Hip Hop and its Impact on the Streets.

An ongoing discussion since the early 90′s was how much does rap music contribute to the ills of the ghetto and the nihilism that appears to be pervasive in the youth of the hood. The major backforths have been hashed out: The Bill O’Riellys of the world who have an anti-minority/racist agenda often claim that young ghetto youth (mostly black and Latino) face disproportionate high school and college drop rates, disproportionately high murder rates, incarceration rates, etc. because of their “culture.” The “culture” they claim is primarily driven by Gangsta Rap and that this music is the cause of the mentality that is ruining the daily life of these youth. Anyone who has studied social science and history understands that the problems facing ghettos across the country are not caused by rap, and certainly not by gangsta rap, a form of music that is less than 25 years old – but the question of whether or not such music makes worse or influences otherwise “good” kids to be “bad” is a legitimate topic for discussion. The rappers response to these criticisms is silly and contradicts all they pride themselves on. The usual response is “don’t blame me…you don’t blame John Wayne for making western movies or Al Pacino for making mob movies, so why blame me for doing the same through music.” The rapper, incredibly, forgets that each time he opens his mouth in a different context, he usually brags that he is “real” and everything he talks about is real, or in short “he spits it, how he lives it.”

Many social scientists argue that the legal system, the social system and the history of the US has caused the problems of the ‘hood and make it impossible for those living there (other than the few exceptions) to make it out.

So what do you guys think? Does rap music cause/contribute or exacerbate the problems in the ‘hood? Or are the problems larger and does massive governmental programs and funding need to be put in place to truly change the conditions that cause such a disproportionate amount of suffering in poor minority communities? I have my thoughts, but want to hear yours first and I’ll respond in the comment section.-TPAR

  • Piery

    Nice work, TPAR. I think it’s more of a media creation than anything else. More specifically, the media focuses on one major subject for a time being, it becomes an “epidemic” and then the media (and the public) gets bored and the story dies.

    Remember when it seemed like every person in every city was a victim of a car jacking? Keep your purse off the front seat, ladies!

    Then, it was drive-by shootings that would be the #1 killer in American history.

    Then, it was that every kid in the ‘hood with Jordans were getting clipped. It was even a Sports Illustrated cover story.

    Have the instances of these really dropped off that dramatically? Or has the spotlight moved to a different topic, such as so-called (by assholes) “gangster rappers” like Ludacris?

  • KF UK

    Is it art imitating life or the other way around?

    I dont know, isnt the “realest” hip hop the guys who are still actually out there hand to hand?

    Dont the same people on these message boards cuss out the ones that turn out fake IE Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Lil Wayne (kisses guys, on the mouth. WTF. when did hip hop give a pass on that?) the ones who do more to perpetuate a way of living to sell records more, by selling tales from the hood as aposed to true life to middle america or the white masses who in turn maybe do dumb shit cuz its “hip hop”. I lost count of the amount of dickheads around that think selling 1/8ths of weed makes them the new scarface. instead of living it they package it up slap a MTV aproval on it and dish it out to the world…

    on the other hand styles p and rappers who are still in the street daily speak or comment on whats happening u know? they witness the shit and speak on it?

    Theres 2 sides to the argument i guess, both that will obv get out of hand on these boards.

    But thats my 2 cents on this shit….

  • General

    Until America not only admits the problem, but accepts the nations as whole responsibility for the problem we will continue to repeat the same cycles that have driven drugs, crime, and violence, and poverty in these neighborhoods. All you hear when you see this topic discussed is that African Americans need to take responsibility to change it, but while that may be true to a point, it ignores all the factors that have brought us to this point. I do think that music, just like movies and entertainment in general can negatively influence certain people, but that is also usually based on the enviroment these people are brought up in. I pray that one day we as a country, not just the African American community, will stand together and truly address and finally begin to make the necessary changes. Despite the Bill O’Reilly’s and the Rush Limbaugh’s rap music is not to blame, but only a symptom of the larger problems.

  • yoprince

    man, i’m not gonna front. in general there’s nothing positive about it, therefore it’s negative.

    rap music, the kind that the majority of youths of color listen to, is contributing to a mindstate of ignorance, a lack of respect for knowledge, or any gain other than financial. this is just facts.

    Obviously, rap music isn’t the cause of our “problems,” but it’s FAAAAAR from a part of the solution, as it exists today.

    the funny thing though is that white youths are going to be affected by the ignorance as well, and it proves the point that America belongs to all of us. White people cannot subjugate people of color right here in their own nation and not expect to feel the effects. As we become degenerate, so will generations of whitey feel the effects and rap music is just one of the factors that will touch EVERYONE.

    I could go on forever, but let me say, I don’t hate rap and I don’t blame rappers, at least not entirely. In fact, I love rap, it’s addictive. Every once in a while, I even listen to the ignorant shit, but I’m 23, educated, with educated parents, which means I am equipped to handle it. Ten year olds aren’t equipped. And even some 16 year olds aren’t, esp. if they have no educated role models.

  • BrassTacks

    Great post… honestly I feel sometimes its a double edge sword, I mean for all the swagger, undeniable cool, and confidence displayed in the music and in our communities,Its also sexist and very disheartening to see us acting extremely IGNANT!(Just you tube Dipset) all for the cause of not giving a fcuk! I believe Hip-Hop is the perfect expression of the good and evil within ourselves. and can not be matched when expressed in the former and downright ugly when shown in the latter…

  • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com tony grand$

    I believe it’s a combination of things that contribute to the dismal condition of the youth in question. To blame or cite any one source wouldn’t do justice to the severity of the problem. I also believe that rap (not the hip hop culture as a whole) plays a part due to it’s lack of moral value & positive ethics. But, who am I to place any sort of blame on an entertainer when their primary goal is merely to “entertain”?

    It’s more along the lines of a blind eye/ear being turned towards the predictory solutions which could resolve situations before they become irreversible. In other words, catch the problem before it becomes one.

    As usual, it starts @ home, but no government program can enforce a “happy household” or magically make parents cognizant &/or responsible. But, with intervention programs, afterschool activities & other opportunities provided to kids before they reach the average age of at-risk youth (about 12), it may somewhat deter the need to find attention & recreation in all the wrong places.

    But, to put so much blame on rap music is the equivalent of saying President Obama got elected solely because he is Black (1/2 black, I know, but “Black” for the sake of the argument).

  • Pierzy

    I had a really long comment, but I guess it didn’t register. Anyway, I think it’s a creation of the media that is a flavor story of the moment just like carjackings, drive-by shootings and kids killing over Jordans.

  • DV8

    crime was going on in the streets and in everyhood way before rap was even popular. They just trying to use rap as a scapegoat but what about all those movies they make portraying violent acts old cowboy flicks and gangster flicks and what not. gangbangin is older then hiphop.

  • $ykotic

    Nice TPAR.

    “Many social scientists argue that the legal system, the social system and the history of the US has caused the problems of the ‘hood and make it impossible for those living there (other than the few exceptions) to make it out.”

    Then MOST, not ALL rap music contributes to this suppression by glorifying the ills, instead of offering any type of solution.

  • Zulu1925

    Rap music’s contribution to the nihilism of the ghetto is far less than it’s contribution to the growing nihilism in other aspects of society. The desperation and hopelessness of many residents of the ghettos of America lead to short-sighted, short-term solutions to their ills – The Hustle. Hustlers don’t have the time and/or patience to rise up through the “acceptable” means of getting an education, learning a trade or developing a talent – that waiting shit is for squares. They want it NOW! Rap music isn’t really affecting this segment of the population because they are already familiar with societal shortcuts to money. However, those people who aren’t in quite as desperate a situation, but who still don’t have the willingness to wait for “what’s coming to them” are the ones most affected by rap because prior to hearing it in a song, they may not have been able to articulate what they were feeling or they didn’t know how to go about taking the shortcuts to “success.” But, after hearing their favorite rapper talk about how he did it, these impressionable folks now set out with a gameplan to destruction – of themselves, the people around them and, increasingly, society as a whole. And, of course, the truly desperate aren’t going to sit around and watch some other cats get “their” money, so now things escalate and no one wins – plus we lose young lives and leaders in the process.

  • Curtis75Black

    I can only go from what I feel. In my life I seen both sides of the game. I heard and related to “The Message” the same way I related to “Dope Man” and “Fight The Power”. The music thats being pushed today and even in the 90s with our emcee’s acting and portraying Thugs and Dealers has made our little cousins and nephews think that’s cool. Hearing them recite lyrics are funny especially when you don’t hear the otherside of the coin from these artists. Ross was exposed to being a CO, lied about it, Finally fessed up and he’s on the cover of the next XXL MAG !! Why ? What does he have to say that hasn’t been said already. I find it sad that our Hip Hop Mags keep the cycle going than trying to push it aside.

    White America can listen to Hip Hop all they want. They can easily go back and become a Governor or even senator. Jesse “The Body” Ventura ring a Bell ? What about the Late Sonny Bono or even Arnold Schwartenegger ? Eminem can easily transform his life from a emcee with drug and family problems to the Governor of Detroit. Can you see The RZA or Ghostface doing that without being looked at as a Sellout ?

  • the legend

    zulu1925 youre a badman rap is partly to blame but these ares ome peoples life experiences such as dmx and that

  • what the ?

    First off color of skin has nothing to do with anything, if you dig up the stats it’s something stupid like 95% of all criminals come from lower class/poverty stricken environment with exception to your Bernie Madoffs, just happens to be mostly black and Latinas, no money = crime, rap or any other music has no effect the US blueprint caused this. No matter what anyone says there will always be ghettos, poor people, going to school still doesn’t guarantee jobs, and what happens if the entire population goes to college ? there not even close to enough jobs, specially good jobs, what’s next 6 more years of school after a doctorate ? a bachelors just to work at McDonald’s ? see what I’m saying ? the government always blames it on schooling, the truth is poor people/ghettos and crime will always exist regardless of music, schooling, jails, ect.

    • Zulu1925

      @ what the ?

      While I agree that a lack of money spurs some towards crime, I disagree with your assertion that “95% of all criminals come from lower class/poverty stricken environment.” While the lower class accounts for a disproportionate amount of crime, nationally approximately 13% of all Americans live at or below the poverty level. Are you saying that 8% or so of the population (you have to subtract kids and elderly) commit 95% of crime or constitute 95% of all criminals nationwide?

      In addition, while furthering your education is no guarantee of employment, it DOES increase both your chances for employment and the wage you earn once employed. And, if everyone was college-educated, far fewer people would be swayed by rap lyrics (which is the core of this thread) and more people would be qualified for the “good” jobs they currently are unqualified for. I don’t contend that additional schooling is the ONLY solution, but it IS a viable route out of the ghetto.

    • Zulu1925

      @ what the ?

      While I agree that a lack of money spurs some towards crime, I disagree with your assertion that “95% of all criminals come from lower class/poverty stricken environment.” While the lower class accounts for a disproportionate amount of crime, nationally approximately 13% of all Americans live at or below the poverty level. Are you saying that 8% or so of the population (you have to subtract kids and elderly) commit 95% of crime or constitute 95% of all criminals nationwide?

      In addition, while furthering your education is no guarantee of employment, it DOES increase both your chances for employment and the wage you earn once employed. And, if everyone was college-educated, far fewer people would be swayed by rap lyrics (which is the core of this thread) and more people would be qualified for the “good” jobs they currently are unqualified for. I don’t contend that additional schooling is the ONLY option, but it IS a viable route out of the ghetto.

  • OG Matt Herbz

    Music is a powerful drug, man. It’s pushed people to suicide…caused people to shoot up schools…

    …or did it?

    I think that only stupid niggaz listen to that stupid rap about slanging, banging and all that, and that just perpetuates more stupidity. Stupid is as stupid does and when niggaz try to put you on to some stupid music, don’t fuckin fall for it–it’ll make you stupid.

    –OG Matt Herbz–

  • Jamal7Mile

    In a lot of cases, rap IS the solution $yk. I rather see TWO people battle on wax than in the street. And that’s mostly what happens. Before breakdancing crews came out, those same guys were physically fighting with each other. Not too familiar with taggers (REAL tags, not that gang territory bs) but I can sense the competition between the two. Same with DJ’s… they have the DMX competitions. Producers have their own competitions, too, which was displayed not too long ago in a SCRATCH blog.

    Of course it doesn’t always work that way. Non-violent battles become violent and spill into the street all of the time. But again, FOR THE MOST PART, Hip Hop (all 4 elements) is mad positive! A great alternative to real street shit… when done right.

    Oh yeah, O’Reilly and Limbaugh do not know what the Hell they are talking about. They are senseless, and they would be non-issues if not for the gullible millions who listen to them unobjectively… as if their word was law.

  • Curtis75Black

    I listened to Biggie, Dre, NWA, Jay-Z, ONYX and others, laughed my ass off and moved on !! Some listeners can’t do that. They actually believe that shit. They really felt Jeezy with his music. Hip Hop is Powerful. Look at the debacle with Pac and Biggie – We had a Hip Hop civil war between 2 coasts and 3 regions, that still goes on today !! Don’t say Hip Hop isn’t influential on how peeps act and feel. Niggas joining gangs because of what the rapper is constantly talking about, like it’s HOT !!

  • romil

    Some of yall are just ignoring the fact. Rappers can report what they see in the streets all they want, but they know dmn well they wouldnt want cops circling their block all day. Plus free low paying job hand outs to crack dealers.?? These guys aint talking about whats going on they GLORIFYING IT…. Some rappers talk about the downfalls of hustling, Jay z at times does. But Most all rappers like to Brag on their past life. Thats a lame excuse that ran out a long time ago. And Pac was one of the 1st rappers besides public enemy & Krs One to expose fake rappers, and rap about truth.

  • romil

    The hood will always have problems, that come from poverty, drugs, depression etc. But rap is like a motivational speach that these kids listen to in their headphones and pushes them even further to get on their hustle. I know cats in the hood that will tell you rap influenced them and their decisions. If youre plotting on laying somebody down for robbing you, and you listening to some ol scarface and see the buster walkin in tha wrong hood you’re more likely to get him rather than if u were listening to Stevie wonder.lol, Back when we used to use our knuckle game, we would be bumpin some Mobb Deep, Pac, MOP or whoever to get us extra Hype. Rap is nothing but an energy bar to a thug.

  • romil

    Its time to stop the lies, we need to admit to these rappers that their ish is Motivational!!
    When I got my azz jumped I heard 2pac hit em up in tha background. no lie lol..

    Truth is when these rappes die they gonna be held accountable for all that greasy, slick talkin & blasphemy. Why yall think, Mase,DMx,bizzy Bone,Mia X, tha girl from 3-6 mafia, Shyne and them got out tha game.

  • Worley

    Bol, the bottom line is capitalism requires an underclass whether that underclass is black and listens to rap music or not. Capitalism cannot function without it.

  • maximus 32

    Unfortunately, I think it definitely does and the stripping of its moral fiber parallels the fading of morals in our society. There was a time when rappers wouldn’t say certain shit and if they did, they would frame it in a way where you would have to read into what they were saying. Now, you can here rappers making references about snorting coke, like that’s cool. Songs about chicks sucking dick are being played in power rotation on the radio. The shit is crazy. There only a few artists that have significant audiences that tell whole stories…not just how much money and pussy you get from selling drugs. Its either that or mindless dance music. Other artists who never got their due or are fairly new get little light if they are positive. All you have to do is read comments on blogs and you will see that people are ignorant as shit. No snitching rules being inforced by people in the burbs in their mama’s basement. That shit it crazy.

  • AVENGER XL

    I think they hood effects the music and the music reinforces some of the ignorant actions in the hood. Like making the dopeman a hero or continuing the negative ideas toward women. But of course music is not the root cause or the driving factor behind any of this. We have a lot of questions to answer for ourselves and we are going to have to become a community first. Because as of right now the black community does not exist so to speak, it is just a talking point for our intellectuals to bandy about. Once the middle class left the so called hood after the civil rights bill passed, many of the people who remained in the neighborhoods where just your common lay workers, mixed in with the occasional crooked character. In every culture around the world you can see what happens when the only ones who reach for power are the ones who seize it through strong arm tactics. The everyday hardworker just trying to make ends meet was overrun by the criminals out to get rich off the backs of suffering like drug dealers etc…. The police force are neglegent in their actions toward the community. They are either a part of the illegal activity or ignoring it all together. So anyone left in the old black neighborhoods we call ghetto’s are often stuck because it is hard to pull yourself up from your bootstraps, while trying not to get robbed or shot/beat down by a crooked cop etc… Then don’t get me started on the idiots in charge of the school boards in many of these areas combined with parents who are negleted children themselves or addicted and continuing a cycle.

    The issue is waaaaay bigger than rap. Rap was created as a social narcotic to escape these harsh environments. It was commercalized like most forms of music for profit and now their mainstream product is nothing more than a empty shell of what it was, pretty much celebrating the worse parts of us and not exploring much of anything.

  • AVENGER XL

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    I think they hood effects the music and the music reinforces some of the ignorant actions in the hood. Like making the dopeman a hero or continuing the negative ideas toward women. But of course music is not the root cause or the driving factor behind any of this. We have a lot of questions to answer for ourselves and we are going to have to become a community first. Because as of right now the black community does not exist so to speak, it is just a talking point for our intellectuals to bandy about. Once the middle class left the so called hood after the civil rights bill passed, many of the people who remained in the neighborhoods where just your common lay workers, mixed in with the occasional crooked character. In every culture around the world you can see what happens when the only ones who reach for power are the ones who seize it through strong arm tactics. The everyday hardworker just trying to make ends meet was overrun by the criminals out to get rich off the backs of suffering like drug dealers etc…. The police force are neglegent in their actions toward the community. They are either a part of the illegal activity or ignoring it all together. So anyone left in the old black neighborhoods we call ghetto’s are often stuck because it is hard to pull yourself up from your bootstraps, while trying not to get robbed or shot/beat down by a crooked cop etc… Then don’t get me started on the idiots in charge of the school boards in many of these areas combined with parents who are negleted children themselves or addicted and continuing a cycle.

    The issue is waaaaay bigger than rap. Rap was created as a social narcotic to escape these harsh environments. It was commercalized like most forms of music for profit and now their mainstream product is nothing more than a empty shell of what it was, pretty much celebrating the worse parts of us and not exploring much of anything.

  • FlapJack

    Rappers don’t have to answer to the Bill O’s of the world, thank god. it’s not their responsibility to be role models, help the needy etc, but a lot of em still do.

    where are all the doctors and lawyers at? they went to school and never looked back.

  • Curtis75Black

    @FlapJack,

    Those Doctors and Lawyers are in the trenches homie. Doctors trying to save the life of that little girl who got blasted in that drive-by because some young thug really took Jeezy’s music to heart and the Lawyer, let’s say Defensive is trying to save that kid’s life from spending his life in prison. Being in the Medical field myself, I’ve seen it all, even had heart to hearts with young brothers who straight up said they were influced by that “Thug Shit” these rappers be sprewing not knowing the rappers are overseas making money on tour. Jay-Z with all his Hustle talk is chilin’ with his wife in Paris, France, not in Marcey. You hear a particular song everyday, you see their videos everyday on 106, you hear them talk in interviews, it does has an effect on a young man.

  • FlapJack

    I see your point Curtis.

    Still, you can’t blame Kenny Rogers for rednecks fucking their cousins.

  • Curtis75Black

    @ FlapJack,

    No doubt, but you can’t hear one positive track with all the gun, drug and death talk off a 17 track cd and feel a balance either. You’re not gonna relate to Ed Norton because he’s just acting. You’re gonna see him in another movie playing a fag. But you do relate to the new emcee’s stating how they are keeping it real, not knowing they went to catholic school away from the projects – they just know how to rap and got a Co-Sign by your favorite emcee and got Dj Premier for production.

  • FlapJack

    Is anyone seriously gonna relate to Fat Joe, Uncle Murda and the rest of these super-gangster, killing people everyday momafuckas?
    On a personal level?

    if so, there is something terribly wrong from the get go.

    I want better and more diverse content as well, but not necessarily on some master p, role model shit

    Music is music, bottom line

  • LB

    “Many social scientists argue that the legal system, the social system and the history of the US has caused the problems of the ‘hood and make it impossible for those living there (other than the few exceptions) to make it out.”

    The above statement is the macro or bigger picture of it all. Alter the laws and the socioeconomic policy, then other areas of society will follow. All this “lets ask the rapper” mumbo jumbo is redirecting the blame from those who are more powerful than any rapper…the politicians, the legislators and executors of the law, the controllers of economic policy. True, anybody with a major voice should use it as wisely as his wisdom allows, but that doesn’t account for the conditions that still remain.