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Hip-Hop Is the Probably the Most Influential Genre in Our Society Today

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Hip-Hop is the probably the most influential genre in our society today.

Arthur Baker said, "I remember being told 'Someone's gonna make a fortune out of this rap thing' and thinking 'no way'," ("Rap Quotes" 1). Arthur Baker was one of the most noticeable and widely-emulated of the first hip-hop producers ("Arthur" 1). Little did he know what the negative effect that this form of music would have on today's youth. With violence and drug use rising, one must wonder, "What's the cause"" Though hip-hop is definitely not the only cause, it doesn't help. With some minor changes in artists' lyrics and persona, today's youth wouldn't be subjected to negative views of society, but rather the positive side of life. Hip-hop has a negative effect on today's youth and something must be done about it.

What is hip-hop? Webster defines hip-hop as, "a subculture especially of inner-city youths whose amusements include rap music, graffiti, and break dancing," (542). While the World Book defines rap music as, ."..a form of popular music that is generally spoken or chanted at a fast pace rather than sung. Rap music is performed over musical accompaniment that emphasizes rhythm rather than melody. Often rap music consists of short segments of earlier recorded music combined in new patterns," (141).

Both definitions, however valid, do not fully describe what hip-hop means to the people who listen to it, its fans. One fan calls hip-hop, "The expression of the relationship between urban youth and their environment. The art of the streets." ("Hip-Hop" 2). Hip-hop has a very deep meaning to the youth that listens to it, and thus carries a tremendous responsibility as well.

To start understanding hip-hop, one must first understand the history of it. Hip-hop originated in the early 1970s through a mixture of spoken word and jazz drumming and instrumentations. The art of "tagging" also began around the 1970s. Vic, a New York City mail courier, set a goal for himself to visit every subway and ride every bus in New York. He began to write his name and his courier ID number on every subway and bus he rode on. In the mid 1970s, a man by the name of Clive Campell began to DJ his own parties, playing soul, old funk and R&B records on his turntables. Campell also brought his knowledge of the Jamaican sound system scene to the Bronx ("Unofficial" 1-5)

Hip-hop branched off into a form called "rap" near the end of the 1970s. More and more artists became interested in the new form of music out of New York. By the early 1980s, record labels were being formed left and right and rap was made public to the world. In 1981, rap received media attention spanning from appearances on Saturday Night Live to exclusive coverage by 20/20. Throughout the 1980s many legendary albums were released such as "The Message," by Grandmaster Flash, "The Show," by Doug E. Fresh and "Yo! Bum Rush the Show," by Public Enemy. The 1990's saw even more change in the hip-hop industry. Early in the decade, artists fought for permission to sell their albums since most authorities deemed them "obscene." By the mid 1990s the divide between the east coast and west coast "gansta" rap styles increased and became ever more violent leading to the shooting deaths of Tupac Shakur in 1996 and Christopher Wallace a.k.a. Notorious B.I.G. in 1997 ("Unofficial", 6-15).

If a person was born anywhere between the 1980's to the 1990's, he or she is considered a part of the "Hip Hop Generation". Music is a gift that has been given to us, but the question is, "where is hip hop music going?" Hip-hop is now one of the biggest and fastest growing businesses in the world. It's creativity in sound, and its lyrics have impressed and empowered many of today's youth. But is hip-hop music taking today's youths where they need to be? Lyrically, some of hip-hop's most popular songs and musicians have negatively influenced violence, drugs, alcohol, sex, disrespect for authority, and disrespect for woman. For many young children and teenagers, this type of music can create an environment that can become harmful to their lives and education. Parents teach their children to say no to drugs but the rappers whom children look up to are rapping about using drugs and imply that it's okay to use them. Therefore, children will listen to the side that has the most influential power to them. Many who constantly rewind a song and memorize the lyrics, are equally influenced just as if they were placed directly in front of the violence

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