Artists need to clean up lyrics

I was a big fan of rap and hip-hop music when I was growing up. I would listen to Bone Thugs and Harmony, TuPac and Notorious B.I.G. all the time. I wore out those CDs until they would not play anymore.

Now, as a father of two young boys, I listen to those artists and realize there is no way I should have been allowed to listen to their music. The lyrics of the songs were about nothing but drugs, degrading women and violence, yet I was 13 years old listening to all of this.

I understand that artists have freedom of speech, and they deserve that right. I also understand that music is rated with a parental advisory sticker to stop children who may not be mature enough to listen to the music from making the purchase.

But, in today’s world of the Internet where this music is available unedited on YouTube and iTunes it is hard for parents to regulate what their children listen to. So when is it time for the artists to take some of the blame and clean up their music?

“Yeah, hey, can we get a little break, from the cocaine and the kilos,” said Lupe Fiasco in “ITAL (Roses).” In this song he illustrates what is wrong with music today, and tries to send out a message that what you hear in music is not what you should be doing.

Fiasco sees the effect his genre can have on youths who listen to the music that glorifies strippers, gang bangers and drug deals. Unlike most of his fellow artists, Fiasco is trying to break the cycle and put a more positive message in his lyrics.

I appreciate the message that Fiasco is trying to send. I am not asking for a drastic change in music, but just more artists like Fiasco who try to understand the impact of his messages, and fewer artists like Trinidad James, who break onto the scene with songs like “All Gold Everything.”

“Popped a molly, I’m sweatin’ woo,” is the most commonly heard lyric from this song by James, in reference to taking ecstasy and the reaction it has on your body when you take it. This lyric is glorified by stars that kids look up to like NBA player LeBron James singing it in his pregame warm up. With this kind of glorification of a dangerous drug,it is no wonder ecstasy-related ER visits in the U.S. from 253 visits in 1994 to 4,023 in 2002.

Glorified drug use in music isn’t the only thing I’m worried about my sons learning from rap and hip-hop, though. I would also like my children be able to listen to the music I loved without having to hear songs that constantly degrade women.

“Can we get a little break, from the stripper on the P-ole,” is one of the next lines in Fiasco’s song. It references the fact that other hip-hop artists glorify strippers in their songs like, T-Pain’s “I’m in Love With a Stripper” or Travis Porter’s “Make it Rain.”

That alone is not the worst part. Songs like Webbie’s “Bad B—-” and 2 Chainz “Big Booty H–” that contain terms that are degrading to women that I try to teach my sons are wrong to use.

Yet here they are, used over and over again in popular rap and hip-hop songs-teaching women that men will love you if you dress provocatively or wear nothing at all.

While all this degrading of women makes me highly upset, it’s the violence and glorification of dealing drugs, and joining gangs that really worries me about how this music could effect youths today.

“Hey shawty, ain’t no future in no gang-bang, and ain’t no manhood in no bang-bang, ain’t no honor cleanin’ interstates inside a chain-gang,” Fiasco said in the first verse. I believe this is the kind of message more artists should be trying to send. Tell the youth of America that there is no future joining a gang, that there is no future shooting a gun at each other, and that there is no future when you’re spending time in jail.