Music is universally appreciated and has positive effects on the general population. However, some music has been under public scrutiny because of its correlation with anti social behavior among the youth including psychiatric disorder, drug abuse, violence, theft and promiscuity. The concern is that the association of this negative content with any youth is like to end up in actual manifestation of the negativity in the lyrical content. It is a well know fact that the music preference of an individual can give an almost accurate signal of distress. The preference for negative music is due to the feeds retrieved form the content.
There is no doubt that music has adverse effects on the youth of today because music is the new religion to many a youth. Music governs the way the youth dress, act, speak and even stratifies youth groups. Music has soothing effects to the soul but it can also enhance negative and bad attitudes and tendencies. Negative and rebellious music is eliciting concern because it is a know catalyst for delinquent behavior among the youth. Music is described as negative when it elicits negative emotions such as anger, hatred, fear, depression and frustration. It is believed that when youth listen to negative music lyrics such as those that advocate for violence against women and rebellion has often led troubled youth to commit violent crimes and even suicide. The most controversial and debated genres are rap and rock music.
Music is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with artists like the late Tupac Shakur, Lil Wayne, 50 Cent, T-pain, Jay-Z, Marilyn Manson among others, receiving demi-god status. Unfortunately, the most popular of songs have negatively affected the psychological status of the youth leading to sexual stereotyping and violence, gang violence, drug and substance abuse, suicide, improper language use, lack of respect for self and authority and disillusionment. Furthermore, negative music listener have been know to perform poorly in school, had problems in school, are likely to be arrested, exhibit relationship problems, engage in satanic activities and have questionable sexual tendencies. This is because as the youth hold these artists in high regard, whatever they say or do goes. In 2001, rapper Sean Combs, popularly known as P. Diddy was legally charged for illegally possessing a weapon following a shoot out in a New York club. Rapper Dirty Old Bastard was charged for threatening to harm his girlfriend. Rapper 50 brags about being shot severally and surviving. He further glorifies his days as a jail bird. Robert Kelly and Michael Jackson have been charged on numerous accounts with child molestation. Unfortunately, these are the role models of today’s youth. However, if rap and rock music propagated by these artists are so negative and detrimental in nature, why do they draw phenomenal audiences across the globe?
Parents across the divide agree that the violent messages propagated in these songs contribute significantly to violence in schools as a result of an increased acceptance of violence as a way of life. Rap music has been charged with Negative and rebellious music is synonymous with identity and freedom for the bigger proportion of the youth because it offers the avenue for emotion management. Further, this music serves as a platform for the youth to have an almost political voice. The pressure from parents, education and life has lead to the evolution of a depressed and anger group. This music thus absolves them, albeit temporarily, from the harsh realities of life. The danger is this is that there is a definite disconnect from reality, which is usually harsh. There is also the likelihood of alienation when the fantasy fails to play out. This is a very dangerous line to tow.
A study conducted by the Loyola University (2008) established that rock music was most likely to result in increased alcohol consumption, which would eventually degenerate into violent behavior. Reggae is yet another genre that glorifies the use of drugs like marijuana being portrayed as holy. Reggae also ignited intense political feelings of freedom, segregation, oppression, and these feeling are many a time, explosive.
Negative music has a direct impact on juvenile delinquency rates. According to Albert Bandura in his theory of social learning, human learning is the resultant effect of the interaction of behavioral, cognitive and environmental factors. Banura’s social learning theory established that there was a direct correlation between the violence depicted through the media and the juvenile delinquency levels. This is because the youth imitate the behavior of those they hold in high regard, consequently, juvenile delinquency is the resultant effect of imitation of negativity. This brings to light the fact that it is possible for behavior to be modeled through the simple act of imitation (Sandon, 2008).
A look at your average music video goes to testify at the gravity of the situation. Many a time, a man will brag about his life in prison and his sexual escapades with numerous women, while half-naked women publicly display their perfect bodies. Furthermore, there is acute objectification of women, which a majority being portrayed as braininess sex objects. All of these women allegedly belong to a pimp, who literally owns them, so much so that these women attend to his every whimper at the drop of a hat! Rapper Snoop Dog is often seen smoking marijuana on screen and is a self confessed pimp! It is not uncommon to hear a rapper refer to women as bitched and hoes. The tragedy is that these artists will continue to sell millions of records while the recording companies disregard the likely effects of such images on impressionable youth. Dr. Dre, one of the most recognizable rap artists has attempted to defend the lyrics and violence glorification in rap music. He says that they as artist do not really act out what they sing in their music because it is all merely entertainment. He says “Living up to what you say on records…..it’s all entertainment. Anybody in the f*cking right mind knows you can talk about shootin’ somebody on a record but a muthaf*cka ain’t really gonna really go out there and do it unless you just………stupid. You know what I’m sayin’? This is entertainment…you know…we make records. Its entertainment, that’s all it is. This is like out f*cking jobs, you know?” His use of language does nothing to inspire the confidence of the critics! (Rap Thesis Part 2, 2004)
In 1957, Merton came up with a social strain theory of criminal involvement. Merton argues that a society consciously encourages the desire for upward social mobility as a means of attaining set objectives. A look at the lives of a majority of music artists’ portrays excesses of wealth and worldly possessions acquired through drug dealing, gang involvement and theft. The point that comes across to the youth is that youth is a well paying game. When the legitimate methods of social achievement are blocked; the impressionable youth will go through whatever means necessary, mostly violent, as to get to the high life. Merton therefore argues that the challenge facing social institutions is the move from emphasis on the end, as opposed to the means because this unintentionally limits legitimate personal advancement avenues. Furthermore, education as the primary means of making a life for oneself is sidelines and so the idea of getting an education seems preposterous (Sandon, 2008).
Juvenile delinquency can be addressed effectively if the society as a whole comes together in unearthing the real causes of this delinquency. Parents should take a leadership role in the management of the kind of music that their children are exposed to. Furthermore, they should go the extra mile of explaining why negative music is unacceptable, rather than just banning the music al together because this is potentially problematic. There is nothing wrong with music; music is critical in enhancing higher brain functions and is a right-brain activity, which affects language skills, creativity, physical and socio-emotional development. Whether negative music instills negative consequences on the youth is still relatively debatable. However, there is no doubt that negative music arouses innate negativity among the youth which eventually leads to cases of juvenile delinquency, characterized by broken relationships, casual sex and/or sex without contraception use, violence, low self esteem and drug abuse. Furthermore, crime is glamorized and may have an impact of a youth’s involvement in criminal activities at some course of his life.
Media Awareness (2005). “Negative Effects of Music”. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 24th November, 2008 from http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/parents/music/inappropriate/negative_effects_music.cfm>.
Sandon, Andrew (2008). “Juvenile Delinquent Theories”. Last retrieved from the World Wide Web on 24th November, 2008 from http://www.articlesbase.com/law-articles/juvenile-delinquency-theories-67589.html
Rap Thesis Part 2, (2004). “Unrestricted”. http://etd.lib.fsu.edu/theses/available/etd-06302004-120730/unrestricted/RapThesisPart2July2004.pdf.