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How Does The Media Represent Rap/Hip-Hop?

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Rap music and hip-hop (a cultural formation of which rap music is only one component) have slowly found their way to the top of mainstream popular music culture over the past twenty to thirty years. Hip-hop is now the most important musical style. What jazz was from the 1920's to the 40's, or rock and roll was from the 50's to the 70's, hip-hop has been from the 80's onwards. Like most genres of music that have had mainstream popularity, hip-hop tends to have a bad reputation with mainstream media outlets, thus impacting on the public perception of the music and the culture itself. Throughout this research assignment we will be looking at the theoretical framework surrounding the negative representations of hip-hop in the media and carrying out a discourse analysis on a newspaper article. Before we go any further, let's briefly take a look at the history of rap music and the hip-hop culture in general. This will give us the basic understanding of where, when and why rap music and hip hop culture formed thus helping us to understand the representations of hip-hop. ...read more.


This is constantly being referenced to negative influences of popular culture, often rap music and hip-hop culture. This is highly visible in electronic media, despite the fact that commercialized hip-hop is not representative of the entire genre (Mahiri et al 2003). This stereotype particularly emerged through the creation of 'gangsta rap'. It is very common that there are moral panics surrounding popular music. 'Gangsta rap' with its 'often violent and misogynistic overtones of its lyrics, has instilled a form of moral panic among the white middle classes' (Bennett 2000, p. 135). There have also been attempts by white institutions such as the PMRC (Parents Music Resource Centre) to censor rap lyrics. Campbell (1995) reasoned that rap music itself is not solely responsible for transmitting negative representations of black youth culture. Print and television media have framed news pieces about rap music and hip-hop culture in a crime discourse. This crime discourse is the same in which African Americans in general were framed before rap music. Discourse Analysis of Newspaper Article To carry out a discourse analysis, we will be closely looking at a 2008 article from 'The Sun' newspaper (see Fig.1 in Appendix). ...read more.


To cover any chances of sounding racist 'The Sun' has included quotes from a senior black police officer. To conclude the article, the 80's era of popular black music which predominantly consisted of rap music was creatively labelled the 'noughties'. This is shortly followed by the most extreme lyrics 'The Sun' could find from a UK grime artist Dizzee Rascal and his song 'Jus' A Rascal'. With the last lyric being, 'we're all waiting to blow ya brain'. This is a phrase that could possibly have a dual meaning in the context it's written. Firstly the most obvious reason being it's a violent rap lyric but more importantly, it could be stating that all rappers are waiting to blow your (the youth of today's) brain. The reason behind the formation of hip-hop culture and rap music has completely been miss-understood by the media, but rather miss-understood deliberately than accidentally. The moral panic about rap music's often violent overtones has been created by the media when hip-hop culture broke into the mainstream and started to move towards the suburbs to predominantly white neighbourhoods from the inner-city. I believe there is tremendous potential for rap music to truly be a platform for social change; however the current state of media representation will only hinder its progress towards this level of influence. ...read more.

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