Berkeley, CA, April 1, 2008 Rap music has gone from an art form that largely warned against the dangers of substance abuse to one that often glorifies illegal drug use, according to the first systematic social science study of the genre covering nearly two decades. The study is published in the April 2008 issue of Addiction Research & Theory, a peer reviewed scientific journal.
Positive portrayals of drug use have increased over time, and drug references increased overall, says study author Denise Herd, Ph.D., Associate Dean of Students, School of Public Health, University of California, Berkeley. This is an alarming trend, as rap artists are role models for the nations youth, especially in urban areas. Many of these young people are already at risk and need to get positive messages from the media.
Dr. Herd and her team sampled 341 lyrics from the most popular songs in rap between 1979 and 1997. Each song was categorized in terms of its drug mentions, behaviors and contexts, as well as for its attitude towards drug use and consequences. Rap genres were also categorized, and drug-type mentions were coded and analyzed.
The researchers found that songs with references to drugs increased six-fold over this time span. Songs exhibiting positive attitudes toward drugs and the consequences of drug use also rose exponentially. Drug types mentioned changed significantly, and references of using drugs to signify glamour, wealth and sociability increased as well.
This indicates a shift from cautionary songs, such as those that emphasized the dangers of cocaine and crack, to songs that glorify the use of marijuana and other drugs as part of a desirable hip-hop lifestyle, says Dr. Herd. This is alarming because young children are exposed to these messages. I dont think this is a story we as a society want them to absorb.
The change in references and drug portrayals was dramatic. Dr. Herd found that, of the 38 most popular songs between 1979
|Contact: Rebecca Janoff|
M Booth & Associates