Gangsta Rap: Do You Know What Your Kids Are Listening To?

(Notes from an interview with Saleema Noon on BCTV Global Noon News, July, 2003)

At almost every parent education session I facilitate, someone voices concerns about the music “young people” are listening to these days—and rightfully so. On the other hand, I also meet parents who willingly allow their children to listen to music known as Gangsta Rap, not aware of it’s violent, degrading and sexual nature. I mean, really, how are adults supposed to know that “hit it” means “to engage in violent sexual acts”? Even I have found myself tapping my foot to a song, not even paying attention to what the lyrics are actually saying!

I recently came across a translation of a song by a popular rap artist to standard English. I want to share it with viewers as en example of why their concerns are valid. Here’s an exerpt from the song “One More Chance” by Notorious B.I.G. with the translation below:

SONG:
First things first, I poppa, freaks all the honeys
Dummies – playboy bunnies, those wantin’ money
Those the ones I like ’cause they don’t get nuthan’
But penetration, unless it smells like sanitation

Garbage, I turn like doorknobs
Heart throb, never, black and ugly as ever
However, I stay coochied down to the socks
Rings and watch filled with rocks

TRANSLATION:

As a general rule, I perform deviant sexual acts with women of all kinds,
including but not limited to those with limited intellect, nude magazine
models, and whores. I particularly enjoy sexual encounters with the latter
group as they are generally disappointed in the fact that they only receive
penile intercourse and nothing more, unless of course, they douche on a
consistent basis. Although I am extremely unattractive, I am able to engage

in these types of sexual acts with some regularity. Perhaps my sexuality is
somehow related to my fancy and expensive jewelery.

SONG:
And my jam knock in the Mitsubishi
Girls pee pee when they see me,

Nava-hoes creep me in they tee pee
As I lay down laws like I lay carpet
Stop it – if you think your gonna make a profit

TRANSLATION:
I enjoy playing my music loudly on my car stereo. Apparently, women enjoy

this also because they become sexually aroused when they see me driving.
Oddly enough, when I visit the Native American reservations, some of the
more sexually promiscuous Indian women attempt to seduce me in their homes. Their intent is to divest me of my earnings. Such actions are unacceptable.

So what are parents to do with this?

First, I thought the song would be helpful for parents to familiarize themselves with the type of language used in rap music in order to recognize inappropriate lyrics in other songs. Consider it a vocabulary lesson, just like the E-mail Lingo Dictionary we talked about on this segment a while back!

In addition, I would suggest reading this with your teenager (I can forward the entire song over e-mail). Talk about how the song degrades and devalues women, how it promotes and normalizes violent sexual behaviour, how it contains blatant racism, ……just for starters! Encourage your teen to decide whether he or she would want to support and approve of these messages by listening to this music.

Be prepared for your teen to say “But I don’t listen to the words—I just like the beat.” Fair enough, but now that he or she is aware of the messages the song is sending, an ethical decision has to be made. Just by listening, he or she is giving support. Besides which, a friend of your teen (usually enlighted by an older brother or sister) will not hesitate to share the real meaning of the song at first opportunity.

So there you go…Notorious B.I.G. provides us with a teachable moment!