for its often violent, mysogynistic, and sexually explicit lyrics,
rap music has always gotten a bad rap for its potential effect
on young, impressionable listeners. A recent study led by an
Emory public health researcher bolsters the case for the allegations
of raps bad influence.
M. Wingood, assistant professor in the Rollins School of Public
Health (below), found that teenage girls who listen to and watch
rap videos frequentlymore than fourteen hours a weekwere
three times more likely to hit a teacher and more than 2.5 times
as likely to have been arrested than girls who arent such
devoted rap fans.
522 adolescent African American women followed in the year-long
study also were twice as likely to have multiple sex partners
and at least 1.5 times more likely to get a sexually transmitted
disease, drink, and use drugs.
this stage in their socio-psychological development, adolescents
want to be autonomous and independent from parental controls,
an act that can be viewed as somewhat defiant, Wingood
says. They may also be modeling what they see as the norm.
They pattern themselves after their peers and the women they
consider to be role models on the videos.
hard to know how much of the high-risk behavior to blame on
rap, Wingood adds, since other mediating factors were not assessed
in the study. But if it seems a logical conclusion that the
violent and sexually freewheeling rap culture might hold dangerous
sway over young people, the music industry may be getting a
clue, too: a recent article in the New York Times reports that
many rap artists appear to be cleaning up their act, at least
enough to get their music sold at Wal-Mart. As rap and hip-hop
music become more mainstream and rappers secure endorsement
deals to sell sneakers and software, they have too much at stake
to be shocking.
more positive lyrics like those of popular female rapper Missy
Elliott will offer young fans an alternative view: If
you dont got a gun, its all right, says Elliott
on her latest album, in a single appropriately titled, Wake