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To use rap music as a means for sparking conversations on contemporary issues such as violence, drug use and abuse, sex, and education.

To use rap music as a means for sparking conversations on contemporary issues such as violence, drug use and abuse, sex, and education.


For many kids who are disillusioned in a strange world with great freedom, rap music has a rage and fury with which they can relate. When being harassed and threatened by other kids in a gang, listening to hard-core or gangsta rap is a means by which to vent anger, isolation, and frustration without actually hurting anyone. On the other hand, this may not be the healthiest way to deal with one’s emotions and may lead to further posturing as a "tough kid." This may lead one into even more trouble with peers, parents, teachers, and the police. These kids need direction and guidance to sort the positive from the negative. Teens are an impressionable group of kids who, especially those in trouble, often have difficulty decoding fantasy from reality.



With one or several kids, listen to some popular rap music. Casually discuss the artists and their songs as the music plays.



Considering the individuals in your group, ask any of the following questions:

  • What is your favorite type of music? What is it about this music that you like so much?
  • Do you listen to rap music? What about rap do you like? Dislike? Why?
  • What kinds of rap do you like/dislike? Why?
  • What is your favorite rap song? Album? Artist?
  • When do you listen to rap?
  • How often do you listen to rap?
  • How many rap albums do you have? What are they?
  • How do your parents feel about the music you listen to?
  • How do your friends feel about the music you listen to?
  • What do most of your friends listen to?
  • How do you feel about rap music? How does it make you feel? What does it mean to you? How do you think the artist feels?
  • Pick your favorite rap song. What is the message in that song? How does that message make you feel? What does it mean to you?
  • What would your youth leader think about this music?
  • What song makes you the happiest? Saddest? Angriest? Why?
  • Is rap too violent?
  • What kind of grades do you get in school?
  • Have you ever been in trouble with the police? Have any of your friends or family?
  • Other information: age, parents, siblings, birthplace, birthdate, ethnic background, etc.


Discuss with kids the fact that rap musicians are role models and rap music offers to them messages. Ask them if those are the types of role models and messages that they should be following. Pursue their responses.



Get together with these kids again—soon—and begin to further discuss their reasons for listening to rap music. Consider meeting with them individually (be sensitive to their various needs). Show them how rap music may positively and negatively affect them. Be open and accepting but also assertive. Respect their appreciation for rap music and the way that the music expresses their own feelings about life. But show them that the messages sent through the music are not necessarily the best words by which to live.




    • Kids idolize rap musicians, just as they do athletes and movie stars. While one should not immediately blame rappers for all of the ills of society, do not overlook the fact that many youth are influenced by the messages and images portrayed by them. It is important for youth workers, particularly in church or parachurch programs, to educate themselves and the parents and kids that they work with on the role of popular culture and its impact on our lives.
    • If rappers and hip hop music can influence popular culture, than we, too, as youth workers, influence music and popular culture. Just as rappers are role models, youth workers are role models. As such, it is vital to teach kids how to digest elements of a popular culture responsibly and knowledgeably.

Abe Chaparian cCYS