Rap Music in Society by Preston Marchant

Preston Marchant

Popular Culture


Rap Music in Today’s Culture

            In our culture today nothing is impacts our society more than the power of music. When looking on the internet for polls and surveys for how much time Americans spend per day listening to music most of them tended to vary around two to four hours per day. That ranges from fourteen to twenty eight hours per week. When looking at it from a yearly basis, people are spending roughly around 1,200 hours a year listening to music. That is an extraordinary chunk of Americans lives. When looking at the past rock and roll music played a huge roll in popular culture. Rock influenced daily life, fashion, attitudes, and language throughout most of the twentieth century. Now moving forward into the twenty first century and our culture today it seems as though rock music is getting pushed out of the mainstream norm and we are switching to hip hop/rap music, especially in today’s youth. This is bringing a new twist in our culture and we can see it by the way young people act.

To understand the affect rap music is having on society we first need to look at the different themes behind this genre and what these artists are saying. First, what is rap music? This is a kind of music that forms when words are recited rapidly and rhythmically over a pre-recorded, typically electronic instrument backing. Now what are these rappers saying? Most of the themes in rap music today are the hardships of growing up (rappers use the terms “ghetto” and “the streets” to illustrate this), gang violence, drugs, sex, and making money (and spending it). As an example of this being used in today’s music I want to quote some lyrics from a rapper named Kendrick Lamar from a song of his called “M.A.A.D City” where he describes the hardships of his life growing up in Compton. “That was back when I was nine, Joey packed the nine. Pakistan on every porch is fine we adapt to crime, pack a van with four guns at a time… A wall of bullets comin’ from AK’s, AR’s, ‘Aye y’all duck,’ that’s what momma said when we was eatin’ the free lunch.” As you can see violence is strongly being shown in this song. He also makes several references to drugs in this song and throughout his album “Good Kid M.A.A.D City” makes many references to other themes like sex and making money. I also think that Kendrick Lamar is using this song to give him this rep that he is a tough guy because he grew up on the streets of gang violence, drugs etc. I think that rappers have a strong tendency to use songs like this to show that they belong in the rap game.

Another example I want to show is about the popularity in music for rappers to talk about recreational drug use. In a song called “Juicy J Can’t” by a rapper named Juicy J he quotes, “Smokin’ weed from the bong and the lean got me sprung, molly in my veins got my heart beatin’ like a drum.” This is just one of the million examples I could have used to show artists talking about their use of drugs. I think that this is something that is taking a big effect in our society today. Many young people are growing up listening to their favorite rappers talking over and over again about how awesome drugs are and that the use of them is okay. Where the public opinion on this varies once thing that I’d like to point out is that last year during the presidential election the question of legalizing marijuana came up on our ballot. Although it was turned down by the public it’s not likely for that to be the last time the legalization of marijuana will come up. I think as younger generations grow up the votes will start to turn and it’s more likely that recreational drug use will become the accepted norm of our culture. I think that rappers and hip hop artists are having a strong influence by all the references to drugs in their songs. So if rappers are having such an influence towards our future voters I think it’s important to study this as a part of popular culture.

In conclusion there are many ways in which rap music influences our culture. One last way to show how rap is becoming a major part of our society is by advertisements by the media. Adidas came out with a commercial for their ‘quick ain’t fair’ campaign that used the rapper ASAP Rocky as the narrator (also used one of his beats as the music in the background). This commercial was focused on basketball as the product were basketball shoes and they used ASAP Rocky because rap is a popular genre in sports, especially basketball. However, this is another great example of how the media is bringing rap into popular culture and I think if we are studying popular culture hip hop/rap should be included in the study.


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