Rap Music and a Young African American Males

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Rap Music’s Positive Effects on the Young African American Male

This study is going to include research into the positive effects and influence that rap music has on the young African American male. As well as the differences on how uptempo and downtempo music effect on the brain. We will also examine the social effects rap music and the different techniques that rap music allows males to cope with their emotions and feelings.

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Musical Effect On the Brain

Listening to music affects each of the four major lobes of the brain frontal, parietal, temporal, and occipital in different ways. The auditory cortex is responsible for interpreting pitch and volume, and the amygdala and the caudate of the striatum both process emotional reactions. Other parts of the brain that control movement, attention, planning, and memory also activate when you listen to music. The area of the brain called the superior temporal gyrus helps store memories of music you’ve listened to before, which is why a person who has listened to the entire discography of an artist is more likely to have more appreciation for the music than someone hearing it for the first time.

Science suggests that there are strong ties to emotional as well as creative reserves. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders found that during a rap or freestyle, a rappers’ brain activity displayed unique patterns in areas relating to motivation, language, emotion, motor function, and sensory processing. According to the scientists, this suggests that the rappers actually enter something similar to an alternate state of mind while freestyling. The findings are similar to other studies on the improvisation of jazz musicians and also suggests that the act of making music taps into complex creative reserves in truly astounding ways. It’s also been discovered that listening to your favorite music makes a huge difference in how your brain responds and how it activates your brain. Signs of a musically activated brain included increasing the activity and connections in memory and emotional centers.

The effect of uptempo vs downtempo music on the brain. Rap music is emotionally intense and has been know to connect deeply with adolescence and been used to help influence a young person’s identity development through their years of growing. One study showed that after hearing a short piece of music, participants were more likely to interpret a neutral expression as happy or sad, to match the tone of the music they heard. This also happened with other facial expressions, but was most notable for those that were close to neutral. There are two kind of emotions related to music: perceived emotions and felt emotions. Sometimes we can understand the emotions of a piece of music without actually feeling them, which explains why some of us find listening to sad music enjoyable, rather than looking at it as sad music like many others. The listener doesn’t feel any real threat or danger when listening to music, so they can perceive the related emotions without having to have experienced the event. A study also proved that music training can improve our motor and reasoning skills. One study showed that children who had three years or more musical instrument training performed better than those who didn’t learn an instrument in fine motor skills and they also tested better on vocabulary and nonverbal reasoning skills.

The Benefits of Rap Music

The first part of this literature review focused on the effect that rap music has on the brain and the different ways that it is used to help people grow and learn, but now we will take a look at how rap music has positively affected the lives of youth and their daily struggles with life and finding their own way in the world. While many people look at rap music as a genre that glorifies and promotes violence, weapons, drug abuse, and is abusive towards women in society. Studies have proven that rap music has a positive effect on youth and society as a whole, helping young african american males deal with issues that they will face as they grow and mature. Those who are athletes whether it be professional or amatuer are able to use rap music to enhance their performance on the field or help them get into the mindset to go out and perform at their highest levels. It’s also been used to highlight social issues such as racism, police brutality, government and legal corruption that would not otherwise be talked about in larger media. Rappers are often times looked to as role models for the black youths and their lyrics have been used as a sort of guide for growing up in the world and also used a positive image for these youths on success and getting a better life than the ones that they currently live.

The social effect of rap music. Rap music began as a way for black youths and young adults to express their feelings about their everyday lives which are filled with poverty, crime, violence, racism, poor living conditions, drugs, alcoholism, corruption, and prostitution. Rappers and their lyrics have often been used as a collective voice of the voiceless people in these poor communities and has been used to highlight many issues that would otherwise have gone unnoticed by the people that it didn’t affect. Errol Henderson stated: Rap music has had a profound impact on the African American community in the United States. Its greatest significance, to my mind, derives from the fact that it has fostered a profound nationalism in the youth of Black America (Henderson, E. (1996). According to the Recording Industry Association of America, rap music was the second highest selling genre of music in the United States behind rock music.

Athletes have often credited rap music with helping them get into the zone before big games. Many different studies have shown that music can actually enhance the physical abilities and overall focus that an athletes need before performing. This relationship between music and general performance is known as disassociation. Disassociation is a process that in which an individual detaches himself or herself from a particular activity. Focusing on the music distracts ones attention from the fatigue and pain. Olympic sports psychologist Professor Peter Terry showed that elite athletes can run 18% longer when listening to music. In the study Professor Terry stated his athletes running on a treadmill could extend themselves eighteen percent longer if they listened to music in tempo with their stride (Science in Our World: Certainty and Controversy. (n.d.).

How youth use music to deal with emotions and life events. According to Psychology Today, millennials are reporting the highest levels of clinical anxiety, stress, and depression than any other generation at the same age (Why Millennials Are so Stressed-and What to Do about It. (n.d.). Today’s youth are able to regulate their emotions by experiencing a connection with other people due to the music we hear, which has been proven to give them an emotional boost. Youths feel a connection with the singer of a sad song, due to the same feeling of sadness we are then able to share and under the artist’s own sadness. Sad music can help us deal our own pain, and connect with the artists emotions that are expressed in their favorite songs. Rap music has been proven to give users hope of getting out of their current lifestyle of poverty and sometimes depression and living a life of happiness that they want to live.

Rap music has also been known to help millennials deal with life issues such as death, relationships, drug abuse, and other life events. It’s also been used to connect different people from different backgrounds, people who enjoy similar music genres connect easier with each other. Similar taste in music could be an indication that that person has similar points of view in life such as you. A young person dealing with their first heartbreak or breakup can go too their favorite artist and be able to connect with the artist’s song on a similar subject and is able to use that to get through the issue. This music connects deeply with adolescence and has been known to influence identity development for young people. This feeling of connection with another person is important to a young person who may feel like they are alone in the world and don’t have anyone else who understands them or their emotions, even if they don’t fully understand these emotions themselves.

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Rap Music and a Young African American Males. (2020, Mar 23). Retrieved January 27, 2023 , from
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