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What is hip hop and is it influnceing listeners to condone violence and drugs.

First off to set the record straight, this is the truth nothing outside of this is true

and if you agree great if you dont agree thats your bad. But I am tired of people saying “I

listen to hip hop”, stupid you cant listen to hip hop. Can you listen to the 70s??? NO you

can listen to the music of the 70s. That was a period of time, a generation, a culture. Hip

Hop is all of these things. What is hip hop? Hip Hop is everything, and nothing at the

sametime. Hip Hop is a not a genre and shouldn’t be categorized as such. I see countless

search engine after search engine and big business after buisness that looks down on the

culture and sees it only as a music type. We are not that. Hip Hop is more. It is not

rap/Hip Hop. Rap is a part of hip hop. It is some of the music that comes out of hip hop.

There have been M.C.s since before hip hop. Hip Hop brought emcees that perfected this

art. Hip Hop is first people only see rap, r&b, and the other musics as Hip Hop; when

these are only part of Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a feeling. You feel it everywhere, you’re at a

party and you hear that beat in your head, the tingle in your arm, and that feeling you get

to jump out and say “hey shorty whutz ya name?” thats Hip Hop.

Enough of the poetic disjustice. Hip Hop is not just a black thing. Yes I am black. Yes

blacks created Hip Hop. Yes blacks perfected Hip Hop. Yet the people who lead the way

to hip hop were not racists. And if you believe great men like Martin Luther King Jr., who

fought for equality would want his decendants fighting over an area of equality, You are

MISTAKEN! Hip Hop is large and is growing now lets prove that to the world.

Dont fight over to whom it belongs and dont let it become catogorized as just a fad of

music. Please dont let them look down on us with prejudgice as “a bunch of bad influence

drug dealers and gangsta rap wanna be’s” because we are more than this. We are hip hop.

Let it just consume you.

It’s unexplanitory, how I gets [sic] lifted higher than a hundred stories; I take a

beer and I guzzle it, I’m speakin’ so shut your mouth and muzzle it; smokin’ el’s and rollin’

reefer, I’ll get you more fucked up than a can of ether; so beautiful when I light it up, and

then I cup my hands when I fire it up . –Wax of ESMob, “Lil’ Ass Playa” (Losee 1995)

Lines much like these are not uncommon in today’s rap music. Many artists are

integrating the subject of drug use into their songs. This combination can be found on

many of the Top 40 and Billboard charts; music such as this has become acceptable and

mainstream, especially to younger listeners. In the late 1970s and early to mid-1980s, the

presence of drugs in rap music was non-existent. If rappers talked about drugs, they

advocated against them. The rap classic, “White Lines”, by Grandmaster Melle Mel,

educated listeners about the dangers of drug use and drug abuse. Drugs were not

acceptable in rap music such as they are today. If an artist even mentioned marijuana or

any of its thousands of synonyms, the media and the listeners reacted in shock. In the

mid-1980s, rapper Run of Run DMC claimed, “I keep a bag of cheeba inside my locker”

(Ro 1996, p. 73). Even this single sentence produced shock waves. From R&B’s “Brown

Sugar”, by D’Angelo, to Cypress Hill’s “Hits From the Bong” and Method Man and

Redman’s “How High,” all angles of rap music have seemed to blend drug use and music.

It has become agreeable to mix these things; all three of these songs were higher than

number ten on the Billboard music charts. It is possible to go to any club in any major city

and see hundreds of teens bouncing around and bobbing their heads to this music. Not

only do they dance to it, but most could recite all the lyrics — as they take a hit of a joint.

It is almost impossible to challenge any artist about their choice of words. Most take no

blame; they will fault the system, society, or even their peers. Many artists say that they

cannot write their chart-topping music without first “smoking a spliff” (Waxenberg 1995).

Platinum-selling artist Method Man says, “I can’t just smoke some regular weed and write,

’cause regular weed don’t . . . do nothing for your thoughts. But when I smoke some

headbanger boogie, some of that . . . Hawaiian, I be writin’ super, crazy, ill bombs” (Smith

1995). This is an almost customary answer given by artists. In almost the same words of

Method Man, rapper L c of ESMob says, “If I don’t smoke a blizzee, my words come out

all plain. But if I smoke one of them fat, super-dooper hooties, I’ll write some crazy,

psycho rhymes” (Waxenberg 1995). Most artists will simply ignore responsibility and

claim that it is simply freedom of speech. If one is able to talk to an artist seriously (most

of the time off the record), he will admit that drug abuse is plaguing society and creating

self-destruction. It is easy to question a rap artist about his or her sayings, but what

happens when a group named Tha Alkaholiks sells over 500,000 copies of their album? It

is simple to quickly jump to conclusions and say that they have a lot of problems and that

they are poisoning listeners. However, Tha Alkaholiks’ producer, E-Swift, says that he is

aware that the name may be exploiting a widespread, deadly disease. He quickly comes to

the group’s defense offering:

We don’t drink to the point where we gotta see doctors or no shit like that. We

coulda [sic] turned it into a gimmick, dressing all bummy, always in the same clothes, and

carrying a forty — but we didn’t. We’re aware that alcoholism is a serious problem. But

alcohol isn’t only in hip hop. You see it everywhere you go (Ro 1996, p. 74).

This is seemingly a weak defense, but Swift has a point. At any time of the day, anyone

can turn on the television and see someone drinking a martini or mixing a daiquiri. If a

problem arises, someone will fix a drink. All over every city we see bars and restaurants

promoting happy hours. When questioned, most people cannot remember the last time

they were at an alcohol-free party. Brett Orsak, an executive producer at The Dallas

Co-nec-c on Records, says, “What is a party without a beer or a bottle? I don’t think I’ve

been to a party without alcohol since my twelfth birthday” (Waxenberg 1996). It seems as

though most rappers are not lying when singing about “smoking a blunt and taking a

joyride” (Losee 1995). However, it is evident that most artists do not drink twenty forties

per night. L c says, “Yeah, I like to get drunk. Who doesn’t? But when I’m talkin’ about

drinking a whole keg, that’s obviously bullshit. No one does that. I may have a forty or

two, but that’s it” (Waxenberg 1995). Many artists state that it is simply a state of mind.

Swift says that he used to have a drinking problem. He claims that he probably still drinks

as much; but that it is a different frame of mind. When author Ronin Ro asked Swift if he

was just an alcoholic in denial, Swift said, “You prob’ly [sic] right. But am I hurting you or

your family? I don’t think so. So mind your own” (1996, p. 74) Reverend Calvin Butts and

C. Dolores Tucker, both advocates against rap music, would most likely disagree. Butts

and Tucker claim that even mentioning such things as drug abuse have an effect on young

listeners. This is, however, a debatable issue. Many patrons against rap music claim that

the artists are promoting drug use and drug abuse. This allegation is difficult to deny when

one views the examples. Platinum-selling artist Redman was featured on the cover of High

Times, lighting a blunt. In this particular issue, Redman wrote an article about how to roll

a blunt. Rap groups Cypress Hill, Funkdoobiest, and Total Devastation are all advocates

and promoters of NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

Almost all of their promotional material (posters, t-shirts, etc.) contain pictures of

marijuana leaves as well. A particular Cypress Hill poster pictures a skull with an afro of

marijuana leaves smoking a joint. Below the picture are the words, “Stoned is the way of

the walk” (Waxenberg 1996). On the album “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…,” by Raekwon, he

is pictured cooking up something resembling crack. Also, on ESMob’s first album,

“Eastatic,” an unrolled joint is pictured — the rolling paper embossed with the word

Eastatic. Inside the cover, behind the disc, there is a picture of baggies of marijuana, a

stack of bills, a pipe, and a necklace with a marijuana leaf. After seeing such material, it is

hard to deny these allegations. One of the best known artists and producers in the

industry, Dr. Dre, has based almost his whole debut album, “The Chronic,” with drug

paraphernalia. The disc itself is completely covered with a drawing of a marijuana leaf.

The album contains such songs as “The Chronic,” “The $20 Sack Pyramid,” “High

Powered,” and “The Roach”. When Dre was a member of the breakthrough rap group

N.W.A., he said on one of his songs, “I don’t smoke weed or sinse, ’cause it only gives a

brother brain damage / And brain damage on the mic don’t manage” (Ro 1996, p. 76). On

“The Chronic,” Dre boasts, “Make my bud the chronic, I wants to get f—ed up” (Young

1992). There are, however, some groups which advocate against drug use. Most widely

known is the breakthrough group Public Enemy. Lead singer Chuck D has long been

known as a positive rapper. He travels to schools and prisons to talk about leading a

positive life and staying away from alcohol and drugs. It is quite ironic that Chuck’s

sidekick, Flava Flav, has been arrested more than once for possession of crack cocaine,

and is currently in rehabilitation. Chuck says, “[Glorifying alcohol and drugs] is a quiet

admission of defeat. But it’s what folks consider bangin’ at the moment” (Ro 1996, p. 74).

Chuck has very strong feelings against the use of drugs. In 1992, he sued St. Ides (a

manufacturer of malt liquor) for using a Public Enemy song in a commercial. Chuck says:

I seen to many fights behind this . . . Today you have the same situation, but

instead of beating you up, someone’ll [sic] run out to their ride and come back with a tool.

The problems are ‘accessible ammunition’ and ‘distortion of reality.’ When these two

combine, it leads more brothers to the grave . . . In a quiet way, it’s an admission of defeat

. . . [but] for some of us, our lives aren’t all bright and sunny (Ro 1996, p. 76).

It is difficult to deny that Chuck is right. Drugs are not only creating violence, but they

seem to be destroying our society. To many people, mostly children and teens, the forty

ounce is a symbol of “manhood, rebellion, ghetto chic — even a career choice” (Ro 1996,

p. 74). It is difficult for many teens to have fun without a forty or a joint. Songs such as

“Tap the Bottle,” by Young Black Teenagers, and “Make Room/Last Call,” by Tha

Alkaholiks, do not help this situation at all. Passing a bottle between friends while hanging

out at a park is not alcoholism to most teens; but rapper MC Main One says, “If you can’t

hang on the corner . . . and chill without a forty being part of the schedule, it’s definitely

the pre-stages of alcoholism” (Ro 1996, p. 74). If a kid must have a forty to have fun and

to not be bored, there is obviously evidence of a drinking problem. This idea is a problem

that can be blamed to the contents of some rap music and its promotion. It will continue to

be a fact of life that all people, especially Americans, drink alcohol and use drugs. It is

somewhat disturbing that these things have the ability to place music atop the charts;

however, it may be inevitable. Vibe Magazine reporter Ronin Ro sums up the facts of this

situation by saying, “It’s entertainment. There are horror movies if you want to feel scared,

porno for perverts, and weed rap for smokers” (1996, p. 76). The fact is that there will

ceaselessly be drugs, and there will always be music; these two things somehow will

always find a way to commingle. The best solution may be that the drug problem is solved

and all rap music becomes positive, but a perfect world is impossible. Although this may

be negative, it is true; Americans need to realize this and accept the music for what it is.


Armoudian, Maria. 1994. “Beating the Bad Rap.” Billboard. 106.48: 48.

Ehrlich, Dimitri. 1993. “Not Just Blowing Smoke.” Rolling Stone. 662: 16.

Gold, Jonathan. 1993. “Dre Day.” Rolling Stone. 666: 40-124.

Losee, Matthew, and Ryan W. Waxenberg. 1995. “Eastatic.” ESMob. Dallas: Do-Boy


Ro, Ronin. 1996. “To Be Blunt.” Vibe. 4.3: 72-76.

Smith, C. 1995. “Headbanger Boogie.” The Show: The Soundtrack. New York: Def Jam

Music Group, Inc.

Smith, Danyel. 1993. “Party Out of Bounds.” Rolling Stone. 669: 64-65.

Smith, Danyel. 1994. “Positively P.E.” Rolling Stone. 685: 30.

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