Chapter 5: African American English and the communities it influences

5.4.2 Hip hop’s influence on African American youth (prospectus)

Amiri Austin

English 102, October 2020

For my final research essay, I will be continuing from my topic of essay 2 which was how rap or hip hop has helped influence African American youth. In my essay I will be talking about articles that help support my thesis of “Rap music’s significant impact in various ways in African American communities, whether it be through programs used in schools or independent studies on certain songs.”. Music in general has helped change so many lives for the better and has truly become one of the greatest arts for people to express themselves in. Rap music especially has helped many people in tough situations escape their reality and has helped them progress as a person. Rap or Hip-Hop music has also helped influence generations view on certain topics and has helped create opportunities young black kids otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to experience.

I will now tell you how I plan to layout my research paper. I will start with an introduction that leads into my thesis statement about rap music and I’ll try to tie in connecting themes to relate to my readers, but like it was stated in the YouTube video Prof. Townsend put out I think it would be easier to start off by writing a paragraph on my main topic or answering a research question rather than taking too long trying to think of an introduction. I believe I will try to divide my paper by answering research questions and then perhaps talk about why I believe it is such an important topic for today’s climate in the United States and show my readers just how much of a difference Rap music has made and will continue to make in impacting African-American youth around the country. I will start off by truly going into depth about the articles I researched and explain the facts about music helping African American people. After this I will answer questions like “How can music help African American communities?” and “How can rap lyrics be used to promote understanding of young people in the African American community?”. I will do this by explaining the various lyrics that certain artists have said while also trying to maintain somewhat relevant with my choice of songs so that they aren’t outdated. I will also answer questions like “How can counselors use rap lyrics to better understand their clients’ struggles.” I will do this by explaining the techniques that a study found were helpful to relate to clients of color.

My main point I think will be centered around explaining struggles of young people of color and how music has helped and could help find their identities if they’re struggling in school or at home. After all, music has brought many of the top rappers today from rags to riches and I think just understanding someone’s story and seeing where they came from would be inspiring to a lot of people today. Whether it be the prejudice that some of them have faced or just lack of a feeling of fitting in a school environment. In my second essay I explained a little of the background of rap music as well but I think for this one I’ll just stick to studies involving youth and their experience with rap music whether it be from school and a program like Foundation of Music or an experience in their household. I want to be able to paint a picture in my readers minds of just how powerful a 3 minute song can be in someone’s life, whether it be the meaningful lyrics said in the song or the beat and the chorus making someone feel as if they’re on top of the world. I want people to understand that music really is an escape for some people and that it really helps people get through big events in their life. Hip-hop has encouraged many to increase their efforts and maximize their ability in all aspects of life. I’d also like to answer questions like “How rap has helped built a strong culture around the black community.” In one of my new scholarly articles I get another look at how rap music has been used in schools and it leads me to ask questions like “How effective are these literacy practices involving rap music” and “How do African-Americans benefit as a whole from literacy teaching practices involving rap or hip-hop music.” I’ll do this by explaining the studies used in the article titled Literacy development among urban youth. This article will help me provide another example similar to the foundations of music example in which there was a program implemented in a school in an urban community that involved music and bettering kids experience in school. I will than try using one of the paragraph writing techniques like the spatial concept perhaps used to describe an artist tattoos on his body and how they relate to his struggles used in a song. I think the most important part of my research essay will be the explanation of studies used in finding out how rap music is used to help out African American youth and I think I will use paragraph techniques like specific to general or general to specific to answer research questions and just explain the topic to my readers. I will conclude my paper with how I think studies on this topic could be continued and my overall thought on literacy and communication used in rap music and how it impacts African American youth.

Academic fields interested in my topic I think would be primarily those of education, performing arts, and possibly to some extent a healthcare field with the clinical counseling of students of color. Communication and literacy are used in multiple ways in music obviously, but I don’t think people realize how big of an impact they are as to influencing the youth. This year especially there hasn’t been a generation of kids persuaded or convinced more to vote than this group. Voter turnout has long been a bad mark within the African American community whether kids don’t believe that their vote will matter or possibly they just don’t know how to vote. Young adults have been pushed more than ever to make their voice heard this year and to go vote for the change they want to see in the world. I believe that ties in with rap music in African American communities because as you look into studies dissecting lyrics you see artists continually talking about struggles and poverty and these things can change with who’s in office not just as president but especially local elections and I believe the youth in poverty stricken areas don’t know that local elections can really change the way you live and be a huge help to a better upbringing for future youth. Besides voting I believe there are other side topics that could be discussed like how some artists choose to use their platforms to talk about racial injustice or other serious political topics and how some artists just choose to talk about drugs or violence and how different fanbases interact with one another. I’m really interested in finishing out this semester strong with this research paper and I hope my readers will enjoy my topic just as much as I do.


Annotated Bibliography

Brooks, Michael. “Using Rap Music to Better Understand African American Experiences.” Taylor & Francis, 26 Feb. 2020,

Brooks’ article was used to help counselors better understand their clients of color. He explained various techniques and conclusions after studying the lyrics of 10 popular rap songs. He found that the lyrics expressed microaggressions towards fighting social inequality and overall oppression of people of color. This advancement of  understanding the lyrics and usage of certain verbiage in songs helped counselors become more culturally competent and helped them institute encouraging activities and helped bring out locked up stories from clients of color and helped them understand their social identity more and made them feel more wanted even in a world of privilege and oppression.

D’Amico, Francesca. “Welcome to the Terrordome: Race, Power and the Rise of American Rap Music, 1979-1995.” YorkSpace Home, 11 May 2020,

This article is more on the progression of rap and how rap is used in multiple settings and how it has changed African American lives, even though it is briefly discussed. The point of this article is to discuss how rap was and is used as a cry out for help among black artists and how they spread their messages and struggles through their music. This article also shows how rap is everchanging with Black Culture and how it rapidly urbanized and became popular with its audience.

Evans, Jabari. “Connecting Black Youth to Critical Media Literacy through Hip Hop Making in the Music Classroom.” Latest TOC RSS, Intellect, 1 July 2020,

This article was about an organization called Foundation of Music. The Foundations of Music non-profit organization goes to low-income communities to teach their curriculum to students in elementary and middle school. Foundation of Music’s program introduces students to both the process of writing lyrics of a rap song and the technology used to produce rap songs in a classroom setting. Evans recorded things such as different concepts the kids learned each day, reactions from student-to-student and student-to-teacher, along with informal conversations between the students.

Morrell, Ernest. “Toward a Critical Pedagogy of Popular Culture: Literacy Development among Urban Youth.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, vol. 46, no. 1, 2002, pp. 72–77. JSTOR, Accessed 4 Nov. 2020.

The main point of this article is to explain new approaches and new strategies for teaching literacy to the urban youth. They did this by teaching certain portions of literature by involving the urban culture of hip-hop music and television shows. They also connected some popular artists to important figures in history. This article is relevant to my main point because there were multiple examples in this article about rap and hip-hop helping communities and increasing not only the ability to read and write, but also to assess texts in order to understand the relationships between power and domination that underlie those texts.

Richardson, Elaine. “`She Was Workin like Foreal’: Critical Literacy and Discourse Practices of African American Females in the Age of Hip Hop.” Discourse & Society, vol. 18, no. 6, Nov. 2007, pp. 789–809, doi:10.1177/0957926507082197.

The main point of this article is to discuss what teenage African American male and females think about stereotypical representations of black men and women in rap videos. It’s also to point out literature discourse between black women and demonstrate the complex language that exists among youth hip-hop culture. This is a scholarly article and it is relevant to my argument because it will just help me further my topic of the impact rap or hip-hop has on African American youth and their literacy and discourse.


Powell, Catherine Tabb. “Rap Music: An Education with a Beat from the Street.” The Journal of Negro Education, vol. 60, no. 3, 1991, pp. 245–259. Accessed 4 Nov. 2020.


The main point of this article is to explain the uprising of rap and how far it’s come and how it’s changing by the decade along with the issues it combats. This article singles out certain artists and their contributions to rap and also talks about groups of people in rap like women in rap. This is a scholarly article and is relevant to my argument as it discusses the different times of rap and how what it did for certain generations varies, it also brings up a negative side with violence in rap and talks about the different types of rappers.



Wilson, Natalie, “Rap Music as a Positive Influence on Black Youth and American Politics” (2018). Pop Culture Intersections. 21.


The main point of this article is to examine the impact of rap music on Black American youth as well as American politics with an emphasis on police brutality. This is an article that would probably be considered a scholarly article. This article is relevant to my topic because it brings up a different topic on how police brutality affects the African American youth and how it is spoken about in multiple rap songs.



McWhorter, John H., et al. “How Hip-Hop Holds Blacks Back.” City Journal, City Journal, 18 June 2019,

The main point of this article is a counter argument to the good influences rap and hip-hop have had on African American youth and this article does this by writing about an anecdote of a situation that the author witnessed and then relating other points to this anecdote. This is an excerpt from a magazine, and it is by John McWhorter. This article is relevant to my topic because it gives negative side of rap and hip-hop music and how it can influence some teenagers to make bad decisions or have incorrect morals.


Lewis, Steven. “Musical Crossroads: African American Influence on American Music.” Smithsonian Music, Smithsonian, 15 Dec. 2018,

The main point of this article is to give a historical insight on the influence that rap and hip-hop genre has had on African American youth. In this article the Smithsonian does a good job linking sounds and artists to certain times throughout history along with the effect they left on African Americans during this time. This article is relevant to my research paper because it provides another spoke to the wheel in that it will help supplement additional information about rap and hip-hop in my paper.

Crooke Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Music Therapy, Alexander, and Raphael Travis Jr. Associate Professor of Social Work. “The Healing Power of Hip Hop.” The Conversation, 18 May 2019,

The main point of this article is to show the many positive impacts rap and hip-hop music have on the African American youth. The true healing powers that music has on a young teen’s mind are described in this article and help with my argument of how rap and hip-hop have positively influenced African American youth. This is just an article found on a website called the conversation, I don’t think I would consider it a scholarly article.

“Positive Impacts.” Impacts of Rap Music on Youths,

The main point of this article is to explain how rap music has been somewhat wrongly interpreted by some as negatively influencing and how some artists focus on certain undesirable

Topics like drugs or violence. This article is not a scholarly article but has quite a lot of information on effects or the Rap and Hip-Hop genre. This article is relevant to my topic because it talks about rap music in general and explains why it’s so prominent in African American communities and their youth.


Morgan, Marcyliena, and Dionne Bennett. “Hip-Hop & the Global Imprint of a Black Cultural Form.” Daedalus, vol. 140, no. 2, 2011, pp. 176–196. JSTOR, Accessed 5 Nov. 2020.


The main point of this article is to talk about the global imprint of Hip-Hop which is slightly off topic from my thesis, but I really enjoyed this scholarly article and I do believe it will benefit my research paper. This article states that hip-hop is one of the most popular genres’ in America and that it is really becoming the lingua franca for popular and political youth culture around the world. I’m not sure how much I’ll use this article in my research paper but I do think it has some good information that will help get my point across.


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