hip hop

Rap Music: Then and Now


Rap music, which traces its origin to the African-American culture, is now allegedly a chaotic-sounding-genre of music with provoking lyrics and videos showing random violence, gang intimidation and such themes.

The earlier Hip-hop-rap scene of the 50s and the 60s spoke about hopes, dreams, ideals and aspirations of both the black and white teens in the quality music by the artists of that era. Early black music united the American youth and the country’s choice of music was almost parallel. There were some rebellions but they did not down-rightly produce immoral and degrading content. The earlier rap-era had artists like Stevie Wonder, Smokier Robinson, Lionel Richie, the Temptations, the Shirelles, Mary Wells, the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas, the Four Tops and their likes who gave the typical teenage romance and relationship.

Radicalism was introduced in rap with Beastie Boys’ amusing “Fight for the Right to Party” and the appearance of more radical rappers like Vanilla Ice and Eminem. Rappers gradually emerged and began shouting and ranting words that featured intimidation, class conflict, hatred of authority, defiance, insolence, animosity and conflict.

The rap-music today is leading the listeners in a rather disturbing direction. It seems as though this whole culture takes pride in being notorious. For instance, it is almost like being in prison is a “status symbol” while taking drugs and indulging in beefs is something “cool”. Above this, the portrayal of women in the rap videos is again a matter of concern. The perception seems to typecast the woman as an object. On humanitarian grounds, this isn’t a very kind picture to create. Such materials coupled with suggestive lyrics can easily manipulate the vulnerable youth.

The blockbuster charts say a story more clearly, although it is hard to agree with. It is a choice-demand situation. People are watching, adapting and adopting such a culture which is why the top-hits are often the songs you can’t hear with your mother. What saddens one more is the further lack of creativity. The poetry only goes as far as a poor vocabulary and the music is far, far from inspiring. What use is such manifestation of power and capacity to generate admirers if no good can be done to society? If Rap music boasts of a generation full of fans, then it should also remember that with recognition and admiration, comes responsibility. Rap has a responsibility towards its audience and it’s time now that the artists come forth and take it up seriously.

Source by Louisa Putnam

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Mitchel Turner



I’m a journalist from Oxford specializing in hip-hop and culture.