The Despicable Content in Hip-Hop Music – Making Plato Turn in his Grave
In a city where each individual is able to do as he pleases is a city that will be filled with murder, theft, gluttony, deviance and prejudice. Hip-Hop artists, in their music, constantly incorporate these aspects of life within the content of their lyrics. This content is not only described throughout their songs, but the lifestyle of being able to do such things is constantly being advocated. “F*ck the Police” and “Beat a police out of shape and when I'm finished, bring the yellow tape to tape off the scene of the slaughter” (Rap Genius) are lyrics from the song “F*ck the Police” by the world renown hip hop ...view middle of the document...
The needs are limited and there is no need to surpass them. However, unnatural desires, such as the accumulation of wealth, are unlimited, thus giving people a reason to continue their pursuit of their appetites. (Republic 373d)
Plato calls people with the inability to control their desires “drones” and is the “man who teems with such pleasures and appetites, and who is governed by his unnecessary desires” (Republic 559c) This selfish desire to have unlimited accumulation is often promoted in Hip-Hop music. The lyrics “Yo it's my time to shine, so I'm checking my Rollie. A bet with the Lakers, I bought a necklace off Kobe” (Rap Genius) rapped by “2 Chainz” in his song “Money Machine” refers to how much money he has and how he spends it on unnecessary desires.
Unnecessary desires can be related to the accumulation of wealth. Plato says that by trying to acquire an unlimited amount of wealth one would have to start taking from other people, who can also take from you, thus creating tension. He says that one would have to “cut out a cantle of our neighbor's land if we are to have enough for pasture and ploughing, and they in turn of ours if they too abandon themselves to the unlimited acquisition of wealth, disregarding the limit set by our necessary wants.” (Republic 373d-373e) A way of taking another person’s wealth is by theft.
Stealing others property is a way in which one could acquire more wealth and this is often heard in Hip Hop music. The lyrics “I've been robbing motherf*ckers since the slave ships with the same clip and the same four-five.” (Rap Genius) Written by the Notorious B.I.G in his song “Gimme the Loot” ultimately represents this greed. The inability to control one’s appetite leads to theft and an uncontrollable desire to accumulate wealth. This usually leads to conflict. Plato remarks that ones “unnecessary desires are the ultimate causes of wars.”(Republic 373e) Conflict is undesirable in Plato’s healthy city, however it is constantly being promoted not only through one’s greediness but also through what Plato calls “lawless desires”.
Hip-Hop artists are constantly referring to murder and consuming illicit substances (drugs and alcohol). Plato has already discussed how being unable to control ones desires turns that human into a drone. These desires can be developed into a more dangerous desire, which Plato refers to as “lawless desires”. These are the desires of the “tyrannical” man and pull one towards participating in unlawful activities. Such activities include consumption of illicit substances and murder. Plato writes, “of our unnecessary pleasures and appetites there are some lawless ones, I think, which probably are to be found in us all” (Republic 571b) and that “It does not shrink from attempting to lie with a mother in fancy or with anyone else, man, god or brute. It is ready for any foul deed of blood; it abstains from no food, and, in a word, falls short of no extreme of folly and shamelessness.”...