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The Rap On Rap. Essay

1804 words - 7 pages

"You're looking at a guy who teaches inner-city kids and who is telling you face to face that he has problems with kids based upon the rap music" (Bill O'Reilly, "The O'Reilly factor"). American TV and radio talk show host Bill O'Reilly along with many other media outlets have heavily criticized rap artists for glorifying violence and promoting bad behavior. Critics argue that kids listening to rap music will adopt their 'gangsta' personas, demote women, and adopt bad behavior. However, musicians sing or write songs about their experiences and rappers are not any different. The content of rap music is assembled through a rapper's connection with their geographic environment. Rappers defend themselves by claiming that rap is an art form and they rap on what they see and the harsh realities they face everyday in their geographic environment. Rappers are also able to financially support their friends and families and create jobs within the struggling community. However, because of the lack of opportunities in that environment, participation in activities like drug dealing and gangs has increased. My objective is to explore how spaces, regional divisions, and communities influence rap artists and by doing this I will attempt to answer why rappers include lyrics that promote bad behavior in their songs. The paper examines the effects of all these on the contents of rap.Hip hop has been built through the relationship with their environment. In both past and present, local places have shaped and influenced rap artists. 'Tagging' in the neighborhood was also linked closely to the development of Hip Hop in different areas and territories. Tagging is the practice of using markers or spray paint to write one's name on public property (Forman 2000, p25). In the early days, hip hop culture always maintained local ties and an element of competition waged through hip hop's cultural forms of rap, break dancing and graffiti. In the late 1980's, rap acts such as KRS-1, NWA, and Ice T broke onto the scene, localizing their songs and representing their hometown on a global sale. Representing according to Murray Forman is employing multiple communicative modes and cultural practices to define and articulate individual or posse identities, spatial locales grounded in the 'hood, and other aspects of individual and collective significance. Hood refers to urban ghetto regions and places of significance. KRS-1, a New York rapper, released a song called 'South Bronx', who alleges that Hip Hop started in the Bronx(Forman, 2000, p25). His track disputes the claim of various rappers from Queens who, claimed that they were rap's true innovators. Over in Compton, California, where gang culture was increasing in a rapid rate, rap acts NWA helped popularize 'Gangsta' rap. Through their songs, they communicated the detailed imagery of violence and poverty in their area. The term 'gangsta rap' is usually more concerned with criminality than any other sub genre of rap. The criminal...

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