Rifting on Rap

Tuesday, January 11, 2005 Letter to the Editor – Stockton Record

The Record recently ran an article presenting various local opinions of rap. Some love it, some hate it. Some, who haven’t yet made up their minds, may want to first consider the following information that has to do with how the mind processes information.

Readers might remember learning the alphabet during childhood. It was presented in a sing-song fashion, which was repeated in a way that, hopefully, was fun. Some may remember learning multiplication tables. How? By combining rhythm, repetition, and ideally, reward. Even before going to school, how many people learned nursery rhymes without even trying? In our culture just about everyone who hears, “Jack and Jill went up the hill,” can tell you the purpose of their climb and what happened next.

Why? Because rhythm, repetition and reward — such as praise from a teacher — are components that allow information to become lodged in the part of the mind that is responsible for long term memory — the subconscious. This is also the part of the mind that influences attitude and behavior.

The conscious part of the mind is responsible for sorting information, evaluating it, and deciding whether or not to believe it. The subconscious doesn’t do that. It simply absorbs messages and stores them. Because this memory is outside of the scope of our conscious awareness, it influences us without our even realizing it. This is why hypnosis is such an effective form of behavior modification. It doesn’t make anyone do anything, but scientific studies have proven it does contribute to attitude and behavior — more so with some people than with others, depending upon variables such as receptivity.

When rap music is heard over and over again, listeners often stop paying attention to it. It’s “there” but they are consciously involved in something else, such as driving or conversing or dancing. This allows the message of the music to move unfiltered into the subconscious part of the mind, and lodge there. The rhythm is “hypnotic,” the message is acceptable if it is a part of one’s culture, and the reward? How about just fitting in with peers, feeling accepted and cool? Or a feeling of independence — rebelling against an older generation?

Everyone knows sad music makes us sadder and happy music can lift our spirits. All music is influential, but rap more so than other types because the rhythm is basic and the message repetitious. If the content is negative, actions such as disrespect and abuse can seem not only acceptable, but actually natural and normal, meaning they occur without thought or conscious decision.

The solution is to be aware that by listening to rap a person is choosing to use a tool that helps form his or her character. Performers aren’t interested in building character, they are interested in making money. Listeners need to look out for themselves. Good rap can help someone become better. Bad rap speaks for itself.

Ginny Lucas

Frank Lucas

Evergreen Professional Hypnotherapy