Back from another interesting tournament experience and basketball-cultural emersion with 10 hours saturation in young people getting to select music on the ride to and from Las Vegas. The kids took turns choosing what music to listen to. The ride to Las Vegas was with all girls in the car, and the ride from was with a group of kids of all ages, both boys, and girls. They got along well, for the most part, joking and laughing like brothers and sisters, but not much conversation because all you could hear was rap music.
What I found fascinating is the difference between the kind of music the girls chose to listen to when they were alone together, and the choice that was made on the return trip with boys, (younger and older) in the car. The difference was indistinguishable. I was a little shocked and horrified by the sexual nature, materialism and the degrading references to women as Hos, Baby Mammas, and Bitches, or more affectionately Shorty’s, (but always with a side Bitch). I have never heard the “N” word and the “F” word used so many times in rapid succession! The “Music” was incessant, sending the message – “Expect failure! You are going to jail or will likely have a member of your family go to jail. It’s normal. The only way out is to sell drugs, and you can expect to get shot in the process.”
So here is my question to the young ladies; How can you expect a man to respect you when you help to normalize the kind of language when used in reference to you by listening to it and thereby endorsing it and it’s underlying themes? Why do you act with such surprised indignation when the “B” word is turned on you?
My question for the young men when you listen to this music is; Why do you deserve respect when it is not given by you first? Respect is not your entitlement! Respect is earned by first showing it toward others. The question came up “ Why should I respect that old Bitch when she disrespected me first?”
Please don’t get me wrong. I enjoy all kinds of music. Even some styles of rap. I am not complaining – this is just what I observed when I tried to accommodate the tastes of my passengers. I did, however, have to put a stop to this music when it became so repulsive that it could not be tolerated any longer. Even when they took it back to “normal levels” the language and messaging was in my opinion still degrading to women and destructive to boys.
The angriness of the music builds through the song to a fevered pitch. What I want to know is where is this anger coming from? The “Man” is no longer holding you down, the music artists you admire are! – They are exposing our youth to a mantra of violence, and crime. Why are we surprised now that our college students are vandalizing and rioting? In the sixties we had sit-ins, we picketed everything. We protested against “The Establishment” but who now is establishing the outcome? I think it is the “artists” who asks in their lyrics “What would you sell your soul for?” “ Who would you die for” and claim “All my friends are dead. So take me to the edge.”
“What would you sell your soul for?”
(Lyrics heard in a rap song) Do you know what this symbol means?
How does music like this become popular when it is not permitted on the air? Young people are seeking it out. I am wondering why is it not more illicit? Why is there such easy access to something that can be so harmful? This is voluntary brainwashing, but the brain is not getting cleaner. Just look at the illustration below showing the effects on the brain’s pleasure center.
When asked, “What is it that you like about this music?” – The answer is the music itself – and I get it. The electronic sound, the beat, the experimental effects are interesting – even catchy -but like X-Rated movies, you can’t just find them anywhere. You have to go looking for them – there are age restrictions and dark channels. Likewise, the lyrics in this particular kind of rap is akin to porn and should be treated with similar stigma.
It’s more than the messaging – the radio version is not edgy enough. I get it. It is the same with pornography or drugs or anything else that is addictive – a tolerance gets built up or a desensitizing happens and the artist has to work harder to be more extreme, and more shocking to hold the public’s attention.
Healthy brains actually change physically when exposed to stimuli. The folds in our brains are created by the amount of data it takes in, necessitating the wrinkles to create more surface area on which to store all the information. Healthy brain shows folds in the cerebrum
If you feed your brain only from one point of view, and never consider the alternatives, or opposite side of an issue, debate or argument, your brain physically could become malformed – i.e.; fewer wrinkles. Literally creating Narrow Mindedness. Likewise, if you have ever seen images from scans of the brain when stimulated by images or music you can see the areas activated.
Long-term exposure to pornography, for example, will actually develop physical changes in the nucleus accumbens in the brain is the area known as– the reward center – which changes in drug addicts (as shown below). Similarly, prolonged exposure to pornography degenerates your brain to look more like a lung ravaged by the effects of emphysema caused by smoking.
I bring up this point because that is what I think a certain variety of Rap music is; Audio Pornography. If visual stimuli can do this – imagine what the indomitable effects of audio porn is doing to young minds?
I thought about inserting some example lyrics in this blog to illustrate my point but they are too repulsive and this blog is intended for all ages. I am sure you have heard what I am referring to.
Here is what I observed after 4 hours in a crowded car, listening as each song became more intense and more violent. And then we hit a dead zone, and the car was silent. The kids began to talk with each other. They laughed and teased like siblings and just as I was thinking, “How nice is this? – Teenagers having a real conversation!” Then they began to fight like siblings but with more intensity! An argument broke out that quickly escalated to threats. And guess what it was about? Disrespect. It started when one of the girls lost her patience with what she felt was childish behavior on the part of the boys – but it escalated when one of the boys called her the “B” word. He had probably heard the word hundreds of times in those few hours and not to make excuses for him – but of course, it rolled off his tongue. He has been hearing it glorified in “song” for years.
Expecting young people to subject themselves to this sort of violent, and sexualized language and then expecting them to be able to self – edit, and control their behavior is unrealistic. It is a matter of conditioning, they have been subjecting themselves to unbridled vulgarity, and his response was like the muscle memory he uses to make foul shots. It just happens.
I am not saying that all rap music is bad – but there is a particular genre of music whether it is infused in hip-hop, rock or any style of music that becomes a tool with which to reach our kids. Appealing to their desire for independent choice and wanting adult situations and themes. I am suggesting that this kind of music is not fit for adults either – nor decent people of any age!
Here is how I believe the tool works. If you notice, with most forms of music you can multi-task, allowing your mind to wander as the music washes over you and you think of other things as you enjoy the melody.
Not so with rap music – It grabs ahold of your mind and demands your attention! It is not that I wanted to listen to the words, but like the tortured criminal in “Apocalypse Now” where the guy’s eyelids are forced open and he is made to look at horrific violence as a way to re-program him into submission, this music was piercing, and literally gave me a headache. I have to wonder how many brain cells we killed in that van on the way home?
Inspiration, it is said, is creativity kindled by the whisper of an angel in your ear. The opposite effect is taking place here. Whereas, Rap music is more like the devil shouting at you. I tried to concentrate on other things. The music became stronger and lyrics more insistent. The mental pictures it creates is repulsive! It surrounds you and shouts vulgarity in your ears. I found it impossible to think of anything else, and I have to admit wincing more than a few times to what was being said in the lyrics, which was more like the spoken word as opposed to singing or poetry.
Why endure this? I asked myself. I told myself I should put a stop to it. And I did a couple of times. “Hey that is getting too nasty!” and they would change the song – but the allegedly tamed down version still was sprinkled with F-bombs and B words, moreover, the underlying message was still one of the inevitabilities of jail and killing. The theme is one of making drug dealing normal, even a noble profession – one to be admired and a manly alternative way to feed one’s family.
Since I am the outsider (just the old white lady driving the bus) I left the chaperoning to their coach, who also facilitated the music selection. In her defense, on her turn, she queued up some gospel rap and it was quickly voted down.
How are children expected to navigate where there are no boundaries? The elderly lady who was verbally accosted asked; “What kind of upbringing has that child had?” “Who brought him up?” Precisely why this basketball program, a Christian-based organization, needs to attack the enemy in their midst. We all need to pay more attention to what is going into the ears of our youth.
They are our future, and I believe this conditioning is part of the response that we are witnessing now on our college campuses and violent protests in our streets.
I don’t understand how anyone can endorse this music, particularly if played in the hearing of young people. If it is inappropriate to air these lyrics to the general public on radio, it’s probably not good for young children to be listening to. Nor anyone for that matter. I don’t mean to evoke Tipper Gore and her crusade for rating labels on music. I remember the backlash she received from Progressives, but think about it – wasn’t she right? We can’t all take 5 hours in a car to give it a listen, or the time to preview all the music before our children are allowed to buy it – they simply have access to too many channels now where they can get media of all kinds. Somehow it has to start at home like all lessons do. We have to vote with our dollars, and educate our girls to stop endorsing it! Stop being silent about it.
That is why next time I will not remain quiet. The music will have to be FCC approved for all ages. I will be the square old lady – the “mean bus driver who won’t let us listen to our music”, because I love those kids.
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