WARNING: This post contains graphic language.
I thought I knew.
I thought I was aware.
I knew rap music as a whole was inundated with bad language, violent messages, and sexual overtones.
I knew nothing. I was ignorant.
“Was” is the operative because I am ignorant no more.
I spent an afternoon last week, and another afternoon yesterday, reading rap lyrics. Have you ever wished you could pour Clorox through your ears to disinfect your brain??? Well, spend a day reading lyrics by Eminem, Dr. Dre, Lil Jon, and Lil Wayne, and you will.
You see, I happened to note the word “Explicit” on my darling, sweet, used-to-be innocent Big Girl’s iPod music list. I am not a prude by any means. I do not believe in sheltering my children from all the evil things Out There. I believe they need to be exposed to it to be prepared to deal with it. So at first I wasn’t alarmed.
“Didn’t your father and I tell you we need to approve any download with the “explicit” tag before you buy it?”
“Oh, yeah…I forgot.”
So I pulled up her playlist to find not a few explicit tags…but 74. Shamefacedly, we parents admit to an “Epic Fail” on our part. However, to say that it has been an educational experience is an understatement. I printed the list, and decided to go through every single song, word for word.
I was left utterly horrified and speechless. Not only is the language damned filthy, the recurrent themes are enough to make you want to vomit. The glorification of drug use, alcohol consumption, and promiscuous violent sex is just the tip of the iceberg. Abusive, addictive relationships, worship of material status symbols, packing guns, anti-government, and “shooting up the club” is a continuous thread throughout the genre. Not a single song I came across could say what needed to be said without the word F**k thrown in..and several times in the majority of cases. The women are referred to solely as bitches and hoes and they are only good for two things…beating and f***ing. (Their terminology, not mine.) Words like c**t, a**, t*t, p***y, motherf***er, are thrown around like “and”, “the”, and “at.”
I did not come across a single solitary positive message in any of the “songs” (I use that term loosely.) Not one. Not even a “this WAS my life, but I’m changing” message…not ONE.
I do not believe in censorship. I do believe in parents needing to parent. I don’t believe that rap music is the root of all evil, or that Eminem is the Devil as some believe. I am not about to withdraw my kids from school to limit their outside exposure to this garbage. However, I am shaken by the proliferation and glorification of Godless behavior. There is no shred of ethical awareness, no value placed on the human experience of love, and no care in the world for living a life that will benefit the greater good. These writers seek to undermine and undervalue authority at every level, and that is what troubles me the most. Life is simply one big pissing match to see who can win the Alpha male title…and the Alpha is the one with the biggest car, the most bling, the sluttiest women (preferable in pairs) with the biggest breasts, the highest quality and the biggest quantity of drugs, the most powerful weapon, the highest paying record deal, and the honorable title of living through the most drive by shootings.
And the teenagers love this stuff.
My daughter says, “I just love the beats and the music.”
I tend to believe she loves it because her friends love it…it is what is “cool.” Up here, if you don’t love Country music, then you must love rap. One or the other.
She’s heard it all in my house. We love music. All types. Hit Shuffle on my iPod…First ten songs right now:
Rehab (Glee Cast Version)
Nearer to Thee (Sam Cooke)
Piano Concerto No. 26 in D major, Larghetto (Maria-Joao Pires_
Seven Mile Breakdown (Taylor Hicks)
Crazy (Gnarls Barkley)
Me and a Gun (Tori Amos)
Hallelujah (John Cale)
Hope and Memory (Howard Shore)
Life on the Moon (David Cook)
If I were to go to Zan’s you would see an even greater arc across genres, including some of the dancy rappy stuff that I don’t care for.
So, the girl has been exposed to everything, from Classical to Classic Rock to all the new stuff. And yet, this is the bulk of her most recent downloads?
What is a parent to do? I’ll tell you what we chose to do.
We cleaned up the iPod. I deleted nearly all the explicit stuff. She will be allowed to buy back the “clean” versions of some of her songs. (We know she knows the words, but she has a 9 year old sister and a 4 year old brother who don’t need to hear the explicit versions.) About twenty five of the songs are off for good. (For example, “Get Low” by Lil Jon et.al. and “I Just Had Sex” by The Lonely Island and “Superman” by Eminem. Google them if you’re curious, but be prepared…you’ll need a shower, a gallon of Clorox, and a Priest when you’re finished.)
And we talked to her, and talked and talked about what is wrong with the themes laid out in these songs. I will admit she spoke quite intelligently with us, and agrees that the messages are not in keeping with our family values. (“Mom, I know this isn’t how I should live…just because it’s in the music I listen to doesn’t mean I’m going to go do it!”)
Of that I am certain, but I also believe that it is my job to draw a line in the sand. This is okay, this is not okay. She will pass by us any explicit song before downloading it. If I find she does not follow through with the rule, the iPod will be taken away. Period.
And here we go again…blurring right and wrong…a world that wants to turn everything that should be black and white into shades of gray. Twisting our God given gift of Free Will and our Forefathers’ gift of freedom into a free ticket to do whatever we damn well please, without consequence, without conscience.
I’m drawing a line in the sand and saying this is not okay.
Pray God that I’m right.