Ask Yourself the Real Reason You Don’t Listen to Rap


Lil Baby performs “Freestyle” at the 65th annual Grammy Awards on Sunday, Feb. 5, 2023, in Los Angeles.

Annisyn Krebs-Carr, Staff writer

I’m always skeptical when people say they don’t listen to rap music. Not because they aren’t allowed to listen to whatever genre of music they’d like, but because of the reason they don’t listen to rap music. The why.

And buried under the excuses of not liking the sound or the lyrics, the why is usually something to do with race.

I hear it all the time. “Oh, I don’t listen to that type of music.” With an added emphasis on that, as if rap music is the plague itself, something to stay away from at all costs. 

But unlike the stereotypes, rap music isn’t just about drugs and violence and is often derived from black culture. Understanding the roots and history of rap music is important to understanding the genre itself.

According to Timeline, rap music culture is a product of African American, Afro-Caribbean and Latino inner-city communities plagued by poverty, the proliferation of drugs and gang violence in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Black and Latinx youth, many of them Caribbean immigrants, created this new cultural form in response to racism, poverty, urban renewal, deindustrialization and inner-city violence.

Rap music and black culture are interwoven, and so is the criticism of rap music based on disapproval of the genre itself. Or is it just a way to maintain anti-black attitudes and play into anti-black biases?

People often criticize the genre by saying it promotes topics just as violence, drugs and sex. While that may be true of some rap songs and artists, blanketing an entire genre of music in a negative light is just an easy way to hate on black people without explicitly mentioning race. 

Because if the problem is the glamorization of violence in the genre, then why aren’t we criticizing heavy metal, or other genres who do the exact same thing? 

Rap is one of the most diverse genres of music, lyrically and stylistically. The “glamorization” of drugs and violence is just a small portion of a large genre, and if that personally isn’t for you, there are plenty of other subgenres of rap to listen to. 

It doesn’t have to be some of rap’s most popular artists like Lil Baby or Drake, though there is nothing wrong with their music either. It can be more lyrical rappers like Kendrick Lamar or André 3000, rapping about their upbringing, systemic racism and poverty.

Lyrical rap, lo-fi rap, old-school, gospel, Latin; there’s an endless list of different rap subgenres. And if you just can’t seem to like any of those, maybe it’s not the music that’s the problem, maybe it’s the people associated with the music. 

It’s easy to hide your racism behind your hatred for rap music. To pride yourself in “wokeness” but sneer at the mention of the newest rap song. To label it as violent and problematic without thinking about the significance and ties it has to black culture.

So go ahead with the, “I don’t listen to that type of music.” Cover your ears and continue not to listen. We both know that the music isn’t the problem.