Rap As A Subculture

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Rap music has become increasingly popular over the years ever since its rise in the late 70s, early 80s. Artists like Drake, Tupac, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Snoop Dogg Kendrick Lamar are all household names today thanks to the mainstream popularity that rap music has achieved worldwide. Eminem, and Snoop Dogg are all household names in the rap community thanks to the mainstream success of rap music worldwide. Rap music, otherwise known as Hip Hop has influenced society throughout the decades since its creation. All music genres develop their own subcultures. The rap subculture does have a value to it because it conveys the message of the African-American community, it provides an outlet for the at risk youth, and the overall of the impact it has made on society.

Rap music originated in the late 1970s and has since taken the world by storm. Rap music comes from “music that is a mix of the spoken word, traditional singing, and poetry that is accompanied by some form of a rhythm,” (Nair 1). Rap music has generally stuck to its roots of spoken word accompanied by rhythm. Today there are many different genres of rap music, each with their own spin on the original formula. Rap music first came from the South Bronx in New York and became popular at the parties held there. The first rappers, otherwise known as “MCs’ were responsible for the success of rap music today,without “MCs” it is unlikely that rap music would have been as popular as it is today.

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The rap subculture does have value to it because it discusses the struggles of the African-American community. The African-American community has faced of injustice directed towards them for decades. They are one of the many marginalized groups in America. A lot of rap artists write songs about guns and gang life as a reflection of the struggles they went through in the inner-city ghettos and housing projects many grew up in. Many people believe that because rappers write songs about violence that they mean harm to the younger audiences listening to their songs, but it is really, “the outcry of an already-existing problem from youth whose world views have been shaped by experiencing deep economic inequalities divided largely along racial lines,” (Blanchard 15). Rappers write songs about the past experiences that they have gone through while growing up. Unlike some of the more fortunate people in America, these artists faced violence, discrimination, and economic struggles. Rap artists feel it is necessary to write songs discussing the issues and struggles they had to deal with while growing up so that more people will become aware of those issues and make a change. An example of rap artists writing songs about the struggles they faced growing up in America are from NWA’s “F*ck the Police,” with lyrics “A young n***a got it bad ‘cause I'm brown/ And not the other color, so police think/ They have the authority to kill a minority,” which talks about the police brutality that is commonplace in the African American community. These lyrics talk about an issue that has been in America for years and has not made much progress in fixing. NWA wanted to rap about this issue in order to thrust it into the spotlight so media outlets would have to talk about them. Many rap artists have used their songs to talk about social issues like NWA has done and they will continue to do so.

The at risk youth use rap music as an outlet escape from the problems they face on a daily basis. Many teenagers listen to music for an average of “four and a half hours a day” according to a recent study done by a data collection company, Nielsen Holdings. These teenagers use music in a variety of ways anywhere from studying to getting an escape from their problems. Some of these teens can relate to the lyrics being sung by their favorite rap artist. In Tupac’s song, “Changes,” the late rapper writes, “I see no changes, wake up in the morning and I ask myself/ Is life worth livin'? Should I blast myself?/I'm tired of bein' poor and, even worse, I'm black,” which a lot of people were able to relate to back when the song was first released and people are still able to relate to this song today. The song talks about the lack of changes in the world and the struggles of the lower class. People that are living in poverty are able to relate to the lyric, “I’m tired of bein’ poor,” and “I see no changes,” because for most people that live in poverty, they are trapped there for life and are unable to make substantial changes to their quality of life.

The rap subculture does have value to it because of the impact it has made on society. According to Forbes, rap music is “almost as popular on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music than the next two genres (rock and pop) combined,” (McIntyre 5). Millions of users go onto these music streaming platforms to listen to their favorite artists. This has caused Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming sites to profit off the success of these artists. Rap music’s popularity can be credited to the message that many rappers are spreading. While some rappers write songs about: drug use, money, and sex, others talk about important issues. These artists, Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, and Logic, to name a few, have changed the idea of what a rapper is by writing songs that call to attention the social injustices in America and provide commentary on these very injustices. For example, in Childish Gambino’s song, “Hold You Down,” Gambino sings, “The black experience is black and serious / 'Cause being black, my experience, is no one hearin' us.” Gambino is telling his audience that nobody listens to the injustices of the African American community, it is given a blind eye. In this song he talks about some of the stereotypes of growing up black in America and the struggles he went through as a child.

Unfortunately, the rap subculture is often blamed for inciting gang violence in America. While some rap artists do have ties to gangs, not all rappers are gang affiliated and to generalize the subculture would be a disservice to the good it has done. In fact, one could argue that any violence caused by rap music can be attributed to the hostilities felt between authority figures like law enforcement and the oppressed minorities that relate to the words sung by the same rappers that bring the issues to attention.

In conclusion, the rap subculture has impacted society in numerous ways, ranging from calling for social change to violent riots. Rap music has had a generally positive effect on society. Many rap musicians are responsible for making people realize the important issues in both America and the rest of the world. The rap subculture does have some value to it because of the large impact it has had on society, the outlet it has provided at risk teenagers, and the way it tells the story of the often marginalized African American community. Without the rap subculture many of the issues in these communities would go unnoticed. Now that more and more rappers are starting to address these social issues and the rap subculture is gaining more popularity, it is likely that we will see a change in the way America treats its minority communities.

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Rap As A Subculture. (2022, March 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rap-as-a-subculture/
“Rap As A Subculture.” Edubirdie, 17 Mar. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/rap-as-a-subculture/
Rap As A Subculture. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rap-as-a-subculture/> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
Rap As A Subculture [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Mar 17 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rap-as-a-subculture/
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