Effects of Rap Music on Crime

14002 Words57 Pages
Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance
Julian Tanner, University of Toronto Mark Asbridge, Dalhousie University Scot Wortley, University of Toronto
This research compares representations of rap music with the self-reported criminal behavior and resistant attitudes of the music’s core audience. Our database is a large sample of Toronto high school students (n = 3,393) from which we identify a group of listeners, whose combination of musical likes and dislikes distinguish them as rap univores. We then examine the relationship between their cultural preference for rap music and involvement in a culture of crime and their perceptions of social injustice and inequity. We find that the rap univores, also known as urban music
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In both the mainstream press (i.e., The New York Times) and publications targeting a predominately black readership (i.e., Ebony and Jet), she finds rap lauded for the salutary lessons that it imparts to black youth regarding the realities of urban living; likewise, rap artists are applauded for their importance as role models and mentors to inner-city black youth. Thus, while rap has been framed negatively, as a contributor to an array of social problems, crime and delinquency in particular, it has also been celebrated and championed as an authentic expression of cultural resistance by underdogs against racial exploitation and disadvantage. How these differing representations of rap might resonate with audience members was not part of Binder’s research mandate.2 Furthermore, while she does acknowledge that journalistic perceptions of the racial composition of the rap audience are not necessarily accurate – that more white suburban youth, even in the 1980s and 1990s, might have been consuming the music than black inner-city youth – this acknowledgment does not alter her enterprise or her argument. At this point in time, when the listening audience for rap music has both expanded and become increasingly diverse, our research concerns how young black, white and Asian rap fans in Toronto, Canada relate to a musical form still viewed primarily in terms
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