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Hip-Hop and Youth Culture (page 2)

By — Online Journal of Urban Youth Culture
Updated on May 1, 2014

It is interesting to note that rap music was widely ignored by the music industry until approximately the mid- 1980's. Even the ground-breaking, innovative cable television music program MTV stayed clear of rap music and Hip-Hop during its infancy. It was when rap music became more violent and volatile that the music industry became interested in the possibilities the genre represented, at least from a business perspective.

Part of the appeal of rap music appears to be its ability to easily deliver the message of the author or the artist to the listener. Much like blues and country music, Hip-Hop is a form of music that is close to the hearts of many of its listeners. Rap lyrics echo familiar themes that cans can identify with, including young people involved in gang culture.

There are many who question why Hip-Hop culture appeals to young people who have no association with urban communities or urban culture. There is no clear-cut answer to this question, but it would appear that the fascination with urban culture for many middle- and upper-middle-class young people is nothing new. During Prohibition, it was typical for young affluent white youth to frequent the "juke joints" and taverns of urban communities. Other forms of music throughout history have attracted those young people that were prohibited from listening to music that was not part of their respective culture and therefore was not culturally acceptable.

The advent of television changed how young people are influenced and, as global communications become faster and more far-reaching, new cultures are more readily revealed and promulgated. Hip-Hop for many young people is the proclamation that they are independent and intolerant of much of what they consider to be adult society, which they frequently view as hypocritical. Whereas conventional wisdom states that family, school, church and community are the primary influences on young people, Hip-Hop declares otherwise.

Hip-Hop is having a profound affect on young people throughout the world, as technology spreads the gospel of this new way of thinking and the ideology is reinforced in the things young people are exposed to daily. Hip-Hop is not a monolithic voice or idea but rather a complex hybrid of democratic values, street culture ideology, prison culture philosophy, rock 'n' roll, rhythm and blues, jazz, world music and reggae doctrine, and African American and Latino American creeds and cultural traits and so on and so on.

In recent years, Hip-Hop has become the voice for many angry young white males who have chosen to dispel many of the myths that being young and white in America allows easy attainment of the American dream. Marshall Mathers, a young white man from the Detroit, Michigan area has skyrocketed to fame as Eminem, by providing a dark view of his world, a view apparently shared by many young white men throughout America.

Polls conducted throughout the United States and parts of Europe reveal that many young people are drawn to Hip-Hop because not only is it exciting to them, but it provides them with a brutally honest view of life. As one young man responded when asked why he liked Hip-Hop, "Because it's real, man. It ain't fake like all that shit the government and everybody be putting down." When asked to elaborate, this young man went on to explain. " Look at the war in Iraq, man, where the weapons they said was there, how come gas prices went up when all that oil is over there? Look at how the vice-president was hooked up with the companies that got paid over there. Man, they must think people real stupid. And then look at the priests in the Catholic Church, playing with li'l boys and shit. Everybody talk about Eminem and cats in Hip-Hop, but at least they real with theirs, and that's how I'm living, being real and trying to get paid".

This view is indicative of the mindset of many in Hip-Hop culture. Whether subscribing to the ideology of being "gangsta" or simply being radical in their thinking and views of the world, the shared theme throughout Hip-Hop is being "real". It is perhaps in this "being real" that the culture finds its willingness to be arrogant and unapologetic in its brazen disregard for anyone that does not appreciate what Hip-Hop is. Therein also lies some of the confusion, because there is as stated earlier no one consistent theme regarding what Hip-Hop is.

From the "bling-bling" of such Hip-Hop artists as 50 Cent, to the gritty southern Nappy Roots, from the macabre theater of the Insane Clown Posse, to the pimpish styling of Snoop Dogg, the themes are as broad and conflicted as the frequent disagreements and altercations that arise between various camps in Hip-Hop.

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