The Instigator
Kristallo
Pro (for)
Losing
48 Points
The Contender
clsmooth
Con (against)
Winning
64 Points

Rap music of the "gangsta" variety is degrading our society

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/12/2007 Category: Arts
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 9,055 times Debate No: 275
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (10)
Votes (32)

 

Kristallo

Pro

I am not in favor of rap music and the gang culture that has emerged hand in hand with it. The true purpose of rap does not seem to be to create anything of beauty but instead to challenge, indeed, to pick a fight with the status quo of American society. In other words, it declares "we [i.e. the rappers] are going to say the most provoking things towards the status quo that we can imagine. What are YOU going to do about it?" While challenging the status quo is true of many forms of music, rap music is unique in the threat of violence that stands behind its message. Rap culture has TWO essential ingredients: provocation and violence. As rap music has black origins, one might accuse me of racism for holding such views but this I flatly deny. I would disagree EMPHATICALLY with any idea that "gangsta" rap music and black culture are the same thing. This very idea lies at the core of the problem. If rap music threatens non-conforming society and to take a stance against it is considered racist, this is quite simply a case of using violence to hold non-conforming society hostage. It's a case of "might-makes-right". To further drive my point home, why is it that rap music is so often blasted in confrontational manner from car stereos? How often do people unwind alone with headphones to rap music to lull themselves to sleep? I'd imagine not as often. Maybe some people do and I suppose since I cannot prove this, I cannot use this in the core of my argument. I find it amazing that no counter-rap movement exists yet. It probably does exist but it certainly isn't prominent. Given time I predict it will be forthcoming.
clsmooth

Con

You said: "I am not in favor of rap music and the gang culture that has emerged hand in hand with it."

I say: If you do not like rap, don't listen to it. It is your free choice. But you should not infringe upon my choices. I happen to like rap. Secondly, you state that "gang culture has emerged hand in hand" with rap music. This is not true at all. Gangsta rap music is reflective of gang culture, but it did not create it. The modern black gang culture began in the 60s, on the West Coast. Hip hop developed entirely separately, in the mid 70s, in New York's South Bronx. Original rap music was about fun and partying -- nothing violent or sexist, etc.

You said: "The true purpose of rap does not seem to be to create anything of beauty..."

I say: By now you've abandoned any distinction between gangsta rap and rap in general, to your own folly. Not all, or even most, rap is gangsta rap. In fact, gangsta rap comprises just a small percentage of rap music. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I think Kanye West's production is a thing of beauty. I think Jay-Z's lyrics are beautifully constructed. I think old-school hip hop is a beautiful thing. Beauty is subjective, and you are free to find something ugly that I find beautiful, and vice versa. Furthermore, what does it matter what the "purpose" behind creating the music is? If it were discovered that Beethoven sat down and tried to make the ugliest piece of music ever for his Fifth Concerto, would that change the fact that so many people view it as a thing of beauty? Similarly, if an untalented musician attempts to craft a thing of beauty, but ends up sounding like a million cats scratching their claws on a giant chalkboard, does it matter that my intention was to create a thing of beauty? How do you know what someone's intention was and what does it matter? All that matters is the finished product, and the value of the finished product is in the eye of the beholder.

You said: "While challenging the status quo is true of many forms of music, rap music is unique in the threat of violence that stands behind its message."

I say: Only a very small percentage of rap music advocates violence. There is some heavy metal, country, and virtually every other form of music that also advocates violence. Perhaps the percentages are smaller than those of rap, but so what? If pro-violence classical music were on the rise, would that make non-violent classical music any less viable? What if 99% of all bluegrass music were suddenly pro-violence. Would that make the remaining 1% bad by association? No.

You said: "I would disagree EMPHATICALLY with any idea that gangsta rap music and black culture are the same thing."

I say: I agree with you. But that's not what we're supposed to be arguing. We are supposed to be arguing whether gangsta rap degrades our society or not. So far, you have made no such arguments that it does/has.

You said: "why is it that rap music is so often blasted in confrontational manner from car stereos?"

I say: Because some sub-genres of rap music is designed to show off car-stereo-systems' subwoofer capabilities. It is obnoxious. There are often local ordinances against it. But this is not the fault of rap music as a whole. Someone who makes a "Bass CD" cannot be held accountable for how that CD is used. I may want to play the CD on my own private property where I cannot be bothered, and I should have that right. So too should the artist have the right to make it and sell it. Attack the criminal -- in this case, a very petty criminal -- who disturbs the peace.

IN SUMMATION: You made no arguments that rap music degrades society. Instead, you only made arguments for why you don't like rap. I cannot convince you that you're wrong not to like rap -- it is up to personal preference. You are free not to like rap. Thankfully, you do not seem to call for any legal restrictions against free speech or rap music in general. That's good. Most troubling, you dropped the distinction between "gangsta rap" and other forms of rap music (including Christian rap) and painted all rap music with one broad brush. But still, even your arguments for not liking rap are filled with many untruths and inaccuracies. You make no argument that rap music degrades our society, in my opinion, because there are no such arguments to be made.
Debate Round No. 1
Kristallo

Pro

You bring up some very good and valid points, clsmooth. You pointed out my folly of not being clear enough which I will concede completely. I am by no means against rap music itself. I enjoy several groups; De la Soul and NERD being my favorites. My mistake was entitling my debate "gangsta" rap and then assuming you understood whenever I said "rap" I was refering to "gangsta" rap, which was, indeed, a folly. Now I am worried that you might not have entered this debate had I been more clear. I hope that is not the case. In any case I will continue with my arguments against gangsta rap.

First of all, I never made the claim that gangsta rap music was responsible for the creation of gang culture. That's absolutely not true at all. But I do stand that gangsta rap music has given the gang culture a much more powerful voice and helped perpetuate a cycle of violence and moral degradation. Of course it's easy to say "if you don't like it, ignore it". But the music is intended to be provocative and morally reprehensible. Pushing society's tolleration limits is a very passive aggressive way of picking a fight. The dimention of tension it adds to society I find in itself degrading. When it is so in-your-face as being able to hear it from a car blasting it blocks away it becomes somewhat hard to ignore.

Not only is the music provocative but so is the gang culture. That's why I say they go hand-in-hand. I've had ganstas threaten me when I was minding my own business. I could list examples.

In summary, the tension that gangsta rap/culture imposes on society is something that cannot be ignored and it effects society in more negative ways than positive ways, to put it very lightly.
clsmooth

Con

I will still continue the debate, because I do not believe that gangsta rap "degrades society" either.

I will make the argument the 1980s and early 90s gangsta rap music served at least one positive purpose -- drawing the media's attention to the reality of gang violence and the problem it presented. The inner city was largely ignored by the middle-class establishment, until their children began playing NWA and Ice T, etc. It made them take notice.

Secondly, I still disagree that gangsta rap begets gang violence. The inverse is true. Black gang culture predates gangsta rap. Gangsta rap was created from out of gang culture. I've yet to learn of anything that gangs have taken from gangsta rap -- it's always the other way around. See cornrows, baggy jeans, and even "Crip walking" for examples.

Again, the car-stereo-blasting argument does not fly, because it is itself a separate crime. You should be free from intrusions in your home. Laws should be made and enforced against disturbing the peace. But if not gangsta rap, who's to say that another form of music wouldn't be blasting from these car stereos? Some people are obnoxious and rude. I don't think you can blame gangsta rap for that.

Nor do I think you can blame gangsta rap for people who have initiated violence against you. Again, black gang culture predates gangsta rap. Gang culture, in general, dates back to before the Civil War. There were no Irish gangsta rappers depicted in Gangs of New York. Seriously, gangs hit their peak in the late 80s and early 90s, and apexed during the LA Riots of '91. Gangsta rap peaked a few years later. Kids who grew up on gangsta rap were thus less likely to join gangs than kids who grew up on 70s soul music. Maybe Marvin Gaye is more to blame than Dr. Dre.

Still, you make no arguments against free speech. I appreciate that. But of course, that isn't the subject of the debate. The debate is whether gangsta rap is bad for society. You have made good points that it is, but it is my job to say that it is either good or indifferent. My belief is that its effects are some good, some bad, and a whole lot of indifferent. You have anecdotal evidence of people you ASSUME were influenced by gangsta rap, but you can't know. The empirical evidence says gangs are less prevalent than they once were.

And furthermore, I listened to gangsta rap as a child, and my anecdotal evidence is that I grew up to be a radically anti-violence, anti-racism libertarian individualist. Therefore, using myself as a microcosm for society -- as you are using yourself -- I cannot say that gangsta rap has negative effects. Extrapolating further, I had many, many friends who listened to gangsta rap, too. None of them are in jail, and many of them are libertarian-leaning like me. Meanwhile, many gang members are the children of gang members who grew up before there was such a thing as gangsta rap. I think that has a greater effect.
Debate Round No. 2
Kristallo

Pro

If you listen to the rap music of today, rap music of 10 years ago that of 20 years ago the progression is hard to miss. Clearly violence and sexism and other degrading elements overall have become more prominent. Maybe these elements were inherent in the gang culture all along. However, rap music, especially gangsta rap, is a newer phenomenon. Whereas gang culture used to be more of an ugly and isolated part of society, its spirit which gangsta rap embodies is gaining a lot more mainstream popularity today than it used to. That is exactly why it is threatening. This music with themes of sexism and violent intimidation is slowly but surely weaving itself into the fabric of American society. Actually, I would imagine it more like a stain in our fabric, but I digress. To sum it all up I am noting: 1) The emersion of degrading themes into rap culture, and 2) The mainstream popularity it has aquired and how together these two things are pushing our society downward.
clsmooth

Con

2 Live Crew, N.W.A., the Getto Boys, and Too Short, etc., were all around 15 years ago. I don't think anyone has exceeded their vulgarity, so your assertion that gangsta rap is a "recent" development, or that rap today is more vulgar than rap in the past, is thus weakened.

Gangsta rap peeked over a decade ago, and gang violence has been dropping for even longer. Kids who grew up on gangsta rap would be "gang-aged" now, and yet gang violence is down. So obviously, gangsta rap did not produce a whole generation of "gangstas."

In fact, from 1996 to 2001, the percentage of violent crimes committed by gang members was cut in half.

http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov...

Total crime is also way down from the early Crack Years.

Gangsta rap is just a form of entertainment, no more damaging or harmful than gory horror films or pro wrestling. It has not degraded our society. It is reflective of urban blight, not the cause of it. The real causes -- the welfare state, single-parent households, drug use, etc. -- would exist without gangsta rap, and pre-date gangsta rap. And the bullies and thugs you encounter have always existed, and they would simply choose another form of music to adopt if not for gangsta rap.
Debate Round No. 3
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Sheridan 7 years ago
Sheridan
"Make money, get fucked up, treat women like trash"
That line is taken from a Three Six Mafia song. They won an Oscar for Hustle and Flow. I think that a high percentage of music played on the radio today is still vile, violent, and degrading to women most of all. Not choosing to listen to music personally does not mean that this type of music is affecting the citizens of a country. Degrading women, killing, doing illegal drugs are all illegal in the States, music promoting will have unconscious psychological effects on people, however minimally they seem to be to you. Back in the 70's when a lot of music promoted drug use, people did drugs. What do you think people do because of music today? Music, especially played on a national scale, can have immense and adverse effects.
Posted by feverish 7 years ago
feverish
Great debate, amusing that while Con is winning the debate by such a huge margin, most comments are supporting Pro.
Is that the real CL Smooth imposting as some white dude? lol say hello to Pete Rock for me.
Posted by jamie_l_2oo6 9 years ago
jamie_l_2oo6
how could rap music possibly make the society worse.... its your choice if you would like to listen to it or not so clsmooth is clearly correct and I am 100% on his side
Posted by Gato 9 years ago
Gato
I'm undecided. My gut feeling agrees with Kristallo but clsmooth made the better argument.

I too like hip hop passively, but only the positive and/or the intelligent stuff which usually means it's a decade or two old.

The stuff that is popular today that you hear on the radio is at the very least un-intelligent, and at the very worst disgusting.

While I don't support a complete ban, I could possibly support a tightening of censorship laws when it comes to music.
Posted by Toored 9 years ago
Toored
All I have to say is that in principle I agree with Kristallo.
Posted by ScrewSociety62 9 years ago
ScrewSociety62
I'm obnoxious and nasty to people, and I listen to heavy metal, but i've noticed a trend of people who like mainstream rap and hip hop lacking intelligence, so i'm with Kristallo.
Posted by NSG 9 years ago
NSG
Kristallo, I am with you!:)
Posted by Masterworks 9 years ago
Masterworks
I, also, avoid rap music for several reasons. I have distinctions as well.
1. If an artist composes a song in which there are questionable topics and/or language, I avoid the artist completely.
2. If I cannot understand the words, I avoid the song completely.
3. If the artist uses an intense bass line that continues in the exact same pattern throughout the entire song or a background noise that does the same thing, I avoid the artist at all cost.
4. If I made a fourth reason, I'd be tired. But...I had something to say here that would've closed this, but I forget. :]
Posted by Kristallo 9 years ago
Kristallo
Well, what can I say? I'm humbled. I posted this debate thinking that most people secretly agreed with me but lacked the courage to say so. I really did.
Posted by PreacherFred 9 years ago
PreacherFred
I,personally, do not like rap music. Therefore, I avoid it.
Using Kristallo's arguements, people could then conclude that some of the folk music I grew up with intended "to challenge, indeed, to pick a fight with the status quo of American society."

In my opinion, despite my dislike for rap, clsmooth presented a better arguement.
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Vote Placed by MrHardRock 7 years ago
MrHardRock
KristalloclsmoothTied
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