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Hip-Hop Culture and Kids Today

By Julene McCoy in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 2, 2007 5:30PM

It's been over two decades since Tipper Gore's PMRC started censoring music with parental advisory stickers and other politicians jumped on the bandwagon equating music with the downfall of youth in America. Yesterday, the University of Chicago Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture released the findings of their survey regarding hip-hop culture primarily focusing on Black youth's attitudes towards sex, music, and even (gasp) politics.

2007_02_parentaladvisory.jpgRap and hip-hop have been used to empower a generation of African-Americans that faces a myriad of issues including massive incarceration numbers, standardized school testing, AIDS infection rates, and welfare reform. The Black Youth Project looks to find out just what issues have been promoted within the music and how those who listen to it have had their values affected. The compilation of issues disseminated by rap has not been finished yet, but the answers to the survey have yielded some complex results.

The majority of young people interviewed, exclusive of race, agreed with the statements that there are too many references to sex and violence in rap music videos and almost twice as many Black youths feel that rap videos should be more political than they are now. More politics? Less T&A? Kids today.

Around 80% of youth, regardless of race, believe that the police discriminate much more against Black youth than they do against White youth. 49% of Black youth state that they have rarely or never been discriminated against because of their race. Can the lyrics in music change those numbers? Is rarely being discriminated against acceptable?

The survey's findings are thought-provoking and should fuel further works all across academia — not to mention drunken arguments — since this is the first such project that focused on Black youth's attitudes, instead of, we guess, a fly white guy's interpretation of the hip-hop culture.