Precious AmpaduRoopa CheemaHSP3UThe epitome music to our ears: effect of rap music on black youth behind closed doorsA lot of young people today enjoy listening to rap music and rap has been apart of our culture for many years. Music producers make amazing groundbreaking beats that gets a lot of us dancing & singing as soon as you hear the first few seconds of the song. Rap music is believed to be affiliated with the black community since the 1970s from artists such as Tupac, Biggie Smalls, Nas etc and is now a worldwide genre that raises these artists straight to fame regarding youtube views, spotify plays/streams, blogs and more. The rap industry isn’t just about good production, attractive rappers & gold chains. The thing with rap music is that there is ups and downs within rap music like colorism, sexism, the evolution of rap and more. Rap is a genre that will never lose its legacy, there is good type of rap with amazing lyricism and meaning and there is rap that’s lousy with no substance which some people surprisingly enjoy in this generation. No one likes to talk about these issues within rap because it is deemed as “black people issues” so it does not affect non black people but it ends up affecting everybody that listens to it no matter the race. In this essay I will be talking about these specific issues that occur within the rap community.Rap music can be enjoyable at times; many teens like to grasp what is being said by many artists in this generation. However, rappers often belittle women and use them as sexual props in music videos. Rap videos these days are not original since they often portray women being sexualized by rappers; they are covered in diamonds and/or cash, dressed provocatively and are using their bodies to seduce viewers. Artists are also very picky when it comes to the colour of women that are in their music videos. Nowadays, it is rare to see a dark-skinned woman in music videos since most rappers are anti-black and filled with self hate; they “would never” date a dark skinned woman because we are seen as dirty, loud, ghetto, etc. Colourism in the media affects black women significantly, while lighter skinned and white women are seen as more attractive and eye catching. There is always conflict within the black community to the point where there is problematic debates like the comparison between “light skin vs. dark skin”. In the end, light skinned women are seen as more superior than dark skinned women, especially in the music industry. Additionally, artists have said lyrics that are very misogynistic, like Drake in his song “Hotline Bling”. This song may be a hit with 1.3 billion views that can get you dancing and singing without concentrating on the lyrics. but this song states “Got a reputation for yourself now, started wearing less and goin’ out more” and also “Used to always stay at home be a good girl” (Drake – Hotline Bling, 2015) This line shows that Drake’s lyrics are slut shaming women just for what they wear. His concepts about love and women in general are false; (George “6 Drake Lyrics That Are Actually Super Sexist” 2016) however, it is not only Drake that is guilty of doing this, so many other rappers say this type of derogatory language all the time, it is the norm. People point out that when these issues are addressed it becomes “too sensitive” or “annoying” with statements such as “just enjoy the music”. The music can be very enjoyable at times, but after reading the lyrics it may make some women feel uneasy. As a black woman who was raised in a predominantly black neighbourhood, I grew up with relatives and friends who always wanted to be affiliated with the gang life at some point of their life. Rap is always promoting gun violence, gangs, money, drugs etc. Being born in Toronto, where there is different negatively labelled neighbourhoods within the city like Scarborough, Rexdale, Regent Park, Dixon etc., opens your eyes to the gun violence and clashing of neighbourhoods, which causes the crime rate in Canada to increase.Toronto rap artists usually appear to look like gangsters who like to show off their money, shoes, drugs, chains, women and even teeth grills. This type of music is liked by many Torontonians, but these artists also have fans outside of Toronto. This type of music is very toxic towards the black community since fellow community members die because of what is promoted in this type of music. Some rappers will compete with other rappers to get to the top, which is a risk because a lot of people are envious of fame within the rapping and music community. Teens and even young kids can be influenced by the rappers and their music which may cause them to involve themselves with gangs, drugs, and/or violent interactions, that can later affect their life in a negative way. (Preidt “Rap Music Glorifying Drug Use” 1970) The stereotypes of black boys that live in a predominantly black area are that they never go to school, sell drugs, carry guns or knives, or they get into fights with people from different neighbourhoods. Teens have the mentality of thinking that dropping out of school, hustling for drug money and making music is the only way to live with no backup plans in the future. Pressure from friends, or seeing loved ones living this lifestyle can also influence young children or teens to do the same. As mentioned by McNulty Finn (p. 1), rap music has evolved since the 1990s up until the present day for its likeable tunes, lyrics, substance, etc. The noticeable difference between 90s music and music today is mostly the lyrics. Decades ago, rap songs were more about the artists rise to success, which often involved illegal substances or acts, that then created a persona of being gangsters and thugs. This became a popular theme in the 90’s where artists like Tupac started to become trendy. Rap became the story of the ghetto life and gangsters could relate. Even though artists were building a gangster persona, there was always integrity in the lyrics. Even though killings, drugs, and violence were mentioned in the lyrics, they told stories specifically about survival in the ghetto. Some artists were even happy that they had to go through certain circumstances because it led to where they are now. Later within the years, artists noticed they did not have to write songs about the ghetto life to succeed in the industry. Artists started to become more unique; an example is Kanye West who released his popular 2004 album, “The College Dropout”. Instead of rapping about drugs and violence, the album addressed his passion for music. Popular rap music that would usually be aggressive and discuss drugs or violence, is now considerate and talks about real issues. There is still hope in today’s generation; there are lyrical rappers that talk about real issues within the black community and the struggles they face. A recent 2017 song by Jay-Z named “The Story of OJ” states “please don’t die over the neighbourhood, that your mama rentin” and “Yall on the ‘gram holdin’ money to your ear, there’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here”. Jay-Z explains that people who involve themselves in conflict end up being killed by violence over a neighbourhood that is paid by rent and not owned. (Ducker, 2017) In this line, Jay-z highlights the fact that we have many misguided youth in the black community; they continue to kill each other due to government housing projects that they don’t own. He also explains that instead of modern rappers boasting their money on social media, they should invest in properties and businesses that could help them make residual incomes. The challenge in hip hop is that the mainstream music dominates the entire image of the art form. There are several artists who are positive and extremely influential, but are often overlooked by mainstream artists who portray misogyny, violence and drugs. With everything said in this essay, it is clear that us as a black community still have issues we need to fix, it may take decades or even centuries. Rap has been a necessity in alot of black peoples lives and has helped through hard times even myself, that goes to show that rap is a very influential genre, sometimes good and bad. Lyricalism like Kendrick Lamar, Earl Sweatshirt, J.Cole, Jay-Z, Kanye West etc. has superb lyricism that help us grow and help us to comprehend what is going on in our world. It is important that we dont bring each other down when it comes to colourism, sexual preference, music taste etc. The black community needs to work on stop fighting with each other over the neighbourhood they stay in. Although these problems go on through my perspective everyday, it is crucial that we all understand the long term effects violence, drugs, not going to school etc, losing a loved one etc. We need to understand that listening to songs with non meaningful lyrics is fun to listen to at times, but it becomes irrelevant when you want to relate to it .