Engaging hip-hop (Online discussions)

Thinking about the music in a global context and using specific examples, how would you respond to this list


  1. Personality matters more than “skills.”
  2. When white people enjoy “ignorant rap,” it feels racist.

3.     Explicitly political rap music will never change the world.

4.     Rap treats women horribly.

5.     Most criticism of contemporary rap is rooted in biased nostalgia.

6.     Rap’s popularity has declined significantly in mainstream America.

7.     The Internet A&R decimated the quality of popular rap.

8.     Rap makes violence seem very cool.

9.     Rap is the single biggest promoter of drug abuse in popular culture.

10. Most conscious rap is condescending, simplistic, and corny.

11. Rap is a really bad influence on children.


37 thoughts on “Engaging hip-hop (Online discussions)

  1. I don’t agree with these statements just because of the fact they are blaming just rap. Rap can’t be a bad influence. The lyrics or the artist can be a bad influence. In a global sense, personality doesn’t always out way skills. For example, the Palestinian rap groups are popular because of what they are talking about and there skills on the mic, especially since there’s not a lot of rap groups where they are from. Also, rap is not the only thing that makes violence seem cool. Most the time when artists are talking about violence, they are talking about personal experience. There are plenty of other things that promotes violence; video games, toys, books, etc. People have been blaming rap for all the negative things for a while but no one wants to make a list about what rap has done in a positive light.

    • I agree with you that its not just rap that can be blamed. I feel that the people who made this list are ignorant of hip-hop and its background. To blame just hip hop isn’t a legitimate argument. Popular culture is what we can blame this on. The media is what feeds us into thinking these types of things about hip-hop. I think that before anyone goes around blaming hip-hop, they need to analyze and research what they are trying argue. Hip-hop is an outlet for a lot of people, especially youth. I like the idea that your brought the rap groups in we watched in the videos because they are a key example we can use to argue that hip-hop is not a bad influence. People need to think about the obvious and look at the culture we live in that’s militaristic and based off media before they say such ignorant things.

      • I agree with you that the media is at fault for this negative portrayal of hip-hop. Hip-hop is always linked with something negative that happens in our world.

    • I agree with you that rap is not the root problem. Rap music is just a factor and a reflection of our popular culture. However, I disagree with you that rap cannot be a bad influence. If rap is able to influence people to do positive things then it can also influence people to do negative things. I think when we say what rap cannot be, we limit what it actually can be. Rap is versatility and versatility can be good or it can be bad or both at the same time.

    • I agree with you. I don’t believe rap is the root of these problems. I think that these stereotypes regarding hip hop mostly come from the media. There’s a lot hip hop that promotes positive thinking and has been an outlet for a lot of people ever since it first started. I definitely don’t think this list applies to hip hop globally. I think the rappers from Palestine, like you brought up, is a good example of this. They are using rap and hip hop to bring awareness to serious issues their community is facing. Instead of participating in the violence that surrounds them they are speaking out against it. That goes completely against number 8 on the list above. Not all rap has negative effects on society, people just need to become more informed and aware.

      • Yes, the Palestinian rappers are a great example of what hip-hop really is & the purpose it is meant to serve. We need to find a way to create more awareness towards rappers like the Palestinians.

  2. When I read the list that we were given in class about the top 25 things that people think about hip-hop, I know that the list was made out of ignorance. Most people don’t analyze the background and history of the art. There are some stigma’s in the list that could somewhat be correct, for example number 4 but it’s not just rap that treats women poorly. We can blame one certain thing on why women get treated horribly. Any man or even women can treat a woman poorly. Yeah, there are raps that talk about woman discreetly, but we the people are the ones who choose to listen to it when we could be listening to other artists who haven’t hit the limelight yet. Another thing I want to point out is who is defining these 25 things? Number 2 states that “When white people enjoy “ignorant rap,” it feels racist. The first question that arose in my mind is “What the hell is ‘ignorant’ rap? And why is it racist?” Anyone should be able to listen or even make this kind of music and no be pointed at as “feeling racist.” We learned so many things throughout this class and when I read these comments, it enrages me that people can be so ignorant about something that they know nothing about. Number 11 says that rap is a really bad influence on children. This is actually the opposite in most cases. Youth, especially youth of color, use rap as a tool to let their voice out and be heard. They could be in a type of environment that doesn’t allow them to do this and rap and hip-hop is the only outlet that they have. How is that a bad influence? Youth can connect with hip hop and rap because they could be experiencing or experienced the same thing as the artist dealt with. For example, the Palestinian and Kenyan youth that raps to get their message out to deal with the oppression in their country. Hip-hop is a great tool for all people to use, and I feel that all people should at least research before they go bashing on hip-hop.

    • I agree with your argument, because we are the consumers. We choose the artists we like or the ones who their music had affects on us. Rap can be seen in a negative or positive way,but people always talk about the bad side and forget to talk about the good side for example the affect that rap has on people, the way it makes us feel. I do not think hip hop promotes violence because I feel like artists are sometimes talking about violence because they want to show their masculinity which means they want to fit into being hood, hard. Also when it says that rap treats women horribly, I think that those women want to be treated that way, because if hip hop treated women bad then why are they in the music videos. I feel like rap should not be blamed for it, because they are not the only one there is also businesses and in society. Women are treated bad mostly everywhere. Hip hop has influenced a lot of people to live their lifestyle and we as the consumers are the ones who choose our favorite artists it is our choice to decide which artists sale and make it big. So we need to make wise decision when choosing artists that we want to make it big maybe it is time to give those artist in the underground a chance to also make it big and bring new style into hip hop.

  3. These so called “attributes” of hip-hop are biased opinions that came from a benighted individual. To say that Hip-Hop is solely the responsible body that makes violence cool, treats women poorly, its a bad influence on children, and that it promotes drug use in popular culture is ridiculous! What about video games such as Grand Theft Auto, or films such as Scar Face? These are negative influence consumption channels as well. Sure, some Hip-Hop may be negative in its message, but Hip-Hop offers so much more. If you look past the stigma that uneducated individuals observe, you’ll find that Hip-Hop is healthy for popular culture. It gives outlet for those that suffer with “under the table” issues. It allows people to portray an important message that educates others of the unknown issues within our country. Music is one of cultures most important art forms, and Hip-Hop is special in that it has the ability to move people; whether that’s negatively or positively. Don’t dog on Hip-Hop till you’ve been educated, as well as, been considered a consumer. It has the power to be a motivator, as well as, a positive influence for all.

    • I totally agree that hip hop does educate consumers in a positive and negative way and that there are other things out in the media that are also to blame for influencing consumers in a negative way like you said, scarface and Grand Theft Auto.

  4. I agree with you Kelsie, in that we the people get to decide what we consume and what we do not. We have the ability to listen to positive influential rap that maybe hasn’t hit mainstream yet. If you choose to consume music that belittles woman, and portrays male dominance, then in a sense you could be helping to support negative rap. I feel that Hip-Hop is a strong influential art form, and there are plenty of artists that use this outlet for the better; you just have to dig past the mainstream surface to find them.

  5. I disagree in some aspects of these stamens, rap as a whole is not causing problems to our society. I do believe that some Rappers are causing problems to our youth, as some of them speak horribly about women, they also make it seem that killing and using drugs is okay to do. But of course hip-hop was created to express feelings of oppression and mistreatment. So as any other art form hip-hop is a way to express feelings, so I don’t agree with the stamens that say that all hip-hop does is negative. We see the positive impact it has made in other countries.

    • I somewhat agree with what your saying. some of the subject matter that is talked about in hip hop existed way before hip hop came around. as you were saying hip hop is a form of expression but it is also a depiction on our society as a whole. Some hip hop artist choose to talk about the negative aspects of society but at the end of the day what they talk about is in society and is not entirely fiction. the variety in hip hop allows for their to be successful and talk about uplifting subjects that can make a difference.

    • I think you are on the right track with your argument, rap as a whole cannot be blamed, or even genralized into a single thing to blame, which i think the heart of the problem with this list is. I like how you say that hip has was created to express feelings, it shows that hip-hop might not always be happy or fun, it can paint pictures of anger and violence because that is what it was born from.

    • I agree with Cinthia that there is good and bad to what hip-hop artists are talking about. She has a point that hip-hop is a form of art for people to express themselves and if they are talking about drugs, sex, violence etc. because it is what they have lived through and dealt with. Which becomes the main topic of many rappers lyrics. Everyone is going to react to a song in their own way and how you follow up with your reaction is what is mostly concerning in society if it the reaction is destructing.

    • I agree with what Cinthia is saying that there are some rappers that give hip hop a bad name by the types of videos they make and the lyrics they use. However, its not as bad as this list is making it out to be and should not be blamed for all violence and drug use. It has had a positive impact on many different cultures and an opportunity for kids growing up in “the ghetto” to follow in the footsteps of other artists. Hip hop is about speaking your mind and expressing yourself so it should not be looked at all negatively.

  6. I disagree with these statements, but not completely. They are of course overexagerating by making thses kind of statements, but each sentence has some truth behind it as well. Does rap treat women badly? sometimes…does rap promove volence? sometimes. Therefore, it is true that we cannot completely say that all these social issues of racism, Misogyny , violence etc. are just the product of of rap. There is a good and bad side to everything and rap isn’t the exception. This doesn’t mean that we should blame arts for the issues happening around us. We should blame the people. So, although some people have made the mistake of promoting negative things through their music, we also have the people who have given us positive messages as well. There is always two parts of everything depending how you view things.

    • I can agree with your belief of only some of the listed items. These exaggerations are the stereotypes that surround hip-hop. Each statement off the list has truth to it. For example, the statement “rap treats women horribly” is true because the majority mainstream rap objectifies women. However, I believe the statement “explicit political rap will never change the world” to be false. Rap has one of the largest platforms in the world, so it is conceivable that it could, in fact, change the world.

      • I agree with Karla. There is truth to some of the statements that are listed, but Rap is not to just be blamed for the promotion of sex, drugs, and violence. That to me is pop culture, which Rap has, became to be a part of since it is popular amongst youth. However, Rap at it’s best, in my opinion talks about struggle and truth of what people go through in the environments that they live in and it tries to challenge the social norms that have been around before, during, and after the existence of Hip-Hop. Even though it may talk about sex, drugs, and violence, it is just storytelling. It does not necessarily tell people to go out and do such things. The video “Slingshot Hip Hop” is a really good example of what rap is at is at it’s best is-storytelling of the hardships in life.

  7. Looking at the list it is easy to see how easy it was created because Hip-Hop can be used as an easy scapegoat. The ones that stood out to me the most were Rap’s popularity declined significantly in mainstream America, and Rap is the single biggest promoter of drug abuse in popular culture. The rap popularity decline one is hard to agree with because everywhere you look now it is easy to see media affected by hip hop, especially in reference to sports and even commercials. In reference to the biggest promoter of drug abuse in popular culture I disagree with big time especially with movies like Scarface, Blow, and Pineapple Express. As mentioned in class Adderall is one of the biggest drugs used on college campuses and you never hear about that in rap songs. Going back to the topic at hand I do agree with personality matters more than skills and there are two artists in particular that display this. Chief Keef and Waka Flocka (in my opinion) are not very skilled rappers but they have personalities that people try to emulate. They have a “hood” don’t mess with me mentality that people, especially in ghettos, deal with first hand so it gives them something to relate to. In reference to “when white people enjoy ignorant rap it is racist” I don’t know that it is racist, but in particular something that die hard colored rap fans don’t enjoy. I feel as though colored people in the rap community look at hardcore rap they view it as sacred and when “white” people enjoy it they look at it as a sign of disrespect. The reason it feels racist is because people feel as though raps that are talking about the struggle in ghettos is something that white people cant relate to but what people need to realize is that there are white people living there too.

    • Exactly. Hip-hop is used as the scapegoat because hip-hop is an easy target. Great call on mentioning the adderall abuse that occurs on every college campus in the nation. Hip-hop certainly does not emulate using a pill to help a student study. A far as the comment on white hip-hop listeners, I think you make a good case, too. Whites do face some of the same struggles and live in the same poor conditions, but whites face next to no racism. A very fine line must be drawn on the last argument because it can be swayed both ways pretty easily.

    • I completely agree with you in that hip hop is just an easy target. That’s why it’s criticized so much. There are other things to blame like the movies you listed: scarface, blow and pineapple express. Also, what you said about adderall being one of the biggest drugs used in college campuses and never heard in rap songs just proves that negative influence doesn’t come from rap alone.

  8. Could all of this be blamed on hip-hop? Yes, probably. However, should the finger only be pointed at hip-hop? Absolutely not. I mean, movies were certainly condoning violence and drugs before hip-hop was. Hip-hop does have many references to the violence, drug abuse, and sexual abuse that occurs in ghettos around the nation, but it’s not a story, it’s exposing real life. Hip-hop was an escape for young people in the Bronx and Los Angeles for many years prior to becoming a multimillion dollar media powerhouse. Unfortunately, money has transformed hip-hop into something it is not from something it was. Hip-hop in the mainstream is simply an image, there is no representation left. The movie Bling depicted this image issue very well. The consumer culture has consumed hip-hop and rappers at the forefront of hip-hop today. Rap is a lyrical film industry, taking after the same qualities that sell movies and video games. Rap is not responsible for the list above, consumers are, simple as that. If we want to point fingers, we should look at who’s buying the music, which are the same people that are pointing the fingers. Funny how that works. Hip-hop is one of the most powerful social outlets we have, and that can be argued with songs such as “Same Love” by Macklemore, which questions why America is so homophobic. Macklemore also donated all of the profits to benefit marriage equality in the state of Washington. Before we point fingers, we should also examine the other side of the hip-hop industry, or media industry for that matter.

  9. In my opinion, I believe that all of these statements are irrelevant and somewhat ignorant when talking about hip hop. I feel that this list was made by somebody that is nowhere near a so-called “hip hop collegian”. Rap music may seem to treat women horribly, hype up violence, promote drugs, and just be a bad influence on children in general but it is not the actual case for many artists. Once you look deeper into an artist’s history and background there is much more to them than what some say is promoting negative ideas. Many of these artists rap about their past which includes overcoming drug abuse, rough family lives, and living in dangerous neighborhoods. The only way they can express themselves and speak their word is to tell the truth about their past, no matter how explicit it may be. I feel that hip hop is held responsible and blamed more for communicating negative ideas than other forms of media is because a large majority of rappers past is involved with negative issues compared to the backgrounds of people in other areas of media. The stories they have to tell may be looked down upon by some but it is the only way they know how to express themselves and speak their mind to the world.

    • I agree with your opinion, and that these statements are ignorant. Hip hop is a form of expression, and that’s what most of these artists use it for. I especially agree on your point that many of these artists are rapping about their past and things that have actually happened to them. Rapping is how they tell their life story, and you don’t see any books or autobiographies getting the same criticism that rappers and their songs get. When you really think about it, autobiographies and some rap songs are basically the same thing. You have a strong argument and I agree with you %100

  10. I don’t really agree with this list. It seems it was made out of ignorance and based on stereotypes society has created for hip hop and rap music. Some of the items on the list, like “rap treats women poorly” and “rap makes violence seem cool,” aren’t completely true. I don’t think it’s fair to blame a genre of music for these effects when so many other aspects of our society are responsible for those types of claims. We could say the same negative things about video games, movies, toys, etc., however, rap seems to take most of the blame. Also, I don’t think statements like “rap is a really bad influence on children” are completely true. I remember one day in class we talked about how the youth has more informed about things like HIV/AIDS because of hip hop and rap. Of course, I’m sure there are certain types of hip hop that may have a bad influence on kids, but I don’t think it is fair to place such determinate allegations on a genre of music when there are so many aspects and sides to hip hop. Obviously, the list has to contain some truth because the statements have to stem from somewhere, but whoever wrote the list is obviously biased. There may be some negatives coming from hip hop, but there are also definitely some positives that the list doesn’t highlight.

    • Some of these statements hold more truth than others, and some are unwarranted and misleading, generalizing hip-hop music as “rap”. Especially when rap music is such a diverse genre with so many different types of rappers, to say “Rap treats women horribly” we can point out songs in rap that do exactly the opposite, stand up for women and point out how they are mistreated like Ludacris’s “runaway love”. When I see the first statement I see some truth in it, a lot of the time rappers make it off of their personality and extravagance rather than skill or lyricism. A perfect example of this is Gucci Mane or Wacka Flocka Flame, half of the words you cant even understand but they are successful because of their extremely unique and flashy personalities. I think statement 8 has a lot of truth in it too. When kids grow up seeing music videos filled with fighting or guns and gang violence it seems extreme and “cool” to children who don’t really know better, but at the same time there is rap about anti-violence and peace and love so to say rap makes violence seem very cool is shallow and not seeing the whole picture. Which is what I think a lot of these statements are, shallow, and not giving rap credit for its flaws and imperfections, as a huge diverse music base. Such generalized statements cant be warrented unless the other side of each is also looked at.

  11. I don’t believe that these statements. You cannot simply blame rap for all of these things, there are too many other reasons that these things happen. What you hear in rap and hip hop is what’s popular. In order for the artist to get people to want to listen to him, he needs to talk about things that they can relate to. What consumers want to hear about is what’s popular in society. You see violence, sex, and drugs all over television and other media sources. That’s what people want to hear about. So of course rappers are going to talk about those things in their music. So to blame rap and not blame news stations, newspapers, and American culture would be ridiculous. Also, a lot of rappers make songs about things that they can relate to. Things that actually happened to them. So when a rapper makes a song about domestic violence and gets accused of his music being violent to women, who is to say that the message in his song isn’t something that he experienced growing up? The same goes for violence. Rappers who grew up in the hood where there was violence and death often make songs about it. Most of these songs aren’t made to make violence seem cool; they are songs about the hardships they went through when they were young. Songs about the pain and suffering that violence has caused them. So to say that rap is doing all these things, without acknowledging other reasons is just plain stupid.

  12. This list seems like it was written by someone with a bias already against rap. They have obviously let the media be the only source to educate them about hip-hop. There are some statements that hold some truth to them but you can’t generalize rap from a few songs. I believe rap can be a negative influence on children, if you let it. It all depends on what type of rap you are letting your child listen to. Some rap songs have a powerful message and are trying to educate the world on what is really going on.

    • I totally agree with you that it does seem as though the list is written by someone against rap. I feel it only focuses on mainstream rap which does mostly talk about negative things and can be a negative influence in youth.

      • Yes this list does seems like it was written by someone who doesn’t like rap music. Rap music is’nt the only influence out there. Whoever wrote the list needs to look more deeply into the situation before they make statements about rap.

  13. I would have to disagree with most of the comments on this list except for one or two things. It is not fair to blame rap for a majority of the things society views as bad as it is not the only thing influencing our society negatively. Television shows, music videos, video games etc. are all huge influences to children and teenagers regarding drug abuse, violence, and mistreating women and children. Video games such as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto, and Resident Evil are all examples of violent video games that kids as young as 6 or 7 play and are influenced by. It is not fair to solely blame rap music for everything based on stereotypes of the music as there are plenty of other influences. It sounds like these biases are based on the rap music that we have made popular and is played everywhere which are typically about partying, sex, drugs and the degrading of women. Rap is such a broad genre that does not only rap about drugs or violence; there are plenty of raps and rap artists that are rapping about the hardships of the lower class and making a difference in the world. Society needs to start looking at other factors that lead kids to turn to violence, drugs etc. because rap cannot be the only factor.

  14. There is some truth to the examples given on the list but I don’t think that rap is solely responsible to for all of them. For example, saying rap makes violence seem cool is an ignorant statement because much of popular culture is guilty of this as well. Basically every action movie has some type of violence in it and that helps draw people in to it seeing it. The same can be said for video games such as Halo or Call of Duty where the main theme in those games is violence and you go around shooting people. That should be looked at as more of a bad influence on children than rap music as well because kids are playing those games more than they listen to rap music. Number 9 on the list seems a bit over-exaggerated saying that rap is the single biggest promoter of drug abuse in popular culture. Sure, a lot of hip hop artists are known to smoke weed and rap about it, but once again its movies and the media who deserve much of the blame. How often do you see movies where they make doing drugs seem cool and fun? Placing this on rap alone would be a ridiculous claim to make. Overall I don’t think rap music is as bad as this person is making it out to be.

    • I agree with what you are saying about rap music it is not the only thing that makes violence seems cool. Video games and movies also make violence seems cool so you cant just blame it all on rap music.

  15. I don’t agree with these statements mainly because they just blaming rap. I mean in some cases rap can be a bad influence, but so can movies, schools, prisons and so on. Globally, skills can matter more than personality. Like for example, the Palestinian group DAM is more known for their skills around their area since they rap more about the issues that they face in their community. Also the statement that says “rap makes violence seem very cool” is not entirely right. I mean like I said before, rap can make violence seem very cool, but so can other institutions such as video games like Grand Theft Auto where there are numerous ways to break the law and be violent. What I mean with all this is that this list was just made of pure ignorance. It’s ridiculous to just point fingers at rap and say that all the bad influence comes from that alone. The list doesn’t take into consideration how rap can be a way to express issues communities face. For example, songs sung by Lupe Fiasco that talk about real issues don’t promote violence or any of that. Songs like that instead bring awareness to issues and can actually educate youth in a positive way. I feel this list was made based off of mainstream rap consumers get today where rap mainly talks about the drugs, violence, sex etc.

  16. When we were given this list in class, I looked at it and thought that there were so many other situations that these phrases could pertain to. These statements sound like they come from close-minded individuals. Looking at the list as a whole, different circumstances can have these issues other than hip-hop artists or rap music in general. Some of the statements that stood out to me the most were numbers 8 and 11. The statement, “Rap makes violence seem very cool” is definitely untrue. There are so many other things that portray violence as being “cool”. Different scenes in movies, schools, consumers and one of the biggest things are video games. Companies wouldn’t invent new video games, if the consumer didn’t find interest in them. All the new games that have recently come out have to do with violence and killing people. Also the statement, “Rap is a really bad influence on children”. Blaming rap to be a bad influence on children is an extremely biased statement. Alcohol, drugs, abuse and other things are bad influences on children. Depending on what artist you listen to, they will most likely have a positive influence and affect on individuals. Lupe Fiasco and Mary J. Blige are some artists that give off positive messages not only towards adults but also children. In Lupe Fiasco’s video “Bitch Bad”, he talks about how certain things have influenced the minds of young children and how because of what they see, they want to act just like characters that aren’t sending positive messages. Overall this list needs to be looked at in a more broad perspective rather than just say that these issues only happen because of rap music.

  17. I agree with most of the things on this list. That does not mean I don’t like rap music, but there are some aspects of rap I disagree with. I don’t like the way the women are being treated through lyrics, I don’t want my younger brothers and cousins to think these are acceptable ways women should be treated. Kids can listen to rap music but there should be a limit to it because we don’t want this youngsters walking around only talking about money, drugs, girls, and killing people.
    This list is only focusing on the negatives of rap music. I think there are some positives things about rap music. Rap music is not the only bad influence out there. Sometime rap music can talk about issues that some of us are scared to talk about. These issues could be bad or good but at the end of the day at least they are being brought up so we can look at it and learn from it.

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