OPINION: Parental Advisory: Artistic Content

//DAVID ROBINSON//

Parents are constantly being instructed by religious leaders, critics, professors, members of the medical/scientific community and more to not allow their children to listen to rap music because it is a “destructive and negative influence”.

Whenever people condemn rap, they almost always cite N.W.A’s “F**k tha Police” and Eminem’s “Kill You” as two examples of “destructive and negative rap music”. It is understandable to raise eyebrows when listening to “Kill You” because the song is incredibly controversial, but whenever people cite this song, they only use the really malicious portions of it and they completely ignore the anecdotic beginning:

“When I was just a little baby boy, my momma used to tell me these crazy things

She used to tell me my daddy was an evil man, she used to tell me he hated me

But then I got a little bit older and I realized she was the crazy one

But there was nothing I could do or say to try to change it

‘Cause that’s just the way she was.”

The beginning of “Kill You” is not shown when people criticize the song because it proves that rap music can be poetic and used to tell stories. Eminem describes his tough childhood in 17 seconds with these five lines. What other form of art exists where someone can do that?

A similar incident unfolds when people criticize N.W.A’s “F**k tha Police”. They care only about the risque lines of the song and fail to explain why N.W.A released it. “F**k tha Police” is a powerful and impactful protest song that was intended to educate the world on police brutality and racial profiling while also speaking out against it. Former N.W.A member and rapper O’Shea Jackson/Ice Cube has explained the song’s purpose to the media multiple times, but the people who are trying to steer society away from rap music do not mention his explanation behind the song because it would prove that rap music can be used to utilize free speech.

People do not disclose the deeper meanings behind rap songs because it would contradict their belief that rap music is about nothing but drugs, profanity, sex, violence and money. There are definitely some rap songs that are about nothing more or less than these things, but most of the times, rappers use these elements of songs to describe the world they see around them. The reality is that the modern world is full of profanity, sex, violence, drugs and money. The reason why rap music is so popular is because people who listen to it can relate to these themes and often find solace in the lyrics. For example, Eminem’s Oscar and Grammy winning song “Lose Yourself” (2002) inspires people to overcome adversity and doubts and show the world what they are truly capable of. If rappers were to stop rapping about these themes, their music would become boring, uninteresting and unrelatable.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) and almost all radio stations dare to challenge the art of all musical artists by slapping “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” stickers on album covers and releasing “clean”/edited versions of rap music. Listening to censored music makes me cringe a thousand times more than I do when hearing “explicit” lyrics because I do not feel like I am listening to music when I listen to censored music; I feel like I am listening to what the RIAA and BPI want me to hear. The justification behind censoring lyrics from music is a scenario in which a child/children are in a parent’s car, hearing music on the radio, “explicit” lyrics appear and the child/children start using swear words themselves. Although I have seen this type of scenario unfold many times before, I still believe that lyrics should not be censored over the radio because it is the responsibility of the parents/guardians to control their children; not the record company’s, radio’s or artist’s.

Anyone who thinks that rap music needs to be censored, is destructive/negative and/or is about nothing but drugs, sex, violence and money needs to take a deep, long listen to any (or all) of these songs:

“Dear Mama” by 2Pac (One of the greatest rappers of all time explains how much love and respect he has for his mother in this song.)

“Headlights” by Eminem and Nate Ruess (A song in which Eminem apologizes to his mother for what he has said about her in his music and the media, admits he regrets his edgier work and retells his childhood story.)

“One Man Can Change the World” by Big Sean, Kanye West and John Legend (Kanye West, John Legend and Big Sean all work together in “One Man Can Change the World” to tell Big Sean’s story, inspire people to change the world and describe the power of mentors in life.)

“Safe” by Dumbfoundead (Korean rapper Dumbfoundead attacks Hollywood racism and hypocrisy in “Safe”.)

“Fly” by Nicki Minaj and Rihanna (Two of the most powerful women of the 21st century present audiences with an emotional and powerful song about rising from tragedy, defying doubts, never giving up and ignoring haters in “Fly”.)

“Same Love” by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and Mary Lambert (“Same Love” is considered an anthem for the LGBT community due its proclamation that society must accept that all love is the same.)

“HiiiPoWer” by Kendrick Lamar (Lamar encourages listeners to stand up for what they believe is right and be proud of who you are in “HiiiPoWer”.)
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