It is an extremely common misconception that all rap music is about girls, drugs and alcohol, and that anybody who listens to rap must be a vulgar youth. And indeed a lot of rap is about girls, drugs and alcohol, and this is mainly due to the influence of American rappers like Jay Z, Kanye West and Flo Rida. There are of course a few American exceptions (Eminem for example), but I stand by my belief that the majority of American rap music is trash.
There are a few rappers from America that rap about stuff that matters, particularly a rapper called Hopsin. He has a number of songs which point out the flaws in modern rap music, which he claims manipulates kids and promotes breaking the law, amongst other things. These are accurate statements which I think need to be addressed.
It doesn’t help children that they are surrounded by idol-like figures who constantly talk about how good drugs are, or how many girls they have sex with. It just teaches bad morals, and this can be very dangerous for children who are easily susceptible to idolisation.
However this is certainly not the case in the UK. There seems to be a growing trend for rappers to talk about their lives and things that they care about, rather than just saying something stupid like ‘shorty got low, low, low low…’ (NB I hate Flo Rida). I would be lying if I said that I never listened to some trashy music, but I much prefer music that has an actual meaning behind it.
UK rappers such as Guvna B, Mic Righteous and Devlin don’t fill their songs with trashy lyrics, but instead have a message, and speak about things that are relevant to their lives, including hardships that they have endured and other social commentary. This doesn’t mean that they never rap about girls and drugs, but it is not the topic of EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEIR SONGS (as with some rappers). Furthermore, the metaphors, similes and word play in UK rap is in another league. Little do most people know, but if you listen carefully to some rap, there are a lot of secret meanings and witty bits of lyricism that are hard to pick up. People need to stop labelling rap music as yobbish, and open their minds to the genre.
In fact a political activist and rapper known as Akala recently set-up a business called The Hip Hop Shakespeare Company, which aimed to not only make Shakespeare more relevant to children, but also to put rap music in a new light. He was invited to go onto BBC Newsnight, and to prove that rap isn’t that indistinct from poetry, he gave the Newsnight team a list of quotes and asked them if they were rap music, or Shakespeare. For example: ‘It’s not that love is blind, it just does not care what the eyes see.’ (Hip-Hop, not Shakespeare)
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