Sunday, February 19, 2012

Hip-Hop and the Mind

Over the weekend, my father sent me this clip of Dr. Menzise speaking. This was right up my alley so he knew I would be interested. In this video, Menzise speaks about the mind-controlling, galvanizing nature of hip-hop (some hip-hop). He asks the audience if they can name more than 5 positive, uplifting hip-hop artists and they could not. What does this show about the genre? It shows that although hip-hop artists are given such respect in society, many are harming the naive, developing minds of the new generation. Menzise refers to videos in which these rappers are shown carrying guns calling each other "niggas". Being an African American scholar, Menzise understands that African Americans always want to demand respect in society: is a gun-slinging music video the right method to do that?

He then points to an example in his own life: before he got his PhD, he DJed at a night club. He used to observe how powerful and controlling the music he played was for the people on the dance floor. Any change in rhythm, flow, or lyrics would cause the dancers to behave in a different fashion. The music he was creating actually changed their course of action.  When these people who are creating this music know they have so much power over our minds, why are many making this disturbing music? I agree with Menzise to some degree.  I do feel like he was right about their being many rappers like this; however, I feel that this should not be the rapping the people listen to. People need to start opening their ears to better, more socially-conscious intelligent rapping. Once they do, everything will change.

Watch Part 2 of his lecture if you desire.


  1. I love and hate reading and watching things like this. I feel people put too much pressure on rappers,and often blame them for things that seem a little extreme. Hip Hop is always the blame for exposing people to violence and negativity but people often over look the fact that we live in America where violence seems to be the answer to everything hence the war we are in now. This makes me wonder why not very many people bring up the fact that Games are sold in stores that about killing and shooting for "points". People also don't mention the fact that the same stores that refused to sell CD's with guns on the cover sell actual guns and bullets instead. Doesn't that seem contradictory to you because it seems that way to me? A lot of people also over look the fact that violence is being taught to kids on a much bigger scale, and the teacher of that lesson is surprisingly not hip hop, but the military. Military recruits use War Games like MW3, which is a game that I must say is very fun and addictive, to get the attention of children and make them want to fight for their country. They attract children by showing them how much fun it is to use a gun and kill people from other countries for no apparent reason. While more and more children are signing their lives away to join the military, Hip Hop and music in general is still used as a scapegoat for Violence in America. Now i'm not saying that music isn't promoting violence. It may or may not be, but I know that I've never listened to a song and then decided to go shoot and kill somebody, Have you? But I know a lot of people who has played a video game and decided that it would be cool to use guns and shoot people in real life. With this said, I think people should consider all factors, and place even amounts of blame where blame is due instead of always focusing on music, which is a good note to end this comment on since I can talk about this topic for days!
    Good Post!

  2. Rap had a deep culture rooted in violence, drugs, and life in the ghetto. As this is where rap comes from, the lyrics are deeply reflective of this. I believe that it is important for surbanities to understand this culture, and rap is a great way to diversify views.

  3. Obviously there are socially-conscious artists out there who are extremely talented but remain overlooked for a number of reasons. But I think there is definitely progress being made in this area. Those who are actively looking for positive hip hop will find a solid group of up-and-coming artists who are taking hip hop in a new direction. Hip hop is changing; when Nas proclaimed the genre as dead he was speaking for music's close ties with gangster culture of the 80s and 90s.

    In my opinion, hip hop as an art form is as much a product of present-day culture as it is an influence of it. Even when accounting for its violent roots, it should not be blamed for causing violence that already existed.

  4. It is true that the music people listen to has an impact on them. And while it might be nice if everyone listened to more socially-conscious, intelligent rapping, you cannot control what other people listen to. However there are popular rappers out there like Lupe Fiasco who do not corrupt the minds of the youth with words of prostitution, violence, and drugs. With respect to the harming of the naive, Lupe took a different approach. In his song, "The Show Goes On," he supports those children who are in the direct line of rap music by saying, "three in the air for the kids in the ghetto, four for the kids that don't wanna be there, none for the niggas tryin' to hold them back." Not only is he supporting the children who are trying to make a life for themselves, but he is against the people who are not fighting with the children. Lupe Fiasco goes on later to give his support to the teachers who are aiding these determined children.

    Yes, we all know that rap started in the ghetto's with many negative influences, but part of rap has changed. Rap has achieved widespread popularity among many groups of people, not just African American's living in the ghetto. Furthermore, many rappers actually went to college and sing college themed songs, for instance, Asher Roth's, "I Love College." Furthermore, as discussed in class, in a song that follows the theme that rap is not good for the youth, "Monster" Jay-Z finds a way to let everyone know how important love is, "everyone wanna know what my Achilles' heel is love."

    Rap is changing. In some cases, artists fully stand up for the children and love, while in others, rap simply has not had enough time to fully evolve and so we see glimpses of peaceful and loving concepts. In any case, rap has evolved and will continue to evolve in the future.


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