The history of rapping dates back to approximately 2000 years ago. Back then, stories were told rhythmically over a simple drum sequence among the storytellers in the world, which later developed into a significant culture. This altered into unique versions for different ethnic groups. This initial form of rapping was modified by the African American communities after the 1960s, mainly in Bronx, New York City. Although the official birth of rap music is not clear, it is undeniable that modern rap began as a genre along with the New York “DJs” sampling percussive beats based on disco, funk, and soul. The 1970s and 80s allowed DJs to thrive, including the rise to fame of the MCs. They initially formed record labels which expanded the potential of those artists to dominate the mainstream music scene, such as Billboard. The hip hop culture significantly transformed, and this thriving era became known as “the golden age” of hip hop. The genre of Hip hop music became even more commercially successful, becoming the top-selling music genre by the late 1990s.
|Photo by Christopher Polk|
Rap music has become a crucial part of youth culture nowadays. However, a recent study by the Prevention Research Center of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, California, suggests that teens who listen to rap and hip-hop are more likely to go through underage drinking and show violent behaviors. This research could not be ignored by the public. According to a poll published by the Pew Research Center in 2008, more than 70% of Americans believed that rap had an overall negative impact on society. Indeed, some rap songs might glamorize destructive behavior such as crime and the abuse of illegal products. Be that as it may, the reason why rappers make such music is quite simple and pathetic. 21 Savage, an American rapper, has mentioned in his song ‘Nothin New’ that when he writes provocative lyrics, he is trying to “feed my family, I ain’t being political”. Through this phrase, it can be suggested that the only way rappers generate high revenue is by producing stimulating lyrics in their songs. Many rappers come from impoverished backgrounds and intentionally include vulgar and explicit content in their music for attention. This shows that rappers are simply trying to do what they can to earn money, just like any other profession.
Those unsavory lyrics may contain violence and incitement of female abuse, but some argue that this is a characteristic of ‘gangster rap’ among the lower genres of hip hop and that it cannot be generalized as a characteristic of the entire hip hop genre. Referring back to what 21 Savage mentioned in his song, acknowledging the fact that the song that some view as rude and irreverent may be the only source of income to another person would be the first thing listeners do before criticizing hip hop culture.
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