Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday (or thereabouts) that isn't a national holiday, Rocks Off will have some of them here discussing issues relevant to their culture.
This Week's Panel: Roderick Thornton, Preemo, Kyle Hubbard, Brad Gilmore, Renzo, Thurogood Wordsmith
Not Invited: Teenage girls from the Bay Area
This Week's Prompt: Recently, some female prostitutes in the Bay Area cited rap as being one of the reasons that teenage prostitution is so prevalent. That extends to this: How big of an influence do you think your music has on kids, particularly with regards to negative imagery? If your music doesn't have that narrative in it, just answer on how you think it affects people.
Roderick Thornton: Sounds like bullshit to me there. Prostitution has been around for centuries. Those hoes wanted to make some easy money or some pimp fast-talked their asses into doing it. Also, were they white, because no offense, but when young white girls get in trouble it's never their fault; it's hip-hop or either the black people they were with held them captive. This has happened!
Anyway, to answer the question, music has an effect on people, But they pick what they want to listen to based on what speaks to them. And I haven't heard any songs on the radio talkin' about hoein' so they really had to dig for some hoein' music [laughs].
Preemo: First of all, I gotta say that anyone who blames teenage prostitution on rap or hip-hop is a moron. Secondly, I gotta say that music does have an influence on kids and adults - weak-minded kids and adults.
See, kids that grow up without any guidance or any sensible home training are like empty vessels; you can fill their heads up with anything. And then those kids turn to dumb-ass adults who go around and blame other people for their problems. If anything, hip-hop has saved more kids than parents have. Didn't Luda win a Grammy for "Runaway"? Doesn't Lupe have an amazing record called "Intruder"?
A very large portion of prostitutes in America were molested as children and are usually dealing with substance-abuse issues. That's what turns girls into prostitutes. And what's even more disturbing is that it's usually a family member who does it. There is your cause. There is your source. It starts in the home.
Any young girl that would turn to prostitution because a "rapper told her so" is so amazingly lost that she probably won't ever get right. And I would bet money a family member or someone close to her is responsible for creating the environment that nurtured that kind of thinking, not hip-hop.
Kyle Hubbard: People sure do have a tendency to make rap music the scapegoat for a lot of the world's ills; I find that extremely ridiculous. I was white kid who grew up in the 'burbs and I digested a lot of gangster rap in my youth, but never once had the urge to act out what I heard in these lyrics in real life. I find it really hard to believe that someone can be that impressionable.
Like the music I listened to definitely had an effect on me, but what I heard is the struggle...I wasn't as interested in the lines about murder, robbery, or drug selling but more in the lines that lead to those acts of violence, etc. That's where the poetry lies.
What is about the situation these artists grew up in that led them to do those things? When a rapper uses that kind of imagery in their songs, the point they are trying to make is that their circumstances have corrupted them to that point. I don't believe a rapper says he killed someone to brag about killing someone but to extend the narrative about his life story.
I personally don't think my music has any strong negative imagery. I am not saying its all sunshine and lollipops and may not be appropriate for children, but my imagery is more about the gray shades of life than it is about violence and extremely negative imagery. In conclusion, anyone who makes life decisions based on what they heard in a rap song is a simpleton.
Brad Gilmore: Since rap's introduction to the general public, people have blamed it for inspiring violence and all sorts of negative things. I think for someone to blame teenage prostitution on hip-hop has to be the dumbest thing I've ever heard. As far as my music is concerned, we have a more positive outlook on most things.
But I don't think that a rap song will influence you to go out and murder, rape, or steal. I think that you already have to be in that mood, and if you are, you play a song that has the same vibe to it, to like keep you in that mood.
I'm tired of people saying that hip hop is so negative. We have many artists who don't talk about drugs and guns. And if you want to look at the local scene, Twenty Eleven, Kyle Hubbard and Fat Tony aren't artists who follow that stereotype that the majority of America thinks that hip-hop is. Everyone needs to stop trying to blame others for their problems, and finally take responsibility for their actions.
Renzo: Hip-hop is the sole source of all prostitution. When an English king decided he wanted to have a mistress in the 1600's, they gave him a Too Short CD so it would teach him all the rules of the "game." I mean, every time I hear a Bobby Brown record I want to snuggle up with the woman of my dreams and live a wonderful life of monogamy and shamelessness.
But when I hear an Ice Cube record it makes me want to put a bitch out on the stroll so she can GET MY MONEY! Hip-hop is the sole reason for these feelings. I'm glad someone brought it to the world's attention finally and changed my life. I gave up listening to Too Short, Snoop Dogg and E-40 for these reasons many years ago.
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In reality though, people are full of shit and prostitution is the line of work that people take when they find out that they have the thing that everyone works so hard for. You can blame everything on hip-hop when you're a lazy person that has no clue how to solve problems.
Thurogood Wordsmith: Rap has become a tool for artists to convey opinions and views. Some artists grow up around pimps and prostitutes so that's included in their subject matter. And some artists even profit off of glorifying negative imagery. Myself, I rap about the things I've experienced and been through.
With that being said, you can't place the blame of your problems on an artist or musician because at the end of the day, music is entertainment.
Even though artists should not shoulder the blame for negatively influencing children and/or people, we need to stay aware that we do have a powerful platform to influence the public. And that power can be used in any way an artist sees fit.