Rap & Violence: A Parent's Response

I am truly interested in making our community a better place, therefore I do use rap music to inform me of the lives of the unfortunate youth that are being deprived in the Black community. The problem I have with rap music is the manner in which this information is delivered. The lyrics are laden with vulgar profanity that is offensive to the ear. These lyrics become a roadblock to any type of effective communication. When my now 14-year-old son was too young to care about rap music, I avoided it for this reason that I’ve stated.

You are right about rap music crossing over into various demographics. My son began to seek out this genre of music. Once I allowed my teenage son to listen to rap music and view the rap videos, I knew that I had to listen to the messages in the lyrics even though the vulgar profanity makes me cringe. The reason I listen now is so that I can continue to educate my son. We discuss the messages given via the lyrics and he understands why there is anger, crime and disrespect within these lyrics.

Children should be raised with love and security in order to feel safe. They need to be guided and their self esteem protected. With this in place they have a chance to blossom and utilize that special talent they were born with.

You mentioned that White and Asian youth listen to rap music and forget to form actual gangs. No, they don’t forget, they probably have no desire. Gangs are formed because deserted youths are searching for love and attention. White, Asian and Black youths from caring homes receive their love and attention from within the home. The parents of these youth need to remind their children that the gangsta rap lyrics are not their lives and there is no reason to incorporate this way of living. What I teach my son is to have empathy for the inner city children who rely upon the streets for survival. We discuss ways that we could be of help. We definitely don’t look down on them.

The problem I have with most of the rap stars is, after putting their message out there, they gain monetary success and instead of purchasing property to build centers for the youth to prosper, they waste money on material things. Don’t get me wrong, its good to have and buy for yourself, but there is such a thing as waste. One person having 100 pairs of tennis shoes when the children of the ghetto often have one pair or none seems to be a bit on the selfish side. Wouldn’t you think that Black people would care about their own more so than Whites. We cry out for help but what about the help that we can give, especially the rap stars that are making millions. And don’t think because one has given to a charity here and there its all good. To one that much is given much is expected.

Because some of these rappers are former drug dealers, thieves, robbers and even murderers they should be helped by the ones that are not (such as the rappers with college degrees or the ones that dodged the drudgery of the streets). They should also be helped by the White executives that share in the wealth of their success. These rappers may not know how to say what they want to communicate minus the vulgar language. It can be done. And don’t worry, the records will still sell because the music and the melody are jamming, especially when they sample and mix their music with the R&B singers. In fact this is what helps draw the people to rap music.

You want critics to address the issues rappers rap about, maybe if the lyrics are cleared of the plague of vulgar profanity critics could concentrate on the message. And speaking of the message, a lot of these lyrics are harmful to the youth of the Black community. I don’t know the number, but I can imagine that a lot of these children rely upon the words from these famous rappers. “I wanna live good / so s**t I’ll sell dope / for a three finger ring / one a ‘dem gold ropes” (50 Cent, “Hate it or Love it”). Selling dope not only brings money, it also comes with violence, crime and death. This is the message that should be given and the youth should be warned of these consequences.

Are these lyrics pondered upon or do they just pop out from the top of a rappers head? Do they ask themselves how will these lyrics help our youth? Do these lyrics educate our youth in a way that can help them? Rappers can make a major change in the ghetto. They have the attention, the audience, and the power of marketing. Let us begin to help ourselves, instead of being so angry and blaming others. And by the way, how about searching within and finding the love that we all possess and replacing the anger with some of it.

Kimberly Peaks

Parent Advocate Author, Flashcards For Parents