A recent survey showed that black Americans who listen to today’s rap music feel the videos are too violent, degrading and set blacks back many years.
The Black Youth Project, the name of the survey given by researchers, found that 58 percent of black youths ages 15-25 said they listen to rap music every day. However, the 58 percent said they feel the videos are too violent and portray black women in an offensive way.
There has been no research yet that has tested how violent exposure to rap videos directly affects physical aggression, but there have been experiments that indicate listening to rap can increase aggressive thinking, according to a Surgeon General report.
Miguel Pierre, 22, a senior criminal justice student from Belle Glade, agreed that rap music videos often portray women negatively.
“I think it’s degrading when the girls are in bikinis or skimpy clothes while shakin’ their behind,” said Pierre, who believes rappers need to talk more about real-life situations such as HIV/AIDS and poverty.
But Anthony Washington, 23, said certain lyrics and videos produced by rappers may be a reflection of their circumstances.
The junior business administration student from Lakeland also goes by the name DJ Venom.
“If that’s all they know, then to you it may be wrong, but to them it’s life,” said Washington, a junior business administration student from Lakeland.
One disc jockey refuses to play certain songs because of the vulgar lyrics pertaining to women. Majorca Murphy, 20, a junior pre-physical therapy student from Augusta, Ga., does not play songs she feels are too vulgar and offensive to women.
She said it would be hypocritical to say she hates a song but play it during a performance.
“I’m in a big awkward position,” said Murphy, also known as DJ Acro Jam. “I won’t play some songs because I feel they are degrading to women.”
Elementary education student Melanie Swain, 20, from Jacksonville, said she believes offensive videos should not be blamed on rappers alone.
“They are too offensive to black women, but then again, these are the same women putting themselves in that position,” Swain said.
Music artists weighed in on the controversial subject as well.
Deanne Davis said women who dance in videos are not a reflection of all black women.
“To each his own,” said Davis, 23, a FAMU graduate and singer for local hip hop group SouthCity. “It’s not offensive or degrading because I know what type of person I am.”
Rapper Tampa Tony, whose real name is Antonio Alls, said some videos are offensive, but they should not be taken seriously. “It’s for entertainment purposes,” he said.
He said some rappers he knows who have violent lyrics and half-naked women in their videos do not practice that way of life. They are using what they did in the past to make money now, Alls said.
Another concern about the offensive content in music videos is its impact on the youth, who can gain access to lots of material considered unsuitable for their age group.
Alls said rap is unfairly targeted because people are overlooking other forms of entertainment that can also be considered violent.
“How come Leonardo DiCaprio can cut off heads and nobody says anything about that?” he asked the actor’s violent movie roles. Alls said ultimately, it is up to parents to instill values in their children to keep them from using rap as a form of guidance.
The content within rap lyrics and videos can also be considered a setback in relation to the ideas congruent with Black History Month.
“Black History Month is about celebrating the struggle blacks have experienced, and the videos are the exact opposite of what we’re celebrating.” Swain said.
Murphy agreed, adding that blacks do not act as a united community.
“Civil rights was based on cohesiveness, now we’re out for ourselves,” she said.
The survey also found that about a third of black and Hispanic youths thought drugs, violence, gangs and crime were problems in their neighborhood, while only 10 percent of white youths said the same.
Seventy-nine percent of black and white youths surveyed, along with 77 percent of Latino youths, said they can make a difference by participating in politics.