By: Hannah George//
Rap. What just popped into your head? Violence. Crime. Drugs. Bad behavior. At least, that is the stereotype the world placed over the entire genre of music, but fortunately, that is not the case. Over the years, the Hip-Hop scene has grown immensely, providing youth and young adults with the opportunity to channel their emotions in a positive light. The rappers themselves have also gone out of their way to stay clean and sober while making music and traveling the globe.
Originating back in the 70’s, America was finally coming out of a time of intense peril for those of African descent. The Civil Rights movement, for the first time, brought voting rights and fair property ownership to every citizen in America. With this news, African-Americans found more creative freedom in the states. Up in his neighborhood, DJ Kool Herc, or Clive Campbell, was scratching on his PA system and making up his own beats. Drawing in the kids from his block, everyone knew about this “new” kind of music called Hip-Hop. Little did they know, it would take the nation by storm.
On the poetic side of things, artists found inspiration from West African griots, blue songs, and jailhouse toasting along with Black power poetry by Amiri Baraka and Gil-Scott Heron. Embracing their emotions and culture allowed the 20th century youth to produce beautiful, meaningful raps that kept them from getting involved in gang-like activity. What could possibly be bad about that?
Now, with the technological side of rap advancing, today’s youth can generate songs, beats and raps with hardly any trouble, so many people are finding it to be a great hobby. Getting in touch with controversies, emotions and hardships help these young adults understand the world, thus making them deeper individuals who stay out of trouble. However, most are noticing that the empowerment and poetry is being slowly defiled by “gangsta-rap,” which aims more towards demeaning, rough lyrics. Sure, some of the songs may leave a sour taste in your mouth, but artists are taking note of this and are opening up about how healthy their lifestyle actually is.
Millennial artists such as Lil Yachty, Vince Staples and Kendrick Lamar have sworn to sobriety even if their lyrics poke fun at it. Hearing this on social media and on the internet really digs deep into today’s youth, encouraging them that you can still have fun, make sick music and simply enjoy life without ever picking up drugs or alcohol. This Hip-Hop movement to decrease substance abuse really has been taking off. Young adults listen carefully to what major musicians have to say, and with rap taking off all over the world, their messages are heard loud and clear.
Besides keeping kids clean, Rap also opens up a way for people to connect with each other. Let’s face it. Most raps are extremely personal, emotional and raw. By taking the time to turn their experiences into a poetic song, people can share their stories with the whole world on apps like Spotify and Soundcloud. More and more raps are popping up, which means more opportunity for gigs and being signed. Playing a simple gig could connect one with a thousand others, ultimately leading to jobs, internships and maybe even relationships. You might be saying, “ Well, any type of music gives someone those opportunities.” Yes, but not all music is from the heart or talks about someone’s life. You can really learn about a person and their story through their raps, thus bringing them close to others who can relate or feel for them.
Of course, Rap keeps the brain sharp. Think about it: In school, writing rhymes and poetry that actually made sense was tough and kind of a chore. Today’s youth are doing this for fun, and they are adding a beat to go along with it. The creative process involved in making a rap can aid them in all sorts of writing such as a résumé, a college essay or even an article. Just take a listen at some of the 21st century raps. They’re genius.
So, yes, the stereotype of the rap scene will linger for a while longer, but if you dive deep into it, you’ll notice it’s not all an endorsement of bad behavior. It’s beautiful, stemming from the soul, derived from poetry and ancient folk tunes. It’s a diary of someone’s life on display for the world to enjoy, grieve with or be inspired by.