Drake singing into the mic

Rap Influence in Pop Culture

By Isaac Muñoz
Rap Journalist

Undoubtedly, the rap genre has grown from something that only influences neighborhoods where popular rappers were from to where a rappers influence has control over neighborhoods across the world. Rap influences people of all ages, race, and gender across the globe. The genre’s impact on pop culture has clearly influenced fashion, ideals, and trends that the masses gravitate to because of rappers recognition.

Rap and the fashion industry have a long history of clashing and working together. This is seen early on in hip hop industry where rappers such as Run DMC would wear Adidas, thus promoting the brand and making it popular to wear. Fast forward and rappers such Jaden Smith, Young Thug, and more notably Kanye West have stepped into taking fashion just as serious as their rap career. Jaden Smith made headlines when he posed for Nylon in a skirt (breaking the mold of having men and women wearing gender specific clothing). Young Thug has taken the role of a fashion icon by going to a fashion show and stopping one of the models and adjusting his clothing before letting him continue his walk. He even told HYPEBEAST that he “wakes up and breathes” fashion. Kanye West started a whole fashion line that has changed fashion in pop culture, especially amongst the youth. He made torn up shirts and shirts with holes the must have items if you want to be recognized as a high-fashion person.

Kanye West holding up his hands making a triangle shape to the crowd during his performance
Kanye West performing at the Bridgestone Arena. Photo by Heather Byrd via Flicker.

Different ideals on how to live a life and what ideals you need to believe in have been shaped by what rap promotes to its listeners. Some of the messages are good like spreading peace, love, and positivity – like Logic. However,  sometimes the messages are bad like Lil Pumps “Drug Addict” where he talks about how he and his friends do drugs. Unfortunately, Lil Pumps music, and music like his, are finding their way into the phones of our generation, as well as the younger ones too. There is already an opioid problem in the U.S. and the message of being a drug addict is making its impression on the already easily impressionable youth. But rappers, like Logic tackle topics such as mental illness, or Lil Xan, who, ironically enough, has been spreading the message to say no to Xanax. These are some of the rappers who are giving their listeners a positive role model to look up to. Other rappers such as G-Eazy, Nicki Minaj, or The Game are examples of rappers who have donated money or taken action for a worthy cause. G-Eazy has taken his stance on the topic of immigration by promoting the organization that helps the children who have been separated from their families at the border get back together. Nicki Minaj has started to give back to her fans by paying off their college tuition and helping them get through school as long as they prove they are in school. The Game has donated money to the people of Flint, Michigan who are still living without access to clean. These rappers are giving back to the communities to help support them and their good deeds aren’t unnoticed.

This genre is also the inspiration of many trends that happen in, as well as out, of music. From the way we dance to the way some of the up-and-coming rappers are actually making music, rappers have more influence on what is trending than they might realize. The “In My Feelings” challenge is a trend that has been inspired from the most recent Drake song, and the challenge with the song has taken over social media. People are playing the song and while the radio in their car is playing the song, the people are getting out and dancing to it. This isn’t the first time something like this has happened. One of the first songs that started a modern trend for the masses was the “Shmoney dance” that was inspired by Bobby Shmurda in his “Hot N****” music video. Other trends, such as mumble rap has taken over by having up-and-coming rappers mumbling all over websites like Soundcloud. Another trend that has been noticeable is where every other rapper coming out has a “Lil” in front of their name.

The trends are always changing and if someone wants to be ahead of a trend (or on time with one), paying attention to what is going on in the rap industry is the way to do it. Rappers have influential power to change society in similar ways that a politician, fashion icon, or activist can. The messages spread, positive or negative, are important because those messages are the things that will resonate with the listener. Our society openly and obviously let’s ourself gets shaped by what is happening in popular culture, which is also shaped by music geners such as rap. Hopefully, the rappers and other musicians with influential power truly know how much power they have over society and how they affect it.

Featured image by Anton Mark via Flickr.

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