Exposure to rap music influences African Americans’ attitudes about Black feminism, study finds

New research suggests that rap music can influence how African Americans’ view Black feminism. But the type of rap music matters.

The study found that Black people who listened to political rap music were significantly more accepting of Black feminist attitudes than those who listened to non-political rap music.

“All rap music is not the same and it impacts individuals differently. Additionally, this article also demonstrates that rap music as a source of infotainment, impacts attitudes,” the researchers from Georgia State University and Purdue University wrote in their study, which was published in New Political Science.

The researchers defined political rap “as music that provides political information by detailing political strategies, injustices, and grievances, and most importantly containing a political reference, such as directly or implicitly referencing a political leader, office/institution, activity, or opposition.”

Non-political rap, on the other hand, referred to mainstream rap music that did not contain any explicit political messages.

In the study, 175 African-American participants were randomly assigned to listen to political rap songs, non-political rap songs, rhythm and blues, or pop music — or to read an article about technological advances. Immediately afterward, the participants completed a survey designed to measure Black feminist attitudes.

The political rap songs used in the experiment were “Georgia…Bush” by Lil Wayne, “Police State” by Dead Prez, and “Us” by Ice Cube. The non-political rap songs were “Walk it Out” by DJ Unk, “In Da Club” by 50 Cent, and “Gin and Juice” by Snoop Dogg.

The researchers found that those exposed to the non-political rap music were the least likely to agree with statements such as “Black women have suffered from both sexism within the Black movement and racism within the women’s movement” and “Black women should share equally in the political leadership of the Black community.” This negative association was stronger among men than women.

Participants who listened to rhythm and blues were the most supportive of Black feminist attitudes, while those who listened to political rap followed closely behind.

“Rap music has been characterized as a misogynistic musical genre, yet this study demonstrates that not all subgenres of rap music are consistently harmful to Black feminist ideology and attitudes toward women,” the authors of the study wrote.

“Rather than evaluating rap music as a homogenous genre, this study presented how political and non-political rap leads to the acceptance of differing views of Black women,” they wrote.

The study, “Do the Ladies Run This Mutha? The Relationship between Political Rap and Black Feminist Attitudes“, was authored by Lakeyta M. Bonnette-Bailey and Nadia E. Brown.