The Dark Side of Rap: Unknown or Just Ignored?

By Bilal Arshadullah

Think about the last song you listened to. Maybe it had an awesome beat drop, a spitfire verse or a slow piano melody. But seriously, think! Would you sing it in front of your parents?  Would you explain what it means to your little brother? How many of you answered “NO!”?  

More often than not, songs of today are inappropriate, vulgar and of questionable moral ideas. Yet, they are being played everywhere, where anyone could be listening. While music is a source of enjoyment for many people, modern songs propagate indecent ideas that, simply put, do not belong in a child’s impressionable mind.

What are some of the ‘inappropriate themes’ that are in modern music? Beside the age old, sex, drugs and rock’n’roll, current music promotes themes like racism, misogyny and violence. Now imagine the same themes celebrated in a movie. Imagine the backlash it would receive. It would go viral on social media, with the public calling out the actors, producers and directors for offending the masses and corrupting the youth. Yet these songs, with their profane lyrics and offensive themes, are now part of a culture that children not only are exposed to but inculcated with. Some would even say that “the ‘gangsta rap’ genres’ glorification of violence, racism, misogyny and gay-bashing somehow denies all hip-hop of serious consideration as an art form.” Multiple studies have shown that the type of music people listen to can affect their emotions. A study involving rap music showed that people who frequently listened to this genre were 27% more likely to show signs of aggression and violence in their day-to-day lives.

While we can focus just on specific genres like rap, these are not nearly as detrimental as the music videos that come along with these songs. A vast majority of rap music videos today portray the visual glorification of the vulgar themes the lyrics promote. More often than not, music videos that even children can now search readily on YouTube® celebrate a rapper smoking a joint or a woman being objectified. Due to the ubiquitous nature of videos, children no longer need their parents’ permission to go online. Clearly, this not only impacts the child’s thinking but alters an entire society’s perception of what is acceptable.

While banning music as a whole is not the intent, we must recognize that the music industry has a responsibility to positively shape young minds by the messages they put out. Paying attention to lyrics, refusal to listen to or watch questionable themes in music becomes our choice. We must take responsibility for what we put in our own heads.

Ask yourself, “What’s on my playlist?”.



Works Cited

  1. Media, Council on Communications and. “Impact of Music, Music Lyrics, and Music Videos on Children and Youth.” Pediatrics, American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 Nov. 2009,
  2. Devlin, James M, and Steven Seidel. Music Preferences and Their Relationship to Behaviors, Beliefs, and Attitudes toward Aggression. 2009, Music Preferences and Their Relationship to Behaviors, Beliefs, and Attitudes toward Aggression,
  3. White, Timothy. “RAP; Still In Its Adolescence.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Mar. 1994,

3 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Rap: Unknown or Just Ignored?

  1. Tara Ramamurthy

    What a wonderful editorial. I feel like your topic is very relevant to the current social culture as rap culture is spreading. It is true that there are many rap songs with vulgar lyrics but there are also ones with meaningful messages that explain the struggles of people and other heartbreaking and genuine lyrics. Overall, I really enjoyed reading it.

  2. Vincent

    Interesting editorial. While I do agree that much of today’s rap does contain quite vulgar and possibly offensive themes, do take into consideration the number of social issues addressed in music today as well. For instance, Logic’s 1-800-273-8255 actually created change in the fact that it inspired people to call the suicide hotline. Many rappers also face racial issues and drug issues in their rap, and while the medium is often generalized as controversial and vulgar, the messages can also have actual meaning. Vulgarity comes with the medium used to portray the message, as language is a way to express intent and profanity can often create great impact in that it addresses profane things. Overall, good food for thought.

  3. Sam

    I listen to rap with my parents, I think it’s just a preference thing and most of the time won’t reflect any real-life consequences.

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