These Modern Times
Does rap music spawn violence? Plus, celebrity sightings in NYC, community policing, and music by Knife Show.
The Link Between Rap and Violence
Hip-hop does not cause crime. If anything the opposite is true. As the popularity of rap music increased, crime in the United States fell, particularly at the point in which violent, gangsta rap took hold.
Writer Phillip Bump pulled crime data compiled by the FBI as a function of population to track how crime has evolved in this country. He focused on the total number of crimes and the amount of violent crime. Then, to gauge the popularity of hip-hop, he turned to the Whitburn Project, an ongoing, underground tabulation of the popularity of singles dating back to 1890. The Whitburn Project indicates the top charting tracks for each year and, for an extensive period, categorizes them by genre. So he took the period of 1980 to 2005 — from just after rap’s birth to the point at which Whitburn’s genre data is less complete — and assessed how much of popular music was dominated by rap.
Hip Hop culture that people decry isn’t the Fresh Prince/Run DMC rap of the 1980s, you know, when crime was through the roof. Violent crime peaked in 1991 — the same year as NWA’s seminal Efil 4 Zaggin* was released. So, can we thank Mssrs. Ice Cube, Dre, Eazy, and Ren for saving America? Well, no. Crime and music, nearly anyone will tell you, are not linked. “Hip-hop culture,” such as it is, has nothing to do with the amount of crime in U.S., at least if actual hip-hop music is any indicator.
You know what kind of music does correlate with America’s increase in crime? Rock music. But that has nothing to do with race. There’s just as many black and Asian kids that were into rock as white kids right?