Are Rappers The Worst Role Models In The World?
Rappers are a lot of things to a lot of people—entertainers, artists, curators, street reporters and storytellers included. But over the course of the last few years, they’ve also added another title to their resumes: Role model.
In a lot of ways, that’s been a good thing. Most rappers weren’t born with silver spoons in their mouths. They didn’t grow up easy. They’ve had to persevere and overcome hardships to get where they’ve gotten to today. They’ve shown that with a little luck and a lot of hard work, anything is possible.
Jay-Z has exchanged text messages with President Obama (at least, he’s said he’s exchanged text messages with Obama—and who are we to argue?) and walked through his old projects with Oprah Winfrey. Diddy has created a multimillion-dollar empire, earned stock in one of the most trendy vodka brands of the moment (Ciroc Obama!) and turned a successful rap career into a pretty successful Hollywood career. And Snoop Dogg has gone from gangster to rap ambassador, repping for the block on Katy Perry‘s huge pop hit “California Girls” this summer and turning himself into a spokesman for a number of different companies.
Using them as examples, rappers sound like great models. But there are others who make rappers look like the worst role models in the world. Soulja Boy, for example, was caught on camera a couple of weeks ago in the same hotel room as infamous hip-hop groupie Kat Stacks and a pile of white powder that looked an awful lot like cocaine. T.I., who proclaimed himself reformed after serving a one-year sentence on gun charges last year, was recently busted for possession of Ecstasy after police pulled him over in Los Angeles. And the self-proclaimed “Best Rapper Alive” Lil Wayne continues to sit behind bars on gun charges with millions of rap fans anticipating his return to the game in November.
But that begs the questions: Is this a situation where a few bad apples are spoiling the whole bunch—or do rappers really make bad role models for kids? The truth is, it’s a little of both. Rappers—or successful rappers, at least—are edgy and do things to get people to notice them. So, by nature, that’s going to include things that aren’t necessarily the right things for kids to hear or see. At the same time, these same rappers are showing kids you can be successful and make something out of yourself, regardless of where you grow up and what you have (or don’t have) while you’re doing it.
Parents have to remember that no matter how good or bad they may be, rappers are going to be considered role models moving forward. As rap music continues to soar to new heights, rappers are going to become even more relevant and more kids are going to turn to them for help shaping themselves. It’s inevitable.
It’s important for parents to show kids the difference between good and bad role models in rap. Even though rappers like Soulja Boy and T.I. are showing the world not all rappers may be cut out to teach the youth, there are plenty of them out there that kids can—and should—look up to. They just need to know where to look.