A Sociocultural Perspective: Hip-Hop Music and Social Problems

A hip-hop dance has been in existence for over three decades. There are many controversial issues associated with it. The need to establish some facts and look at its nexus with sociocultural issues. Identifying different roles given to each gender has helped to build the hip-hop culture and its evolution over time. It also explores the different behavioral factors associated with the hip-hop dance considering the recent allegation that hip-hop dance has a hand in the recent violence experienced at schools and among the youth. It looks at whether the allegations are true or whether they have any connections with the hip-hop dance. In the same sense, it also argues that hip-hop is good as it is a form of expression just as it has been originally created for. There is also a need to look at it from another perspective with the focus on its effect on other genres of music like rap.

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The rise of hip-hop music and dance over some time has led to lots of changes in a social setting where this form of music began. The music genre and dance believed to have begun in the 1970s by a popular Jamaican artist named Kool Dj Herc based in New York South associated with the Bronx communities. He did this by stretching two identical songs. This has led to the onset of the new popular hip-hop culture. This was, however, not known as hip-hop as it was branded "break dancing" that is a specific dance associated with hip-hop. hip-hop came into existence with the combination of different cultures like the common jazz, rock, tap, American and other Latino cultures. As it began, this form of dance was not meant for the commercial use as it served as a means of a unifying factor among the poor people and those stricken by different hardships. Through hip-hop, they have found out a way of expressing their feelings and letting go of anger felt deeply within them. It served as a form of expression; and those who loved to dance used it as a challenge to the harsh environment they were living in as they sought to provoke a reaction from society. It also served as an alternative to the struggles they had gone through in the suburban streets that made their life difficult for them. Hence, they found it entertaining and distracting to the difficult life they were leading. Dancing to hip-hop music entails lots of energetic work where the dancers have freedom of movements in the ground and when standing up. It is mostly a form of expression as there is no particular dance move or pattern that dancers must conform to when being in the dance floor. It brings out the personality of its audience and those dancing to it. It is, however, important to note that despite the difference in its execution in the dance floor, it is unified by its association to poverty among the youth and the violence they had to go through on a daily basis. There are four unique elements that sets it aside from other dancing styles, namely disc jockeys, graffiti also known as art, MCs commonly known as rappers, and B-boys and B-girls who are being dancer breakers both boys and girls.

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The issue of gender comes up in every other aspect of life; and music is not an exception. The oppression of women has been rampant since the time immemorial. This is no different in hip-hop as men are seen as masculine, hence, associated with power and toughness; while women are placed on the lower side of the scale as they are seen as sexual objects. Changes are, however, seen in hip-hop as gender ideology is changing as women are fighting for equal treatment in the hip-hop dance industry. It is now different from when it began as women are getting a fair claim in the music scene. Even though numerous women still appear in music videos with the little clothing on, hence, conforming to the outdated gender ideology, many of them have defied this trend and come out as the powerful hip-hop musicians who can bring out their feelings without conforming to a common stereotype. Women have now come out to sing hardship issues like domestic violence and sexual issues. A good example is Eve who has in her songs addressed the issues that are very powerful in her songs like sexual abuses among women. In the same sense, men are also changing from their traditional ideological masculine roles where they used to sing about living in the ghetto, break dancing and graffiti. The focus of the songs sang by male artists has brought out the hardships they go through in their neighborhoods with lyrics talking about fighting with the situations they lived in and police officers who seem to distract their lives. Men during this time did not talk about partying or making women as objects of their songs. They focused on the issues that made the life hard for them. This has, however, evolved over time; and it is now common to find songs where the artists talk about partying, alcohol and women as sexual objects as seen in some videos where women dance with little clothing on. Drugs and alcohol are also becoming a common feature in the latest albums from a hip-hop artist. Most of these people also fail to conform to most gender ideologies created over time and come up with their own unique ideologies. This is because they seek to prove that they can change what society has put forth as a common way of doing things. This sought to help them changing the situation facing them. The same case applies to women roles that are proving to differ in these setting as many women seem to be breaking as objects to be manipulated by men. They are coming out and voicing their issues unlike in the past where they have chosen to keep quite and suffer through it all. There is also a new gender ideology where women are drawing a thin line between different gender roles in the hip-hop dance. Female artists like Nicki Minaj are proving that they can sing both hardship songs or dance to the music in the manner suggesting that she is a sex object as seen in most male videos.

There are many behavioral issues associated with hip-hop music related to many claims being on its influence on many crime cases. There many cases where youth and school going children have been accused of engaging in the violence provoked by the hip-hop dance. It is argued that the lyrics common in many hip-hop dances are provocative as they have violent messages. This can be attributed to the nature of life leading by the pioneers of hip-hop music that were singing about the hardships they had gone through. Their focus was on the life they had been going through where the crime and violence was a common way of life. Leading a criminal life and fighting the police was a common line in most hip-hop songs. One will not fail to see criminals and police officers engaging in fights in many of these videos, hence, portraying the image that defified police orders being a good trend and proving the one fighting spirit. This seems to have inspired the youths and children as they see hip-hop artists as their role models. They then take what they hear in the lyrics seriously and engage in criminal acts. This is particularly true as many of the songs talk about fighting the police, hence, they seem to see it fits to engage in fights with police officers. Violence and crime are very common in ghettoes where most of the hip-hop artists have come from. This is featured in many albums. The youth watching these videos scans related to what the lyrics is talking about as they experience these things in their daily life. This is why most of them will behave like the artists and put into practice what they see.

It is also common to see in these songs people drinking alcohol and abusing drugs. This has also led to numerous cases where the youth in ghettos turn to drug abuse when they find life hard. This is sparked by the fact that artists in many songs praise alcohol and talk about drugs. The youth takes this as a sign as these drugs will reduce their suffering, hence, they take to drug abuse. Sex is also a common theme in the hip-hop lyrics as many artists talk about sexuality. This is further sparked by the presence of many women in the video with the little clothing on. The videos also portray different sexual messages through provocative dancing moves where they send an erotic sexual message to the viewers. This has a negative impact on society as they see sexuality as something that should be engaged in without fear of contracting any disease or unwanted pregnancies. This shows that sex is a good thing to engage in as they are provoked by the high amount of sexuality present in videos. Many youth and school going children in ghettos and other lovers of this music genres love the message in the songs and they practice what they see.

However, the songs are also important in educating the youth in leading the life free from stress. They stress on the importance of fighting the hardships in their life. The songs stress on the importance of overcoming different situations in their lives. But this can only bear positive fruits if they are able to take the message in a positive manner, hence, spark off positive reactions to hardships they are facing. The lyrics talk about hardships and focus on how to overcome the challenges provoked by leaving in ghettos. They also serve as a form of expression where the artists express their innermost feelings and struggles in life. If taken positively, the society then comes to understand what they go through and what they feel about. Also, what may help them to overcome numerous challenges facing them. hip-hop is a form of expression as the artists in the past sought to voice different situations in their lives through hip-hop. The value of hip-hop has come in strongly when one considers the huge number of followers after its inception in the 1970s.

Considering the origin and the initial messages in the hip-hop dance, one can attest that it acts as a unifying factor. Despite the different moves practiced in different dances and ghettos, one can see that there are many common messages in the music. The similarities act as a uniting factor as those undergoing similar circumstances understand each other because of the similar ordeals they go through. It also serves as an avenue for marketing different products as they put different commodities on the videos, hence, make viewers aware of their presence in their market. Lovers of this music connect through it and come to terms as they put their differences aside and enjoy the lyrics. This makes it a good channel where the society can come into terms and set aside the many differences that exist. The use of hip-hop by an artist for a financial gain is very different from its original purpose where they used it to make the society aware of hardships they have gone through. hip-hop also acted as an alternative way to help easing the stress in their lives as expressing what one feels to help reducing the negative feeling cramped deep within their hearts.

hip-hop has evolved over time. It has become a trendsetter in the fashion industry. It defies social and racial boundaries and sets the pace in many fashion industries as many people tend to follow suit in what the artists wear in the concerts and videos. Having a claim in the market trend especially in the fashion industry is picking up as many clothes worn by a hip-hop artist as the trendsetters. They go to the market in the search of such outfits. One cannot deny that hip-hop has a huge claim on how its supporters dress and the market trend to follow. The same applies to accessories worn by the same hip-hop artists who have a like for different accessories to match their outfits.

It is also important to note that hip-hop has a claim on rap music which has come into existence as it evolved over time. There is a small difference between rap and hip-hop. Many people fail to differentiate between these two ones. The difference comes in from the dance moves where hip-hop is free and does not give a particular dance moves as its defining feature. It has helped to build rap as another form of music that helps artists express themselves in different ways. It, therefore, has helped to build different genres of music through its various forms.

Music serves to different purposes in the society. One cannot deny that fit can have both positive and negative effects on its lovers. Its evolution over time has made it better and diverse as it defies boundaries and racial preferences as many people are listening to different music genres. The society has different expectations from artists. Some artists seek to use it to make society a better place than they have found. Meanwhile, others just are doing it for fun. hip-hop is not an exception as different people use it in a variety of ways with some of them making a positive impact and educating the youth. In general, it serves as a form of expression where young people divert their attention and try to earn a living by talking about what they feel and getting to address issues that cannot be addressed in other areas of life. This way, they get to evoke reactions and helping make their lives better. Though there are several cases where people accuse hip-hop artists of encouraging the crime, violence, drug abuse and sexual life in their music, it cannot be denied that it plays a key role in shaping the society and making it a better place.

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