An Editorial: The Impact of Modern Rap on Self-Perception


Hip-hop and rap music have long been characterized as offensive. While there are many rap and hip hop song tracks that challenge the status quo and dominant culture of America, these genres are usually distinguished by the public as lacking the depth and consciousness that other music has. In the past, Hip Hop and Rap were meant to be thought-provoking to bring attention to the conditions in the ghetto and the inner-workings of society.
Artists such as Tupac and Common are deemed as conscious rappers, due to their attempts to create a positive impact on not only their communities, but the world as a whole.
The work of artists such as Tupac, Common, Dead Prez, Public Enemy, and Lauryn Hill hold a stark contrast to popular music of today, which seems to place more emphasis on money, fame, drugs, disconnected violence, and sex.
Modern Hip hop and Rap lyrics, however, are just as important to analyze, as the music blasted by pop and country radio stations.
Music artists like Juice Wrld and XXXTentacion demonstrate how many youths deal with social anxiety, depression, and self-hatred, and the works of Lil Pump and 6ix9ine provide insight towards the habits of young people such as self-medication, violence, and sex.
While the lyrics of today can explain the behavior of  teens and give voices to the generation, they can also facilitate harmful ideology and behavior.
The most popular songs casually degrade the value of human life and a women’s worth and are problematic towards developing self esteem.
Juice Wrld’s songs “All Girls Are the Same,” “Lucid Dreams,” and “Wasted” shed light on his experience with heartbreak and self-medication, and expose his feelings about women, common in many other pop and rap songs.
He calls women “h**s” and other derogatory terms, laments their lack of interest in him, and feels the need to numb his pain with percocets, codeine, cocaine, and liquor because of his experiences with women.
However, Juice Wrld cannot bear all of the blame for the poor image of women many other people have, since these themes are common in other artists’ work, including Drake, J. Cole, Travis Scott, Future, Migos, Lil Uzi Vert, and 21 Savage, all of whom have a large influence due to their massive fan bases and social media platforms.
Even rap and hip-hop artists deemed “soft” sing these same misogynistic lyrics that impact younger audiences.
Artists like Drake are often praised for their popularity, and the ease with which rappers like him can “acquire” women. Yet, Drake’s success among the ladies and his large fan base does not negate the toxicity of his music.
Drake flip flops between acknowledging the power of women, appreciating both their aesthetic and non-physical appeal, and facilitating the sexism of today.
In one of his most recent singles, “I’m Upset,” Drake raps, “thankful for the women that I know/Can’t go 50-50 with no h**.”
In this lyric, Drake has made a distinction common in everyday culture, between women and “h**s.” The women are seen in this instance as superior to the “h**s.”
Drake’s appreciation seems to be facile, only fully expressing true gratitude for his mother and women who stay with him even when he is emotionally unavailable or manipulative.
This trope of the enduring woman, who deals with whatever Drake puts her through, competes with the “bad b***h” that 21 Savage references in his songs.
The enduring woman further perpetuates the idea that women are best suited to please men, teaching girls that they should deal with poor male behavior and should stay  in relationships with men who cheat, disrespect, lie, or hurt them.
The “bad b***h” trope, characterized as a woman aiming to please others physically, is just as harmful to the self-esteem of young ladies.
Although some female artists, like Nicki Minaj and Cardi B, have tried to change the meaning of “bad b***h” to a woman who is financially efficient and/or independent and who is the governor of her own body and choices.
Many male artists still hold larger fan bases than their female counterparts, meaning that their interpretations of women are more influential.
Because of this, “bad b***h” from the male perspective is more commonly used in music: a woman aiming to please others- with her physically appealing characteristics.
The impact of classifying women in this way damages the self-perception of young girls. Instead of validating the potential of women in financial and educational spheres, rappers seem to focus solely on a “bad b***h, cute face, and some nice titties,” as seen in “Bank Account” by 21 Savage.
These portrayals ignore the other capabilities of women, making them seem best-suited once again, to pleasing men.
Women should be free to decide how they are depicted over the radio. Little girls should not be subject to the nonsense and profanity spewed by hip hop and rap artists.
This analysis of popular music, however, is not meant to attack the freedom of speech of black artists.
The fact that Black music has been scapegoated for the violence of the ghetto and mistreatment of women is a separate issue, and African Americans are not solely to blame for the conditions that some Black populations endure.
This is not another attack. This is a call for responsibility.
This is a plea for more conscious music to be blasted through the radio, at football practice, even in stores, rather than the vulgar lyrics that emanate from our speakers.