Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Does rap music make you stupid?

Okay, so I only have some anecdotal evidence, but I had to ask the question:

Does Listening to rap music cause brain damage?

I'm just wondering! In my short time teaching I have noticed a trend that can be summed up thusly: If a student writes "G-Unit" all over his or her notebook, they perform very poorly and in fact can barely come out of their stupor long enough to put a proper heading on their paper.

Similarly, nobody in my advanced class ever writes "G-Unit" or "50 Cent" on their paper. (I think G-Unit is 50 Cent's band, but I don't know because when I asked a student with "G-Unit" on his notebook, arms, shirt, shoes etc., what G-Unit was he said, "huh?"). My advanced class doodles on their notebooks too, but never the name of rap groups.

Before anyone gets all excited, I am not speaking of any particular ethnic group. The only thing these kids have in common is that none of them are African-American. Also, I actually like some rap music (that doo, doo, doo whup song by Usher, Ton Loc, and the theme song for Dexter's Lab).


Joel Gaines said...

The rap music does not make them stupid. It's all the TV they watch when they are not listening to rap music. I find my son is dain bramaged when he has had too much TV in a given day and that's just PBS Kids :)

garybibb said...

You need to get trackbacks because i just did a whole post on your topic. Let the discussion begin!

Bibb's Revenge

Ugly Naked Guy said...


Rap music, TV, video games, whatever...Don't kids go out in the street anymore to play stickball or kick-the-can, or Red Rover, Red Rover, Three Flies up, tackle football on the cement, Ding-Dong Ditchem (as hoodlum as I ever got), etc., etc., etc.? Don't know about you, but I wasn't ALLOWED to go in my house unless the weather was real bad.

Ugly Naked Guy said...


Maybe we need to start the discussion with, "what came first, the chicken or the egg?" I mean, are they stupid because they listen to rap or do they listen to rap because they are stupid?

The Anti-Puritan said...


I would say the latter. As with drugs, guns, pornography, etc., many people blame inanimate objects for what human beings do, or fail to do, of their own free will. I suspect that these rap fans are mostly rebellious rather than stupid. Frankly, I don't blame them. I don't believe in the institution of school any more.

Mr. Grim said...

I held my tongue on this one for many reasons, but at this point it seems like nigga' bashing (not really but wigger bashing for sure). I am a mulatto who grew up first with Fat Boys, DMC and later Public Enemy and the Beasties. Good stuff all around. Metal became my way because it spoke to me louder than hip-hop. But I knew as many KNOW NOTHINGS who dug Winger as I knew thugs that like DMX. Stupidity is not linked to your music. There are smart country singers, just not many.
There are morons who like Mozart.
Now, if you said, does Britney make you stupid?
Yeah, it does.

Joel Gaines said...

UNG - my kid sure does (go outside and play with sticks and dead animals) :)

Not at all related to Rap music, sticks or kids (whether stupid or just the regular dain bramaged) - there is a new thing happening on NPI I want to tell you about.

Rather than take up 3 miles of comment space, if you could just go to http://www.nopunditintended.com/?q=T3-on-NPI and check it out, I would appreciate it.

Sorry to take this off topic.

Ugly Naked Guy said...


Ok, that was provacative. I've heard of not liking school, the schools not being very good, the teachers not being very good, etc., etc., but you say that you don't BELIEVE in school. Is this a new take on things?

The Anti-Puritan said...

Yes, you might say that. Please read this Harper's magazine article by John Taylor Gatto about what's wrong with school. Gatto firmly believes in education; he's a former New York City and State Teacher of the Year. But he makes a good case, I think, that school was actually engineered to keep people uneducated.

Most grownups, if they are honest, will admit that their schooling was a stressful, humiliating waste of time. Yet they put their own kids into this system and pressure them to conform to its demands. Why? Because misery loves company? Because all the other parents are doing it? Because they lack the hope, courage, or imagination to find a better way? I don't think these are good enough reasons.

The Anti-Puritan said...

Another thought on the Gatto article: I don't agree with his contention that consumerism is the fault of schooling. I think consumerism exists because human beings tend to like to buy stuff, that's all. He thinks that an earlier generation of Americans “considered it both unnatural and unwise to buy things they didn't actually need,” but I suspect he's romanticizing the past. If our ancestors didn't dream of buying very many consumer goods, it's probably because most of them couldn't.

Ugly Naked Guy said...


I had read that article sometime in the last year. It raises some interesting points, but I came away unfulfilled since he doesn't give very clear advice on how to fix the problem. Somehow I doubt he wants us to slap kids upside the head and tell them to stop being bored. For one thing, just because it worked for him doesn't mean it will work for everybody, and for another, I don't see much good coming from kids who are left to explore the multitudes of stimuli available these days. With video games, TV, and internet, rare would be the instance that a bored kid would actually go read a book or invent something--it is way too easy these days to cede control of our minds to the aforementioned triumverate.

With that in mind, I have heard it said that children are naturally eager to learn and we only need to provide them the opportunities. To an extent I agree with this, but somewhere between about 5-years-old and adulthood something happens and the majority stop using their brains, and it is heck trying to get them to use it again.

I have learned a lot from my three-year-old daughter. I have become obsessed with observing how people learn (or not), and she provides an interesting study. Take language and the act of learning to talk. I feel like I can nearly hear the gears whirring in her head when she tries to formulate her thoughts; there is real thinking, real work going on inside that brain! This is something you rarely see from older kids who find it easier to get by in the world by not bothering to engage their brains, or letting someone or some thing do the work for them.

Maybe in that respect I agree with Gotto(?)if he is saying that school provides little opportunity for them to exercise that muscle in their heads. Even if a teacher does come along who makes them think, they are so accustomed to mental servitude that few take the opportunity to flex those synapses and instead fight the process--it hurts to use muscles you aren't used to using.

In my classroom (and in my home where my wife and I homeschool our children and always have) I try to make people think. Just now (literally) my 11-year-old brought a measuring cup over to me and asked me how much 5 ounces was. I almost told him, but caught myself and asked him where he thought the 5 ounce mark was. He looked at it again and easily deduced that the it must be the mark between the 4 and 6. I try not to do for them that which they are perfectly capable of figuring out themselves.

I also don't allow my students at school to say, "I don't know" when I ask them a question. "I don't know" doesn't mean "I don't know," it means "I don't want to think," or "I wasn't paying attention," or something else. I don't acccept "I don't know" and it is clear they are not used to that.

Well, I gotta wrap up for now, the 3-year-old who never stops thinking is also very persistent and is asking for something to eat. BTW, I had not encountered your Anti-Puritan blog before and I just added it to my meager blogroll.

The Anti-Puritan said...

Thank you for blogrolling me. But please correct the error in your blogroll link. There should be a hyphen in “anti-puritan.” Without the hyphen, it links to a page that just says, “Oops! Wrong URL!”

Steven Westphal said...
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Music Downloads Center said...
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jon said...

I would have to say it's a little of both.

I defy any of those who doubt the influence of a genre of music that is so violent, pornographic, racist and sexist to explain exactly how it benefits those who listen to it? Exactly what are the merits of music in this genre?

And then there's the whole question of Slang, which affects language profoundly...

Certain cliques develop their own way of communicating, in essence, their own language. The population at large often does this too; stringing together the latest vernacular expressions drowning in a barrage of slogans courtesy of your television and radio and the peddlers who use those mediums to separate us from our hard earned money. Not so different from Winston Smith and his fellow Proles.

While colorful, these expressions diminish and enervate the power of language in a way that robs one of the experiences tethered to the true meanings of these words. How often do people say, “I love you” with out really thinking about the true meaning of the words? Or when’s the last time you’ve really thought about what the words Awesome or Awestruck mean? Struck (to come into contact forcefully) with Awe (a mixture of wonder and dread: a feeling of amazement and respect mixed with fear that is often coupled with a feeling of personal insignificance or powerlessness) - And another dictionary defines it as “(Something)… Remarkable and Outstanding” which definition carries a more exact meaning? It’s a sickening feeling to see this happening.

As language is enervated and rendered powerless by the application of slang to words that carried a wide berth of meaning, you will find people’s ability to express themselves reduced as well. Have you ever seen a child who hasn’t the means to communicate what they feel? Imagine an entire culture limited by patterned, rote speech and thought. - quoteIt's Just, Like, You know? --UNQUOTE (blockquotes not allowed in your responses)

May I also offer these topics as an aside to your question.

Accepting the enervation of language makes an entire CULTURE stupid, that's undeniable as language is the root of Reason. Certainly people on the whole assume the responsibility for the ideas they accept and the deeds they do, equally, that with which they feed their minds contributes to their stupidity and the subsequent stupid choices they make. If they weren't so stupid, they'd have figured it out.

Ugly Naked Guy said...

Jon: I responded over at your place.

Anonymous said...

That was then, this is now. It's all about rap music and hip hop jewelry.

generic cialis 20mg said...

I, of course, a newcomer to this blog, but the author does not agree

Anonymous said...

@Joel Gaines,
You need to reevaluate who really is "dain bramaged".

Anonymous said...

Yes, it does.