Whether you love it or hate it, a discussion of rap music often elicits strong opinions. As one of the more controversial forms of modern music, many parents and professionals believe that rap has a negative impact on teens. Lyrics that glamorize violence, drug and alcohol abuse, crime, overt sexuality and the objectification of women are just some of the negatives critics cite when discussing rap music.
A study by Denise Herd of Berkeley's School of Public Health showed that 77 percent of the rap music studied made references to drug and alcohol abuse. Country music followed in second place with only 36 percent. According to a WebMD article, African American girls between the ages of 14 and 18 who watched these types of music videos for 14 hours per week or more were 1.5 times more likely to drink and use drugs than other girls.
Frequent references to guns, shootings, violence, robbery and revenge pepper the lyrics of rap music. Songs promoting violence against men and women are common. The WebMD articles outlines how black teen girls who are frequent viewers of videos are "three times more likely to hit a teacher" or "2.5 times more likely to get arrested." The gratuitous violence of rap songs and videos present violence as a viable or even preferable course of action during conflict.
Frequent graphic references to sexual acts between men and women are another hallmark of rap music, and promiscuity is promoted in songs. A view of women as sexual objects pervade the music, and influences the youths who listen to it. The same girls referenced in the WebMD article were "twice as likely to have multiple sex partners" and "1.5 times more likely to get to get a sexually transmitted disease."
Language and Profanity
Rap music presents an entirely new vocabulary your teen won't pick up in English class. Expletives, explicit language and profanity appear to be a requisite part of many rap song's lyrical composition. Parents do have a fighting chance in this battle, however. Parental guidance ratings now appear on controversial music to alert them to CDs whose content includes inappropriate or offensive language. Some argue, however, that the stickers only serve to attract young consumers, rather than deter them.