Walker L. Adams
Mrs. Hurley,Mrs. Stroud
Essential Question:How Do Words and Actions Inspire Change?
Topic:How did rap music create changes to society?
1. What I know
Through the course of the school year we have studied people and events that have
created change. Specifically in Humanities,we studied the Civil Rights Movement. Through
this unit,I found that words and actions inspire change in people by setting a appealing goal for
those involved to reach,by relating to the crowd they are targeting,or boldly stating things that
are considered wrong. Two exceptional individuals that put these techniques to near perfect use,
Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. These two men were both inspirational but in different
During the 50’s and 60’s Martin luther spoke powerfully to large crowds of all racial
backgrounds and he preached a mannerism of non-violence;a sense of equality and peace
between all people. His word brought anguish to the racist oppressors,hope to the oppressed
cultures of the south;one of his most famous speeches is the “I have a dream” speech,it
beautifully and precisely embodied everything that he was striving to create.
Malcolm x was also another powerful speaker,but for a very long time he did not
promote a life of nonviolence. He was very much the antithesis of King. He spoke of equality,
but equality through separation. He was confirmed in his thinking that eventually the white race
would be extinguished and black people that have been diminished would rise up and rule so he
saw no reason to be non-violent.
2. What I Want to Know
I see how this topic can easily correlate to life;through rap music words have inspired
and created change but to understand rap music and the artists behind the music. I have fostered
a great love for music;rap music specifically,and I would love to delve deeper into the effects of
rap music. These are several questions that will lead to my question.
● What are some influential west coast rappers and what type of life do they rap about?
● What are some influential east coast rappers and what styles of life do they rap about?
● How do rapper’s lives influence their music ?
● How does rap music influence today’s culture?
● How has rap music changed from its origin?
3. The research:
3.1 What are some influential West Coast rappers and what type of life do they rap about?
Several extremely prominent artists in the rap industry that preside from the west coast
are:Dr.Dre aka Andre Romelle Young,Kendrick Lamar,Tupac Amaru Shakur,Ice Cube aka
O’Shea Jackson,Snoop Dogg aka Calvin Cordozar Broadus,Jr.,Big Sean aka Sean Michael
Anderson. While researching and listening to a large majority of their music,you can discern
that it is not entirely uncommon for a west coast rapper to have a more
relaxed style of rap talking of the joys of their life,or how they are use their money to
enjoy a better lifestyle than the average person.
“ You make 25 a year I make 25 a night whoa,”(Slight Work). This is a good example of a West
Coast style when Big Sean speaks of making in a night what someone may make in a year. “The
woman,****,and weather,they come for the woman,****,and weather,” (The Recipe). This is
another great example of two LA rappers speaking of how many people wish they could live the
life they live. This all shows a common style of west coast rapping. You will find that primarily,
East coast rapping has a very different feeling to it.
3.2 What are some influential East coast rappers and what particular “style” do they rap
It is not uncommon for a rapper from the East coast to have a more intense style of rap.
The evidence is extremely prominent in several artist such as:T.I.P aka Clifford Joseph Harris,
Jr.,Meek Mill aka Robert Williams,Wale aka Olubowale Victor Akintimehin,Lil Wayne aka
Dwayne Michael Carter,Jr.,Wiz Khalifa aka Cameron Jibril Thomaz. You will find a common
relationship in the way the beats sound and the way the beats for their songs sound. “ I ain’t
with the rappin,cause the loudest n**** in the room is usually the brokest!”(Tats on My Arm)
“I never let you down i’mma shine on sight keep your mind on your grind and off of mine
alright? Hard,i’mma ball on them squares I flow. Quarter-million dollar cars everywhere I
go.” (I’m Back). These both show how the “flow” in a rap of an East coast rapper has a more
intense feeling to it,to understand my comparisons fully you would need to view the songs for
yourselves. (If you are offended by explicit language I do not recommend viewing these songs)
3.3 How do rapper’s lives influence their music?
More often than not a rapper’s life is his inspiration for becoming a rapper. It is very
common for a rapper to be born in raised in poverty,without a father,and watch a mother
struggle to make ends meet,or often a traumatic event such as watching a friend die in a drive by
can influence them greatly. “ Mommy a soldier,daddy is dead,catch the n***a dat did it and we
gon carry his head f****n’ 911,tell em we have em in bed. I’m talking death row records,
tell ‘em have me a chair.”(Tupac Back). Meek Mill was a rapper who was raised in a poverty
stricken area without a father and a mother who struggled to make ends meet. “I was raised by
the stop sign,no religion I was getting saved by the glock 9.”(Ambition). In this verse he speaks
of how through the struggles in his life he resorted to living on the block,you can see how this
influenced his music. Be aware though in today’s music industry a rapper will lie about his past
to earn “cred” therefore they are not able to speak from experience.
3.4 How does rap music influence culture?
“Rap music is very influential and can have positive or negative effects,according to
some experts,” (Killion). I can personally say rap music has influenced me greatly,through the
way I view challenges,dress,and live my life. Although many view rap music as a negative
influence in every way. I believe that is an amazing way to express yourself,it speaks to so many
different people in so many different ways. I has also heavily influenced the way people dress
now,a few examples that have left to the forefront of the clothing industry such as the hat
industry has benefited greatly from the rappers influence.
3.5 How has rap music changed?
Rap music originated in the bronx in the mid 70’s,it was a beautiful way for
children without hope to express themselves and give themselves an opportunity to escape and
create a better life. Time would pass,and rap music progressed and evolved,becoming more
beautiful and expressive,out of this the MC was born. MC was simply a title that rappers would
label themselves with although it is rare for a rapper in today’s society to find an artist labeled
MC it is a general term that has simply faded into the background behind flashy stage names and
flashier pants. Another change some consider progression,I personally consider it re-gression,is
the essence of music today. The music moved away from this beautiful vessel to portray your
emotions and speak out against,racism,violence,poverty,rap moved away from the soul music
that had eloquently giving so many an opportunity for a greater life. They lost sight of,the
reasons rap had become what it was they lost sight of its beautiful true form. “The rappers today
are more concerned with making money than music. Rappers like Soldier Boy,Bow Wow and
Young Jeezy rap about material things. They rap about Louis Vutton bags,money,Jordans and
black credit cards.”(Sellars 1) It began this snowball effect where an artist would put out album
after album after album simply to have music out in the loop,simply just to make money. It is
understood that quantity does not always equal quality. As you would expect the essence of the
music slowly degraded and then drastically dropped with the turn of the century,rap turned from
rapping of the problems of life and connecting with their fans to flaunting their money and
extravagant life styles in everyone’s faces.
4. What I learned.
Rap music has created an abundance of changes in today’s society,some negative,some
positive. Whether they are positive or negative is a question of personal opinion. Rap music has
changed the way we view life in general but overall rap has created subtle changes to everyday
things such as the way many people dress. It is especially prominent in male fashion where the
flat bill hat,camouflage cargo shorts and pants,and high top shoes have made massive leaps
into today’s fashion trends. It has also changed how we speak,you find that slang terms are used
in far more situations than in earlier times before raps expedited rise to the top of mainstream
When I began this essay I thought that words and actions create change by inspiring
people to take actions and create change on their own accord. After I studied the influence of
rappers they are not necessarily concerned with the well being of others they are more concerned
with getting their personal opinion out there for the public interpretation. Rappers always have
been the type to boldly state what they believe it is wrong,be it the simple issues of poverty and
people not getting what they need,or the continued mistreatment of African-Americans. The fact
that these people have struggled and fought for what they want and have gives them that ability
to relate to their audience making their words all the more appealing. Through all these qualities
leaders,be it your favorite rapper or a historical legend such as Martin Luther they use all of this
to perfection to influence the people and world around them.