Does Listening to Hip Hop Make You Anti-Social?

I know most of you probably wont get what I’m talking about, because I had no clue until now, what people (read: cranky old white guys) mean when they say that “hip hop makes you anti-social”. What do they mean by anti-social? Now considering I always thought anti-social always meant the opposite of being social, I thought their claim was nonsense because hip hop encourages partying, dancing, gang banging and other group activities such as waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care. Now the dictionary definition of anti-social is a little more precise. Here’s what the free dictionary says,

1. Shunning the society of others; not sociable.
2. Hostile to or disruptive of the established social order; marked by or engaging in behavior that violates accepted mores: gangs engaging in vandalism and other antisocial behavior.
3. Antagonistic toward or disrespectful of others; rude.

Now according to this definition, hip hop heads seem dead on anti-social. I know I personally fulfill each one of these criteria, but is that so bad? On the first point, who wants to hang out with everybody? I’m not trying to love everybody. I can respect everyone’s right to be a moron but that doesn’t mean I have to accept their right to be a moron in my company.

On the second point, I actually think some cranky old white man wrote the gang stuff just to spite the hip hop community, but let’s just say it wasn’t. What’s so bad about being hostile or disruptive to the established social order. If the social order is oppressive, unjust or unfair why wouldn’t you rebel against it? Hip hop has always been about bucking the system. Now I don’t want to say that the plight of Gandhi in India or Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement is the same as wearing different clothes, talking a different way and being hip hop -because it is not. But it is the result of being given freedom. For example, if it were not for the Civil Rights Movement we would have never had the privilege to be free to express ourselves as we see fit. I see hip hop as the result of the Civil Rights era and those old Black folk who hate hip hop should see this as their offspring having something they couldn’t -the freedom to be what they want.

The third point about being rude is purely subjective. A white guy, let’s call him, Bill O’Reilly, could go into a restaurant in Harlem and see Black people “talking loud” and can consider that as rude behavior. But I bet if O’Reilly went into a restaurant in Connecticut and a bunch of white people we’re “arguing” about politics or about which toupée to get he would probably join in.

You see what this is really about is perception. There’s a scene in that Asher Roth video “Roth Boys” where he’s in an IHOP goofing around and black workers give him that bug eyed look like he’s rude. I can see this happening because any teenage kids are going to be looked at like their rude when they go somewhere to eat, regardless of what music they listen to. Now I only mention this restaurant scenario because a some what known Black republican named John H. McWhorter wrote this about hip hop,

Not long ago, I was having lunch in a KFC in Harlem, sitting near eight African-American boys, aged about 14. Since 1) it was 1:30 on a school day, 2) they were carrying book bags, and 3) they seemed to be in no hurry, I assumed they were skipping school. They were extremely loud and unruly, tossing food at one another and leaving it on the floor.

Black people ran the restaurant and made up the bulk of the customers, but it was hard to see much healthy “black community” here. After repeatedly warning the boys to stop throwing food and keep quiet, the manager finally told them to leave. The kids ignored her. Only after she called a male security guard did they start slowly making their way out, tauntingly circling the restaurant before ambling off. These teens clearly weren’t monsters, but they seemed to consider themselves exempt from public norms of behavior—as if they had begun to check out of mainstream society.

What struck me most, though, was how fully the boys’ music—hard-edged rap, preaching bone-deep dislike of authority—provided them with a continuing soundtrack to their antisocial behavior. So completely was rap ingrained in their consciousness that every so often, one or another of them would break into cocky, expletive-laden rap lyrics, accompanied by the angular, bellicose gestures typical of rap performance. A couple of his buddies would then join him. Rap was a running decoration in their conversation.

So it’s really hip hop to blame for these teens for being rude? I’ve seen country boys get rowdy at McDonalds and it wasn’t even high noon yet. It doesn’t make sense that you can blame a type of music for being anti-social because their are other types of music that make you just as anti-social. Look at those crazy goth’s, your telling me those people aren’t anti-social? Or those Asian emo kids? Or those punk skaters? It seems to me the real anti-socials are the old conservatives who disregard hip hop and all “young” people music because they are the one’s being disrespectful, hostile to the social order of teenagers and not very cool.

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5 thoughts on “Does Listening to Hip Hop Make You Anti-Social?

  1. Its so much easier to blame something than help resolve it….never mind all the hip hop kids with manners….never mind the ills of society that causes the disenfranchised to act anti-social

    why shouldn’t kids in the hood be anti-social…society is anti them.

  2. Yo, I get where you’re coming from, but I’ll give you my point of view.

    Hip-hop is a lot more diverse than the gangsta rap. I’m a rapper myself and have never, ever said I would physically harm another, in fact, on certain tracks, I say the opposite, advocating non-violence. Some tracks are aggressive, but not for you to go out and murder someone, but for you to feel for the situation and get mad that such a thing has occurred. For example, if a bunch of kids were shot because of their race, I would make the most angriest feeling track to get you to say “Hey! This shouldn’t go on. We should band together and make sure this doesn’t happen again.” At the same time making it known that violence will only make you as bad as them, and earn you the same disrespect.

    It’s not hip-hop’s fault that there’s so much violent music being aired. Artists like Common and Mos Def are also non-violent, but how many tracks do you hear of theirs? Not many, if any, and why? Not because there’s a lack of songs that are peaceful, in fact there’s heaps coming out all the time. No, it’s because, you the one’s who label hip-hop as anti-social CHOOSE to play these types of songs on the radio and tv. And then you say it’s all anti-social. Hold on…did you even listen to half of these songs to figure out what they’re saying? Probably not. You probably see “Gangsta’s Paradise” and think “this song is evil” without even realizing that it’s actually about their current situation.

    And for you who say that a group of people who gather in a group to recite lyrics (usually made on the spot) are anti-social? Wow…you guys have absolutely no comprehension of what the real world is. The world is full of real issues. The first one is that you idiots are ignorant. Secondly, stop using a very minor part of a wide community to label it negatively. It’s pretty stupid.

    Anyway, my point should have been made. Hip-hop is hip-hop, not 1 shot, 2 shot.

    Peace,
    The Big Shaquan Ghost.

  3. I totally feel you Ghost.

    Hip hop goes beyond the radio, beyond MTV. Its bigger than rap or graffiti, these are merely elements that people can choose to enact. It’s a culture that ANYONE can embrace without ever saying a single hurtful comment.
    There is so much beautiful hip hop out there more people just need to find it and look beyond what they are fed.

  4. The big who ghost……

  5. Yo you rapper wanna be you maybe just a skinny nigga hopeless with future endeavours all these little shit fags think wat the fuck is the big Shaquan ghost u fukin loser I can’t believe u think your a rapper nigga listen to me carefully get your head out of you ass and find a job and get out of your fantasy life your a fukn stupid dik head

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