Once, when I was about 13, I wanted to buy a Barenaked Ladies CD titled “Stunt.” Like most young people, I asked my mother for permission to make the purchase.Her response: “Are there any bad songs on it?” I had lived with this woman for long enough to know that her definition of “bad” was a little warped, in my opinion. After doing some research on the album, I discovered that there were not any songs that I would consider “bad,” even by her definition.
I purchased the CD, only to have her confiscate it after she realized that one of the songs contained lyrics about “making out.” Yes, it sounds crazy, but she said a song alluding to something like that was inappropriate for someone my age. Although I still think her reaction was extreme, she did have a point: Some music is inappropriate, especially for young people.
There’s music that’s inappropriate for children and adolescents, and then there’s music that is not appropriate for any demographic. It is this type of music I would like to highlight, and more specifically, a genre we have all heard of: gangsta rap.
Bernard Goldberg has recently written a book titled, “100 People Who Are Screwing up America.” Goldberg compiled a list of specific people and groups who are screwing up our country. Before the actual list, there is a section with chapters about less specific, larger groups or things that are helping screw up our country. One of these chapters is about music, more particularly rap music.
Rap, specifically gangsta rap, according to Goldberg, is not only “moronic, disgusting, inane, ignorant and soul-deadening” but also “dangerous and destructive.”
Before describing this genre with such harsh words, Goldberg cites specific lyrics as evidence. He cites, from rapper Eminem’s “Kill You,” a moving song he wrote about murdering his mother. One part reads: “I’ma kill you! Like a murder weapon, I’ma conceal you, in a closet with mildew, sheets, pillows and film you.” Much of the song is so explicit that I am unable to print the lyrics here.
These songs, and countless others, are not only racist, sexist and hateful, but also extremely descriptive about the acts of killing and sex. It is one thing to say “Come a little closer baby, I feel like stripping it down,” like a song by country artist Dierks Bentley. It is an entirely different thing to say “Come a little closer bitch, I feel like raping you and then possibly choking you to death.”
I made that last line up, but it really isn’t very far from what some of the lyrics sound like. If you added three or four expletives, it would be an even more accurate example.
I’m not about to bash all rap music, and I’m not about to say that there aren’t inappropriate elements in other genres of music. I will, however, bash music that is nothing more than sick and demented artists rapping about killing, rape and other repulsive acts. I know it’s a form of expression, but there should be a line between expressing oneself and being too descriptive, destructive and hateful.
Brandon Castillo, freshman premajor said of gansta rap: “It’s just another genre of music. Sure, it’s offensive, but it’s not that bad.” He continued, “It’s vulgar, but so is society, and we’ve been desensitized to stuff like that.”
The problem is the part about our society being desensitized to trash like this. I agree that rap is just another genre, but gangsta rap crosses the decency line. This particular genre is characterized by explicit lyrics about terrible acts. The music itself is not a major problem; the problem is that after hearing enough of this garbage, as Castillo pointed out, we’ve been desensitized to it.
We, as a society, have been deadened to things that are, when it boils down to pure morality, absolutely repulsive. Goldberg quotes author John Underwood, who summed it up well: “In a society where anything goes, everything, eventually, will. A society that stands for nothing will fall for anything – and then, of course, will just simply fall.”
Do I think gangsta rap is going to completely destroy our society? No, but I don’t think it’s helping either.
Dan Plate is a freshman business major from Ogallala, Neb.