Rap music makes drug use glamorous

April 2nd, 2008 - 11:28 am ICT by admin  

New York, April 2 (IANS) Rap music, which warned against the dangers of drug abuse in its heydays, now glorifies their illegal use, according to a new study. There has been an alarming six-fold increase in references to drugs in recent rap songs, the study found, leading researchers to warn that young people who tend to emulate rap artistes are “already at risk and need to get a positive message from the media”.

The University of California team, led by Denise Herd, sampled 341 lyrics from the most popular songs in rap between 1979 and 1997.

Each song was categorised in terms of its drug mentions, behaviours and contexts, as well as for its attitude towards drug use and consequences. Rap genres were also categorised, and drug-type mentions were coded and analysed.

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 also changed significantly, and references to using drugs to signify glamour, wealth and sociability increased as well.

The change was, in fact, dramatic, found the study, being published in the April issue of the journal Addiction Research & Theory.

Herd found that of the 38 most popular songs between 1979 and 1984, only 11 percent contained drug references. By the late 1980s that number had increased to 19 percent. After 1993, references shot up to 69 percent.

While songs early in rap history that mentioned drugs were generally cautionary tales about the dangers of crack or powdered cocaine (”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”).

“Rap music is like CNN for black teens,” said Herd. “But much of what is discussed in rap is in code. The kids understand but parents don’t.”

She urged parents to monitor their children’s listening, and to educate themselves on the terms being used in popular songs.

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