Should Rappers Be Seen As Role Models?
We all want someone to admire. Whether it is a religious figure or a parent, humanity has always yearned for some sort of influencer to lead or inspire them. When celebrity culture took form, famous people became another addition to the idols. Audiences aspire to possess celebrities’ fame, fortune, and their composed, engaging mien. To some, rappers are seen as the cool, “real” celebrities that are the most loyal and connected with their listeners. However, more often than not, rappers either become entangled in a scandal or crime, or they state some opinions that prove to be unpopular with their fans.
In the early 90s, rap culture truly began to take its form. Rappers like Biggie Smalls, Tupac, and Dr. Dre were key players in developing modern day rap. They made rap about the struggles of the inner city and being black in America. Although there is a lot of truth being spoken in the music, there are very apparent violent overtones. Feuds, drugs, and sex run rampant throughout the rap community, both in song and in real life. Because of this, rappers are often regarded as poor role models. This does not stop people from looking up to these individuals, though.
The question then arises: should we look up to rappers? Before we can answer this, we first need to assess what a rapper’s actual purpose is.
What Is The Goal of Rap?
The point of rap, and any other kind of music, is to express a story or a message. They rap about their lives, their experiences, and society in general. Overall, their job is to make relevant, relatable, and profitable content that other people will enjoy. Their job is not, however, to necessarily be a role model. Many rappers, like Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, openly engage in the use of recreational drugs. Other rappers, like Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Akon, and countless others have had stints in jail. This is not the type of behavior that young people, or anybody for that matter, should be emulating. But does that really matter to rappers?
Not Your Idols
Idolizing anyone is a bad idea. Every human is flawed, and promoting any one of them to god status will only leave the worshipper disappointed. In addition, a celebrity’s job is not to be perfect; it is typically to entertain. It is their prerogative if they decide to show up scantily clad to an awards show or release a song about getting drunk in the club. If people complain, they can just stop following the celebrity.
The main beef people have with rap is its influence on children. To be fair, most of rap is not family friendly. Looking back, most of the rap songs I used to sing are incredibly filthy. However, just because children have access to something does not mean it should be optimized for them. We cannot live in a world that is 100% appropriate for children. Not only is that impractical, but we all have different definitions of what is appropriate for children.
So…should we look up to them?
The answer is not a clear yes or no. To admire their success is perfectly fine. Becoming famous in the music industry is incredibly difficult. Most rappers do not come from a place of privilege, so reaching that level of fortune is astounding. In addition, there are some high profile rappers who do try to make a difference and donate to causes, like Chance the Rapper, Jay Z, and even Kanye West, and they should be appreciated for that.
Idolizing rappers is an issue, though. There is a very small chance that they will not run into the law, say something offensive, or date someone of whom their fans disapprove. They will inevitably be upsetting someone no matter what they do because they cannot please everyone all the time. Controversies are not typically something that rappers try to avoid.
These artists are no different than any other kind of celebrity. Their actual job is not to lead: it is to rap. Being a good role model is probably something they should do, but that is not explicitly in any of their contracts.
Overall, people have to realize that making good music does not always translate into being a good person. Being a celebrity does not make a person above anyone else, nor does it exonerate them from any wrongdoings.
By, Taylor Turner