Why Does Rap Contain So Much Anger and Explicit Content?
Music is regarded as an important means of communication and a platform for influencing social change. Medical experts have also confirmed that different types of music help to relieve stress. While most people agree on the importance of music, perceptions change when it comes to rap songs. This genre involves rhymes and rhythm in a language that easily understandable by the targeted audience. The conflicting views on the suitability of rap music emanate from its perceived aggression. Most rap songs contain expletives, which make some listeners uncomfortable. Some have tried to justify the expletives and violence in rap songs as necessary for social change, but the argument is invalid. Rap music contains anger and explicit content because of the negative social constructs that condone gender stereotypes, violence, and superiority.
Rap musicians incorporate anger and explicit work in their videos to support the social mentality that approves gender stereotypes, especially the victimization of women. In most rap songs, women are portrayed in a negative way, with some of the videos dehumanizing and asking them to dance half-naked. Instead of condemning such trends, the wider society approves the actions by rewarding the musicians who respond by producing even worse content. According to Weitzer and Kubrin (2009), some musicians, such as Eminem and Three 6 Mafia group, have won Oscar Awards for controversial songs, which are evidently misogynistic. As a result of receiving such recognition, rap musicians believe that the only way to remain famous is to continue supplying such content.
Similarly, the anger in rap music satisfies the public’s preference for violence. While most people purport to oppose violent situations, the reality is revealed by the popularity of songs that encourage the vice. In most rap songs, musicians motivate and incite violence in many ways, yet the audience keeps consuming the content. For example, Eminem’s song, The Marshall Mathers LP had sold almost 11 million copies in the United States alone despite containing “extreme hostility and violence toward women” (Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009, p.3). The fact that people still purchased the song in spite of its content confirms that the anger in rap music is a strategy to gain financial success by satisfying the listeners’ desire for violence.
The need for supremacy and success in music career contributes to the use of anger and explicit content in rap songs. As is the case with social stratification, musicians strive to achieve fame by dominating others. To succeed in this plan, most of the singers use intimidating language against the perceived enemy. For instance, Ricky Ross’ Cross That Line song had lyrics that threatened to unleash violence against an unnamed individual. Rabaka (2013) argues that the purpose of such lyrics is to attain male supremacy in the music world, but the attitude emanates from the society’s quest for power. The pressure to become superior is further fueled by music producers who encourage rap musicians to alienate and verbally attack their peers who do not support violent lyrics (Weitzer & Kubrin, 2009). Apparently, rappers use anger and explicit content to remain relevant in the music industry.
In conclusion, the anger and explicit content in rap music is not meant to advance an agenda for social change. On the contrary, it is a three-pronged strategy that helps rappers to become popular and rich as a result of a negative social construct. Since the wider society supports violence, rappers compose lyrics that condone the vice. Similarly, the prevalence of gender stereotypes encourages the singers to exhibit misogynistic attitudes both in their lyrics and videos. Finally, the wider society approves competition, which motivates rappers to seek male dominance by releasing violence-filled songs. To quell the anger and explicit content in rap songs, people should start by opposing any music that glorifies violence and degrades women.