The Influence of Rap Music

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Rap music may not only potentially ruin the futures of the children listening, but also the future of America. It is safe to say that rap and hip hop is taking over the music industry, especially with the younger generations as the main audience. The problem with this is the content of the music and what it is actually about. The violence, drug use, gang life and sexual discrimination that are depicted in the genre of rap music puts many of its listeners at risk of actually participating in these awful behaviors in real life. This is a huge problem in today’s society because if nothing is done about this, bright teenagers with the potential of a successful future could actually end up in prison if they decide to participate in the harmful activities. The most popular rap songs in the music industry today are all about the same thing. They all promote dangerous activities. What many people don’t realize is that these children look up to their favorite music artists. If all the person they idolize is speaking about in their music is doing drugs, having sex, violent behaviors and many other disturbing things, then that is what the children is going to think is the cool thing to do. It is time to stop letting the influence of rap music stop flooding the minds of innocent children and teenagers. The poor influence of rap music has the potential to harm many lives because the most famous rappers are role models and what they do and what they rap about is what the people that look up to them will want to do.

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My experience with rap music has definitely been a mixed one. There are many rap songs that have an outstanding message behind them. For example, Frozen by Joyner Lucas is a song about why people should not drink and drive, text and drive, or street race. The overall message behind the song is to drive safe. In all honesty, the song made me change my whole perspective on driving and I have not even dared to text and drive since I watched that music video. Unfortunately, songs such as Frozen are not what is popular in hip hop today. Many of my acquaintances listen to what is referred to as trap rap, or gangster rap. These songs feature the rappers promoting the use of drugs, violence and sexism. I have witnessed a few of my acquaintances go down a bad path specifically because of the influence of rap music. One of the closest friends I have ever had in my life fell into this influence around the time we turned sixteen years old. He began selling and doing recreational drugs, started getting in trouble with the law and even seemed more aggressive than normal from time to time. He perceived these activities as the cool thing to do because he was under the influence of rap music. I tried to help him and I tried to get him away from participating in these dangerous activities, but the more I did that, the more it was like he was fading from my life. I decided it would be best if I started to keep my distance from him because I did not want to get myself into any trouble. As much as I wanted to help him, I felt like I couldn’t. I figured it would be better if he figured it out for himself because nothing that I was doing was working. He needed to figure out himself that the people that live this lifestyle only end up in one of two places: the graveyard or jail. Unfortunately for him, it was jail. If it was not for the negative influence of rap music, there is a chance I would still have my best friend. The real problem was not the music itself, but simply the way he was perceiving the music instead of facing the harsh realities.

There are two sides to every argument and some people may argue that rap is a good influence or that it just doesn’t matter. One might argue that this genre of music is simply misunderstood. There are people that say that rappers have a much deeper meaning behind what they are saying in their lyrics and people are not truly understanding. According to Edward Daniels, Rap music has a side to it that especially the older generation does not understand. In some cases, even the younger generation misinterprets it and up doing things they are not supposed to. Every rapper has a message with every rap he does (13). The point Daniels is trying to get across in this statement is that rappers are not intentionally trying to spread a negative message, but their lyrics are not being interpreted by people correctly. The problem with this argument is that the problem is not what the rappers are saying in their lyrics, but how the listeners are perceiving this music. Yes, the song might have a deeper message, but that is not what the kids are getting out of it and it is causing them to go do the ridiculous things these rappers are doing. This all comes back to perception versus reality. The listeners are perceiving it as one thing, when in reality it means something completely different. The way these young minds interpret this music can be extremely damaging and could take them down a very bad path in life. In his work, Jonathan McCaffrey states, It’s the outlaw appeal, the rebellious posturing and indulgence in the forbidden, that makes hip-hop intriguing to kids in the first place. Parental guidance is strongly suggested when listening to this music (27). The biggest thing is, kids just want to fit in and will do anything to do so.

Rap music can cause violent tendencies in the teenagers that listen to it. One of the most common topics in modern rap music is violence. When teenagers and children hear their favorite rapper who they idolize talk about their violent behaviors, that is going to make the teenager believe that the rapper’s lifestyle is more exciting, dangerous, and entertaining than a simple lifestyle. Hence, making them want to participate in the same violent behaviors. According to Anthony Giovacchini, Western Connecticut University conducted a study on this subject. They had eleven teenagers sit down and watch a rap music video that featured gang related violence and another eleven teenagers watch a music video that had nothing to do with violence. They were then asked a series of questions that pertained to real life scenarios and what they would do in that scenario. The results of the study showed that the teenagers that watched the more violent music video were more likely to give a more violent or aggressive answer to each question they were asked (7). The cause of the teens reacting more aggressively after watching this music video is psychological. Within his works Anthony Giovacchini states that media violence produces short-term increases by priming existing aggressive scripts and cognitions, increasing physiological arousal, and triggering an automatic tendency to imitate observed behaviors (9).

This is something that is impossible to control and can happen to anyone that is under the negative influence of rap music. Rap might not only have a negative impact on teenagers and children, but society as a whole. This genre of music might be causing an increase in violent crimes in the United States. Imagine all of the violent crimes that might have been avoided if certain people had not listened to this genre of music in the first place. Gangster rap originated in parts of the city where there is poverty and law enforcement does not do as good of a job protecting against violent crimes. If rap music becomes scarce among teenagers and children, there are many violent crimes that could be brought to a stop before they even get the chance of happening.

There is an excessive amount of profanity in rap music today. This is a problem because the children listening to this music will start to believe that using that amount of profanity is an okay thing to do. There are many videos on the internet that show footage of children using strong language at a very young age. These children should not even know what these words mean. On an episode of Doctor Phil, a thirteen-year-old girl named Danielle Bregoli was screaming profanity at her mother and Doctor Phil, yelling things such as, Catch me outside how bout that? This is one of the very few things she said that did not contain any strong language. Unfortunately, she is one of the many victims of the poor influence of rap music. She is taking in what is in the music and trying to make that who she is as a person. Rap music is having this same exact influence on many children across America. According to Christopher Rodkey, When Children hear the strong language that their idols use, they take on the persona that is illustrated in the music and begin to use the language themselves (43). Children cannot be exposed to this music because they believe if the person they look up to the most is doing something, they should be doing the same thing.

In conclusion, rap music is a horrible influence on the young minds of the United States. The way the listeners perceive this music has the potential to ruin their lives. Because of the negative influence of rap music, children are going to begin using very offensive and strong language. Rap is known to cause violent tendencies in people and can cause the rate of violent crimes to go up in America. There is already a lingering underage drinking problem that exists in our country and the only thing rap music is doing for that is encouraging it. The promotion of drugs is something that should never be done, but this is present in almost every popular rap song. My prediction for the future of this problem is that if more and more people continue to spread awareness on this issue, the more rap music will begin to change. More people will begin to appreciate different kinds of rap that discuss real world issues and help make a difference in this world. If nothing is done about this, crime rates will continue to escalate and we will begin to see a rise in violent and drug related crimes, and sexism. Things will only continue to get worse than they are now.

Works Cited

  1. Bregoli, Danielle. Doctor Phil, Season 14, Episode 3, July 2006.
  2. Brown, Veda. “Guiding the Influence of Hip-Hop Music on Students’ Feelings, Thinking, and Behaving.” Negro Educational Review, vol. 57, no. 1/2, Spring/Summer 2006, pp. 49-68.
  3. Cabrera, Claudio E. “Killer Who Claimed Rap Music as Influence Executed in Texas.” New York Amsterdam News, vol. 96, no. 42, 13 Oct. 2005, pp. 4. EBSCOhost,
  4. Daniels, Edward. “Hip-Hop Music and Culture.” Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice, edited by Sherwood Thompson,vol. 1, no. 1, 2014. pp. 10-33. Credo Reference,
  5. Giovacchini, Anthony. The Negative Influence of Gangster Rap And What Can Be Done About It. Poverty & Prejudice: Media and Race, 1999, pp. 4-11.
  6. Keyes, Cheryl. Rap Music and Street Consciousness. University of Illinois Press, vol. 1, no. 1, 2002, pp. 17-32.
  7. McCaffrey, Jonathan. “Hip-Hop Culture and Rap Music.” Encyclopedia of Race and Racism, edited by Patrick L. Mason, Gale, vol. 1 no. 2, , 2013, pp. 3-95.
  8. Perkins, William. Droppin’ Science: Critical Essays on Rap Music and Hip Hop Culture. Temple University Press, vol. 1, no. 1, 1996, pp. 22-45.
  9. Rodkey, Christopher D. “Rap Music.” Culture Wars in America: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices, edited by Roger Chapman, and James Ciment, Routledge, vol. 2, no. 1, 2013.
  10. Tanner, Julian. “Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance.” Social Forces, vol. 88, no. 2, Dec. 2009, pp. 693-722. EBSCOhost.
  11. Teachout, Terry. “Bad Rap.” National Review, vol. 51, no. 3, 22 Feb. 1999, pp. 14-15. EBSCOhost.
  12. Wilkins, Nathaniel. “Hip-Hop Generation/Youth in High-Risk Environments.” Journal of Park & Recreation Administration, vol. 17, no. 2, Summer99, pp. 107-112.
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The Influence of Rap Music. (2020, Mar 23). Retrieved January 30, 2023 , from

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