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The intellectual perception of racial oppressions that has taken place in the United States is one of the most important events (Riphagen). The slavery of African Americans implied a low degree of equality in comparison to the whites and undesirable work for the whites. In the early cultures of the USA, Slavery was an inspiring thought and was also codified in law in the 1950s. African American citizens were denied the ability to engage meaningfully in community affairs as a marginalization occurred. African-Americans have since attempted to combat slavery and injustice. Most of their lyrics showed how the whites hated them while they were equal before the eyes of God. Moreover, there was brutal harassment of the African-Americans by the police, which led to greater rivalry between them. In light of the racial discrimination and police brutality, many rappers emerged and had to pursue their struggles out of these oppressions (Adedeji). To achieve freedom, there was need for unity and education. There was need to come together and raise their voices. It is during these needs that rap culture begun and it would later transform to be a powerful tool for communication and enlightenment of the African-Americans about their rights and freedom. Rap sounds, rhythms and lyrics were used to spread information to the African-American communities in which case they felt motivated to stand for what was rightly theirs and defy the old norm of marginalization (Douglass).
Rap culture has one of its onsets during the early 1980’s as African-Americans were rejected the chance to access more formal music training and instruments (Howard) during Ronald Reagan’s budget and they had to revert to their traditional music. Rap culture is a culture that was dominant amongst African-American and is characterized by the use of rapping in the verbalization of politics, conditions of each day life, sexual exploits, and their individual uniqueness. According to many critics, rapping constitutes the greatest symbol of postmodern music (African-American Resgistry). Rapping gave African-Americans a leading voice, which they used to express their dissatisfactions or grievances. Rap culture fostered an environment where freedom for political disputes prevailed. Rap culture mirrors racial confusion and can be described as a cultural innovation in the age of digital technology, cable television, and the marked class stratification. Rap culture goes with music that represents or manifests self, ego, and the competition that trail the African-American signifying and toasting. The significance of rap culture is that it enables individuals to acquire confidence, verbal humor, and derision in the US (Sullivan).
In the recent times, controversies have surrounded rap music, a constituent of rap culture. These controversies have been at the front of most of the American media. Stretching from the period that the East Coast-West Coast enmity shadowed the murders of rappers such as Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur to the demonization of the contemporary music following the school shootings in Colorado, Littleton, media and political groups quickly placed blame on rap, which turned out to a trend for youth violence. Thus, the today’s rap music has its roots in the hip-hop culture that prevailed in young, urban and working-class Americans, and has its roots in the African oral traditions and functioned as a voice for the underrepresented groups. Rap culture has grown in popularity and has been commercialized and appropriated in the music industry (Blanchard). R&B, ragtime, jazz, and other African-American musical dimensions took the form of a mainstream culture during the earlier century. Since then it has become an essential musical and cultural form throughout the globe and encompasses performances and dance, multimedia, visual arts, and attitude and fashion. As a great protean and an assimilative cultural ethos, it engrosses new influences that are adopted all through a myriad cultural forces and forms across the universe. Rap culture is intensely an oral culture and finds its expression in sounds, dances, and gestures. It is a sound and voice of hip-hop culture.
Rap music has been described as one of the most controversial and distinctive genres of music since past decades. As a pivotal part of the hip-hop culture, rap articulated conditions and experiences of the African-Americans that lived in spectra of marginalized circumstances that ranged from the struggles for survival in the extreme and violent ghetto conditions to the racial stigmatization and stereotyping. Within this cultural context, rap offered voices to those who were voiceless, which denoted protests against oppression, and an aesthetic option for identity and style to the marginal groups. Therefore, rap was not just music to party and dance but represented a potent custom of cultural identity. It grew to become a powerful driver for the expression of cultural politics and served as a media for black people to be heard outside. Also, rap was considered a satellite communication system and a medium for information in which people could tune into and offered a description of the broad range of oppressions, decreasing street opportunities, adjusting moods in the streets and the nature of their daily lives in the streets. Rap became a cultural virus that circulated sounds, images, and attitudes all through the body politic and culture (Blanchard).
Due to oppression, underrepresentation, and violence against African-Americans, rappers took to the stage to enlighten their societies the need to stand up for themselves and demand their rights. Most of these rappers offered a description and the means to cope with political and social oppressions that they faced in the US. Due to its lyrical ingenuity and blend with melodic backgrounds and creative beats, rap acquired a worldwide recognition. The historical significance of rap music goes back to the time when rappers like Lauryn Hill and Tupac Shakur used rap to communicate and educate African-Americans about their rights and position in the society. Using descriptive lyrics of rap music, they were able to create bonds between their communities that yielded into unity to fight for their rights and freedom. Rap was characterized by the application of beats, lyrics, and rhythms that had roots in the African tribal communities. A storyteller, referred to as a griot, used stories to relate his tribe's history that could be followed by rhythmic beats. Because the history of African culture was majorly handed down orally, much of it became lost because of the detrimental slave trade. The breakage of tribes due to African slave trade caused the loss of history, but the significance of beats, rhythms, and lyrics never changed. Rap music united African-Americans against the concepts of “Divide and Conquer,” which was applied to elaborate the destruction of the Africans. Using rap music, they were able to express their disappointments about racial discrimination.
Rap lyrics, rhythms and sounds have been misunderstood and manipulated over time so that there is a negative perception about it. Initially, rap was created to foster and push for equality in all aspects of the US economy, employment, representations, distribution of resources, etc. However, rap has transitioned through manipulation that has led to misunderstandings of where rap music lies in the society. Many have created lyrics that perpetuate violence amongst the youths, and this has led to crimes and criminal lawsuits. As rap continue acquiring negativity in the eyes of the authorities, many have been prosecuted and convicted where this art is put on trial. For instance, in the article, Rolling Stone (Nielson), Antony Murillo is convicted for using a rap song in threatening female students. Like many other rappers before him, Murillo became a target of a rising popular law enforcement tactic that uses rap lyrics as evidence of an offense. In the courtrooms, prosecutors present lyrics as literal factual statements instead of artistic expressions. Clearly, there has not been any other fictional genre that has been handled this way. This misunderstanding presents questions regarding the way racial double standards function to describe rap music and those being tried. The primary cause of misunderstanding of the significance of rap when it was created has been fostered through manipulation of lyrics that encourage street killings, violence and shootings. The FBI and the police launch many investigations into probable relationships between DJs and moguls behind the creation of violent strains of rap music, shootings of their closest associates and friends (Gumbel).
Adedeji, Tobi. The Dynamics of Rap and Marginalization. 28 February 2016. 23 May 2017. .
African-American Resgistry. Rap, a Music, an Industry, and a Culture. 23 May 2017. .
Blanchard, Becky. "The Social Significance of Rap & Hip-Hop Culture." EDGE 23 May 2017.
Douglass, M. Sanders Jr. ""Rock the mic!" the influence of hip-hop culture on black boys' attitude in school: a critical ethnography." W., Robert. ETD Collection for AUC. Washington, US: Woodruff Library, 2012. 446.
Gumbel, Andrew. "Rap was a reaction to violent society, not a cause of it." Independent 7 January 2003. .
Howard, Willie. Rap: The Cry of a Rebuked People. 26 July 2000. 23 May 2017. .
Nielson, Erik. "'Rap on Trial': Why Lyrics Should Be Off-Limits." Rolling Stone 3 May 2017. .
Riphagen, Linde. "MARGINALIZATION OF AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE SOCIAL SPHERE OF US SOCIETY." IJIS 5.1 (2013): 96-121.
Steven Best, Douglas Kellner. "Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference." 2004. .
Sullivan, Rachel E. "RAP AND RACE: It's Got a Nice Beat, But What About the Message?" Journal of Black Studies 33.5 (2003): 605-622.
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