Should I Let My Child Listen To Rap Music?

At some point, every parent has to decide what type of music their child is allowed to listen to. If you’ve ever listened to rap music, you’re probably aware that the lyrics often include explicit words, references to drugs and sex, and often violence. For this reason, you might be wondering if it’s beneficial for your child to listen to rap.

Rap is not inherently bad. It’s just a kind of music. There are artists that have troubling lyrics but we shouldn’t let that taint the whole genre. There is Christian and educational rap too. Unfortunately, the vast majority of mainstream rap has taken a certain direction that we may not feel comfortable letting our children listen to.

In reality, there are pros and cons to listening to rap music. Labeling a whole genre of music as good or bad is oversimplifying the complexities of music. Obviously, there is rap music that is harmful to your children to listen to. On the other hand, the benefits of listening to rap music are often understated.

Cons of Letting Your Child Listen To Rap Music

Here are some of the negatives related to letting your child listen to rap music.

1. Explicit Lyrics

The vast majority of hip-hop and rap music comes with a litany of explicit words. If you are conscious of how your kids speak and what they are likely to emulate, you might be concerned that they will start to use the language they hear. You might be especially concerned about the racial language used in many rap songs today.

For some families, this is a non-issue because their child has already been taught about these words and their child isn’t overly excited about them or bothered by them. But for children whose parents are vehemently against swearing, rap presents a problem.

2. References to Sex and Drugs

Many rappers have backgrounds that involve using drugs and having sex. For this reason, they write about what they know in their music. This can be disconcerting to parents who are concerned that rap music will send the wrong message to their children.

You might be worried your child will try drugs like his favorite rap icon. You might also be afraid that your teen will attempt to have copious amounts of sex before adulthood. The messages in these songs could be subtle influences on your child.

As an example, here is a very popular rap song from a few years ago that clearly promotes the use of drugs.

Teens are more likely to be interested in trying this drug young rather than waiting till they are a more appropriate age. These drugs can be harmful to their developing minds.

3. References to Violence

Like with sex and drugs, many rappers have backgrounds that involve a lot of violence. Perhaps they were violently harmed or they violently harmed someone else. They may have even gone to jail. You might be worried that your child will believe that violence is okay if they listen to this type of music. You might even be concerned that the music is encouraging this type of behavior.

If you know your child is desperate to listen to rap and you just can’t get past the violence, consider letting your child listen to pre-screened songs that you are okay with or allowing them to listen to reformed rappers that don’t condone violence.

4. Degradation of Women

The degradation of women is a common theme in rap music. Women are often referred to as sexual objects, rather than as a person to be loved and committed to. For some parents, this may not be a major concern, particularly if they have modeled good, loving relationships at home. However, others might be concerned that their child will develop hate, malice, or animus towards women.

Pros of Letting Your Child Listen To Rap Music

Here are some of the pros associated with letting your child listen to rap music

1. Positive Messages About Perseverance and Redemption

Many rappers talk about their personal struggles and where they came from. As a result, they often talk about their hopes and their future, what life looks like with perseverance. These are good messages for our children to hear. We want them to understand that even through adversity we can persevere and prosper. We also want them to see that nobody is irredeemable.

Rappers also commonly talk about getting work in (sometimes referred to as hustling). I’ve heard rap songs that actually gave me a burst of energy to get my work done. I even have a rap gym playlist!

2. Exposure To Other Cultural Experiences

The vast majority of rap music is steeped in Black culture. As a result, listening to rap music alongside your child can equip you to use a teaching moment if the time comes up. Kids are curious and will often ask questions, such as, “why can’t I use that one word?” This is an opportune time to teach your child about civil unrest and the history of their country.

It’s also important to note that a lot of commentary on politics and world views happens in the arena of hip-hop and rap. These genres are complex and give voice to the people that are dissatisfied with their lives for one reason or another.

Additionally, it’s good for children to see that other cultures besides their own exist and thrive. They should see that culture is something to be celebrated. As is diversity and individualism. They should also have the opportunity to see how others view the world around them.

3. Music Appreciation

Rappers need a lot of talent and skill to come up with their rhymes and the themes in their music. The vast majority of people are so focused on how rap contains explicit themes, that they often forget that rap is a genre unto its own that deserves credit and recognition. One of the pros of letting your child listen to rap music is that they will gain a deeper understanding of the different genres of music and experience it more richly.

Should I Let My Child Listen To Rap Music?

Middle Ground to Children Listening to Rap

So you think you might be okay with your child listening to rap, but there’s that one sticking point in the back of your mind. Perhaps it’s the swearing, perhaps it’s the violence. Whatever the sticking point is, you need to feel comfortable with making the decision to allow your child to listen to rap.

Consider your child’s maturity. For example, a child at the age of 17 might be more able to handle the heavier themes than a child at the age of 12. If you believe that your child can handle the themes that rap presents, consider what rappers you are okay with your child listening to.

One option is to pre-screen the music that your child wants to listen to. You can choose songs that embody the ideals that you agree with. Perhaps there are certain hip-hop artists that you feel comfortable with your child listening to all the time, then go ahead and put them on the “Yes” list.

Another option is to offer your child clean or bleeped versions of the music that your child wants to enjoy. This might give you peace of mind while your child can really enjoy a beat that they just can’t get over.

Lastly, you could look for rappers that see themselves as reformed. They offer messages of reformation, redemption, and hope. These types of messages may show your child that even if they head toward the wrong path, it’s never too late to turn around.

Final Thoughts

Rap and Hip-Hop have very controversial followings. It’s hard to decide what is right for your child to listen to. You want the very best for your child, naturally, so it feels like a big decision, determining what they are allowing in their ears, and by extension their brains.

Be wary of music that glorifies violence and encourages things like lust, theft, and murder. Consider screening your children’s music, and as always, be tuned in to what your child is listening to. Only you know your child and can make this decision.