Do you or your family members like rap? Can it provoke violence? How to choose the right music for teenager? You’ll find out everything you wanted to know about rap music here!
Rap is one of the most specific and controversial musical genres that have emerged over the past decade. Rap music is a significant part of the culture of hip-hop. It is reflected in the experience of the existence of African Americans in various border situations: from life in the context of racial stereotypes to fight for survival in the harsh conditions of the ghetto. Before answering the question whether rap music promotes violence, we must recall its history.
In these cultural environments with lack of voice, rap gives the voice to the oppressed, it gives the form of protest for those, who appeared on the sidelines of society and culture, and it provides an alternative model of style and cultural identity model. Thus, rap - it's not just music for dances and parties, but also a form of cultural identity, which has huge potential. It became a very effective mean of cultural and political expression, a kind of ‘the CNN for Black’ or ‘satellite system’ in an environment, where rates of high technology are rising. Over time, rap has become a cultural virus, its images, sound and outlook are in circulation across the cultural and political sphere.
Rap artists such as Grandmaster Flash, Run DMC, Public Enemy, Ice-T, NWA, Ice Cube, Salt'n'Pepa, Queen Latifah, Wu Tang Clan, Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, the Fugees and many others, have created a new musical genre, which uniquely expresses the anger of urban lower class, its sense of oppression, its open rebellion. Due to the relatively low costs associated with the production and distribution of popular music of black artists, so the producers themselves are often able to control this form of music production. They have created a means of communication, relatively free from censorship and control of the ruling class and the dominant social groups. Moreover, rap is a part of the vibrant hip-hop culture, which today has become the dominant lifestyle and behavior around the world.
The value of hip-hop and rap lyrics
Earlier in the XX century ragtime, jazz, rhythm and blues, and other Negro musical forms and means of expression have become part of mainstream culture. Likewise today, hip-hop culture is an important part of modern cultural style. Hip-hop originated from the dance and ‘club’ culture of the seventies in New York. Hip-hop, including dance shows, visual art, multimedia, fashion and lifestyle – it is a world popular fashion trend, the music and the style of the new millennium. It absorbs new influences, adjusting to a kaleidoscopic multitude of cultural forms and forces.
Hip-hop is heavily bodily culture: it is realized in dance and gesture. This expressive, dynamic and full of energy genre gave life to new dance forms, such as breakdance. Gesture, movement and bodily rhythm are key aspects of this cultural style, and, in particular, the musical performance. Hip-hop is also a vocal culture, voice and sound that rap gives. Borrowing sounds, intonations and rhythms of everyday commonly understood discourse, as well as the sound of traditional music, creatively using existing music technology and attracting new - hip-hop has become a noisy, verbal, rhythmic flow, supplying the soundtrack to life in the world of high technology, rapid transformation and tumultuous change.
As a visual culture, hip-hop creates its expressive language, an art form of graffiti, urban art and fashion (subcultural style). Digital media is a sign of the migration of hip-hop to a new cultural territory and into the next millennium. All together, these forms provide a vivid spectacle, offering style, identity, lifestyle, and politics to different people around the world. The culture of hip-hop subculture becomes authentic, relevant ‘postmodern’ style of existence.
Rap embodies many of the features of postmodern aesthetics. It absorbs all kinds of musical styles: rhythm and blues, funk, soul, reggae, techno, pop, house. At the same time, it wanders around the national cultures and geographic areas, is crossed with local forms of culture, acquiring national features and creating new cultural forms. Hip-hop and rap had an impact on other musical styles and modern culture, breaking the boundaries between music, image, shows and everyday life.
Rap becomes familiar backdrop for the postmodern technoculture part of advertising, films and television, new media and digital culture. In its most extreme forms rap blasts the boundaries of good taste and the rules of propriety in the culture, bringing in butt gap of mainstream new style of behavior - the noisy, vulgar and destructive, proclaiming its multicultural and potentially disruptive presence in the community, as well as the viability of marginal culture in the new world (dis) order. Being an organic expression of the urban hip-hop culture, rap has become a quickly taken as the characteristic sound of the African-American anger, rebellion, and cultural style of modern life experience.
Appearing of rap is usually associated with overseas 1970-80-ies., with hits of band Sugar Hill Gang ‘Rapper's delight’ in 1979, and Grandmaster Flash ‘The Message’ in 1982. Hip-hop culture began developing its own style, sound and demeanor on the stages of New York's parties in Bronx, Brooklyn and other areas of the ghetto in the late seventies. At the 80s a number of hip-hop and rap artists was presented to the public in New York, such as Grandmaster Flash, Afrika Bambaataa, Run DMS, Eric B and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-ONE, Tone Loc, Salt ' n'Pepa, Queen Latifah and Public Enemy.
The rap east coast is presented by the black nationalist fervor Afrika Bambaataa and the Zulu Nation, and radical policy Public Enemy, and feminism, Queen Latifah, and the emphasis on the experience of life in the ghetto from artists such as Grandmaster Flash, Run DMS and KRS-One. But we should not forget that from the outset there was a strong component of rap dance and club music; it was very expressive cultural form, had a strong energy charge.
Policy of rap
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Some black rappers, as activists see themselves as ‘knowledge gangsters’. These include the Black Liberation Radio, Mbanna Kantako and Zears Miles, who turned over the US scientific and military documents to find evidence of economic, cultural and biological warfare against blacks. Translating the information from the language of the white systems to the language of black, knowledge gangsters rebuild the main flow of information (mainstream) and hidden information (suppressed knowledge) into the ‘black flow of information’ (blackstream knowledge). That means they use the information and knowledge as an instrument of struggle and opposition to hegemony.
Sometimes this is accompanied by a black version of politicized paranoia when it conducted ‘geological’ white intelligence information systems for evidence of preparation of white America the genocide to destroy the black population. Conspiracy theories are really very strong in the black community. For example, surveys carried out in 1990 showed that one-third of African-Americans considered it a possible version that AIDS was deliberately created by the white government and scientists as a form of chemical warfare against them, seeing it as ‘disease of black’. Many also believe that alcohol and tobacco companies aimed at blacks to spread their poison.
Some rappers are trying to play a positive role in their communities. Initials group KRS-ONE - an acronym for ‘Knowledge reigns as the supreme ruler over nearly all’. These rappers urge their people to reject the chains of gold and ostentation and straight, unvarnished tell people what is happening in the black community. They also launched a campaign ‘Stop Violence’, which is a part of their songs, recordings and concerts.
For many rappers present time is recognized as a time to ‘wake up’ when ‘it is time to wake up’ and ‘do something for myself’. Although, like in any other genre, there are a lot of mediocre rap records and bands, but the best rap music is filled with political content. This content embodies what Herbert Marcuse called the ‘great refusal’ - the refusal to accept the domination and oppression. The rap song sounds often appeal to the traditions of the recent past and heroes of black radicalism, such as Malcolm X, the Black Panthers, H. Rap Broun and MLK. Thus, some form of rap gives an example of the political form of postmodernism: they put forms of media culture against the established social order.
On the other hand, there are also a lot of apolitical, narcissistic and prone to sexism rappers, such as 2 Live Crew and Snoop Dogg. They persistently remain the contemptuous attitude towards women and sing about good, fun times. Rap quotes of Snoop Dogg and the design of his disks - this is a panegyric hedonistic lifestyle: gin and juice, expensive cars, sex and money. World of hazards, paranoia, suffering and oppression, that is drawn in works of Tupac, are almost absent in the ‘Snoop adventures’.
Snoop indulges in the pleasures, keeping aside the cultural and political topics. In this setting, the difference between pessimism and apathy is erased. Like many other rap artist, Snoop is obsessed with the desire to be G - gangster, criminal who smokes weed and can kill with no punishment. His anger, which is typical to the situation in black districts, aimed against black fellows, and not against whites. He boasts: ‘I never hesitate to put a nigger on his back’ - in a dispute over a woman, as in the ‘Doggystyle’ composition, or in real life - for which he was prosecuted.
Snoop’s rhythms are fascinating, and his rhymes are really skilled, but his lyrics pass women through verbal shredder. Recall notoriety Hustler magazine cover, which depicts a nude woman, ground into mincemeat. The same is in his song ‘Ain’t No Fun’.
The widespread use of derogatory vocabulary indicates widespread sexism and oppression within the black community, the lower class is not necessarily enlightened class, and calls the angry protests of the female rap artists. Female rappers also appear in the album of an artist Ice Cube, saying male rappers, that their sexism is unacceptable.
Rapper Coolio, one of those who seem to hear the message, dedicating to ‘young black queens of the district, who have not lost their dream’ sing ‘For My Sisters’. Nevertheless, many rappers use unintelligible swearing. Even in the 1996 release Coolio urges men: ‘Throw your woman on the floor’. It is obvious that a black male culture of misogyny is inserted deeper than rap artists would like to admit - as well as a white male audience that buys and listens to rap recording.
‘Gangster’ identity often is nothing more than an advertising image produced just because it is well-sold. In fact, the market demands for more shocking things and it rewards all extremes. This is the cause of the complaints of some rappers that they have to pretend to be a gangster and do their work shocking as it is sold better. However, by the end of the nineties it has already accumulated so much aversion to excessive gangster rap that ‘hardcore’ members even began to look for new directions.
By 1993, the images of music and style G-rap crossed all limits. Violence erupted constantly in rap culture in real life, its sexism, romanticizing a gangster-style life alienated a lot of people of the genre. However, violence in rap reflects the excessive competition in contemporary capitalism, and its cruelty – it is an integral part of a society that puts sex and violence in the center of our media culture, and does not hesitate to use excessive force to protect the interests of the ruling elites, whether in the form of brutal police against the lower class, or in the form of military intervention against the proclaimed enemies of the state.
Mr. Gates, trying to explain the extreme rap, says: ‘When you face a stereotype, you can try to get rid of it, or you can accept it and strengthen it in the nth degree. Rappers take the worst fears of the white Western culture to black people and make of them a game’. Indeed, there is an element in rap, which characterized as a wicked parody of constant violations of the measures of hyperbolic exaggeration, leading to the need for ongoing recovery rates, which makes the subsequent presentation even more extreme than the last one.
Rappers often justified by arguing that they only describe the experience of black and voiced warnings about ‘black rage’. Cockman suggests that the purpose of the black verbal aggression is ‘to get from the others without resorting to actual violence, such respect and fear, which are often sought by physical force’ and so rap can actually help to reduce the number of physical violence. But most people think these explanations cannot be considered satisfactory.
So rap is a very ambivalent cultural phenomenon, generating contradictory consequences. At its best, rap is a serious mean of protest against racism, oppression and violence. It draws our attention to the critical state of the internal area of the city and describes the position of African-Americans. Rap gives positive value of black, singing culture, pride, strength, style, and creativity of black.
It gives voice to groups excluded from the mainstream communication system and allows members of other social groups to understand the experience of life in the black community better. It creates a number of oppositional cultural practices and musical resources that can be used by other groups fighting for justice and liberation. This is a powerful wake-up call, urging African-Americans and people of other audiences to break the cycle of drugs and violence, to fight for broader social change, to take responsibility and to take on the revival of their lives and the lives of the community in any possible way.
At its worst, the G-rap itself demonstrates racism and sexism, glorifies violence, and, in fact, becomes a machine for the production of money. That is a part of the problem rather than its solution. Rap is a disputed territory, and G-rap is only part of a much broader and more spanning multifaceted hip-hop culture, which became the dominant cultural forms and styles of the current era.
So rap music is a complex and multidimensional phenomenon, associated with a number of different phenomena. Rap is a powerful tool for cross-cultural communication, giving a white audience the opportunity to hear the voice of the black and understand their point of view, which otherwise would have remained unheard. Rap music makes the listener to remember, no matter how painful it is, about the differences between black and white, rich and poor, men and women.
Rap music gives white audience uncomfortable knowledge of the suffering of blacks, their bitterness. Thus, more people belonging to the privileged class audience get the opportunity to go through the painful experience of urban ghettos. They may also face grotesque caricatures of their own common prosperity chanting using rough translation of the newly formed wealth of black rap artists. Homophobic and racist installation indicates that the oppressed lower class of the population is hiding prejudices and aggression towards other oppressed groups. Anger is often directed against their colleagues and other groups that occupy a subordinate position; thus, depression and dependence are multiplied.
Rap is a significant part of the ‘post-modern adventure’ that makes a society, becoming increasingly multicultural and multiracial, learn about their differentiation and learn how to live with a different and dissimilar. Real rap music does not promote violence, it makes people think about things, they may have never seen or met.
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