Dan Jackson March 10, 2010 Research Paper Mrs. Paventi Rap Music and its effects on inner city life Rap Music was created in the early 1970s in the Bronx, New York. “DJ Kool Herc originally created this style of music” (Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia). It was created as a way for people living in poverty in the inner cities to be heard. People outside of the cities didn’t take it very seriously until rappers such as Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B. I. G. used well-written rhymes and nice beats to catch the attention of people.
People started to notice the conditions that people were living in and it was embraced and brought to the spotlight as a major problem in some areas, but looked down upon as not a problem at all in other areas. People in some areas left as if the music was causing the problems not realizing that the poverty drugs and violence was the inspiration to write the lyrics that the rappers were. But at any rate, rap music brought the inner city life to the center stage. Rap music is a way for people in the inner cities to be heard, making it a very effective way to understand the connection between this music and the conditions that people live in.
Rap music spread like wild fire for many reasons. For starters, people hated the conditions that they lived in. They hated the poverty; they hated not having any money, because with no money they struggled to do anything. They had no money so they had no food, and they had to live in terrible housing that wasn’t even adequate to say the least. They also hated the segregation that they lived in. “The people on these poverty infested areas were looked down upon by the people that were on the outside looking in” (Rose 87). The one thing that every adult in the inner cities hates is the drugs.
They don’t hate them when they use them because most of the people did use them, but they hated them when the children began to use them. The majority of children began to use drugs because they had no other outlet. “Drugs infected the cities. Schools, and the streets, there was no way to escape it especially for the kids” (Shakur, 63). “Children from the ages of 12-17 were hit the hardest when the interest in drugs rose” (Baker, 75). Many parents, primarily the mother, had to raise the child by themselves because the other parent had walked out on them.
Many of these parents had no outlet for their children because they struggled to meet ends meet themselves. So, these were usually the parents of the kids that were into the drugs and gang violence. These parents were usually also into drugs as a way to cope with the stress that is caused by being poor and not having a way to help your child out of the problems that they are currently experiencing. People also liked the idea of having their voice be heard. It was instantly seen as a way out for most children. Children quickly became interested in the idea of being able to express their feelings in a way that was accepted by their friends” (Tate). Parents of these children liked this because it was a way for their kids to get out of the drugs and the gangs and all the negative things that come with that and gave them the ability to put their mind to something creative and time consuming. Parents liked the idea of this being time consuming, that way there was no way that they could be off in gang violence and/ or drugs as well. The older people in the communities liked the idea that someone was finally standing up for them.
They liked actually having a voice, having someone say the things that no one will listen to them about. They also liked the thought that maybe someone could potentially help them now. It gave them a glimpse of hope that they hadn’t previously seen in a long time or for at least as long as they had been in that situation. It is amazing that just the thought of a potential way to help them could give people in this situation hope. It just goes to show how mad the conditions that they live in are. Although the people loved rap music at first glance, they eventually became to despise it.
It eventually became all about drugs, money and degrading woman. People started to feed into the negative stereotypes that this was causing. Big chains, drugs, and talking down to woman, making them feel like objects instead of people, became very common in the inner cities. “The big chains and cars and drugs were a way for people to try to hide the fact that they were just as poor as the person standing in line next to them” (Rose, 156). People in these parts fed into these stereotypes as a way to hide their insecurities and attempt to save the little bit of reputation they may have had.
Younger people and older people alike both became increasing interested in the use of drugs, but for different reasons, The younger kids became interested in it because all of their friends began to do it. It was very common in gangs, which the majority of kids were in at this point in time. The older people became increasingly interested in it because it gave them a way out. It gave them something to blame all their problems on. Many people began to use it as a way to forget about their problems; the high for a little bit was enough to get them hooked.
Most children as they got older began to become extremely frustrated growing up the way that they were, and many of them were exposed to drugs through their parents. So many kids began to take matters into their own hands and deal drugs. It was a simple and easy way to make money, and as children they loved being able to have all that money. The rate of crime also began to rise steadily. Many of the factors that had to do with the rise in crime had to do with gangs, drugs, and guns. These three things all increased in popularity as rap music grew in popularity. Rap music gave many people an opportunity to make something of them.
For many rappers it gave them the chance to start over and make a better life for their families. Two of these rappers are Tupac Shakur and Kanye West. They are both rappers but they both come from totally different backgrounds. Tupac Shakur was born in the ghetto of New York City, but eventually moved and grew up in Baltimore then Oakland. The harsh environments that he came from made him the person that he was and shaped the things that he rapped about. Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia but him and his mother moved to Chicago, Illinois where he grew up.
Tupac grew up in the ghetto so he raps about the things that he saw and was accustomed too. While, “Kanye grew up in the suburbs of Chicago so he grew up away from that but he raps about the things that he saw from an outside perspective” (Baker, 13). Tupac Shakur was born in the harsh environment of New York City and Baltimore. He grew up involved in a lot of violence. His mother taught him everything that he knew. He quickly learned that respect was the key to everything. Earning respect from the guys in his gang was the most important thing to gaining a reputation on the streets.
He earned respect by means of his fists but he also earned respect through his lyrics. He finally realized that with his rapping he truly had a special talent that could take him somewhere in life. Even though the violence was all around him he never really drifted towards it because he knew that he didn’t want to jeopardize the opportunity that his rapping could bring him (Rose, 111). However, he did eventually end up selling drugs to help in the money situation that he and his family were experiencing at the time. His mother was the greatest influence that he had. She taught him everything that he had to know about life.
He learned many different things from her, ranging from the importance of needing respect to embracing the gift that he was giving. “Without my mama I would not be the man that I man today, She taught me everything that I how to do and everything that I hold close to be is because of her” (Shakur, 75). Tupac gives his credit for everything to his mother. He feels as if without her he wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything that he has to this day. Without his mother he might not have even been a rapper because she is the one that encouraged him to embrace the talents that he was given.
After the social segregation had become too much Afeni, Tupac’s mother decided it was best to sent him and his sister to live with her friend in California. He moved to Oakland, California, where the environment was just as bad, maybe even worse then before. Gangs, and drugs were everywhere you went. You couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a territory owned by a gang or a spot owned by a drug dealer. This environment definitely had the greatest impact on his music. Where he lived most of the friends that he made where in gangs but he never was affiliated with one.
It was at parties for his friends that he realized the true potential that he had. Comments about his talent and compliments that he received helped him to realize what he had was true talent. This talent extended to the class from as well. He was always an advanced English student, especial in poetry because he already had such an advanced song writing ability. Many of his poems are now well known, “When Ure Hero Falls” and “The Rose That Grew From the Concrete” (Shakur, 3,119). In November 1991, Tupac Shakur released “2PACalypse now”. This album hit stores with blazing success.
It was the first album that spoke about the harsh things that people in the inner cities faced. It was that hope being filled, so people loved it. “The average person in the ghetto loved to hear music about them, each person felt like Tupac was rapping directly about them” (Tate). After this first album, Tupac shot to stardom. Tupac continued to put out many albums after this and eventually began to expand to other things like movies and TV. Most of his success came from the people in the inner cities that loved to hear their story and teenagers living in the suburbs that wanted the live that he rapped about.
Tupac’s music had many positive effects on the inner city life. The people in the inner cities felt as if they finally had someone to stand up for them, someone to tell the story of their lives to the people that were willing to listen. He also helped feed into that little bit of hope that was beginning to grow. They began to think that if Tupac. Someone that grew up in the same conditions that they did could grow up to be rich and famous and have anything he wants, and then they could too. They started to think that there was no reason that they couldn’t achieve the same things that he did.
With this newfound feeling of hope also came the feeling of “self-worth”, the betterment of “I”. Tupac began to express this theme in his songs to help people. Examples of this are “Keep ya head up” and “Changes”. With positive effects, comes negative effects and there were plenty of them. While the majority of people went with the positive effects that he portrayed, many took the negative effects and ran with them. Black males under the age of 17 took the gang and women aspect of this music and emulated it. Drugs, gangs, and women became even more popular then they had previously been.
Crime rates and drug use flourished during the time of Tupac’s reign over the rap game. Examples of this are “I get around” and “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted”. Kanye West was born in Atlanta, Georgia. He grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He grew up in a completely different background then the one that Tupac grew up in. Kanye grew up in an area where he wasn’t as exposed to drugs and gang violence. His mother, Dr. Donda West, was a professor of English at Clark Atlanta University, and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University before retiring to serve as Kanye’s manager.
So Kanye West was obviously brought up in a well to do household where he didn’t have to do the extreme things to make money. “Against the word of my mom I dropped out of college to pursue my passion of music” (Tate). Kanye dropped out of Chicago State University to follow his musical career. He had to work his way up through the system, producing for local artists. During this time was probably his closest encounter with the same life that Tupac lived. Drugs were common in the booths while making music. His solo career finally blew up when he was noticed after his work on Jay-Z’s album “The Blueprint”.
His work was finally beginning to pay off when he got his shot. As he became more famous he began to create a negative image for himself. Many consider Kanye West to be an “Ego-manic”. He is looked upon as someone with a huge ego and for what, because he makes music? Many consider that to be a little ridiculous. He has been criticized for being “fake” many say, “How can someone that was brought up in the suburbs rap about the things that people in the inner cities are facing. He doesn’t have a clue the type of things that happen here” (Tate).
Kanye West has had many positive effects on the inner cities. People began to learn things from some of these songs. Songs like “Touch the Sky” and “The Glory” have helped to make people realize that they can make anything of themselves as long as they try their hardest for it. People started not to emulate drugs and spending money and degrading women, but rather began to focus their time on things such as self-betterment and realizing their self-worth. Things like this helped to get people away from the gangs and drugs and into school or even a recording studio as long as they were off the streets.
Kanye West did a great job of finishing up the job that Tupac laid down for rappers to come. But, just like Tupac, Kanye also had some negative effects. He further planted then thought that women were objects and not people. He didn’t fight off that negative stereotype but rather he played into it even further. His music played right into the popular conception that women should be drgraded and looked down upon. He also unintentionally made drugs, big flashy cars, and big gold diamond necklaces popular once again. Examples of his songs are “Drive Slow” and “Drunk and Hot Girls”.
Rap music has the largest connection to things that happen in the inner city. The things that rappers such as Tupac and Kanye West rap about can be seen in the city everyday. 60% of men incarcerated are African American. Black males from the age of 17-22 make up 85% of that 60% (Rose, 202). About 45% or 8. 9 million kids in the inner cities are being raised without both parents. In most cases it is the father that has left them. In some cases, both parents have left leaving the child for an orphanage or to fend for themselves (Rose, 202).
The majority of the kids that are incarcerated are in there for something that is drug related. Most of these kids are in a gang or in something that is gang related (Rose, 203). People in the inner city are using drugs to cope with the problems that they are having at home. Most of these problems are attributed to poverty. Statistics like this help show the link between the things that people rap about and how it affects the inner city. Tupac Shakur and Kanye West both, at one point in time rap about drugs, money and gangs. As they rap about this, it gets portrayed in the cities.
The more that Tupac rapped about gangs and drugs, the more that people thought it was cool and wanted to be just like him. When They talked about self-improvement, that’s when you saw strikes and equality riots and things of that nature. The people in the inner-city have nothing at all. So when one thing touches them the way this music does they tend to do whatever they talk about in their songs because these people begin to think that is that right thing to do and if they want to be like them they need to do whatever they talk about, or act whatever way they think they act.
So in reality the main factor behind this all is the lack of things these people have going for them, and they know without this music they would have no sense on guidance. This music touches these people in more ways then just giving them something to listen to or something to blame all their problems on. It gives them a sense of hope, something to look forward to, something to aspire to be, more than anything it gives them inspiration to try to do whatever they feel like they can.