July 15th, 2007
05:09 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama: Hip hop has role to play in youth violence problem

Obama addressed youth violence on Sunday in Chicago

(CNN)–Senator Barack Obama says the hip hop community has a role to play in stemming youth violence. "I don't think that the hip hop community is responsible for youth violence, but I think they haven't fully stepped up to the responsibilities to change the attitudes among youth."

Obama made the comments on Sunday to local reporters in Chicago.

"I think that the hip hop community musicians have such sway over our young people. That's where so much of their information is received." the Democratic presidential candidate said. "There's enormous potential for a positive message to be transmitted. There are a whole series of messages that could be sent to our young people and these rap artists, and hip hop artists they're creative enough that they can communicate that message in a way that will appeal to young people, so we just have to tap that creativity."

Earlier in the day, Obama addressed a church audience on Chicago's south side regarding the issue of youth violence.

He also planned to address a forum sponsored by the American Association for Justice, a trial lawyer's group, also in Chicago. Sens. Hillary Clinton, Joseph Biden, along with New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, and John Edwards were also scheduled to address the group on Sunday as well.

– CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Race to '08
soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Paul, Margate, FL

    He is absolutely right. But a more positive message would be if the politicians (leaders?) got it right.

    July 15, 2007 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Will - Miami, Fl

    He's right about one thing: "(hip hop)is where so much of their information is received.”

    Yea, the public school system doesn't provide much information these days thanks in large part to the teachers union and liberal jerks being in control of the educational system.

    Oh, did I forget to mention that a complete breakdown of family values that can be attributed to welfare, abortion, a weak judicial system, and a culture of tolerance are actually to blame for the violence AND the hip-hop garbage that was not only born of the culture but also serves to perpetuate it.

    July 15, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  3. Josh, Pittsburgh PA

    Yes Hip-Hop is a big problem.

    But government corruption, abortion, illegal aliens, pre-emptive war, and outsourcing are bigger problems

    July 15, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  4. Brad, Memphis, TN

    He's denying reality if he thinks that hip hop/rap is not part of the problem. Bill Cosby is right on the money with what is wrong in the black community, but he gets shouted down any time he brings it up.

    You can't fix a problem until you admit you've got a problem.

    July 15, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  5. Jesse, New York, ny

    Hip hop is just a subculture. Saying it is the cause of society's ills is like saying the same thing about any other brand of music and would be just as ridiculous as saying that listening to classical music causes peace, intelligence and tranquility. I'm sure much violence throughout history was done to that soundtrack. Lack of good educational and employment opportunities are the problem with this country. Kids of all races (and tastes in music) get in trouble when they have no hope for a prosperous future. I am a proud hip-hop fan who works for a well known non-profit and is working on a graduate degree part-time. And I'm from a single mother. Fortunately, she moved me to a community where the schools were good and paid for me to attend private high school and helped me to attend a private university. Get over the anti-hip hop bias. Your kids are buying it, you should try to understand why.

    July 15, 2007 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    Of course rap is not a cause but a symptom of the urban matriarchal subculture, in which education and personal responsibility are dissed as "acting white". Until that changes, anything said by the candidates, the producers and the rappers is wasted breath. And I see no hope of it changing anytime soon.

    July 15, 2007 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. Ashen Shard, Chambersburg, PA

    Posted By Will – Miami, Fl : July 15, 2007 5:56 pm

    None of what you mention is actually the problem or even a symptom of the problem, only a blinder provided by the conservative elite which you seem to wear proudly. If you are pointing to the teachers as being liberal and thus running the system, well yes one would expect such since education is a liberal act and to be well educated, typically, is to be liberal. Our society would be in far worse shape if not for unions protecting the already low pay of teachers. The work they do is by far the most important for our society, and they get very little compensation for such.

    As for Obamas' criticism of Hip Hop, I like him but he is being stupid in this instance since hip-hop is no more to blame for the ills of society than Metal was in the 80's, and Rock in the 50's. I do not like hip-hop myself, but that doesn't give me the right to go and blame it for the ills of society. People complain about the lyrics, but the lyrics reflect the problems in our society. Squelching the subject matter of hip-hop won't do anything to solve the problem, only make it less visible to those of us who don't want to actually deal with the problems. Instead we should look at the subject matter of these songs and try and address the problems of our society which they address.

    July 15, 2007 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  8. Kyle, Columbia SC

    Brad honestly, are you white or black? I ask that because Im an African American male, college educated and work for a top Fortune 50 company as an IT Analyst and I LOVE HIP HOP!!! Barack is right on point hip hop is very influential to youths growing up such as myself in the low (very) tax bracket but I loved hip hop for the creativity it gave me in thinking or whatever lyrical content and the ability to just make me happy/dance/hype before a game. Our hip hop artist(s) can play a vital role in the transformation of our youth the only question is "Do they want to accept that role?" Its easy to rap reality but hard to sale a dream....

    July 15, 2007 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  9. cliff Jones, honolulu hi

    I guess he has enough money. Now that he has blasted hip-hop, the cash flow will slow to a trickle. He might have spaded his golden goose. Lets face it,the only ones that are responsible for violence is the ones that do the violence regardless of excuses.

    July 15, 2007 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. Nick, Cornwall, New York

    Nothing like avioding the whole idea behind the music video's that are promoting politicans. When I first saw the music video it reminded me of a bad B-flick. Than I saw all three. I literally felt sick. There are other ways to generate votes from our youth. What about hearing the politicans voices singing about what they are passionate about, in normal clothes raising money for what they believe in? That is a strong message! The news implied that this was a new fad, done by people not promoted by politicans. So, Ok maybe it was, but I will never forget thinking "OH NO" that is a mistake. My first impressions were feeling sick and NO, thinking Im embarassed for them.

    July 16, 2007 01:25 am at 1:25 am |
  11. Tom, Chicago IL

    Yet another attempt by a politician to distract voters from the real issues such as Iraq, the national debt, health care, taxes and the list goes on. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

    July 16, 2007 04:55 am at 4:55 am |
  12. Brad, Memphis, TN

    Watch the television shows and the movies about "street" culture. Listen to the anger and the disregard for conventional society that comes from rap music. Pay attention to how they degrade women and revel in "popping caps" on people they don't agree with. Then look at how even white kids try to emulate what they see and hear. You can't honestly think that this genre is not PART of the reason that kids are carrying guns and killing each other other like never before. It's not THE cause, but a cause. Most of the problems in our youth stem from poor parenting. But rap/hip hop does not help at this point.

    July 16, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Ashen Shard, Chambersburg, PA ... "hip-hop is no more to blame for the ills of society than Metal was in the 80’s"?

    Are you really THAt out of touch? Did you grow up in the 80s listening to metal?

    I did. Did metal groups sing songs about kiling cops? Did metal galmorize a "thug/gangsta" lifestyle?

    Now try again, and hopefully you'll do better, on your next post!

    July 16, 2007 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  14. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Tom, Chicago IL ... "Yet another attempt by a politician to distract voters from the real issues such as Iraq, the national debt, health care, taxes and the list goes on."?

    This IS part of the list you mention that "goes on" since it IS a "real issue" to many black Americans.

    July 16, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Dumb in VA

    I'm not sure I understand...Hip Hop can be a vehicle for good if it has a positive message, but it can't be a vehicle for bad if it has a negative message?

    July 16, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  16. DJ, Los Angeles

    Yes he has it right. Musicians pushing violence in their lyrics and music videos have no question been a negative influence our our society.

    Basically this has led to the glorification of street thugs so much as to cause kids to think it is cool to
    be a thug.

    Though this goes far beyond "hip hop"...it carrys over into our whole society: movies, television, video games, and other genres of music.

    July 16, 2007 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  17. Bill Le Roy Illinois

    So where is the separation between church and state when politicians campaign in religious settings?

    July 17, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  18. Tom, Chicago IL

    Well Rick from Chicago, if you think the government should care about what music you listen to and want to control personal aspects of your life then go ahead and vote obama. I personally do not think that music lyrics are important (considering the whole free speech thing) and Obama should focus on REAL issues. You think the guys getting blown up in Iraq give a flip about rap lyrics? Wake up!

    July 17, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    By the way Rick from Chicago, Rock in the 80's promoted sex and drugs, anti establishment behavior, anarchy etc. But I guess those are O.K in your book? But if rap talks about violence you want to jump all over it. If this is stuff you want to debate then fine. But my point is that Obama is not the guy who should be, since he instead should be talking about (once again) REAL issues!

    July 17, 2007 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  20. Rick, Chicago Illinois

    Tom, Chicago IL ... "Obama should focus on REAL issues. You think the guys getting blown up in Iraq give a flip about rap lyrics?"

    YOU don't get to decide for others what THEIR real issues are. You're not that important.

    Now wake yourself up!

    Anonymous ... is English your second language? "Rock in the 80’s promoted sex and drugs, anti establishment behavior, anarchy etc. But I guess those are O.K in your book?"

    1) I never said 80's rock didn't promote "sex and drugs and some anti establishment behavior".

    2) Nor did I say those were "OK in my book'. Don't accuse me of things I didn't say. It makes you look weak.

    Now go back and re-read my post. I stated the glamorizing of the "thug" lifestyle and the resulting violence as a problem (in BLACK communities).

    3) Was metal music contributing to violence in black communities in the 80s?

    Answer: No. HORRIBLE comparison.

    4) As for promoting "anarchy etc", name some metal artists who did! Did a high percentage of them do so? Or just a select few?

    Answer: a select few

    “But my point is that Obama is not the guy who should be, since he instead should be talking about (once again) REAL issues!”

    Again, YOU don't get to decide for others what THEIR real issues are. You're not that important.

    July 18, 2007 01:26 am at 1:26 am |