. This brings us to the second and most important point: the relevance of hip hop.

Hip hop has the unique feature of staying relevant despite the generation. Rhyme is something that the human brain picks up easily and therefore anything in verse gets our attention. If the right things are being said in the right verse at the right time, it can bring about quite the difference. Childish Gambino’s This is America is a very deep analysis into American society and how it operates. Several other artists over the years like Mos Def, X Clan, Sual Williams, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem etc. have all raised important socio political issues in their work. This highlights as to why hip hop is such an important art form.

Hip hop

Now how does this help students in any way? First of all, an art form predominated by a marginalised community means that in the lines of hip hop is the pain and suffering of a lot of people, hence studying hip hop is a study into the struggles of the black community and their interests. Hip hop has also proven to be effective in teaching students media literacy skills, creative thinking, critical thinking analysis, critical literacy, critical consciousness and more. It is much more than just an art form: it is a living breathing subculture in the American lifestyle.

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Do The Lyrics Of Hip Hop Music Actually Promote Violence?

Hip hop is an art form that is increasingly becoming popular all over the world. It started out in The United States among the black people of the country, and for the longest period of time, it made its way into people’s minds that it was the music of the black people. However, this has […]

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