Hold rappers responsible for their negative influence

Musicians have always influenced culture; the way we dress, speak, even the way we think and act. They are role models placed on a pedestal to be admired and, in some cases, practically worshipped by the masses. Musicians must realize their impact on listeners. In particular, young, impressionable minds – their core audience.

In the past, youngsters looked to rock stars for an example in bad behavior. Now, rap outshines rock, and the power of influence has shifted.

Rappers should be held responsible for many of the problematic trends they’ve started.

Finding a rap song that doesn’t talk explicitly about drug sale and use, murder, gang activity, greed or violence is like finding gold in a coal mine.

Though the tales these thug poets spin are often fictionalized, they glorify immoral and illegal behavior with each new track.

When Ghostface Killah rhymes, “A kilo is a thousand grams, it’s easy to remember,” he’s not giddily hopping around with Elmo teaching kids about measurements on Sesame Street. In his pre-track banter, he said, “I can’t feel my face yo,” it’s quite evident that he’s not talking about the laughing gas at the dentist. Instead, he teaches rap lovers that selling cocaine in mass quantity is a great way to make a fat pile of cash.

When the cops ask you why you have a sack of white powder strapped to your undercarriage, it is not a valid excuse to say, “Ghostface said it’d be tight, G.”

Rap videos do everything they can to set back the women’s rights movement 160 years. Most rappers’ sole interest in women seems to lie in how quickly they can bounce their backsides.

In fact, TWISTA invented a new word for a babe with bulbous buttocks – the “Badunkadunk” – not only is this the title, but the song’s entire lyrical content focuses on a stripper with supreme booty-shaking ability with lines like, “Can you make it go wobbly-wobbly, come on and follow me, take you on a bodily odyssey, and um, If you let it go jiggly-jiggly makin’ it wiggly baby, you could never get rid of me.”

The insult to females also comes in the diction rappers use, which replaces socially acceptable terms for women with the “B” word. Another descriptor popularized by rap shares its name with a garden tool used for weeding and tilling, but with far more derogatory connotations.

Rappers not only insult women, they insult their own heritage by popularizing the use of the “N” word, a hate-filled term that had fallen into disuse except by bigots.

Rappers use it synonymously with more politically correct terms for people of African descent, thereby making it seem acceptable or even cool, when in fact history would show not one positive usage of this racial slur.

Repeating practically any line from a typical rap song would prompt your mother to wash your mouth out with soap.

The violence caused in reaction to rap tracks is the clearest indication of the influence rap holds on listeners and the lives of those creating the rhymes.

In the 1990s, two of rap’s greatest voices, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. (Christopher Wallace), were silenced by gunfire as a result of their rap feud. One would think rappers would learn from these tragic events, however, it appears nothing has changed. In fact, rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson promotes his “street cred” by constantly mentioning how he was shot in the face. Do rap listeners really aspire to be shot in the face? Is having an ER doctor extract bullets from your grill the new hip way to spend a weekend? Some rappers, including Common and Mos Def, seem to understand their ability to influence the masses for the better or worse, and choose to promote positive values like equality, peace and unity. If more rappers chose to use their platform to promote a better society, the world, or at least the rap community, just might be a little bit better.

Michael Best is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Longview.