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Impact of Rap Music on Crime & the War on Drugs between 1990 and 2000 (Essay Sample)


in the 90s, Commentators called on record labels to drop rappers who encouraged violence, echoing the censure of gangsta rap in the 1980s and 90s. The entire hip-hop genre was born from urban disenfranchisement, kids in the most derelict sections of the Bronx, in New York, congregating at block parties in the street because they were too young or poor to get into discos. Did rap music really increase violence and drug abuse in the 90s?


Impact of Rap Music on Crime and the War on Drugs between 1990 and 2000
Impact of Rap Music on Crime and the War on Drugs between 1990 and 2000
Rap music has grown to become one of the distinctive music genres of the present world. In rap music, people hear of stories of people who have grown in oppression, crime, drugs and struggles in society. While the genre has attracted thousands of rappers, most of them use bad language that imparts negative influence on young people. In the period starting 1990 and ending in the turn of the new millennium, rap music was highly associated with crime, violence and influencing young people to get into drug abuse (Basham, 2015). In fact, African American rap music was associated with violence that came from gangs forming majority of its audience. The emergence of rap music as a predominant genre increased the crime rate and war on drugs in America from 1990-2000 by radicalizing young people’s perception of the criminal justice system in America.
Rap music contains a lot of negative words that influenced the minds of young people making them to embrace crime, violence and drug abuse. Bad words are not the best for teenagers, but when they are used by famous people, such cuss words may appear cool. For example, if such young people listen to cuss words, it is highly likely that they will be influenced to say such cuss words. Such words have unique themes specially to do with violence, sex, drugs and alcohol (Cummings, 2009). Besides, words such as bullying, killing, harassment are common in rap music and they are evidence of what the music genre is all about. Young people who were growing in the 90s watched and listened to rap music and would easily be imitated to do what they see the rap stars doing or saying (Leland & Holmes, 1993). Also, the deaths of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G are proof that rap music increases crime rates. Notorious B.I.G was assassinated in 1997 in California (Diallo, 2007). At that time, Los Angeles had become a hotspot for crime in America due to the large numbers of black rap music fans who formed antagonistic gangs in support of their favorite rap music stars. A year earlier, Tupac Shakur had been assassinated in California, but this time round the crime scene was in Las Vegas. Therefore, rap music has a lot of negative words which have been linked to the increase in crime and drug abuse in America in the 90s.
Moreover, more young people were on the streets selling drugs in the 1990s than ever before. While there have always been people on the streets trying to earn a living by selling drugs, the fact is that in the 90s, the numbers were higher than ever. The war on drugs in America started in the 70s and a reduction in cases of drug abuse was witnessed in subsequent years (Dunbar, 2019). However, the increased popularity of rap music which praised and justified the use of drugs in society inspired young people to venture into the illegal business of drug trafficking. The 1990s is a period in which American urban and rural townships were characterized by unprecedented increase in the rates of drug abuse among young people (Cummings, 2009). Thus, there was extreme drug hysteria and unparalleled increase in incarceration rates during that time. A study done in 1995 and presented by Robert Mathias found that 8th, 10th and 12th grade students in America were using illicit drugs (Mathias, 1996). When asked what had inspired them to engage in the vice, most students said that it was cool as the most popular musicians of that period were using drugs (Mathias, 1996). Besides, crime arrest trends were on the rise in 1990 through 2000. Looking at the history of crime in America, the curve shows an increase in the number of young people arrested in relation to both petty and serious crime. Since these trends were not as worrying as they had become in the 90s, it can only be said that the reason behind the increase was the emergence of rap music.
In addition, teens who were spending most of their time listening to violence that is illustrated in the gangster rap music records had, and still have higher probability of practicing the same behavior in real life. Behaviors are learned traits. As such, when a person listens to music that always praised things such as bullying, violence, crime, sex and drugs, he or she will easily be tempted to try (Persaud, 2011). Furthermore, since young people are curious about knowing new things and having new experiences, the issue of drug abuse would not be difficult for them once they try and be hooked into the practice. During the 90s, a young rapper was involved in a serious case of killing his peer. Snoop Dogg, who had just started his career in 1992 would then be charged with murder in 1995. Before the incident, Snoop Dogg had never been charged of any felony. Such evidence is enough to prove that rap music has a negative impact on people especially in leading them to crime, violence and drug abuse (Dunbar, 2019). In addition, Ghetto Boys’ lyrics made more young people to sell drugs as an excuse for survival in poor neighborhoods like Houston and South-Central Los Angeles. The music group praised drug selling and crime and justified them by saying that young black men and women had no other way to survive the tough economy of the country other than being engaged in such practices.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence that rap music caused the unmatched increase in crime and drug abuse in America in the 90s, there is also evidence that crime and drug abuse did not start with rap music. Critics of this perspective point out that there was violence and drug abuse even before the advent of rap music. The war on drugs started in the 70s and rap music was at its helm in the 90s (Basham, 2015). Since there is no war that can begin without there being an adversary to fight against, the fact that the war on drugs was launched in the 70s means t

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