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Hip Hop Music and Censorship - Essay Example

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Outside governments, organizations such as the Parents' Music Research Center3 actively campaign for censorship as a necessary defense against the corruption of young minds.4
From the early days of the Inquisition wherein large volumes of books and other literature labeled as sacrilegious or scandalous were ripped into shreds before being thrown into large flaming pyres, till today's current practice of censorship cuts on mass-produced films and broadcast programs, artistic work has consistently come under the magnifying glass and scrutiny of regulating bodies bent on filtering the content of mass media which reach the common population. Although condemned heretics and witches are no longer being burned at the stake today, modern society and its art communities still have their own share of Priscillians5 and Galileo Galileis6 being marched to the gallows every single day. Everyday, producers and artists bear what some may conceive as a witch hunt against what is deemed as offensive content by regulatory bodies in media and mass communication. Among the many sectors which have been actively scrutinized by such regulatory bodies, the Hip Hop music industry is of particular interest as it has come against constant attack and attention for its alleged sensationalization and glorification of gang violence, crime and sexism7. In the United States, for example, several debates have been spurred regarding state surveillance targeted at the Hip Hop music industry which has spilled over beyond basic censorship of song lyrics and video images to actual scrutiny and investigation of the personal behavior and activities of Hip Hop and Rap artists in their everyday lives.8

The growing stigma against the Hip Hop music industry's prevalent and constant use of violent and sexually-explicit lyrics in its songs has weighed heavily upon the said music sector, provoking not only reformatory mechanisms from major record labels interested in maintaining the support of the purchasing public but also the polarization among those who find such mechanisms necessary and rational as opposed to those who find them too restrictive and pointless. Hip Hop and Rap artists, their managers, and their record labels have been scrambling all over themselves to pacify the accusatory ire of both the government and non-government organizations bent at stripping Hip Hop music of its rabid teeth9.

Of the many Hip Hop and Rap performers that are now working to improve and soften their image to the now-scrutinizing public, Marshall Mathers otherwise more popularly known by the stage name Eminem has come to the forefront of Rap artists being severely criticized for their continued use of inappropriate and provocative lyrics. The "hate speech"10 that has come to be associated with Mathers in his rabid songs has propelled him to the centerstage of this growing battle between artistic license, freedom of speech and censorship. His position becomes more significant considering not only the provocativeness of his lyrics but also by the fact that his albums sell to both the buying public and the music award boards.11 Not only did his album, "The Marshall Mathers LP," sell beyond 8 million copies in the year 2000 alone, but the same album also garnered several nominations and awards in the 2001 ...Show more
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The notion of censorship has always been warily approached with differing emotions. Whereas many regard censorship as a form of curtailment against individual liberty and freedom of speech, there are also some who would argue for censorship as a necessary mechanism for the protection of civil society and public order…
Hip Hop Music and Censorship
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