One day our children will represent our future; they will emerge as a generation with the important values and morals that we are responsible for instilling in them. Many of us would not think that something like music could potentially harm or go against our endeavors. However, rap music in particular has developed in ways which staggers our best interests. While the rap industry should be shunned for their shameless productions, they are instead applauded, respected, and encouraged by fans all over the world. These fans fail to realize what truly lies behind rap music. Rap explicitly promotes unorthodox ideas, thoughts, and concepts which negatively affects the audience’s way of thinking. Because this serves as a threat to society, rap music must be censored and regulated before reaching the general public on television and public music stations; moreover, on public broadcasting networks. If we do not begin to restrict and censor rap music, the wrong role models for our society will emerge and negative influence will continue to govern the mindset of our community.
Although music content does not need to be exclusive to certain ideas, it is absolutely crucial that some ideas are censored when presented to the general public. After all, there is a difference between having an opinion and exploiting it through music to the public. When the rap industry produces songs which lack censorship, they pose as a threat to listeners due to the ideas expressed within them. According to The Numbers (n.d), an organization which stresses the importance of public broadcasting, over 170 million people are audience to radio stations, television stations, magazines, and other digital media–all of which are home to rap music productions (para.1). What they fail to understand is that an audience of 170 million people means that 170 million people are prone to the negative influences of rap music. Unfortunately, rap music has become so globally popularized that it now dominates other genres in music. To no surprise, rap music today can be seen and heard both in mainstream and underground media. For the rap industry this may call for celebration; for society, it calls for urgency and attention.
Within the rap industry, many negative influences and themes become exposed to the public through music. Drug use, alcohol use, sex, racism, degradation, and violence are just a few things outlined in most rap productions. These negative ideas are sadly becoming more and more consistent within rap songs but they continue to receive attention in a positive way. Derbyshire (2008) noted that “the number of drug references in rap music has risen sixfold” since its existence (para. 1). Furthermore, rap music has become an industry which seems to glorify illegal drug use without remorse. In a recently produced song called “Young, Wild, & Free” (2012), three very well known artists in the rap industry, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg and Bruno Mars, openly commend drug use. With over 60 million hits on YouTube alone, a very popular public broadcaster, “Young, Wild, & Free” begins with the lyrics “So what we get drunk, so what we smoke weed, we’re just having fun, we don’t care who sees..” These lyrics directly address that it is acceptable to drink alcohol and smoke marijuana. This conception is justified by the lyrics “we are young” and “we’re just having fun.” Although many would agree this is a catchy song, hence gaining overwhelming popularity, the lyrics of “Young, Wild, & Free” directly states that it is acceptable for society to participate in dangerous activities in our everyday lives, regardless of “who sees.” This message, repeated each time the song is played, ultimately defies the best interest of society. The lyrics, more importantly, unacceptably target an audience of youth.
In a recent article, Wiz Khalifa, one of the three artists responsible for the production of “Young, Wild & Free”, was recently convicted for the second time in two weeks for the possession of marijuana (Winston-Saelem, 2012). Although these cases trouble Wiz with the law, he still has no problem discussing his infatuation for the drug. His intentions and actions are those described of an outlaw, yet he is praised by his fans. Given Wiz’s current situation, the idea that he is potentially seen as a “role model” to some people (including children and teens all over the world) should concern the general public. While Wiz’s popularity soars due to his music, many people are often deceived. Most rap songs may captivate listeners and gain superficial recognition, but beneath the bass and rhymes lie the source of cynical ideology.
If drug users in the rap industry can pose as role models due to their popularity, imagine the same situation happening with convicted felons. Surprisingly, there are over 57 celebrity rappers who have once been or are currently behind bars (“Ranker,” 2012). In addition, many are returning convicts. These celebrities by definition are “renown” and have all dominated the rap industry at one point or another. For decades now, radio stations and public broadcast stations have allowed convicts and felons to step into the studio and express their ideas. This is ultimately not an issue until these artists begin to express certain scenarios related to their backgrounds including: violence, drug use, and sexually explicitness, etc. This situation has been ignored for many years, but if we do not begin to make better decisions when it comes to publicly broadcasting rap productions, the results may be increasingly devastating.
While artist Wiz Khalifa produces songs like “Young, Wild & Free,” advocating drug use, many other artists in the same industry have no trouble expressing their own perspectives–usually adverse–on other topics in their own songs. Due to the fact that public broadcasters tend to only censor some parts of these songs, and sometimes nothing at all, we must begin to implement better strategies of concealing not just the words to rap songs, but more importantly these common themes as a whole. This initiative will not only help keep negative themes out of the picture, but it will also associate better role models and idols for society and its children. While not every single rap song is guilty of producing negatively themed music, Parker-Pope (2008) suggests that one in every three popular songs contain drug or alcohol use (para. 3). The rap genre alone exponentially increases these numbers.
Specific songs, lyrics, themes, and perhaps even the people involved with the rap industry need to be filtered by a designated committee before reaching the public. Backed up by the support of people wishing for a progressive and healthy society, the specialized committee will designate which songs and productions are fit for public viewing or hearing pleasure. It is difficult to imagine that millions are at risk; however, by creating this specialized committee, we minimize the negative influences being projected unto the public. Given the circumstances, there needs to be grounds on which songs can or cannot be allowed for public broadcasting. Although this idea may upset a number of people, our community’s best interest depends on it. Every artist is ultimately allowed freedom to express their ideas, but the moment these ideas become unsuitable and improper for the general public, they must be concealed; or at least altered to the necessary degree.
For years now we have seen a steady incline in music production, but as productions increase, so do the numbers of negative topics and themes. The rap genre is more than partially to blame for this. As we try to pave the right path for younger generations, rap music deliberately hinders these intentions due to the fact that it increasingly references negative material. Rap music not only pollutes the listener’s mind but it receives recognition and acknowledgement while doing so. Rappers themselves also tend to receive considerable attention, thus making them prone to be viewed as role models or idols by fans and admirers. It would ultimately be a tragic outcome if we continue to allow the rap industry to freely exploit their common ideas and themes. It is absolutely crucial that we begin to effectively censor, alter, filter, and reject particular rap productions governed by a trusted and accredited committee. If we succeed, not only will rap music be more centered on positive ideas, but the mindset of our youth will no longer be at risk of corruption. Additionally, we will no longer risk having the wrong individuals represent our youth’s idols. However, if we fail to restrict rap music, we will face controversy between a remarkably growing industry and our ambitions to better our community and upcoming generations. Only then will we know the true wrath of rap music.
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