What is hip hop and is it influnceing listeners to condone violence and drugs.
First off to set the record straight, this is the truth nothing outside of this is true
and if you agree great if you dont agree thats your bad. But I am tired of people saying “I
listen to hip hop”, stupid you cant listen to hip hop. Can you listen to the 70s??? NO you
can listen to the music of the 70s. That was a period of time, a generation, a culture. Hip
Hop is all of these things. What is hip hop? Hip Hop is everything, and nothing at the
sametime. Hip Hop is a not a genre and shouldn’t be categorized as such. I see countless
search engine after search engine and big business after buisness that looks down on the
culture and sees it only as a music type. We are not that. Hip Hop is more. It is not
rap/Hip Hop. Rap is a part of hip hop. It is some of the music that comes out of hip hop.
There have been M.C.s since before hip hop. Hip Hop brought emcees that perfected this
art. Hip Hop is first people only see rap, r;b, and the other musics as Hip Hop; when
these are only part of Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a feeling. You feel it everywhere, you’re at a
party and you hear that beat in your head, the tingle in your arm, and that feeling you get
to jump out and say “hey shorty whutz ya name?” thats Hip Hop.
Enough of the poetic disjustice. Hip Hop is not just a black thing. Yes I am black. Yes
blacks created Hip Hop. Yes blacks perfected Hip Hop. Yet the people who lead the way
to hip hop were not racists. And if you believe great men like Martin Luther King Jr., who
fought for equality would want his decendants fighting over an area of equality, You are
MISTAKEN! Hip Hop is large and is growing now lets prove that to the world.
Dont fight over to whom it belongs and dont let it become catogorized as just a fad of
music. Please dont let them look down on us with prejudgice as “a bunch of bad influence
drug dealers and gangsta rap wanna be’s” because we are more than this. We are hip hop.
Let it just consume you.
It’s unexplanitory, how I gets sic lifted higher than a hundred stories; I take a
beer and I guzzle it, I’m speakin’ so shut your mouth and muzzle it; smokin’ el’s and rollin’
reefer, I’ll get you more fucked up than a can of ether; so beautiful when I light it up, and
then I cup my hands when I fire it up. –Wax of ESMob, “Lil’ Ass Playa” (Losee 1995)
Lines much like these are not uncommon in today’s rap music. Many artists are
integrating the subject of drug use into their songs. This combination can be found on
many of the Top 40 and Billboard charts; music such as this has become acceptable and
mainstream, especially to younger listeners. In the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, the
presence of drugs in rap music was non-existent. If rappers talked about drugs, they
advocated against them. The rap classic, “White Lines”, by Grandmaster Melle Mel,
educated listeners about the dangers of drug use and drug abuse. Drugs were not
acceptable in rap music such as they are today. If an artist even mentioned marijuana or
any of its thousands of synonyms, the media and the listeners reacted in shock. In the
mid-1980s, rapper Run of Run DMC claimed, “I keep a bag of cheeba inside my locker”
(Ro 1996, p. 73). Even this single sentence produced shock waves. From R;B’s “Brown
Sugar”, by D’Angelo, to Cypress Hill’s “Hits From the Bong” and Method Man and
Redman’s “How High,” all angles of rap music have seemed to blend drug use and music.
It has become agreeable to mix these things; all three of these songs were higher than
number ten on the Billboard music charts. It is possible to go to any club in any major city
and see hundreds of teens bouncing around and bobbing their heads to this music. Not
only do they dance to it, but most could recite all the lyrics — as they take a hit of a joint.
It is almost impossible to challenge any artist about their choice of words. Most take no
blame; they will fault the system, society, or even their peers. Many artists say that they
cannot write their chart-topping music without first “smoking a spliff” (Waxenberg 1995).
Platinum-selling artist Method Man says, “I can’t just smoke some regular weed and write,
’cause regular weed don’t . . . do nothing for your thoughts. But when I smoke some
headbanger boogie, some of that . . . Hawaiian, I be writin’ super, crazy, ill bombs” (Smith
1995). This is an almost customary answer given by artists. In almost the same words of
Method Man, rapper Lc of ESMob says, “If I don’t smoke a blizzee, my words come out
all plain. But if I smoke one of them fat, super-dooper hooties, I’ll write some crazy,
psycho rhymes” (Waxenberg 1995). Most artists will simply ignore responsibility and
claim that it is simply freedom of speech. If one is able to talk to an artist seriously (most
of the time off the record), he will admit that drug abuse is plaguing society and creating
self-destruction. It is easy to question a rap artist about his or her sayings, but what
happens when a group named Tha Alkaholiks sells over 500,000 copies of their album? It
is simple to quickly jump to conclusions and say that they have a lot of problems and that
they are poisoning listeners. However, Tha Alkaholiks’ producer, E-Swift, says that he is
aware that the name may be exploiting a widespread, deadly disease. He quickly comes to
the group’s defense offering:
We don’t drink to the point where we gotta see doctors or no shit like that. We
coulda sic turned it into a gimmick, dressing all bummy, always in the same clothes, and
carrying a forty — but we didn’t. We’re aware that alcoholism is a serious problem. But
alcohol isn’t only in hip hop. You see it everywhere you go (Ro 1996, p. 74).
This is seemingly a weak defense, but Swift has a point. At any time of the day, anyone
can turn on the television and see someone drinking a martini or mixing a daiquiri. If a
problem arises, someone will fix a drink. All over every city we see bars and restaurants
promoting happy hours. When questioned, most people cannot remember the last time
they were at an alcohol-free party. Brett Orsak, an executive producer at The Dallas
Co-nec-con Records, says, “What is a party without a beer or a bottle? I don’t think I’ve
been to a party without alcohol since my twelfth birthday” (Waxenberg 1996). It seems as
though most rappers are not lying when singing about “smoking a blunt and taking a
joyride” (Losee 1995). However, it is evident that most artists do not drink twenty forties
per night. Lc says, “Yeah, I like to get drunk. Who doesn’t? But when I’m talkin’ about
drinking a whole keg, that’s obviously bullshit. No one does that. I may have a forty or
two, but that’s it” (Waxenberg 1995). Many artists state that it is simply a state of mind.
Swift says that he used to have a drinking problem. He claims that he probably still drinks
as much; but that it is a different frame of mind. When author Ronin Ro asked Swift if he
was just an alcoholic in denial, Swift said, “You prob’ly sic right. But am I hurting you or
your family? I don’t think so. So mind your own” (1996, p. 74) Reverend Calvin Butts and
C. Dolores Tucker, both advocates against rap music, would most likely disagree. Butts
and Tucker claim that even mentioning such things as drug abuse have an effect on young
listeners. This is, however, a debatable issue. Many patrons against rap music claim that
the artists are promoting drug use and drug abuse. This allegation is difficult to deny when
one views the examples. Platinum-selling artist Redman was featured on the cover of High
Times, lighting a blunt. In this particular issue, Redman wrote an article about how to roll
a blunt. Rap groups Cypress Hill, Funkdoobiest, and Total Devastation are all advocates
and promoters of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).
Almost all of their promotional material (posters, t-shirts, etc.) contain pictures of
marijuana leaves as well. A particular Cypress Hill poster pictures a skull with an afro of
marijuana leaves smoking a joint. Below the picture are the words, “Stoned is the way of
the walk” (Waxenberg 1996). On the album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…,” by Raekwon, he
is pictured cooking up something resembling crack. Also, on ESMob’s first album,
“Eastatic,” an unrolled joint is pictured — the rolling paper embossed with the word
Eastatic. Inside the cover, behind the disc, there is a picture of baggies of marijuana, a
stack of bills, a pipe, and a necklace with a marijuana leaf. After seeing such material, it is
hard to deny these allegations. One of the best known artists and producers in the
industry, Dr. Dre, has based almost his whole debut album, “The Chronic,” with drug
paraphernalia. The disc itself is completely covered with a drawing of a marijuana leaf.
The album contains such songs as “The Chronic,” “The $20 Sack Pyramid,” “High
Powered,” and “The Roach”. When Dre was a member of the breakthrough rap group
N.W.A., he said on one of his songs, “I don’t smoke weed or sinse, ’cause it only gives a
brother brain damage / And brain damage on the mic don’t manage” (Ro 1996, p. 76). On
“The Chronic,” Dre boasts, “Make my bud the chronic, I wants to get f—ed up” (Young
1992). There are, however, some groups which advocate against drug use. Most widely
known is the breakthrough group Public Enemy. Lead singer Chuck D has long been
known as a positive rapper. He travels to schools and prisons to talk about leading a
positive life and staying away from alcohol and drugs. It is quite ironic that Chuck’s
sidekick, Flava Flav, has been arrested more than once for possession of crack cocaine,
and is currently in rehabilitation. Chuck says, “Glorifying alcohol and drugs is a quiet
admission of defeat. But it’s what folks consider bangin’ at the moment” (Ro 1996, p. 74).
Chuck has very strong feelings against the use of drugs. In 1992, he sued St. Ides (a
manufacturer of malt liquor) for using a Public Enemy song in a commercial. Chuck says:
I seen to many fights behind this . . . Today you have the same situation, but
instead of beating you up, someone’ll sic run out to their ride and come back with a tool.
The problems are ‘accessible ammunition’ and ‘distortion of reality.’ When these two
combine, it leads more brothers to the grave . . . In a quiet way, it’s an admission of defeat
. . . but for some of us, our lives aren’t all bright and sunny (Ro 1996, p. 76).
It is difficult to deny that Chuck is right. Drugs are not only creating violence, but they
seem to be destroying our society. To many people, mostly children and teens, the forty
ounce is a symbol of “manhood, rebellion, ghetto chic — even a career choice” (Ro 1996,
p. 74). It is difficult for many teens to have fun without a forty or a joint. Songs such as
“Tap the Bottle,” by Young Black Teenagers, and “Make Room/Last Call,” by Tha
Alkaholiks, do not help this situation at all. Passing a bottle between friends while hanging
out at a park is not alcoholism to most teens; but rapper MC Main One says, “If you can’t
hang on the corner . . . and chill without a forty being part of the schedule, it’s definitely
the pre-stages of alcoholism” (Ro 1996, p. 74). If a kid must have a forty to have fun and
to not be bored, there is obviously evidence of a drinking problem. This idea is a problem
that can be blamed to the contents of some rap music and its promotion. It will continue to
be a fact of life that all people, especially Americans, drink alcohol and use drugs. It is
somewhat disturbing that these things have the ability to place music atop the charts;
however, it may be inevitable. Vibe Magazine reporter Ronin Ro sums up the facts of this
situation by saying, “It’s entertainment. There are horror movies if you want to feel scared,
porno for perverts, and weed rap for smokers” (1996, p. 76). The fact is that there will
ceaselessly be drugs, and there will always be music; these two things somehow will
always find a way to commingle. The best solution may be that the drug problem is solved
and all rap music becomes positive, but a perfect world is impossible. Although this may
be negative, it is true; Americans need to realize this and accept the music for what it is.
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Ro, Ronin. 1996. “To Be Blunt.” Vibe. 4.3: 72-76.
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