Is Rap Music Dangerous?


Music is one of the highly rated leisure activities for many people.The developments in technology have ensured that individuals canlisten to music at any time and place. For instance, provided one hasa mobile phone and earphones, he or she is able to listen to musicwhile working, at school or even when walking. Also, everyone isexposed to music on a daily basis, as music is largely played indifferent places people visit. There are many music genres, one beingrap music. Rap is a music style that is typified by spoken lyrics. Itis one of the most controversial music genres, due to the associationof rap music with the glorification of bad behaviors. However, onecannot help but question whether rap music is purely controversial,or there are any benefits from listening to the music.

In the following discussion, the essay argues that rap music isdangerous. Although there is research to demonstrate that there aresome advantages of listening to rap music, this paper supports theargument against the music genre. This is because most of theresearch on the topic supports the fact that rap music is dangerous.


Rap Music as Entertainment

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (2009), musicplays a crucial role in socialization, since it is regarded bysociety as a part of development. Music is a source of entertainmentas well as diversion from life’s challenges. In addition, it is aneffective way of relieving boredom. Research indicates that“adolescents use popular music to deal with loneliness and to takecontrol of their emotional status or mood” (American Academy ofPediatrics, 2009, p. 1488). Although there may be concerns thatthe lyrics of a rap song may negatively influence the listener, theAmerican Academy of Pediatrics (2009) refutes such claims byexplaining that “little or no attention is paid to the words” ina song (p. 1489). This implies that many people may listen to musicpassively by paying little consideration to the words uttered.Considering that rap music is popular, it is possible to concludethat based on this argument rap music is an important source ofentertainment. In addition, it helps to relieve boredom and divertslisteners from their problems.

Improves Language Learning

Kelly (2013) argues that rap music is important as it connectsstudents’ lives with their learning. She explains that the musicprovides “many valuable pathways to English language arts contentand skills” (Kelly, 2013, p. 54). The author further notes that thehistorical and literary content in rap music is a form of public art.This is because rappers can be compared to public poets, who improveour comprehension of human experience by narrating stories in theirmusic. Rap music provides an opportunity to study language, hence “instudying language in the context of hip-hop, students can improvetheir vocabulary knowledge and decoding skills” (Kelly, 2013, p.54).

Also, the manner in which narratives are developed, written andorganized appears to derive from the practice of spoken word. Assuch, rap has a close connection to storytelling. A significantcharacteristic of the music is its capability to document life aswell as narrate stories, which the listener can relate to. To someextent, “the stories told through rap lyrics can be more powerfulfor students than the traditional stories that they read in class,since these stories are more culturally relevant. For many students,the stories conveyed through rap are their own stories” (Kelly,2013, p. 54). Hence, rap music can be used in the classroom toenhance language learning.


Although Kelly (2013) and the American Academy of Pediatrics(2009) have provided convincing evidence supporting the significanceof rap music, the harmful nature of the music cannot be ignored.There is ample research providing different explanations as to whythe rap music is indeed dangerous.

Promotes Domestic Violence

Listening to rap music promotes a society that accepts andperpetrates domestic violence. Cundiff (2013) notes that rap containsmessages “that glorify violence against women, including rape,torture and abuse” (p. 71), behaviors, which are apparent in oursociety today. This is an issue that mostly affects men, because themusic teaches them that violence is closely tied to masculinity.Hence, men are more likely to abuse their intimate partners as a wayof expressing their manhood. Research indicates that “men commit atleast 90% of documented acts of physical intimate partner violence inthe U.S by exerting control over women” (Cundiff, 2013, p. 72). Thestatistics indicates that women are the main victims of domesticabuse while the males are the major perpetrators.

The violence is not only physical, but includes sexual andpsychological abuse. The argument is that when people listen to rapmusic, they develop the view that violence towards their partners isacceptable. Cundiff (2013) explains that when people are continuouslyexposed to messages, such as those in rap music that glorifyviolence, the idea that aggression is okay becomes ingrained. This isbecause listeners become desensitized to the issue of domesticviolence, and as a result women accept to be abused by men, while mendeem their abusive behavior as appropriate.

Supports Misogyny

Rap music contains misogynistic lyrics, which encourage society todegrade women. Misogyny is defined as “hatred or disdain of womenand an ideology that reduces women to objects for men’s ownership,use or abuse” (Cundiff, 2013, p. 71). Well recognized rap artistslike Ja Rule, Eminen and Ludacris have repeatedly portrayed femalesas objects in their music videos. The artists signify that men shoulddominate over women, hence depicting submission as an attractiveaspect in women. Rap songs support “male hegemony in which men findthe domination and exploitation of women and other men to be not onlyexpected, but actually demanded” (Cundiff, 2013, p. 71). Hence, thesongs communicate that women should be controlled by men resulting inthe degradation of females.

Such misogynistic views initially emerged in rap music towards the1990s, and have become widespread today through how women are shownas only sex objects in rap music videos. Cundiff (2013), in a contentanalysis of different kinds of media, concluded that music comprisedof more sexual content when compared to other media channels. Inspecific, the author notes that “sexually explicit and derogatorylyrics are especially apparent in rap music, which has beencriticized for its graphic derogatory presentation of women usinglyrics that objectify, exploit or victimize them” (p. 72). Inaddition, the analysis resulted in the categorization of rap musicinto misogynistic themes. These themes include rappers priding tohave taken part in sex acts that hurt females, justification ofdifferent brutal acts, threatening women who defy male domination,and encouraging men to treat their partners violently.

In another research on the depiction of women in rap songs,researchers concluded that the most apparent themes were shaming andnaming females, depicting women as people who cannot be trusted, aswell as glorification of pimping and prostitution (Cundiff, 2013).This is a clear indication that rap music compares females toobjects, which can be abused. As a result, those who watch and listento such music devalue and treat women stereotypically.

Teen Violence

There is a relationship between listening to rap music and teenviolence. Research shows that, teenagers who spend most of their timeviewing the violence portrayed in rap music videos, have a higherlikelihood of practicing the aggression in real life (Kirchheimer,2003). In a study comparing the behaviors of African American girlswho watched such videos to those who did not, the researchersconcluded that “the girls who viewed these gangster videos for atleast 14 hours per week were far more likely to practice numerousdestructive behaviors” (Kirchheimer, 2003, p. 1). These behaviorsinclude a higher likelihood to hit teachers and getting apprehended. Kirchheimer (2003) explains that while there are several kinds ofrap music, gangster rap appears to be the most popular amongteenagers. When young people watch such videos, they observe thebehaviors of the actors and desire to be like them. For instance,girls watch rap music videos where women relate with wealthy andpowerful men, visit entertainment places and dress in expensiveclothes (Kirchheimer, 2003). As such, the girls get the idea thatthey can also dress in the same way as the women, go to clubs anddesire to be associated with wealthy men. Bearing in mind that manyteenagers have not reached the legal age allowed for them to visitclubs, they end up being arrested for attempting to illegally hangout in clubs.

The videos also include many violent scenes, where the actors areconstantly fighting with those who anger them. Hence, the sameactions became evident in teens, which explain why a student wouldhit their teacher. The teenagers get the perception that violence isthe only way to get their way, or have their voice heard, especiallywhen they disagree with adults. Kirchheimer (2003) explains that toomuch viewing of violence through media exposure to gangster rapmusic, results in desensitization, which makes aggression appearnormal.

Glamorizes Drugs

Rap music is dangerous because it glamorizes substance use, whichencourages young people to use drugs. Based on a study on the contentof the most popular song, researchers concluded that 77% of rap songstalk about alcohol or drugs (Parker-Pope, 2008). Most of these songsdepict tobacco use, some talk about using marijuana, alcohol anddifferent substances. In a different study on the likelihood ofsubstance use content in popular songs, Primack et al. (2008) note“rap songs contain the highest frequency of references to explicituse of alcohol, marijuana, and other substances” (p. 173). Forinstance, many rap music lyrics talk about the drug, ecstasy(Diamond, Bermudez &amp Schensul, 2006). Rappers talk about how touse ecstasy and why it should be used and by doing so they encouragepeople who have not yet used the substance to try it out.

Also, most rap music videos contain scenes of people drinkingalcohol, smoking or using other drugs. Very few rap songs appear tocaution listeners and viewers against using drugs. Exposure to suchmusic enhances the likelihood that teenagers will want to use thesubstances they hear being glorified. As Parker-Pope (2008) explains,“music is a powerful social force that also taps into anindividual’s personal identity, memories and mood” (p. 1). Thismeans that rap music praising substance or drug use connects toteenagers and influences their character development. Young people“listen to an average of nearly 2.5 hours of music per day”(Parker-Pope, 2008, p. 1). Most of these teenagers listen to popularsongs, such as rap, yet one in every three famous lyrics includereferences to using drugs. This implies that young people receive“about 35 references to substance abuse for every hour of musicthey listen to” (Parker-Pope, 2008, p. 1). Hence, when they hearothers portraying drugs as good, they are highly likely to experimenton the use of different substances.

Risky Sexual Behaviors

In reference to Wright and Craske (2015), rap music has a higherlikelihood of encouraging young people to indulge in risky sexualactivities as compared to other music genres. The authors acknowledgethat music greatly influences “listeners’ perception of sexualrelationships and their likelihood of making risky decisions”(Wright &amp Craske, 2015, p. 3). In specific, rap has a strongconnection with dangerous sexual engagements. This is because themusic has more portrayal of sexual content. For example, “more thana third of popular songs contain explicit sexual content and twothird of these references are degrading. Lyrics often containexplicit sexual messages and an estimated 40% to 75% of music videoscontain sexual imagery” (Wright &amp Craske, 2015, p. 3). Thestatistics clearly indicates that sexual references are used tocompose most rap songs.

Young adults are the largest listeners of music. Although they havedifferent genre preferences, most prefer rap music. Bearing in mindthe high level of sexual content by rap artists in their music, andthe addictive listening behaviors of teenagers, it is alarming thatcontinuous introduction to such information makes it hard for youngpeople to differentiate amid truth and fiction (Wingood, 2003). Thereis already a high rate of pregnancies as well as sexually transmitteddiseases among youths. This is because most engage in risky sexualactivities. People are constantly questioning why teenagers areextensively indulging in such actions. However, these are thebehaviors they have been made to believe as true. When everythingthey listen to glorifies having many sexual partners, and not usingprotection during sexual intercourse among other behaviors, theyouths simply pick up the behaviors.

Wright &amp Craske (2015) explain that it is possible “that therates of teenage pregnancies, STIs and HIV are related to theirexposure to music that contains high levels of sexual content” (p.4). This is a clear indication that the music enhances the urge forlisteners to engage in the sexual behavior, which they see or hear.Rap artists create a fake reality about sexual engagements, yet theyrarely portray the negative consequences of such behaviors. Hence,when listeners copy the behaviors, they expect the same results, butinstead end up with STDs and unwanted pregnancies, which isespecially the case for teenagers.


The essay concludes that rap music is dangerous. Despite the factthat it acts as a source of entertainment and can be used to improvelanguage learning, there are many disadvantages linked to the genre.It is precarious because it promotes domestic violence by depictingviolence towards women as appropriate. Rap music supports misogynybecause most rap music lyrics degrade women. Teen violence, drug useand risky sexual behaviors are linked to listening to rap music,since the content in the songs glorifies aggression, consumingalcohol, smoking and using other substances, and sexual actions.


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2009). Policy statement – impactof music, music lyrics, and music videos on children and youth.Pediatrics, 124(5), 1488-1494.

Cundiff, G. (2013). The influence of rap/hip-hop music: Amixed-method analysis on audience perceptions of misogynistic lyricsand the issue of domestic violence. The Elon Journal ofUndergraduate Research in Communications, 4(1), 71-93.

Diamond, S., Bermudez, R., &amp Schensul, J. (2006). What’s therap about ecstasy? Popular music lyrics and drug trends amongAmerican youth. Journal of Adolescent Research, 21(3),269-298.

Kelly, L. L. (2013). Hip-Hop literature: The politics, poetics andpower of hip-hop in the English classroom. English Journal,102(5), 51-56.

Kirchheimer, S. (2003). Does rap put teens at risk? Study:Associations found between video viewing time and risky behaviors.WebMD Health News, 1-2.

Parker-Pope, T. (2008). Under the influence of music? The New YorkTimes, 1-1.

Primack, B. A., Dalton, A. M., Carroll, M. V., Agarwal, A. A., &ampFine, M. J. (2008). Content analysis of tobacco, alcohol and otherdrugs in popular music. Archives of Pediatrics and AdolescentMedicine Journal, 162(2), 169-175.

Wingood, G. M., DiClemente, R. J., Bernhardt, J. M., Harrington, K.,Davies, S. L., Robillard, A., &amp Hook, E. W. (2003). A prospectivestudy of exposure to rap music videos and African American femaleadolescents’ health. American Journal of Public Health,93(3), 437-439.

Wright, C. L., &amp Craske, M. (2015). Music’s influence on riskysexual behaviors: Examining the cultivation theory. MediaPsychology Review, 9(1), 1-30.