Does Hip Hop Culture Lead to Violence?

Freedom of expression is one of the most significant values of a civil society, and it goes without saying that to have it is important for respecting human dignity and providing pluralism of thought and views. But there is a witty saying that one’s freedom ends at the edge of another’s, and especially it is important to remember this maxim when negative display of this freedom affects society on the whole. Today world is full of diverse styles, methods and techniques in which people, especially creative people express themselves. Different kinds of art have always had a strong influence on the audience regardless of their gender, race, social status and cultural background. The reason is that we percept art not rationally, and it is often hard to control all the influences. Music is not exclusion, and with today’s high dependence on music in our everyday life, when some particular style is threatening the sound development of the society, it is time to be on alarm and to find the correct answers. This fact explains why so many researchers pay special attention to hip hop music today. Thus, this work is intended to explore the most significant studies in this field and identify whether there is a serious problem of violence and other negative impact hip hop can make on the audience. Personality factors, the role of music industries and advertising will be taken as crucial points of the observation.

Gaining popularity, influence and trouble
When hip hop only started its way, it had absolutely peaceful and even useful mission. It is known to appear in New York City African American communities in late 1970s, and first of all it was a way for the blacks to express themselves, to withstand calamities of uneasy life in ghettos and to oppose mainstream culture of the whites. A combination of the Jamaican tradition of toasting, which consisted in improvised conceited poetry spoken over music, then funk songs, rock and rapping (taken from the West Africa poetry) excited a lot of people, opened a new page for self-identification and brought a new breath of air to them. Together with this, a new method of self-realization helped to find a safe way to release aggression and pain, to express their social statements and to distract young people from violence and drugs. People began to gather in houses and then in the streets to compete in rapping and break dance, and these artwork battles were replacing physical violence and criminal confrontations. In this way, hip hop is widely regarded to save a lot of lives. As Hess (47) states, “Hip hop culture became a way of dealing with the hardships of life as minorities within America, and an outlet to deal with violence and gang culture,” Then, from the South Bronx hip hop began to spread to other states and in 1980s hip hop became the prevailing cultural trend for the minorities of urban communities. Hip hop was seen as a cultural reaction to racism and historic oppression, and a new communication system for the black identities throughout the United States. The African American urban neighborhoods were glorified and newly appreciated by public. Very soon this phenomena attracted media attention and further was spread to the whole world, with slang, manners, clothes and other attributes.

This is where controversies became glaring. In fact, there were always voices of conservatives who insisted that hip hop culture romanticized violence, drugs, law-breaking, and gangs. But when hip hop to a great extent became a commercial affair, when it turned into business for financial gain, sense of trouble began to grow among the American and even world society. One by one, sociologists and psychologists began to conduct different studies to understand the degree of threat and to identify whether there is a correlation between listening to hip hop music and increase in violence, especially among young people. To study the influence of any factor on youth is especially critical, because on the one hand, the growing generation is a projection of the society’s future, and on the other hand, this is one of the most vulnerable social strata, as their mind is not stable and they quickly get under influence and their conscience is easy to manipulate.

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