Saturday, October 5, 2013

Will Rap be protected by First Amendment?

Hip Hop Controversy: Rap music may be facing new challenges

Like most all styles of music, rap has transformed over the last few decades. Rap has been a style of music that has always been on the verge of controversy. Many rappers hail from inner city life and low-income families. Their childhood is often plagued by violence and scandal. Music for them is an outlet; a place where they can voice their issues and struggles in order to cope with the turmoil around them. The lyrics of most rap songs have always been questioned, but it seems as though now people are finally taking a stand.

Recently, prison-guard turned rapper, Rick Ross, showcased lyrics in one of his songs glorifying drugs and date rape. Survivors and activists charged at Ross for his unabashed lyrics. Unfortunately, Rick Ross is not the only artist to sing about such things. The question is now being raised, "Are the artists the only ones to be blamed?" Many people are petitioning to have the record labels who allow these artists to produce such scandalous lyrics to be held liable as well. People want safeguards in place that would make both the producers and artists accountable for what is being distributed. However, with the surge in popularity of these songs, would imposing such a reform alleviate the controversy? I don't believe it would. As the article mentions, these artists have such a high following that even if a small portion of people were to boycott them, they could easily go sell their product to someone else. Besides, in years past, rappers spoke of violence and shootings yet there were no actions taken to prevent them from continuing to do it. It just became an accepted thing. This is partly due to mainstream TV airing shows that depict greater levels of violence than in the past. These shows started depicting what the rappers were singing about, and people became desensitized to the violence. A similar thing is bound to happen with this case, I feel.

Music is an integral part to our society and culture. Having the ability to voice our opinions and lifestyle in a manner without fear of prosecution is one of the foundations this country was built on yet outside the rap community, these two ideas are disjointed. Music, which was once an outlet for people for various reasons, is now being targeted for this exact reason. It's okay and welcomed to create music. However, the moment it objectifies or promotes a negative aspect of society, listeners immediately renounce it as music. They seek to classify it as controversial and anything less than music.

Although I do not agree with many of the lyrics found in rap songs today, I don't feel we can  place all the blame on the artists and the producers. The music, in fact, is being produced for the masses--for us. So shouldn't we be the ones at fault for accepting this as music in the first place? Yet, either way, it will be hard to eradicate such lyrics from music. Music is highly influenced by culture (local, community, state, etc.), and that's all the artists are doing--making music expressive of their culture. Unless, the plan is to exterminate a culture, I think rap music is here to stay.

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