Is Modern-Day Hip-Hop Negatively Affecting Black Culture?

Serenity Karee, Editor/Writer

Hip-hop has been around since the 1970s and is prominent within the Black community. Back then, hip-hop was a way for African Americans to help endure low socioeconomic conditions. That is how hip-hop became a part of Black culture. 

A photo of rapper, Snoop Dogg
By: gcardinal

What do modern-day rappers rap about today compared to what old-school rappers rapped about? Is the content in their music positively or negatively influencing our generation? Some would deem it favorable; meanwhile, some would consider it to be negative.

When going in-depth about old-school rap music compared to today’s rap music, there is a difference in what is being talked about in the lyrics. Most of today’s rap music is centered on drugs, sex, and money; meanwhile, most old-school rap consists of real-life scenarios. The funny thing is that the rappers that rap about drugs are most likely not doing the drugs that are referenced in their music. 

Back then, you had rappers like Tupac Shakur that would rap about real-life scenarios and things that were based on his experiences such as growing up in low-income environments and being involved in street life. A lot of people took him seriously because of the poetic style that was used throughout his music. 

Sadly, rapper Tupac Shakur’s life was cut short at the age of 25. Six months later, The Notorious B.I.G. was killed due to the ongoing rivalry between the East and West Coast rappers. There were remarkable times when hip-hop caused division between people and motivated violence. 

Thankfully, after both of their deaths, there was no battle between the East and West Coasts, which is what many people expected. 

In today’s society, this issue is ongoing and much worse where rappers are dying at the hands of gun violence. What is the link

behind this issue? Are their rap lyrics glorifying gang activity and gun violence? 

Photo shows late rapper, Tupac Shakur.
By: Duncan Cummingbehind this issue? Are their rap lyrics glorifying gang activity and gun violence? 

When listening to today’s music, particularly music that glorifies violence, sex, money, and drugs, some would say that it is negatively influencing our youth, especially African American youth. There have been cases where rap music in general has helped people endure formidable situations and has motivated people to succeed, but let us talk about how hip-hop may negatively affect oneself. 

The rappers that rap about drugs may influence a youngster to do the same drugs and sell them, meanwhile, the rapper that is glorifying it may not use it themselves.

The National Institutes of Health mentions that listening to rap music is positively associated with drug and alcohol use and aggressive behaviors. Listening to rap music can alter our emotions both negatively and positively, and it can have a great influence on our life choices. 

Is gangsta rap causing violence and division in the Black community? Most gangsta raps include misogynistic, sexist, and violent messages that reach young Black audiences and cause them to want to do the things that are being conveyed in rap music. Is hip-hop creating this bad image that seems appealing to viewers and can cause them to make immoral and unlawful decisions? 

What is the commonality behind why Black rappers, particularly, Black male rappers get killed at an alarming and rapid rate? Could it be gang-affiliated, social media, or could it be the messages they are sending in their music? 

Hip-hop seems to lose artists every year from XXXTentacion to Takeoff. It is an unfortunate, sad situation because most of these artists were young, successful, wealthy, and extremely talented. According to The Atlantic, it says:

One reason the violence has gotten worse is social media. Rappers are trying too hard to “flex” online to the detriment of their safety.

When someone is “flexing,” they are trying to show off the riches and luxury they have which is common in the hip-hop community. Knowing there are jealous people out there, it can be dangerous to boast about the luxurious lifestyle you have, especially if you have a profession as a hip-hop artist. 

Social media is one reason why this can perpetuate violence among rappers because of the amount of jealousy, anger, and hatred that is associated with rappers getting money, primarily Black rappers because most are born and raised in the projects and never had that opportunity to come up. 

Hip-hop was meant to be a way for African Americans to come together and endure low-socioeconomic issues. The evolution of hip-hop has gone from having good storytelling and lyricism about someone’s personal life, but now it is more focused on unimportant things such as colorism, sex, drugs, and misogyny. How can hip-hop artists make hip-hop music back to how it was or even better?

Nipsey Hussle, for example, rapped about how he came up and helped the same community he grew up in, which is a good way of unification. Although Tupac had some misogyny in his music, he made music that was dedicated to women such as “Keep Ya Head Up” and “Dear Mama.” Imagine if artists would incorporate real meaning into their music; that would make our younger generation even better.

The fact that hip-hop was created as a way for Blacks to come together should not be used as a way for Black people to tear each other down; instead, it should be used as a way to help and motivate those who are struggling. There should be activism within the hip-hop industry, and music in general. Educating and leading our youth in the right direction.