Document Type

Undergraduate Research

Publication Date

Spring 4-8-2015


Economics, Finance & Banking


As the popularity of rap/hip-hop music has grown (measured by number of hip-hop songs in the top 100 for that year) in the United States of America, we can see a correlation with higher rates of drug usage, repeat criminal offenders, single parent homes, lower average education levels and lower overall community incomes. Then the rates of these factors changing we can see a positive relationship with the change in violent crime rates over time. For this research the time period examined will be the years between 1990-2009. This research will look at crime rates of the United States of America as a whole for one component, and then I will be breaking it down state by state for the years 1999 and 2010. I will use different economic testing methods to see what correlations I can find between the popularity of rap music and US crime rates. Other variables that will be used in my testing are poverty rates, high school graduation rates, drug use, unemployment rates and number of single parent homes.

The hip-hop culture initially emerged in New York City in the 1960’s according to Becky Blanchard in her article Poverty & Prejudice: Media and Race. It was described as a combination of traditionally African American dominated music types such as jazz, soul, gospel and reggae; and because of this it had a major impact on shaping the culture of the working class in New York City throughout the 1970’s. Hip-hop was a way for African Americans to poetically describe the environment around them, while creating a “fun and funky” new art form. Hip-hop also had a faction called rap music that was more based on the themes of reggae, and it focused more on the struggles of the people in their communities and wanted to be the “social voice”. It did not take long for hip-hop to fall into the control of the powerhouse music companies that were owned by upper while class individuals; a few examples are Top-40 charts and MTV. When the small local DJ’s lost their influence in the hip-hop culture, these large upper white class companies started recreating what was once thought to be “hip-hop” in the past. Around this period we saw artists like Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Ice-T and NWA coming out with songs that focus on attacking white racism, challenging the government / authority and encouraging social activism. The change going on throughout the hip-hop community continued all 1980’s, which like in the past affected the African American community, and became what people thought, “Being black” was.

America was now looking at images of rappers in their videos living in low income projects and ghettos, committing crimes and waving around guns like it was normal thing to do. This in return caused the youth of these communities to believe that is what they were supposed to be doing because they saw it on TV, and experienced it in their everyday lives.