Censorship Of Rap Music Essay, Research Paper
Censorship of Rap Music:
America, land of the free or home of the enslaved? The First Amendment states congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion on prohibiting the free exercise thereof or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press or the light of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” (Quoted from http://pacific.discover.net/~dansyr/billrigh.html) This amendment includes anything that allows people to express themselves freely in any shape or form. By censoring rap music the government is violating the artists’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Censorship is the examining of material and suppressing all or part if considered morally or otherwise unacceptable. (Webster’s Dictionary, 87) Censorship of rap music is a way to limit the exposure of what is going on in the world today. Gangster rap, the most popular, but most controversial music today, is a depiction of the lives of a large group of people. When rappers speak, they are just telling about the lives that they live day to day. “If you think this reality is positive then you’re wrong,” says rap artist DMX, “because there are not too many communities in the hood. There’s just a bunch of individuals. But all that matters to me is if niggas know I’m speaking for them – because I am them.(D.M.X…The Dog Bites, www.TheSource.com.) The government cannot censor what these artists speak of (i.e. poverty, welfare, and police brutality) because they are the truth.
“You might catch me walkin with my head down in the pouring rain
Trying hard to find answers to questions no one can seem to explain
I coulda been born son of a king
Instead I was born son of a killa
surrounded by fiends and drug dealers
Dear God I got some questions that maybe you can answer
Why my brother got shot and my grandmother died of cancer
Now through it all I try to ball and keep it real
They say they don’t feel what I feel, I guess cause they don’t live where I live
Now see my mom tried to be strong, my brother died, didn’t wanna see her cry
But I seen her through the reflection of the mirror wipin tears from her eyes
And my next door neighbor committed suicide,
Was it cause of stress
And if it was,
Was it that bad that he had to choose death?” (verse by Silkk the Shocker, “Take my Pain”, There’s one in every family, Fiend)
The typical stereotypes of gangster rap are portrayed as being violent and degrading to women. The reality of rap music is that everything stated in the rhymes is true. Artists are not degrading women; they are speaking of women who degrade themselves.
“Look here Ms Thang/ hate to salt your game/but you a money hungry woman and you need to change.” (You Wonder Why They Call you Bitch, All Eyez on Me, Tupac Shakur)
Many rap artists come from inner city projects where violence, sex, and drugs are all they see. Rap music allows people to experience what really happens in the world. It opens a door to the other side of the game of life. Violence occurs in this country everyday and these artists have seen the causes and effects of this violence.
“How many brothas fell victim to the streets/ rest in peace young nigga there’s a heaven for a G/ be a lie if I told you that I never thought of death/my niggas we the last ones left.” (Life Goes On, All Eyez on Me, Tupac Shakur)
Many rap artists, being black males, feel that they are a forever-dying race. They are witnesses to the poverty and struggle that many people are still facing. Many people can relate to the poetry that describes their everyday lives. Censoring the lyrics takes away the emotion that is built into the music.
“Everytime I open my eyes, I thank God for wakin this soldier
Cause in this cruel world its hard to walk these streets being sober
It hurts tryin to get over all the weight on my shoulders
Me used to babysitters buyin boulders
It’s all on me to really except that I lost my brother
And to be strong and just to go on since we share the same mother
Pillows and covers can’t smother the pain that I have
Sometimes I feel like I lost my better half, so sad
But that’s the way of the ghetto, see your life is ‘ready made
It’s an accomplishment to pass eighth grade
See hate, they hate my city, givin us the pushers and tramps
For highs, sellin they book of food stamps
At night I light the porch lamp until my lil cousin came in
Cuz I can’t afford to lose another kin
The life of living is thin, you could lose it if it came today
Rained away, you be wonderin how to take the pain away. (Verse from Fiend, “Take My Pain”, There’s One in Every Family, Fiend)
The main debate of rap music is that it is a bad influence on today’s children. Many rap albums are tagged with the Parental Advisor Logo and that allows parents to determine what is appropriate for their children. Just like the advisory labels on HBO, if the parent doesn’t change the channel then that child is subject to all kinds of explicit images.
But people are not attacking HBO for showing naked bodies on the screen. They feel that rap music is the anti-Christ and will brainwash young children into being killers. Everyday a child can turn the television on the news and witness an act of violence that has occurred. The average American child will see 8,000 murders before he finishes elementary school! (Bill Walsh, Media Watch http://interact.uoregon.edu/MediaLit/FA/MLArticleFolder/defining.html)
Listening to rap music does not do any more harm than the news. They both depict what happens in the world everyday. Parents do not tell their children that they cannot watch television because Jeffery Dahmer may influence them to eat a fellow human. So therefore, parents shouldn’t think that rap music is bad and may influence children to go pick up a gun and start busting or stand out on the corner and slang cocaine to make a buck.
Rap artists only lead people into the world as they know it and by censoring the lyrics, the government is telling them that their lives are not important and nonexistent. This will do nothing more but make rap music the center of controversy because artists are going to continue to speak of their lives. And there will always be someone there to criticize his or her work.
Sometimes when I’m alone
Cause I am on my own.
The tears I cry are bitter and warm.
They flow with life but take no form
I Cry because my heart is torn.
I find it difficult to carry on.
If I had an ear to confide in,
I would cry among my treasured friend,
but who do you know that stops that long,
to help another carry on.
The world moves fast and it would rather pass by.
Then to stop and see what makes one cry,
so painful and sad.
and no one cares about why.