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Hip Hop

Understanding Hip Hop

By Mandisa Gordon
Does hip hop music promote violence? Or is it misunderstood? Listen to our debate with some of Birmingham's key players on the hip hop scene.

We've all heard that hip hop causes violence, but is this true?

To add to this common perception was the recent incident at the Kanye West concert.

Two stewards at the NEC gig were shot trying to control a group of people without tickets.

Hip Hop panel
Hip Hop panel

For those familiar with Kanye's music; you would know his lyrics do not promote or advocate violence. In his track 'Diamonds' he highlights the blood-diamond trade of Sierra Leone, which has claimed the lives of millions of Africans.

There's not a hint of 'gansta' in the music of this multi-million selling, multi-Grammy winning artist, so is it fair he gets dogged by violence?

The Saturday night show presented by Robert Beckford explored hip hop with a guest panel on BBC WM.


One of the issues discussed, was whether some hip hop lyrics caused people to act violently; read the panels response below:

audio Hip Hop Debate - Part One >
audio Hip Hop Debate - Part Two >
audio Hip Hop Debate - Part Three >
Audio and Video links on this page require Realplayer

Ebu/Blackitude – Producer of Shadowless, Birmingham based Hip Hop group

"It's not so much the lyrics that influence people it's the sensationalism. The media in this country is mostly interested in sensationalism.


"Hip hop is a culture that encompasses a lot of different things, but the media is only interested in the sensationalist part, which focuses on the negative things.

"There are lots of different types of hip hop, there's gospel, sad, happy and violent hip hop. The media are only interested in the violent part, and think that's the only part that exists".

Miss C Brown – Local Hip Hop DJ

"I can't say I've been personally influenced by lyrics, but it's down to the individual really, and how you interpret and take it on board, and what you do with it.

Miss C Brown
Miss C Brown

"There's a level of responsibility with every person to know that it is just music, and to know your own mind, know your own head, and not be influenced by it.

"Going back to the Kanye West incident, I don't think it had anything to do with him. It's just the fact that it's a concert, people wanted to get in, they couldn't get in; and they treated it like it was a venue in the ghetto basically, where they could get away with doing that.

"It's only because it was the NEC and Kanye West that such a big noise is being made about it; otherwise you wouldn't have heard about it".

Michael Davis-Bingham – regular contributor

Michael Davies-Bingham
Michael Davies-Bingham

"How many guys are incarcerated on some kind of crime or another, hip hop related crime or another? It's ridiculous. It's one thing to say you live a life, and you can actually separate your life from the music.

"But too many of these guys are actually integrating the music in their lives, and living that life still; bringing that across to us, and then making our young people go out thinking: 'this is the life we should live, we should be angry black men and we should be doing this'. The people who are actually making hip hop and promoting it this way, don't live in our communities".

Blaq–I – local rapper


"Hip Hop is a very big part of my life, music on a whole is a very big part of my life. Music is all about a vibe, so maybe if there is a violent vibe in a particular song it may cause people to get aggressive. Some people may then take the lyrics literally.

"But at the same time hip hop like so many other types of music and touches on various subjects. I am a rapper, but not a gansta rapper".




I was born and raised in Birmingham, and take a personal interest in the everyday lives of local people.  I want to hear your stories, your views.


If you would like me to highlight your concerns, joy, pain, whatever...
Just give me a call or an email.

Contact Details:

Email: Mandisa.gordon@bbc.co.uk

Mobile: 07866 684 506

Post: BBC WM, The Mailbox, Birmingham B1 1RF

last updated: 09/03/06
Have Your Say
Are you a Hip Hop fan? Do you agree with the panel? Leave your comments below...
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The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

i think hip hop does influence some young people, because they look up to this stars and when they see them on tv beeing arested for some crime. they think oh if he is doing it, why should'nt i? but most young people choose to commit this crimes on their own, or influenced by their friends around them.

Some people say that hip-hop is wrong for us young people because most of it talks about gansta stuff, thugs, sex, etc. I am just wondering if we can change the lyrics because the young people think that it is cool, but I don't. Is there a way?

yer i luv hip hop i grew up wid it coz i lived in the bronx so yer i rekon it iz 1 ov da main contributing factors for violence I KNOW!! lol eniway believe watcha wanna

i want to say something else i love hip hop, but is being used as sexual thing why is that?

Hip hop is over rated. It has been played to much. Totally.

i am a fan of hip-hop but i agree that nowadays the music that is bein played is brass and 2 many ex-hip-hop fans are turnin emo

Hip Hop Is Dead. The Hip Hop you hear on choice fm stations are full of garbage. Thats why so many people are turning to 'The Libertines' for the real shizz.

Forgive me as I play devil's advocate for a moment. If music(rather hip hop or any other kind) does not influence listeners in some way, than why do so many of us play music to get us in the mood or to change/alter the mood. On the other hand, each of us have been given free will. We have the power to choose our actions, and with that comes the responsibilty of accepting the consequences that follow. I am a fan of hip hop, when the artist is being real and has a positive message for listeners. Thanks and God Bless!

Zaira Malik
Please coulud you e-mail me your views as to whether you think rappers influence the youth culture today.E-mail at this add:princess_za@hotmail.co. uk thanks

Hip hop CANNOT be blamed for individual acts of violence! Social and political world issues cause much more unrest. The amount of wars in the name of 'religion' 'politics' & 'race' - FAR outstrip that (supposedly) caused by rap music. Billions of pounds and dollars were spent on the war in Iraq - which killed lots of innocent people. So, to blame rap for violence would be to say that inner city's dwellers manufacturer the guns and drugs that exist there! The media and the government AND the 'hidden' powers in the world are brain washing people into believing the wrong things are the source of the worlds problem(s). Crazy!!

i really dont think that hip-hop or rap influences violence....music doesnt kill people, people kill people...thats what gangsta rap is for that kind of music influences violence...but what do i know im white..in a urban nabor hood...so holla at me

There is nothing happening in Birmingham for black people. This is part of the problem, but whose doing anything about it?

Mandisa research this, there are no venues supporting Hip Hop that attracts a Black crowd in Birmingham. Whys this?

I am not a great fan of hip hop music generally. However after listending to Kanye West i feel that it has a lot to offer in terms of key messages of peace, respect, culture and more importantly black culture. Any music should have a responsibility to highlight injustice and challenge misconceived steroe types. All rpa music isnt gansta music and the media should provide a fair reflection.

It's not so much a hip hop thing with mans trying to rush the door, that's just a BC ting. Certain people feel they don't need to pay to go in any dance, event, whatever. Bad man is Bad man all day. Ain't really anything to do with the music. They were probably trying to impress their girl on how powerful they are.

People don't understand Hip Hop, they just think it's all negative...if that concert wasn't at the NEC, we wouldn't have heard anything,Miss C Brown's right.

As for hip hop i think that there are other types of black music that help to assist the violence associated with hip hop . For example , bashment from ja portraying the negaitive aspects of life . Endorsing Killing or stealing to make a living to survive. Selling drugs to have a bling lifestyle, degrading women.

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