I’m pretty sure we have all listened to explicit music that promotes some type of violence, offence, derogation, or other deemed low ethical values at some point. Though this music is found among all races, it has been primarily noticed among black artists. The lyrics allude to guns, drugs, sex, alcohol, destruction, derogatory names for women, etc. They express powerful messages that the public not only hears and recites but also resonates with. Some songs’ videos even vividly portray these themes which when viewed by the public, appear exciting and adventurous.
While much of this form of music is enjoyed by older teens and adults, many of today’s much younger youth are also gravitating toward it for the styled beats, preference of artists, style and relation to artists, and ultimately, content. Not surprisingly, a number of leaders of social reform have begun rejecting this music and looking to artists for answers. These activists maintain that the cause of a lot of the violence and problems facing young people is learned and mimicked from the music they listen to. Those opposing its longevity are deeply frustrated with these rappers and artists that children so greatly idolize. They claim that artists should better regulate their music and impress more positive messages into their songs.
But should the music a child listens to really be the responsibility of the artist? Does the rapper have an obligation to alter and mitigate his music and style based on what children might hear? Though I understand how it can be frustrating to see young people personify what is rapped about in songs, I believe rappers and artists should be able to exercise freedom of expression and that parents should be the ones restricting their children from listening to certain songs. Rappers are not these kids’ parents. They are artists who enjoy what they do and enjoy making profits. It appears that parents need to step up, take responsibility, and play closer roles in their children’s lives.
In closing, I saw an old interview about this heated epidemic featuring the rapper Nelly. The song in question was his 2003 “Tip Drill”. The main controversy was the swiping of a card in between a woman’s buttocks at the end of the video. I do NOT feel that this is classy, proper, or of high standards—by no means. However, I feel that Nelly made an excellent point when he countered the interviewer’s argument by asking something along the lines of, “Why are these kids even up at 3am anyways watching my video? It’s on “UnCut” (late night show for explicit music videos) for a reason. Parents need to observe what their kids are watching.” (The swipe idea was the woman’s idea, not Nelly’s—just an interesting fact). I agree with Nelly’s statement, and I am a strong advocate of parents’ persistent presence in their children’s lives—especially at such a young age. It is ultimately up to parents to have control over their children, not Nelly or any other rapper. Obviously this credit card swipe was extreme, and things such as libel and death threats would not be readily tolerable, but should artists be held responsible for how audiences interpret/execute their explicit, controversial music, thus altering it? I understand that rappers should remain conscious of what they are saying to a certain degree, but I am not convinced that parents or the public should place the blame on artists.