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Rap Music's Influence Upon Teenagers Essay

1518 words - 6 pages

People are surrounded by music every day of their lives. They hear it in their homes, on the radio on their way to work; some people have even caught themselves humming the tune of their favorite song to themselves. But how many people actually listen and not just hear the music they are listening to? Teens in particular don’t realize the message behind the music they are quoting the lyrics to, or the effect it has on them. In today’s culture where rap music has become increasingly popular, many teens aren’t realizing what they are listening to. A lot of teens would argue that the music they listen to has no effect on them, but they are wrong. Rap music, especially, has had a major impact on teenagers in today’s society.
The lyrics of many rap songs encourage violent and aggressive thoughts in teenagers. Many teens don’t realize that the music they are listening to affects the way they think. According to Morrison, a columnist whose writings focus on the impact of the choices people face every day, “Words do have meanings, meanings suggest thoughts, and thoughts lead to action” (Morrison). Even if the person isn’t affected right away by the violent lyrics of most today’s rap songs, eventually they will become more prone to certain thoughts. As Morrison stated, “In experiments on over 500 college students . . . subjects were found to experience an increase in aggressive thoughts after listening to songs with violent lyrics. Those subjected to the mean music were more apt to connect hostile meanings to words deemed to be violence neutral by the researchers” (Morrison). In time, words that aren’t intended to cause malicious thoughts, suddenly take on new meanings. Travis L. Dixon, who studies Communication at the University of Michigan, agrees with Morrison, saying, “The strongest findings seem to suggest that violent themes in rap music can prime other violent thoughts” (Dixon). In other words, violent lyrics can lead to violent thoughts and actions. Rap lyrics didn’t always have messages of violence sprinkled in them. According to the article “Media Violence Causes Youth Violence,” “Studies show that modern music lyrics have become increasingly explicit, particularly concerning sex, drugs, and, most troubling, violence against women” (Senate Committee). McWhorter, a senior in public policy at the Manhattan Institute who studies various aspects of race and ethnicity, stated, “Rap took a dark turn in the early 1980s, as this ‘bubble gum’ music gave way to a ‘gangsta’ style that picked up where blaxploitation left off. Now top rappers are writing edgy lyrics celebrating street warfare of drugs and promiscuity” (McWhorter). The lyrics of today’s top rap songs are sending the wrong kinds of messages to young teens.
Many of today’s rap songs have underlying messages that promote bad values. Morrison states, “Marketing messages of hate and violence to children sends the signal that violence is widespread and normal, that it is acceptable to...

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