The Rap Impact

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Rap music hit our society like a storm, and immediately influenced dance, art & fashion, films, television, gang culture, american english and most importantly socio-political impact. Rap music basically is political music and this concept will be explained later. This topic is extremely interesting and I consider this genre my favorite and I find it very influential in my life. Because of this I feel it’s my duty to erase some stereotypes about rap music and try to shed light on the positive influence rap has had on myself and society. They are three sources that will be evaluated.

The first is “In search of the “revolutionary generation” gendering the Golden Age of Rap Nationalism”, written by Charise Cheney in 2005. This article looks at the history of rap music, and the political impact that rap and rap nationalism had on society. The second source, “Social Class & the Rise of Rap Hustlers,” written by Geoff Harkness explores the economic and political influence rap had on America. Lastly, the third source by Anthony J. Fonseca “Listen to Rap”, chapter 3, “Impact on Popular Culture”, describes dances, art & fashion, film, gang culture and sociopolitical impact of rap.

In 1988 Public Enemy released “Party for Your Right to Fight” rap nationationalist and lead lyricist Chuck D ushered in a new moment in Hip Hop history when he definitely stated “Power, equality and we’re out to get it , know some of you ain’t with it.” This party started right in 1966 with a pro-black radical mix. In May 1998 Chuck D and his friends from Adelphi University entered the “rap game,” they wanted to be known as the “Black Panthers of Rap, they wanted their music to be dissonant “ ( Cheney, 2005). Unsuitable and usual, songs like “Party for Your Right to Fight”, “Fight the Power”, and “Power to the People,” these pioneers of rap nationalism purposefully invoked the rhetorical and political styling of the Black Panther Party and the Black Power Movement of the late 1960s. Chuck D and his crew believed that they were the representatives of a “revolutionary generation” a group of endangered black males considered by the state to be “Public Enemy #1.” As this Public Enemy, Chuck D argued that it was black mens responsibility to “get mad, revolt, revise, realize” for black liberation.

The “Golden Age of Rap Nationalism,” although the use of rap music was a form of cultural expression was not a revolutionary idea, young black and latinons had begun to rediscover poetry in musical notation over 10 years prior to the introduction of rap nationalism. “The use of rap music as a site for political expression was radical both because of and despite its lyrical content” (Cheney, 2005). This was especially true prior to the mass commodification of rap music. “Artists like Public Enemy, X-Clan, Ice Cube and several others appropriated black nationalist rhetoric to critique the historical development of racial hierarchies and their legacy in contemporary social, political, and economic institutions” (Cheney, 2005).

This quote identifies how rap music has influenced artist to express their concerns on current social, political and economic issues happening within our society. Black neo-nationalist rap group X-Clan, in 1992 released Xodus. The “lead lyricist Brother J not only rejected bourgeois humanism, but also exposed the hypocrisy of American democracy and refuted white claims to more superiority” (Cheney, 2005). Brother J’s Lyrical thesis, he describes that black nationalism is the culmination of a collectivist ethic that is both the legacy of a cultural transition defined by Africans and a byproduct of the oppressive conditions that defined African American.

Ice Cube consciously used a “politics of transvaluation” to instill race pride in young African Americans, which was a common strategy in the black nationalist tradition. His political awakening allowed him to confront the contradictions between racial rhetoric and racial realities in post-civil rights America. He states “I will become African American when America gives up oppression of my people.” I find this quote very important political influence rappers and rap had but the social influence it has on myself. Its hard to call yourself African American when the country your suppose to be apart of still continues to oppress and discrimination against my people. The fact that I feel this way doesn’t surprise me that others may feel the same, “Ice Cube’s statement maintains, at its most fundamental level black nationalism is a political philosophy that promotes group self consciousness and advocates black self-determination”(Cheney, 2005). Ice Cube’s first solo efforts demonstrate how black nationalism as embodied-social politics is dependent not only on performative blackness, but on performative mas(k)ulinity.

Article two “Social Class & the Rise of Rap Hustlers,” written by Geoff Harkness shows the social impact on society. “Rap began to diffuse outside the United States, its styles, sensibilities, practices, and attitudes remained rooted in black American, urban culture” (Harkness, 2014). “The identification with blackness extended into music, dress, and complex forms of body management (engaging in ‘black’ forms of dancing, invoking stylized gestures or expression, even attempting to ‘turn black’ through the daily use of sunbeds” (Harkness, pg.73). This quote shows the impact black American culture has had on our society.

Globalization and multicultural adoption, also helping to alter early perceptions of rap as strictly “black things”. Artist Eminem’s success and popularity with white and non-whites help dissolve the stereotypes that white cannot and should not rap. His popularity in turn “helped paved the way for credible white MCs Aesop Rocks and Atmosphere front man Slug, skilled musicians who approached the art and craft of rapping with sincerity and respect” (Harkness, pg.74). As we were discussing rap went from just a black thing to its current status as a global culture, adopted by young people around the world.

Rap has had such a huge impact socially that it reconfigured or in other words “glocalized” to reflect their language, communities and culture. It’s interesting to listen to rap in different languages because it still has the rhythmic flow to it and I think that’s very talented and poetic to rap in a different language. The cultural and structural forces that have altered many facets of social life help explain raps transformation from Bronx-based subculture to a globalized multicultural youth phenomenon. The rapidly changing demographic of the United States has became increasingly “racially heterogeneous”. Reflecting this to rap music has also become more racially inclusive and diverse.

[bookmark: _pt4jb15m7c68] “The blurring of rap’s color line has also been spurred by a more general societal trend towards multiculturalism, and this racial heterogeneity is reflected and reproduced in rap music” (Harkness, pg. 75). This quote is a clear example of the social impact rap is having on our society. ‘Using longitudinal survey data, Jennifer Hochilds found that Americans are virtually unanimous in the support of the ideology, but there was variation between and among blacks and whites, particularly when measures such as such as social class and gender were taken into account” (Harkness, pg. 111). Hochschild’s findings about social class, however, were most surprising. Despite measurable gains in the post-civil rights era and middle class and well-off status blacks were increasingly skeptical about the American Dream compared to low status blacks. “Hoschild described the former as “succeeding more and enjoying it less” and believed that poor blacks were “under the spell” of the American Dream. A near-by discussion in relation to this topic is relative deprivation.

The Notorious B.I.G. states the more money black earned, the more problems they encountered. Identification and Distinctiveness theory have been used to explain racial preferences and media consumption, among other things. To connect these studies to gangsta rap and the American Dream, symbols of success alters people’s perceptions that the American dream is achievable. Gangsta rap’s mediated history brimming with rags-to-riches narratives of rap hustlers who combined criminal behavior with the American Dream ideology and achieved enormous upward mobility. “Legendary gangstas such as Eazy-E, The Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, Big Pun, Jay-Z and 50 Cent went from streets to stages, mapping out a rap hustler blueprint for others to follow” (Harkness, pg. 218).

The third source by Anthony J. Fonseca “Listen to Rap”, chapter 3, “Impact on Popular Culture”, describes dances, art & fashion, film, gang culture and sociopolitical impact of rap. Another important rapper not mentioned yet who was also very influential is Tupac Shakur and Kendrick Lamar who saw rap as a way to express dissatisfaction with injustice and disenfranchisement. “Rsp aesthetics have greatly influenced even gang culture. Although it is an urban-born phenomenon, hiphop (especially rap) has spread to suburban and rural communities, not onlin in the United STates but also internationally”( Fanseca, pg. 205). Rap had recreated many elements of what we could call “lifestyle”. This includes the aforementioned music such as MCing and Djing and beat boxing, fashion, dancing, art such as (graffiti and gang tagging), language, activism, film, and literature. (Elaborate on this)

“Like earlier African and Latin music styles (jazz, funk, calypso, and Latin rhythm), rap & boy/girl band-based hip hop have taken the world by storm because of their appeal to youth”(Fonseca, pg. 205). (Elaborate on this).

“No other music style requires that its musicians come from a particular type of background, which includes geographic area, familial structure, and lifestyle, have been either abused in a drug-addicted, dysfunctional family (Eminem), lived on the streets (Big Pun), been a gang member (Snoop Dogg), or engage in criminal activity (N.W.A.)” (Fonseca, pg. 206). There have been rappers who can achieve success with this background such as Drake, but those are rare & spend their careers trying to establish their street cred. “Women rappers have to establish a similar authenticity such as adopting the “b-”persona (Foxy Brown, Nicki Minaj & Cardi B) and spend their careers engaging in diss battles mostly with other female rappers and haters” (Fonseca, pg. 206).

Coming with no surprise then that one of the first phenomena rap influenced was competition, in the form of rap battling. These competitions in the form of rap battles are perfect examples of the economic impact from rap. These rap battles have created a market such as URL also known as Ultimate Rap League which is a broadcasted show off Youtube where different rappers from all over the country compete for the title of rap master. This youtube page has been so successful over the years receiving over.

“Graffiti art can be found in almost any urban environment. Today’s graffiti has multiple functions, from expressing the artist’s individuality and prowess to protesting war or calling attention to significant political issues in America and abroad”(Fonseca,pg.211). This quote displays the social and political impact that rap had on art, it inspired artists to express themselves as well as inspire others. My family is from Philadelphia and when I travel there, it is not rare to see graffiti art in all different environments. graffiti artists took their work to another level and created images bigger than themselves. The art I have seen projected positive influences on the community pictures of children and elders for an example.

Rap has also heavily impacted films, both in the US and around the globe, and they have been greatly influenced by rap music and hip hop culture. “From soundtrack choices to story content, character development and cinematic style”(Fonseca, pg. 214). These films introduced key urban youth concerns and themes, including rap celebrity, graffiti art, and hip hop fashion.

“Rappers themselves have become the heros, having survived the poverty, drugs, and meanness of the inner city” (Fonseca, pg. 217). For example people with disabilities have even used rap music to address the disabled experience for the purpose of activism and education. “Like much rap, disability hip hop track are often protest against social and political conditions -in this case problems such as lack of access, affordability of care, and discrimination” (Fonseca, pg. 217). “The “Krip” Hop Nation” was created by African American poet, writer, activists and cerebral palsy suffer Leroy F. Moore Jr. It highlighted deaf rappers like Wawa, who use sign language as a way to bridge hearing audience members into the deaf world and give the message that it is important to keep a sense of humor and stay positive” (Fonseca, pg. 217). I believe this quote is another great example of some of the positive influences that rap has had people.

Although this topic can be further evaluated, after analyzing the history and the influence of rap music on society, I believe it is clear to say it had a major influence on our culture. Examples such as fashion and art, dance, movies, television, marketing, gang culture, and American English but more than anything, rap legacy have been seen in the music industry, both in the United States and Internationally. After analyzing it clearly to say that rap music is political music partly by choice and partly because rap was repeatedly attacked by politicians and therefore needed to defend itself.

Artists such as Nipsey Hussle inspire me to not give up what I’m doing, even after going through every emotion to remember that the only distinguishing quality between me and them is that I never quit pursuing what I’m doing. Its rappers like Nipsey Hussle, Ice Cube, and Tupac that inspire others that we can survive poverty and drugs and the relative deprivation of inner cities. As real rap music is declining, after learning this information I believe it’s important to share the history and true purpose of rap to others to restore the purpose of rap to expose the social, political, and economic issues happening in our society.

Work Cited

  1. Cheney, C. (2005). In search of the ‘revolutionary generation’: (en)gendering the golden age of rap nationalism. The Journal of African American History, 90(3), 278+. Retrieved from https://link-gale-com.ezproxy.csupueblo.edu/apps/doc/A139571798/AONE?u=usc&sid=AONE&xid=02adf79a
  2. Harkness, G. (2014). Chicago hustle and flow : gangs, gangsta rap, and social class . Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Fonseca, A. (2019). Listen to rap! : exploring a musical genre . Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood

Cite this paper

The Rap Impact. (2021, Jul 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-rap-impact/

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