8 March 2018

Liberia: Increase in Reference of Marijuana and Abusive Languages Hipco

Photo: Liberian Observer

The reference of drugs (marijuana), as well as the use of abusive languages against women in rap music, has seen a significant rise since the beginning of the Hipco genre in the late 90s in Liberia.

Hipco is a form of rap music that blends Hip-hop beats, samples of street noise and the Liberian 'colloquial language.'

Out of the 100 songs this paper analyzed, 50 were old songs from 2015-2016, with only 10 songs containing explicit references to drug and abusive language against women.

But this stands in stark contrast to 50 new songs analyzed from 2017 and up to present. This is because 40 songs, out of the 50, made huge reference to drugs and abusive remarks against women. They did not carry advisory parental explicit contents and warning on Liberian music distributions websites, which are a major source for Liberian music.

This shows an increase of 80% in rap music that promotes the use of drugs and abusive languages against women, which stood at 20% in 2015-2016, from the music analyzed.

This new trend is actually disturbing because Hipco was known to be a genre that inspired and motivated people, speaking against ills in the society rather than glorifying drugs and using abusive languages against women.

And since many radio and television stations do not censor such music, which would require asking for a version that is free of offensive lyric, such music has now become popular, with parents being unaware of what their children are listening to.

In addition, 40 out of the 50 new songs analyzed from 2017 and up to present portrayed the positive use of marijuana, as a good source of inspiration and sociability, as if it is not a harmful substance and that people should take it. And that the abusive wordings used to objectify women as only good for sex, advocating sexually aggressive behavior towards them.

This kind of lyric, which is popular in Trapco, a sub-genre of Hipco and are made mostly by the new breed of rappers, indicates a shift from the earlier form of rap music and now glorifies the use of a drug and of women as sex tools.

The study uncovered that these rappers use their lyrics to make people believe that it is wholesome to consume drugs; the abusive languages used are not coded like before, making it easier for kids to relate to.

Music is a powerful tool that makes people react, as it has a strong influence on the mind. When young people get exposed to these kinds of music, it associates them with the use of drugs, violence, and sex, as expressed in the song or video

While songs about drugs and usage of offensive language are nothing new, of late it seems to be at an unprecedented high. Meanwhile, during the period of the analysis, the 100 songs lyric listen to were downloaded from Liberian music distribution websites.


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