Popular culture is advanced through various forms; one such form is through music where cultures are transmitted from individuals to societies. Popular music genre such as hip hop and grange have varied influences on their listeners. Such influences may present negative effects on culture such as propagating violence, sex and the use of drugs. Hip hop and Grange both influence cultures negatively through sex, violence and drug use. The analysis of the similarities and differences between the two genre’s negative influences on cultures through violence, drugs and sex presents an understanding of each genre’s contribution to this negative cultural transmission.
Key Words: Hip hop, Grange, Violence, Drugs, Sex.
Music is a form of popular culture that influences individual lifestyles which ultimately influences their culture especially when the effects of the music spill over to the society as a cultural unit. For instance Hip hop and Grange are two particular genres of music that have various influences on the youth whether positive or negative. Various aspects of music have influences on an individual’s way of perceiving lifestyles and behaviors which in the end influences their culture. This paper focuses on two genre of music namely hip hop and grange. It analyses the influence that the two have had on individual and societal cultural characteristics focusing on three major negative influences i.e. violence, drugs and sex as a result of influence from either genre. The first part presents a discussion on hip hop’s role in influencing cultures through violence, drugs and sex. Subsequently, an analysis of grange’s influence on the same issues is also discussed.
Hip hop’s influence
First, song lyrics to a great extent play a central role in determining the message that the song conveys to the listener. In hip hop music for instance the lyrics are mostly associated with violence, drugs and sex, individual’s listening to hip hop may ape the wordings in the lyrics of the song and become abusive, engage in drug consumption and immoral sexual activity as suggested by the lyrics in the hip hop songs. One such example of hip hop’s explicit lyrical content is Prodigy’s lyrics from the group Mobb Deep in the song “Shook ones Part II” where he raps that “You heard of us official Queensland Murderers the Mobb comes equipped with warfare, beware of my crime family who got nuff shots to share” (Prodigy, 1994). Such lyrics carry with them the message of violence to hip hop listeners who in turn develop a culture of violence as individuals and as a cultural community of hip hop fans.
Similarly, the hip hop genre also incorporates song lyrics that are sexually explicit and or encourage the consumption of drugs or a combination of either two or all the three negative influences . Consider the song “John (If I die today)” by Lil Wayne, he sings in the chorus that “Load up the Choppers like it’s December 31st roll up and cock it and hit the n**** where it hurts” and in the first verse he raps lyrics to suggest sexual explicitness with a female friend (2011, track 12). The word chopper in the chorus is hip hop’s coded language for a gun which the lyrics continue to urge that it be used to kill. This song for example has both explicit sexual content and violence in its lyrics which in turn may prompt its listeners to engage in violence and sexual activity.
Hip hop music is as well quite influential through the visual effects that are portrayed in music videos and or in the manner of dressing that artists adopt. Hip hop videos are accustomed to flashy lifestyles where rappers flaunt their money in lavish spending. With effect hip hop lovers would desire such lifestyles in so doing spend their money on similar items as the rappers in the videos for instance by purchasing expensive jeweler worn by the musicians in their music videos. Further, music videos have an influence on fans through the mode of dressing that artists adopt coupled by the behaviors they portray in the videos. A video depicting artists using drugs or engaging in sexually explicit activity such as partying in a strip club may influence fanatics to adopt behaviors and modes of dressing as depicted in the music videos hence negatively influencing culture (Pediatrics, 2009; Chlacchieri, 2005).
Unlike hip hop the grange genre does not widely include lyrics that are sexually explicit or that mention the use of drugs as much as hip hop lyrics do. In fact grange lyrics that mention ‘love’ which is as closest as it gets on the topic of sex; the lyrics tend to talk more about failure in relationships rather than suggestive sex as brought out in hip hop lyrics. For example grange singer Kurt Cobain’s dysfunctional relationship inspired most of the songs in the album ‘Nevermind’ (Cross, 2001). Hence, the grange genre lyrics rarely incorporate sexual explicit content. Similarly, grange genre lyrics also includes very little of words depicting drugs and drug use if any. For this reason, grange is regarded to be less influential on culturally influencing sex and drug use through its lyrics.
However lyrically grange music can be termed to endorse violence more than it does sex and drugs. Most grange music feature lyrics that insinuate violence in the form of murders and suicides. In the song ‘Jeremy’ for instance, Eddie Vedder sings about a boy who bites his teacher on the breasts and gets hurt by his parents then eventually kills himself (Vedder 1991, Track 6). Thus grange has more influence on its fans through advancing violence than it does in influencing the culture of sex and drugs.
Nonetheless, grange fans and artists alike are widely associated with drug use especially during grunge festivals and concerts. Grange artists are frequently associated with drug abuse who in turn influence their fans to pick up the habit. Moreover, artists are role models to their fans who look up to them for inspiration. Therefore, artists who display behavior likely to suggest violence, drug usage and sexual explicitness are likely to influence their fanatics to engage in violence, drug use and sexual explicitness. Whereas it’s not the norm for grange lyrics to pass messages of sex and drug use; grange artists and fans influence cultures negatively though sex and drugs by the activities that grange artists and fans engage in which mostly revolve around sex and drug use encouraging the culture of sex and drug use through the music genre.
The grange genre is one that does not in most circumstances include explicit lyrics such as is the trend in hip hop which emphasize on sex, violence and drugs, notwithstanding, grange artists are mostly seen in their videos engaging in drug use, sexually explicit scenes as well as violent scenes which are quite eminent in most grange music videos. Despite the fact that the lyrics in grange songs are mostly free of the mention of drugs and the use of sexually explicit language grange lyrics are arguably violent and hence advance the culture of violence. In addition the music still manages to influence fanatics into lifestyles that revolve around sex and drugs from the images they carry in the music videos (Chiacchieri, 2005).
The major difference that comes out clearly about the influences that the two genre of music namely grange and hip hop have on violence, drugs and sex is that; for hip hop, the influence is generally lyrical in that the contents of the lyrics and specifically the words used in hip hop songs are highly suggestive of either sex, violence, drug use or a combination of either or all three. On the other hand, grange as a genre influences individuals through the practical aspects of the music genre than through the actual words in the lyrics of the songs. This is because the lifestyle lived by grange artists and fans is one that is abusive of drugs as well as one that encourages sexual explicitness.
Notably, lyrics from the grange genre are most influential when it comes to advancing the culture of violence that either sex or drug usage. The genre is found to contain lyrical content that insinuates violence in the form of killing or committing suicide thus having more culture influence on violence than on sex and drugs.
Generally, either genre of music whether hip hop or grange have different influences on violence, drugs and sex depending on the lyrics of that particular song. Similarly, the visual aspects such as dressing and lifestyle depicted by fans and artists of both genre may also influence an individual’s culture through violence, sex and drugs as discussed. Therefore, the influences that a particular song lyrics or visuals may have are embedded in the messages in the lyrics and visuals which may propagate the culture of violence, drugs and sex considering the contents of the song in propagating the culture of violence, drugs, sex or a combination of either or all three.
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