On social issues, Rappers taking over airwaves


Shlok Gore, Science and Health Editor

Rap is the new rock. When our parents were teens, the rock music of the ‘80s was the soundtrack of the rebellious, law-defying youth. However, for our generation, rap has taken its role.

The culture of the ‘70s and ‘80s was one of rebellion and self-discovery, which was reflected in the music of the time.  Popular rock bands such as Queen preached about the importance of finding yourself, while bands like Def Leppard sported a more spunky tone.

The lasting impact of rock culture from these decades was reflected, and became incredibly influential,  on the youth of the time, exhibiting itself in both fashion and culture. This music gave rise to differing attitudes of the government and a more radical view of society as a whole.  

English teacher Tobie Schweizer, a current member of a classic rock cover band, describes how people took inspiration from the music of the time.

“I think that the effect of music on kids in the ‘80s was to be yourself and to rebel against authority”, she said.

This time period as rock was on top of the charts and rap was growing in popularity, was also interesting musically. Aerosmith and Run DMC’s collab in the “Rock This Way” music video display how rap and rock could work together in one message.Going strong initially, this vibe continued through the late ‘80s, but as the wave of rock started to fade away, the rebellious, “stick it to the man” spirit faded with it.

As the “new wave” and DIY rock of the ‘80s began to die down, the sentiments of the ‘80s punk fell out of fashion. Hip hop though, more specifically rap music, rose from the grime of the Bronx and other urban cities to fulfill this niche.

In the ‘90s, rap became the sub-genre to challenge the government and society as it rose in popularity, giving birth to legends such as Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Similar to the effect that rock music had on the masses, rap began to transform the atmosphere of American culture, as people began to gravitate towards its popular figures.

The hip-hop wave continued into the beginning of the 21st century. Entering into the 2000s and 2010s, not only did rap music gain more ground in politics, but its artists continued to break social norms with music and fashion as well as continue advocating for issues as their predecessors, the rockers, had done.  

As they did with the rock of the ‘80s, people of today look towards popular musicians, now rappers, for not only fashion and culture, but political and radical messages.  Schweizer drew an similarity between the actions of Kanye West and the rockers of the ‘70s. West, one of the most influential figures in the game is a vehement social activist. “I feel like that’s harkening back to the 70s time period where you actually had something to say about society,” Schweizer says. West utilizes Twitter as a conduit of sharing his opinion about political issues, comparable to what the rockers of the the late ‘70s and early ‘80s had done to turn the public against the Vietnam War.  

Rappers also influence fashion just as rockers once did.  Teens of the ‘80s started to dress after popular bands such as Kiss, wearing choker necklaces and other body ornaments.  Nowadays, rappers such as Soulja Boy and Lil Pump glamorize designer brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton, and the youth is fast in their footsteps, spending inordinate amounts of money to acquire the drip.

This trend seems to be a constant no matter the year, as big figures from this industry indeed influence the youth of the generation while standing up for what they believe in.