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Drug use increasingly glamorized in rap music, according to new study of 2-decade trends
Date:4/1/2008

and 1984, only four, or 11%, contained drug references. By the late eighties that number had increased to 19%. The numbers continued to increase, and 69% of rap songs after 1993 mentioned drug use.

While songs early in rap history that mentioned drugs were generally cautionary tales about the dangers of crack, base or powdered cocaine (i.e., White Lines), mentions of marijuana and blunts (marijuana-stuffed cigars) doubled between 1979 and 1997, with many songs portraying the drugs as glamorous rewards of the hip-hop lifestyle (The Chronic).

The latter time period also saw the promotion of cough-medicine abuse in lyrics from Southwestern groups performing an underground rap genre known as Screw Music. Although there is limited research on this drug trend, a recent study revealed that 25 percent of at-risk Houston teens reported having tried codeine-laced cough syrup. Those surveyed stated that they tried this musical style in relation to their cough syrup abuse.

Rap music is like CNN for black teens, says Dr. Herd. But much of what is discussed in rap is in code. The kids understand but parents dont. She urges parents to monitor their childrens listening, and to educate themselves on the terms being used in popular songs.

An earlier study by Dr. Herd using the same data set concluded that alcohol use is also increasingly glorified in rap. The current study finds that illegal drug and alcohol use are often paired in more recent rap songs. Recent songs with drug references were three times more likely to have themes related to glamour and wealth compared with earlier titles, and seven times more likely to emphasize drug use as recreation or a part of sex. There is also a trend for more recent songs to emphasize drug use as part of a criminal lifestyle.

Anecdotal media accounts suggest that positive drug references in rap music have not abated. Although her systematic evaluation covers songs up until 1997, Dr. Herd says, Based o
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Contact: Rebecca Janoff
rebeccaj@mbooth.com
212-539-3244
M Booth & Associates
Source:Eurekalert

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