A Psychologist’s View On Hip-Hop Lyrics:

Whether it be original "Trouble Man" Marvin

Gaye or embattled crooner R.Kelly, R&B men who exhibit abnormal or illicit

behavior are often viewed as victims of a painful childhood. However, when rappers

cross the line of respectable behavior they are viewed as deviants and delinquents.

Critics then denigrate select lyrics from said rapper’s catalogue as poisonous

influences on impressionable youths. Before we go running to the nearest media

outlet to warn/scare Joe Schmoe about a rapper’s influence on his children, shouldn’t

we instead offer a helping hand to the person who may really need help?

With that said, AllHipHop.com went to Denyse

Hicks, Ph.D. for answers. With over 15 years experience as a board certified

expert in traumatic stress, Dr. Hicks and her company, Star Care, offer unique

health programs that offer psychological and chemical dependency services for

athletes and entertainers.

"Studies have shown that children raised

in physically abusive families are at increased risk to be assaultive toward

an intimate partner when they reach adulthood," Dr. Hicks says. "This

increased risk comes not only from direct modeling effects, but also from the

development of a variety of potentially dysfunctional defenses."

We asked Dr. Hicks to analyze some lyrics from

a few hip-hop tracks and give an assessment on the performers. Though these

commentaries are not a final diagnosis and are based solely on lyrics, Dr. Hicks

noted they all seem to share the same origin-Trauma.

DMX "X is Coming"

Will have that same n*gga like you, gun in

your mouth/

But won’t be like the last time

when you run in the house/

‘Cuz I ain’t knockin’ on the door I’m coming in the house/

And I’m gunnin’ for your spouse/ Trying to send the b*tch back to her maker/

And if you got a daughter older then 15, I’ma rape her/

Take her on the living room floor, right there in front of you/

Then ask you seriously, whatchu wanna do? /

Frustrating’ isn’t it? Wanna’ kill me, but I’ma kill you/

Now watch me f*ck just a lil’ while longer, please, will you?

Dr. Hicks: Controlling aggression is a focal

issue for many trauma victims. Traumatized children have trouble modulating

aggression, tending to act destructively towards themselves or others. Many

traumatized children have temper tantrums and fights with siblings and schoolmates.

Developmental studies of children’s reactions to repeated family conflict indicate

that repeated exposure to strong negative emotions like anger becomes, for most

children, an aversive experience encompassing strong arousal and behavioral

expressions of anxiety (distress) or anger (aggression) especially when the

conflict is not satisfactorily resolved. In abused boys, another prominent sequel

of abuse is hyper aggression. Researchers suggested that abused boys are more

likely than girls to identify with the original aggressor and to eventually

perpetuate the abuse on their spouse and children. In their view, an effect

of physical maltreatment by a parent is to exaggerate sex role characteristics,

possibly as a means of shoring up the damaged self. They also noted that traumatized

children had trouble modulating aggression and included being physically abused

as a child as a trauma source. The four-predictor variables in this study were

convictions for violent crime, history of violent suicide attempts, neurological

abnormalities and deviance in the family environment. Some early potential stressors

reported by the men: shaming and rejection from fathers, insecure attachment

to mothers, witnessing parental violence and experiencing parental violence.

We suggest that this combination of stressors is traumatic.

Foxy Brown "What your Fantasy?"


I’m a BK b*tch/ love to ride d*ck/

Ass in his face, cock spread out/ n*gga uptown, n*gga down south/

Same ol’ sh*t, foot’s in his mouth/ F-O-X /call me rough sex/

Especially when a b*tch get right on the X/ Get it, right on X/

f*ck him, check right to the next/ b*tches go right, Fox right to the left/

n*gga can’t f*ck, burner on his chest/36 D’s, Prada on the breasts/

Baddest, send him home with na na on his breath/

Dr. Hicks: The younger the age at which trauma

was experienced, and the longer its duration, the more likely people are to

have long-term effects with the regulation of arousal, anger, anxiety and sexual

impulses. Childhood events generate chronic long term emotional responses, which

are themselves, risk markers for interpersonal dysfunction and abusive behavior

when adult intimate conflict occurs. There is a proclivity for intense, unstable

interpersonal relationships characterized by intermittent undermining of the

significant other, manipulation, and masked dependency; an unstable sense of

self with intolerance of being alone and abandonment anxiety; and intense anger,

demandingness, and impulsivity, usually tied to substance abuse and/or promiscuity.

Factor analyses support the inclusion of the two factors (e.g. children and

parents), in anticipatory anger, anxiety and "sub anger" (frustration,

irritation) while needing to express the internal pain. More is now known about

the intergenerational transmission of abusive behavior. This personality typically

is formed by trauma in early childhood.

Scarface "Diary of a Madman":

Dear diary today I hit a n*gga with a torch/

Shot him on his face and watched him die on his front porch/ Left his family


Flashbacks of him laying there bleeding with his eyes open/I can’t put the sh*t

behind me

I’m know I’m here somewhere, but I can’t find me/ I used to be a drug dealer/

On the fo’reala/ now I’m a born killer/ and it ain’t no changing me/

It used to be hard, but now it ain’t no thing to me/

To go up to a n*ggas house/ Put a pistol in his mouth/ and blow his f*cking

brains out/

Dr. Hicks: People who are exposed early to violence

or neglect come to expect it as a way of life. They see the chronic helplessness

of their mothers and fathers’ alternating outbursts of affection and violence;

they learn that they themselves have no control. As adults they hope to undo

the past by love, competency, and exemplary behavior. Males who have experienced

childhood abuse victimization increased the likelihood of an adult arrest record

and child abuse victimization to be related to later delinquency and subsequently

to coerciveness against women. At least four studies of family violence have

found a direct relationship between the severity of childhood physical abuse

and later marital violence. Interestingly, nonhuman primates subjected to early

abuse and deprivation also are more likely to engage in violent relationships

with their peers as adults. Male survivors tend to be extremely hyper aggressive,

and prone to excessive conflicts with peers. Abused children demonstrated more

information processing deficits that predicted externalizing behavior than did

other children. These included tendencies to be distracted from relevant social


Eminem "Kim":

There’s a four year old boy lying dead with

a slit throat/In your living room/ ha-ha what you think I’m kidding’ you? /You

loved him didn’t you? /Bullsh*t you b*tch don’t f*cking lie to me/ What the

f*ck’s this guy’s problem on the side of me? /

f*ck you asshole, yeah bite me/Kim, KIM!/ Why don’t you like me?/You think I’m

ugly don’t you?/No you think I’m ugly/Get the f*ck away from me/ don’t touch


I hate you! I hate you! /I swear to God I hate you/ Oh my God I love you!

Dr. Hicks: Studies have shown that children raised

in physically abusive families are at increased risk to assault an intimate

partner when they reach adulthood. When they fail they are likely to make sense

out of this situation by blaming themselves. When they have little experience

with nonviolent resolution of differences, partners in relationships alternate

between an expectation of perfect behavior leading to perfect harmony and a

state of helplessness, in which all verbal communication seems futile. A return

to earlier coping mechanisms, such as self-blame, numbing (by means of emotional

withdrawal or drugs or alcohol), and physical violence sets the stage for a

repetition of the childhood trauma and "return of the repressed."

Experience with abusive conflict resolution in the family of origin may have

long lasting affective sequels that are manifested upon re-exposure to intimate

conflicts in a manner similar to, albeit less extreme than, post-traumatic stress


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