Few will argue against the claim that hip-hop culture greatly influences today’s generation of youth, as well as adults. Just take a look at Jimmy Fallon’s “History of Rap“, VH1’s “Love and Hip Hop“, or even the recent upsurge of “trap gospel” for example. In countless studies and debates it has come into question whether or not hip-hop culture influences a variety of negative behaviors, including violence, risky sexual activity, and a blatant disregard for authority figures. As with any culture, there are a mixture of good and bad qualities. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the aforementioned claims linking hip-hop to negative behaviors is most likely referring to mainstream representations of the culture. For example, studies looking at this often reference rappers such as Jay-Z, who is considered a commercial success.
In older posts we have discussed some of the concerns regarding hip-hop culture, specifically highlighting certain aspects of music videos and the false persona maintained by many black male hip-hop artists. A common theme that emerged from those posts was that mainstream hip-hop culture can promote certain sexual behaviors. Take this excerpt from a previous post for example:
Images of black male-female relations in hip-hop music videos often depict “heterosexual relationships as adversarial, equating sex with power and status, and characterizing sex as a sporting event” (Ward et al., 2005, p. 147).
It is because of this, that K3mistry Productions has decided to launch a social media campaign highlighting promoted sexual behaviors and sexual relationships in hip-hop. More specifically, K3mistry will look to contrast messages regarding sex with reality. For example, this social media campaign could display a sexually suggestive excerpt from a hip-hop song and mention within the same breath health statistics regarding sex to give viewers a broader view of what they would normally be listening to. All music used will be part of the Billboard Top 100 Hip-Hop/R&B songs. The campaign will also focus on today’s popular hip-hop clothing styles which have sexual undertones, as well as music videos that accompany the aforementioned Billboard Top 100 songs. This social media campaign will be called More than a Mic Check.
More than a Mic Check is specifically aimed at black youth since according to scholars such as Gilroy (1997) and Clay (2003), hip-hop is perceived to be the very “blackest” culture. Moreover, “the significance of hip-hop for black youth has been discussed in a range of disciplines including cultural studies, psychology, and sociology” (Clay, 2003, p. 1348). Lastly, Watkins (1998) purports hip-hop culture “has developed into a fertile reservoir of black youth production” (as cited in Clay, 2003, p. 1348). This means many of the trends and styles promoted by hip-hop will almost certainly shape black youth development. Beyond the realm of black culture, hip hop is widely known by this generation of youth. This is important to note when dealing with certain stereotypes other ethnicities/races may associate with black people. For example, Sullivan (2003) states “style of dress has become a way for whites to connect with blacks without actually having any face-to-face contact” (Sullivan, 2003, p. 610). The type “dress” Sullivan (2003) is referring to includes baggy clothing, pro sports apparel, and hooded sweatshirts, all seen within hip-hop culture.
Ultimately, More than a Mic Check seeks to help youth (including more than just black youth) become more media literate. The social media platforms that will be utilized are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, and Twitter. More than a Mic Check is set to launch this coming Sunday, December 6, 2015, and will last until Saturday, December 12, 2015. We will be keeping you all updated about the progress of this campaign via blog posts. What we are up to may sound a little vague to you all now, but trust, our updates will provide more context about the grand scheme of things.
**Feel free to share with us comments or concerns that you may have about this up incoming campaign. We are open to suggestions prior to the launch of this campaign. Furthermore, we apologize for making this post shorter than usual, but there is a lot of work that has to be done in preparation for this! Thank you!!
Clay, A. (2003). Keepin’it Real Black Youth, Hip-Hop Culture, and Black Identity. American behavioral scientist, 46(10), 1346-1358.
Gilroy, P. (1997). After the love has gone’: bio-politics and ethno-poetics in the black public sphere’in Back to Reality? Social Experience and Cultural Studies. McRobbie, A.
Sullivan, R. E. (2003). Rap and Race It’s Got a Nice Beat, but What about the Message?. Journal of Black Studies, 33(5), 605-622.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (2014). Adolescent health. Retrieved from Healthy People website: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/Adolescent-Health