Music has always been an influential part of our lives. It’s been there during our up and downs; our celebrations and breakups. We listen to during our commutes and when we’re bored. It has the power to change the atmosphere of an entire venue and change our mood and state of mind. There is no despite that music as immense control, but what affect does a song’s lyrics have over us?
When I walk to class in the morning, the walk can be quite long and I get bored easily. I like to listen to popular hip-hop and rap music. These types of songs are catchy, have good flow and rhythm, and make me feel gangster as I walk to class. However, their lyrics and underlying messages may not be so pleasant. According to a New York Times article called, “Under the Influence of… Music?” by Tara Parker-Pope, teenagers listen to 2.5 hours of music everyday on average. Additionally, one in three popular songs contain references to alcohol or substance abuse. As technology advances, young individuals have access to an increasing amount of media. This includes mp3 players and digital music.
Music is an important part of young culture and deeply connects to adolescents. If I, a 22-year-old college student, feels cool listening to hip-hop songs that includes alcohol on a daily basis, what effects could this have on teenagers still in puberty and growing as an individual? Songs such as Swimming Pools by Kendrick Lamar are exclusively about alcohol. Practically every other line has the word “drank” in it. He also references how he knows many people who “live their life in bottles” as well as his “Grandaddy had a golden flask.” The fact that he has a golden flask makes alcohol seem vital and almost holy. He then goes on to sing about diving into a swimming pool full of liquor.
Other songs emphasize the necessity of alcohol to have fun and be cool. The majority of these music videos feature a man walking to a club with having many bottles around him. He gets all the girls in the club and everyone is having fun. Additionally, the very rappers and artists that create these songs also endorse alcohol brands. According to an article in the Daily Mail by Sara Malm, teens imitate the behavior and actions of their favorite artists. The rapper 50 Cent endorses Hennessey and Bacardi in many of his songs and music videos and entices teens to drink his liquor. Practically every famous hip-hop artist endorses some brand of alcohol. Famous rapper, P. Diddy even owns the brand of Ciroc vodka.
Teens are already drinking alcohol below the legal age limit, but with the popularity of alcohol in modern day songs, underage drinking is more prevalent than ever. However, is this even a significant issue? Many countries in Europe have a legal drinking age much lower compared to the United States. Additionally, with the ease of access of media devices to play music, little can be done to limit young adults from listening to explicit songs.
-by Justin Smick