Hip hop is a musical genre that originated from the minority African American community in the late 20th century. This genre can be attributed to household names in the industry like Dj Kool Herc, the Fat Boyz, Run D.M.C and LL Cool J among others. Hip hop grew to be a very influential part of African American culture because people adopted the lifestyle portrayed in the music as their own. It has become a major feature of culture identification for not only African American people, but for the majority of the young generation on a global scale.
Various research studies conducted on groups of young people indicate that the hip hop culture as portrayed in music contributes to the changing perception on sexuality, violence among young people, and the spread of male chauvinism. The kind of messages spread in rap songs affect various aspects of life like personal relationships, self-esteem and acceptable social behavior like drug abuse, alcoholism and the use of vile language (Thompson).
Effects of hip hop on sexuality
An example of a song that objectifies women as sexual objects includes Pussy, Money, Weed by renowned rapper Lil Wayne. According to his song he talks about loving a woman, but relates loving her to his favorite things; pussy, money and weed. Pussy is slang for female genitalia meaning that the only relevance of a woman in his life is her genitalia. The song sends a confusing message to women who believe that they are only relevant in a mans life for sex. Objectification of women in this sense has led to the increased sexual behavior among young girls globally who feel that sex is a mans expression of love.
A song like My Girl Gotta Girlfriend by R&B artist Ray Lavender talks about how it is okay to be in a relationship with more than one girl. In fact, in this song he talks about finding his girlfriend with another girl and expresses no problem with the issue. This message breaks the sanctity of relationships and makes ladies think that having sexual relations with another woman is a socially acceptable behavior (Tube).
Women themselves have fallen prey to sexual objectification. In a song by female artist Nicki Minaj known as Anaconda, she sings about how men like her for her big bottom. The song sends a message that those without big behinds are not appealing enough for men. Another popular rapper known as 2 Chainz sings a song entirely about how he wants to have a lady with a big behind as a birthday present.
Effect of hip-hop on masculinity
Over the decades, men have been challenged by the empowerment of women. They feel inferior and consciously or subconsciously attempt to overcome the inferiority by creating a superiority complex in which they over hype their masculinity. Using examples of the songs mentioned, women play an important part in mens lives. However, being in love with a woman is viewed as a sign of weakness among men thus they opt to objectify women by portraying them as sexual objects. In the song every Girl by Lil Wayne, he openly expresses how he wishes to have sexual relations with all girls in the world. He portrays himself as a sex master that women on a global scale cannot resist. In his music popular American rapper, Kanye West is known for his self-exaltation lyrics.
To ascertain this view further successful and independent women are considered as a rare social phenomenon. Some songs have been written praising them as the society perceives women as people who depend on men to take care of their financial needs. For example, Miss Independent by Ne-Yo, and She Got Her Own by Jamie Foxx. The two artists sing about their preference of independent women meaning there are few women independent financially.
Connection between hip-hop and violence
Hip hop is also known to promote violence in the lyrics of songs. An example of a song in this category is 9mm by Akon. 9mm is a gun, and he sings about how he walks around with it and if anyone aggravates him, he will not be afraid to use it on them. The song sends a dangerous message that is casually passed across in a manner meant for entertainment. Most people under influence of drugs and alcohol in such a situation react by pulling the trigger as the idea has been subconsciously set in their minds. Statistics indicate that by May 2015 there have been almost 20,000 cases of gun violence with 4,000 of them leading to death in the United States (Archive). Majority of the cases are reported among African American communities heavily influenced by hip hop culture.
Hip hop as a small-scale version of American society
Objectification has been adapted in other forms of media other than through hip hop music in America. Objectification can be seen through the basic concept that sex sells (Taws). Companies employ the use of female nudity ads to market their products. This effect has trickled to the corporate scene whereby people who are intending to make quick sales use sexuality as a strategy. Women dress seductively when making sales pitches to potential buyers to lure them with their sexuality. Women have adapted the idea that to get what they want they have to present themselves sexually.
Archive, Gun Violence. Gun Violence Archive. 19 May 2015. article. 19 May 2015.
Taws, Richard. "Sex Sells." The Oxford Art Journal. Vol 1 (2006): 142-144. print.
Thompson, Tamara. Rap and hip hop. Farmington Hills: Green Haven Press, 2013. print.
Tube, You. Hip Hop beyond Beats and Rhyme. May 2105. video. 19 May 2015.
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