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I've heard many people say that listening to rap, which may often contain messages of violence, drug use, and particular views toward women, will actually lead to the adoption of such views and behavior. I'll leave out the latter two and just focus on the first claim (violence).

As an example of this at large, take this NY Times article on a club that plays "gansta rap" in Colorado Springs, CO, USA:

After a spate of shootings, and with a rising murder rate, the police here are saying gangsta rap is contributing to the violence, luring gang members and criminal activity to nightclubs. The police publicly condemned the music in a news release after a killing in July and are warning nightclub owners that their places might not be safe if they play gangsta rap.

“We don’t want to broad-brush hip-hop music altogether,” said Lt. Skip Arms, a police spokesman, “but we’re looking at a subcomponent that typically glorifies, promotes criminal behavior and demeans women.”

One could take this two ways:

  • The first paragraph seems to imply that rap attracts individuals who are already violent, and such individuals would be [as] violent even if they'd listened to some other type of music
  • The second paragraph connotes that rap actually leads to an increase in violent behavior, such that without having listened to rap, such an individual would not be [as] violent

For another example, see this eHow article on rap music

The mainstream popularity of West Coast gangsta rap sent hip-hop into another realm, while at the same time pigeonholing the genre as entirely too aggressive. There is much debate to be had as to the merits of such lyricism and the effect it has on youths...

The question is being debated and discussed in forums like this one and this one, which is another reason I think the question is pertinent.

Is there available evidence to support or deny the claim that rap music leads to an increased tendency toward violent behavior?


As a bonus question, I would be interested in anything along the way that discusses the perhaps related claims about drugs and attitudes toward/treatment of women, but maybe that should be a separate question or this one should be modified to cover all three potential negative impacts of rap music.

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    almost matches "Can music incite murder?": skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/1729/… – Paul Aug 10 '11 at 3:37
  • @Paul: wow! Thanks for that. I didn't see that in my search for related or matching topics. I added that to the related section. – Hendy Aug 10 '11 at 4:29
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    Since I cannot stand rap music, it makes me aggressive. But then, I listen to some weird genres of metal which make other people aggressive – Lagerbaer Aug 10 '11 at 5:14
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    This line of thinking is nothing new; Wikipedia quotes "a destructive dissonance", "put the sin in syncopation" and "an unmitigated cacophony, a species of music invented by demons for the torture of imbeciles" about jazz in the 1920s. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1920s_in_jazz – Maximus Minimus Jun 4 '14 at 21:30
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    I question the fundamental assumption of this question: it assumes that "rap" is a type of music. – Mark Oct 24 '15 at 0:15
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We can find a definitive connection between violence and exposure to media violence.

Longitudinal Relations Between Children’s Exposure to TV Violence and Their Aggressive and Violent Behavior in Young Adulthood: 1977–1992

TV-violence viewing at ages 6 to 10 and adult aggressive behavior about 15 years later for a sample growing up in the 1970s and 1980s. Follow-up archival data ( N 450) and interview data ( N 329) reveal that childhood exposure to media violence predicts young adult aggressive behavior for both males and females. Identification with aggressive TV characters and perceived realism of TV violence also predict later aggression. These relations persist even when the effects of socioeconomic status, intellectual ability, and a variety of parenting factors are controlled.

Media Violence Use and Aggression Among German Adolescents: Associations and Trajectories of Change in a Three-Wave Longitudinal Study

Longitudinal studies from the United States have found significant pathways from media violence use to aggression over time across a range of media, including movies, TV, video games, music, and comic books (see meta- analyses by Anderson et al., 2010, for video games, and by Bushman & Huesmann, 2006

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    At first glance, the "definitive connection" seems to be correlation. Is there evidence of causation here? – Oddthinking Jun 5 '14 at 5:20

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