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Gangsta Rap Promotes Violence in the Black Community (From Violence in the Media, P 159-162, 1995, Carol Wekesser, ed. -- See NCJ-160238)

NCJ Number
N McCall
Date Published
4 pages
Rap, the popular black music of today, is filled with violent and sexist messages that motivate some young blacks, especially those without positive role models, to commit violence.
The history of African-Americans shows that, from the days of slavery to the present, music has always been an agent of change. Rap is more than rhyming words. It is the central part of a powerful cultural movement ("hip-hop") that influences the way young blacks walk, talk, dress, and think. The key element is aggression -- manifested in the rappers' body language, tone, and witty rhymes -- that often leaves listeners hyped, on edge, and angry. In gangsta rap, women are disposable playthings who exist only for men's abusive delight; it is "cool" to use any means to get what you want; and it is admirable to be cold-blooded and unfeeling about how your behavior affects someone else. Although gangsta rap as a cause of violent behavior by its listeners cannot be proven, there is certainly a correlation. Black-on- black violence has escalated sharply since the late 1980's, when the popularity of gangsta rap was on the rise. The change in the values and behavior of young blacks in rural towns is another example. There are actions that can be taken to counter the influence of gangsta rap. The recording companies that produce this music can be attacked economically. Some black stations recently banned airplay of recordings that glorify drugs, sex, violence, and the abuse of women. Black leaders should denounce misguided rappers who spread messages of hate. Monitoring and reining in gangsta rap is no panacea to stop violence in the black community, but black America must give our children something more positive than violence and abuse to think about and emulate.