Terrance L. Jackson

University of Rhode Island



Mentor: Dr. Roger Beattie - Coordinator, Minority Recruitment & Retention

A Historical Continuum of Rap and the change in Content with the Relevancy to violent lyrics

This study presents a historical continuum which traces the origin and the different aspects of Rap Music. This continuum begins centuries ago with a tribe in West Africa called the Troubadours. In the early 1930's in the West Indies, Alric Farrell chanted rhythms over calypso beats. Between the years of 1930 and the mid 70's, music such as the Blues and Jazz had a profound impact on young African-Americans. Then in the late 70's, rap was formed from an eclectic mix of it's influencers. Initially, the content of the music reflected the clothes, shoes, and the chains that were in style at the time. Eventually, it began to reflect the hard reality that many urban based African-Americans face. Rap became the voice (socially and politically) of the African-American in the ghetto, and at the same time provided a means to rise up in the ghetto. Yet, because of the violent content in some of the music, critics want to censor the music. They claim that the music glorifies violence and influences youth to act violently. However, for the most part, the music reflects a reality that needs to be recognized. And in the cases in which it does not reflect reality, it represents a creation of someone who is an artist. Because rap is an art form, many times the message or theme may be misinterpreted.

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