Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance

Listening to Rap: Cultures of Crime, Cultures of Resistance Julian Tanner, University of Toronto Mark Asbridge, Dalhousie University Scot Wortley, University of Toronto This research compares representations of rap music with the self-reported criminal behavior and resistant artirudes of the music’s core audience. Our database is a large sample of Toronro high school studenrs (n = 3,393) from which we identify a group of listeners, whose combination of musical likes and dislikes distinguish them as rap univores.

We then examine the relationship between their cultural preference for rap music and involvement in a culture of crime and their perceptions of social injustice and inequity. We find thar the rap univores, also known as urban music enthusiasts, report significantly more delinquent behavior and stronger feelings of inequity and injustice than listeners with other musical tastes. However, we also find thar the nature and strengths of those relationships vary according to rhe racial identity of different groups within urban music enthusiasts.

Black and white subgroups align themselves with resistance representations while Asians do not; whites and Asians report significant involvement in crime and delinquency, while blacks do not. Finally, we discuss our findings in light of research on media effects and audience reception, youth subcultures and post-subcultural analysis, and the sociology of cultural consumption. Thinking About Rap The emergence and spectacular growth of rap is probably the most important development in popular music since the rise of rock ‘n’ roll in the late 1940s.

Radio airplay, music video programming and sales figures are obvious testimonies to its popularity and commercial success. This was made particularly evident in October 2003 when, according to the recording industry bible Billboard mzgnzme, all top 10 acts in the United States were rap or hip-hop artists;’ and again in 2006, when the Academy award for Best Song went to It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp, a rap song by the group Husde & Flow. Such developments may also signal rap’s increasing social acceptance and cultural legitimization (Baumann 2007). However, its reputation and status in the musical field has, hitherto, been a controversial one.

Like new music before it (jazz, rock ‘n’ roll), rap has been critically reviewed as a corrosive influence on young and impressionable listeners (Best 1990; Tatum 1999; Tanner 2001; Sacco and Kennedy 2002; Alexander 2003). Whether rap has been reviled as much as jazz and rock ‘n’ roll once were is a moot point; rather more certain is its pre-eminent role as a problematic contemporary musical genre. Direct correspondence to Julian Tanner, Department of Social Science University of Toronto at Scarborough, 1265Military Trail, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, MIC 1A4. Telephone: (416) 287-7293.

E-mail: Julian. [email protected] ca. ” rh8 Uniiersily of North Carolina Press Social Forces 88121 693-722, December 2009 694 • Social Forces 88(2) In an important study of representations of popular music. Binder (1993) examined how print journalists wrote about rap and heavy metal in the 1980s and 1990s. While both are devalued genres (Roe 1995), she nevertheless contends that they are framed differently: the presumed harmful effects of heavy metal are limited to the listeners themselves, whereas rap is seen as more socially damaging (for a similar distinction, see Rose 1994).

The lyrical content of the two genres is established as one source of this differential framing: rap lyrics are found to be more explicit and provocative (greater usage of “hard” swear words, for example) than heavy metal lyrics. The second factor involves assumptions made (by journalists) about the racial composition of audiences for heavy metal and rap-the former believed to be white suburban youth, the latter urban black youth. According to Binder, rap invites more public concern and censorious complaint than heavy metal because of what was assumed to be its largely black fan base.

At the same time, she identifies an important counter frame, one component of which elevates rap (but not heavy metal) to the status of an art form with serious political content. In both the mainstream press (i. e.. The New York Times) and publications targeting a predominately black readership (i. e.. Ebony and/^i), she finds rap lauded for the salutary lessons that it imparts to black youth regarding the realities of urban living; likewise, rap artists are applauded for their importance as role models and mentors to inner-city black youth.

Thus, while rap has been framed negatively, as a contributor to an array of social problems, crime and delinquency in particular, it has also been celebrated and championed as an authentic expression of cultural resistance by underdogs against racial exploitation and disadvantage. How these differing representations of rap might resonate with audience members was not part of Binder’s research mandate. ^ Furthermore, while she does acknowledge that ournalistic perceptions of the racial composition of the rap audience are not necessarily accurate-that more white suburban youth, even in the 1980s and 1990s, might have been consuming the music than black inner-city youth-this acknowledgment does not alter her enterprise or her argument. At this point in time, when the listening audience for rap music has both expanded and become increasingly diverse, our research concerns how young black, white and Asian rap fans in Toronto, Canada relate to a musical form still viewed primarily in terms of its criminal and resistant meanings.

Researching Rap Much of the early work on audiences preoccupied itself with investigating the harmful effects of media exposure, especially the effects of depictions of violence in movies and TV on real life criminal events. Results have generally been inconclusive, with considerable disagreement in the social science research community regarding the influence of the media on those watching the large ot small screen (Curran 1990; Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998; Freedman 2002; Sacco and Kennedy 2002; Alexander 2003; Newman 2004; Savage 2004; Longhurst 2007). Listening to Rap • 695

Listening to popular music has, on occasion, been said to produce similarly negative effects, although these too have proven difficult to verify. For example, in one high profile case in the 1980s, the heavy metal band Judas Priest was accused of producing recorded material (songs) that contained subliminal messaging diat led to the suicides of two fans. This claim was not, however, legally validated because the judge hearing the case remained unconvinced about a causal linkage between the music and the self-destructive behavior of two individuals (Walser 1993).

Strong arguments for the ill effects of media consumption rest on the assumption that audiences are easily and direcdy influenced by the media, with frequent analogies made to hypodermic syringes that inject messages into gullible and homogenous audiences (Abercrombie and Longhurst 1998; Alexander 2003; Longhurst 2007). In contesting this view of audience passivity, critics also propose that texts are open to more than one interpretation. Again, TV udiences have been studied more frequently than audiences for popular music, although research on the latter has illustrated how song lyrics are not necessarily construed the same way by adolescents and adults. Research conducted by Prinsky and Rosenbaum (1987) indicates that songs identified by adults as containing deviant content (references to sex, violence, alcohol and drug use, Satanism) were not similarly categorized by adolescents.

Evidence that there are diflferent ways of watching television or listening to recorded music has led to an alternative conception of audiences-one more concerned with what audiences do with the media than what the media does to audiences. The development within communications research of the uses and gratifications model (McQuail 1984) is one result, with TV once more the media form most commonly investigated.

Nonetheless, a few studies have documented how young people listen to popular music in order to satisfy needs for entertainment and relaxation (among other priorities), and utilize it as an accompaniment to other everyday activities, such as homework and household chores (Roe 1985; Prinsky and Rosenbaum 1987). More recent research has added identity construction as a need that popular music might fill for young listeners (Roe 1999; Gracyk 2001; Laughey 2006).

One particular usage emphasized by British cultural Marxists associated with the now defunct Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies has focused attention on how active media audiences counter dominant cultural messages in their consumption of popular culture. In what has, by now, become a familiar story, a series of music-based, post-war youth cultures (Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockers, Skinheads, Punks) in the United Kingdom have been represented as symbolically resisting the dominant normative order (Hall and Jefferson 1976; Hebdige 1979).

This argument has, however, relied on a reading of cultural texts and artifacts for its evidentiary base, rather than observations of, or information from, subcultural participants themselves (Cohen 1980; Frith 1985; Tanner 2001; Bennett 2002; Alexander 2003). 696 • Social Forces 8S(2) More recently, the utility of the term subculture for understanding young people’s collective involvements in music has been questioned. The focus of this criticism is, once again, the Birmingham school and its conceptualization of subculture. Its critics argue that, nder conditions of post modernity, music audiences have fragmented, and young people are no longer participants in distinctive subcultural groups (Bennett 1999b; Muggleton 2000). Instead of subcultures, they are now involved v^^ith neo tribes and scenes (i. e. , Bennett 1999b; Bennett and Kahn-Harris 2004; Hesmondhalgh 2005; Longhurst 2007; Hodkinson 2008). Post subcultural research has been much less inclined than the Birmingham era researchers to decode and decipher texts, and much more likely to engage in ethnographic studies of music and youth groups (Bennett 2002).

However, while there has been occasional work on modes of (female) resistance in the “tween scene” (Lowe 2004) and “riot girrrl scene” (Schily 2004), there has been no equivalent research on rap scenes and resistance. Examinations of audience receptions of rap are not numerous and have been of two main kinds: a few studies have explored how young people perceive and evaluate the music, while others have studied the harmful effects of rap by trying to link consumption of the music with various negative consequences.

An early study by Kuwahara (1992) finds rap to be more popular with black than white college students, and more popular among males than females. However, reasons for liking the music varied little by race, with both black and white audience members prioritizing the beat over the message. A more recent study by Sullivan (2003) reports few racial differences in liking the music, although black teenagers were more committed to the genre and more likely to view rap as life affirming (Berry 1994) than those from other racial backgrounds.

In a small but important study conducted in California, Mahiri and Connor (2003) investigated 41 black middle school students’ perceptions of violence and thoughts about rap music. In focus group sessions and personal interviews, informants revealed a strong liking for rap music, valuing the fact that it spoke to their everyday concerns about growing up in a poorly resourced community. They did not, however, like the way that rap music on occasion (mis)represented the experiences of black people in the United States.

They challenged the misogyny evident in some rap videos and rejected what they saw as the glamorization of violence. Overall, their critical and nuanced engagement with rap music fitted poorly with depictions of media audiences as easily swayed by popular culture (Sacco 2005). The search for the harmful effects of rap music has yielded no more definitive results than earlier quests for media effects.

While some studies report evidence of increased violence, delinquency, substance use, and unsafe sexual activity resulting from young people’s exposure to rap music (Wingood et al. 2003; Chen et al. 2006), other researchers have failed to find such a link or have exercised extreme caution when interpreting apparent links. One review of the literature, conducted in the 1990s, could find a total of only nine investigations-all of them Listening to Rap • 697 mall-scale, none involving the general adolescent population-and concluded that there was an even split hetween those that found some sort of an association between exposure to the music and various deviant or undesirable outcomes, and those that could find no connection at all Moreover, in those studies where the music and the wrongdoing were linked, investigators were very circumspect about whether or not they were observing a causal relationship, and if so, which came first, the music or the violent dispositions (Tatum 1999). A mote recent investigation conducted in Montreal is illustrative of such interpretative problems.

While a preference for rap was found to predict deviant behavior among 348 Frenchspeaking adolescents, causal ordering could not be established, nor an additional possibility ruled out: that other factors might be responsible for both the musical taste and the deviant behavior (Miranda and Claes 2004). The notion that rap is or can be represented as cultural resistance-the counter frame identified by Binder-has become increasingly prominent in the rap literature over the past 20 years (Rose 1994; Krims 2000; Keyes 2002; Quinn 2005). In his influential book.

Why White Kids Love Hip Hop: Wankstas, Wiggers, Wannabes, and the new Reality ofRace in America, Kitwana (2005) expounds at length on his emancipatory view of rap’s history and development. Kitwana sees hip-hop as a form of protest music, offering its listeners a message ofresistance. He also makes the additional claim that the resistive appeal of hip-hop is not restricted to black youth. Indeed, as the tide of his book suggests, he is patticularly interested in the patronage of rap music by white youth, those young people who might be seen as the contemporary equivalents of Mailer’s “White Negro” or Keys’ “Negro Wannabes. (Keyes 2002:250) In his view, the global diffusion of rap rests on the music’s capacity for resonating with the experiences ofthe downtrodden and marginalized in a variety of cultural contexts. Quinn (2005) similarly explains the crossover appeal of gangsta rap in the United States in terms ofthe “common sensibilities and insecurities shated by post Fordist youth. ” She continues: “many young whites, facing bleak labor market prospects, were also eager for stories about fast money and authentic belonging to ward off a creeping sense of placelessness and dispossession. (Quinn 2005:85-86) Thus, rap’s appeal is as much about class as it is about race. Nor is the resistive view of rap restricted to the North American continent. At least one French study-conducted in advance ofthe riots in the fall of 2005 -has noted how French Rap has become the music of choice for young people of visible minority descent who have grown up in the suburban ghettos (Les Cities) of major cities. They have been routinely exposed to police harassment on the streets, subjected to prejudice and discrimination at school, and struggled to find decent housing and appropriate jobs (Bouchier 1999, cited in Miranda and Claes 2004).

The idea that popular music might serve as an important reference point for rebellious or resistive adolescents is not a new one. As we have already noted, this is how a British school of subcultural analysis once interpreted the cultural activity of wotking-class youth in the United Kingdom (Hall and Jefferson 1976; Hebdige 698 • Social Forces 88(2) 1979). Some attempt has been made to understand rap fandom in similar terms. Bennett’s (1999a) ethnographic study, set in Newcastle, reveals how one group of white rappers translate the racial politics of blacks into the language of class divisions in the United Kingdom.

However, for the most part there has been limited application of this kind of analysis to young people’s involvement with rap music. Rap scholars who construe the music as an authentic expression of cultural resistance directed against exploitation and disadvantages at school, on the streets, or in the labor market, do so primarily without much input from the young people who make up its listening audience. Because they have not often been canvassed for their views about the music, we do not know to what degree they share in or identify with the message of resistance readily ound in content analysis of the rap idiom (Martinez 1997; Negus 1997; Krims 2000; Stephens and Wright 2000; Bennett 2001; Sullivan 2003; Kubrin 2005; Quinn 2005; Lena 2006). Thus contemporary rap scholarship follows British subcultural theory in gleaning evidence of resistance from the texts, not the audience. Resistance is sought, and found, in the words and music rather than in the activities and ideologies of subcultures or audience members. We can suggest, echoing Alexander’s (2003) earlier critique of British cultural studies, that the audience for rap music has been theorized rather more thoroughly than it has been investigated.

The Present Study The present study is concerned with three key questions: First, is there a relationship between audiences for rap and representations of the music? Second, as compared to other listening audiences, are serious rap fans participants in cultures of crime and resistance? Third, if such a link is found, what are the sources of variation in their participation in these cultures of crime and resistance? The need to address these questions, as we see it, emerges from several limitations in the existing research on rap.

These limitations are as follows: First, there is a significant disjuncture between dominant representations of the music as a source of social harms and evidence unambiguously supportive of this proposition. Second, the case for a resistant view of rap music is usually advanced, as we have already intimated, by examination of the designs and intentions of musical creators, both artists and producers, as well as music critics. We do not know whether or not resistant messages register and resonate with those who listen to the music.

Third, we do not have an accurate gauging of the sociodemographic composition, particularly racial and ethnic, of the audience for rap music. Rap’s dominance of the youth market is widely understood as a crossover effect-the original black audience now joined by legions of white fans (Spiegler 1996; Yousman 2003). However, purchasing habits-the usual arbiter for claims about rap’s increasing popularity with white consumers-may not be an entirely reliable measure of either rap’s popularity or racial and ethnic variations therein (Krims 2000; Quinn 2005).

The system devised by the recording industry to gauge record Listening to Rap • 699 sales-Nielson Soundscape-does not gather data on the race, or indeed any other personal characteristic, of purchasers. What it does do is categorize sales in terms of whether they were made in retail stores in high-income locations or in lowincome locations. Record companies, journalists or academics then choose to equate those high-income sales with white suburban youth, and low-income sales with inner-city black youth, but are doing so without any direct measures of the racial background or identity of buyers (Kitwana 2005).

Moreover, it has been argued that sales figures “under represent the taste preferences of the poor. ” (Quinn 2005:83) As Rose (1994) explains it, in the black community, particularly in impoverished neighborhoods, many more rap CDs are listened to than bought-a single purchase being passed on from one fan to another. Similarly, homemade tapes and bootleg CDs are often produced and shared within local fan networks.

The implications of this point are clear enough: the appropriation of rap music by suburban white teens might not be as extensive as is commonly supposed. Finally, we do not know whether or how the rap audience relates to the dominant frame of the music as a catalyst for crime and delinquency or to the counter frame of the music as an articulator of social inequity. The mainstreaming of rap may have cost the genre its underground or counter-culture status as protest music, or made it less attractive to delinquent rebels.

Rap also may play no part in crime or resistance subcultures because, under post modern conditions, young people have become increasingly eclectic and individualized in their musical tastes; the close relationship between musical tastes and lifestyles, implied by subcultural theory, no longer applies. On this formulation, therefore, we would not expect to find strong connections between a preference for rap music and subcultures of crime and subcultures of resistance. On the other hand, reasons for believing that rap music may be a basis for subcultural lifestyles, at least among black youth, are more compelling.

At the time that we were conducting our research there was considerable debate, in the local media and among local politicians, about issues involving race and crime-racial profiling and the desirability of collecting race-based crime statistics, for example. Contributing to this debate were findings from another study, confirming what black youths in Canada have always suspected, namely that they are much more likely to be arbitrarily stopped and searched by police officers than are members of other racial and ethnic groups-even when their own self-repotted deviant activity is statistically controlled for (Wordey and Tanner 2005).

In addition, contemporaneous research on the media coverage of race and crime in Toronto newspapers carried out by Wortley (2002), found black people disproportionately portrayed in a narrow range of roles and activities (principally those involving crime, sports and entertainment) than members of other racial and ethnic groups; and when featured in crime stories, depicted primarily as offenders. Capricious policing and media misrepresentation may therefore contribute to a sense of injustice among black youth, a sense of injustice that has them gravitating to rap as an emblem of cultural resistance. 00 • Social Forces SS{2) Commercial success and artistic valorization has not diminished rap music’s capacity to provoke moral panic. The music is still seen as threatening, dangerous and socially damaging by many political figures and established authority. ‘ Previous research suggests that negative media coverage ofthe cultural preferences and practices of adolescents often intensifies subcultural identifications (Cohen 1973; Fine and Kleinman 1979; Thornton 1995). Rap based moral panics may therefore tighten connections between the music and delinquent lifestyles and/or resistive attitudes and behaviors.

The lack of attention paid to rap’s consumers renders these questions relatively open ones, the meaning of rap music still to be discovered. Methods Whereas most contemporary research on rap focuses on those who create the music-artists and producers, and those who write about it, music critics-we pose questions about rap’s audience. Further, while audience studies usually employ qualitative data-gathering techniques (for example, Morley 1980; Radway 1984; Shively 1992), we use the methods of survey research. We are more concerned with how audience members interact with the music than with the issue of cause and effect.

We are interested in how music might be used as a resource in their everyday lives (Willis 1990; DeNora 2000), how it might contribute to identity formation (Roe 1999) and, especially, how audiences might align themselves with (or distance themselves from) cultures of crime and resistance. Nonetheless, in our analyses, we treat rap fandom as a dependent variable. While there is considerable academic and public debate about whether music produces or is a product of cultural activities, legal or otherwise, existing research has failed to provide a compelling or consistent rationale for any particular causal logic.

As we have seen, the idea that exposure to rap music causes crime is not unequivocally supported in the research literature. Research on resistant youth cultures, by contrast, is much more likely to reverse the relationship and see musical style as a result of subcultural activity (Willis 1978; Hebdige 1979). Hebdige, for example, infers that punk rock in the United Kingdom was a cultural response to the subordination of existing working-class youth groups. Laing (1985) has countered that punk the musical genre existed before punk the subculture.

In the absence of agreement about the direction of the relationship between musical taste and cultural practices, our decision to operationalize rap appreciation as a dependent variable is made more for pragmatic, heuristic reasons than unassailable theoretical ones. Our strategy is to focus on listening preferences rather than purchasing habits. By asking students to report on and evaluate the music that they like, dislike and in what combinations, we gain a clearer and more detailed picture of where rap is situated in the consumption patterns of groups of students differentiated by, among other factors, their racial identity.

Our goals are to: (1. distinguish students with a serious, exclusive taste for rap from more casual fans; (2. to calculate the Listening to Rap • 701 size and racial makeup of rap music’s prime audience; and (3. to map relationships between that core audience and resistant and delinquent repertoires. Few surveys of general populations of young people have established any kind of connection between rap and deviancy, net of other factors. We contend that rap’s reputation as a corrosive force is validated by that linkage, and that without it that representation becomes more ontestable. A similar logic applies to the relationship between rap and social protest. The claim that the music carries a serious message-that it is an expression of resistant values and perceptions-is substantiated with evidence of a link between the music and a collective sense of inequity, and weakened by its absence. Data The data for this research are drawn from the Toronto Youth Crime and Victimization Study, a stratified cross-sectional survey of Toronto adolescents carried out from 1998 through 2000 (Tanner and Wordey 2002).

Self-administered questionnaires were completed by 3,393 Toronto students ages 13-18, from 30 Metropolitan Toronto high schools in both die Cadiolic (10 schools) and larger Public School (20 schools) systems. Within each school, one class from each grade, 9 (ages 13 and 14) through 13 (ages 18 and 19), was randomly selected. The overall response rate was 83 percent (83. 4% for Catholic vs. 83. 1% for public schools), and is a conservative estimate as it was based on the number of students enrolled in each class rather than those present the day of the study.

Informed consent was given for participation in the study. Surveys were completed during class under the supervision of a member of the research team (and without a teacher present) and took approximately 45 minutes to complete. The survey asked young people about a broad range of topics, including family life, educational experiences, leisure activities, delinquent involvement, victimization experiences and so forth. The survey instrument was designed by members of the research team and evolved out of a series of 11 focus groups with adolescents in Toronto schools.

The completed survey was reviewed by a series of institutional ethics boards, including those at the University of Toronto, the Toronto Public School Board and the Catholic School Board. As the survey does not include high school dropouts, institutionalized youth and street youth, it is a school sample and thus any generalizations speak only to the experiences of school-based adolescents. Our sample is ethnically and racially diverse and is representative of the Metropolitan Toronto high school population. Measures

Musical Preferences Guided by Bourdieu’s work (1984) and Peterson’s recasting of musical taste in terms of omnivorous and univorous patterns (1992), we focus our attention on 702 • Social Forces 88(2] how musical choices are combined: if young people liked (or disliked) one style or genre, what other styles or genres did they like or dislike (what Van Eijck 2001 has referred to as “combinatorial logic”). Indicators of musical taste were derived from the question: “How much do you like each of the following types of music? Respondents were then asked to evaluate each of 11 contempotary musical genres: Soul, Rhythm and Blues, Jazz, Hip/Hop and Rap, Reggae and Dance Hall, Classical and Opera, Country and New Country, Pop, Alternative (including Punk, Grunge), Heavy Metal (Hard Rock), Ethnic Music (traditional/ cultural), and Techno (Dance). Musical tastes were assessed on a five-point Likert scale that addresses whether respondents liked the musical genre very much, quite a lot, a little bit, not very much or not at all.

Unlike previous research that dichotomized musical tastes, focusing exclusively on the musical genres most liked (Peterson and Kern 1996) or disliked (Bryson 1996), we target the level of appreciation (or lack of appreciation) each respondent has for a particular musical genre. For space considerations a detailed overview of the clustering procedure has been omitted but is available upon request. We employed a two-stage cluster analysis (hierarchical agglomerative and ^-means) procedure to derive groupings of adolescent musical tastes.

Cluster analysis assembles respondents based on their common responses to questions/ measures, and is useful for identifying relatively homogenous groups, groups that are highly intetnally homogenous (members are similar to one another) and highly externally heterogeneous (members are not like members of other clusters) (Aldenderfer and Blashfield 1984). Employing cluster analysis techniques, we uncovered seven musical taste clustets. Table 1 outlines the results of our cluster analysis.

The largest group (n = 616) was the Club Kids, composed of those who report an above average enjoyment of techno and dance, mainstream pop, and hip-hop and rap. Next were the Urban Music Enthusiasts (n = 605). Members of this group combined a strong appreciation of Rap and Hip Hop with considerable disinterest in most other musical styles. These adolescents are the primary focus ofthe current study. Then there was a fairly large (n = 482) group of youth, the New Traditionalists, who have an above average liking of classical music and opera, jazz, soul, R&B, country music and mainstream pop.

The fourth largest (n = 425) group, the Hard Rockers, comprised a sizeable number of heavy metal and hard rock, alternative, punk and grunge fans. Then there was a surprisingly large (n = 384) group of adolescents, the Musical Abstainers, who are only marginally interested in any kind of music. The group we call the Ethnic Culturalists (n = 380) were so described because of a dominant preference for a quite wide range of ethnic music, as well as a greater than average liking for soul and R&B, jazz, classical music and opera, country music techno and dance, and mainstream pop.

The smallest group (n = 338), the Musical Omnivores, was composed of those who have an above average appreciation for all 11 musical genres. These clusters vary considerably, not only in the musical Listening to Rap • 703 Q-CM O O U O O U O O U O O -COIOCOCOCNJCJ>COIO ” • ^ – T— c3^ h ^ h… c o 3′ UJ CD o .Si i -T— COCOCDCO s m eu rocMincDco -T— CMC3 co co i Q. CL tu . S o .2 U) o tu tpcooin CNJcOCOCOcdcOCMCOM-‘^COCNI co T—CMOCI5 ? CO en (U ro “o 0} Q. CL ro “o en CM CM co “cD t n tu . 2 2 Oi tn -D C to to CZJ eu co CNI co o tD tu. —. _ 2 CD “O en ! c: o c: 03 sa | ^ sV ndical . 0011 V CL ro o tu . S P o | idd tn tu V p. 704 • Social Forces 8H2) likes and dislikes, but also with respect to sociodemographic, socioeconomic class indicators, and measures of school experience, cultural capital, leisure patterns and subcultural delinquency (Tanner, Asbridge and Wortley 2008). Social Injustice, Property Crime and Violent Crime The sense of injustice that rap is said to speak to often involves the dealings that young people have with the police and courts.

Six items in our questionnaire invited respondents to evaluate their perceptions of the equity of the criminal justice system, fairness in the educational system, and more general perceptions of the equality of opportunity in Canada. Some of the questions addressed racebased inequality, while others invoked age, class- and gender-based discrimination. These six items were condensed into a scale and standardized (alpha = . 65) with higher values indicating greater feelings of social injustice. Respondents were also invited to report their participation in illegal activities.

Our measures of crime and delinquency covered a spectrum of activities, varied by type and seriousness. Two scales items are constructed based on the following question: “How many times in the past year have you done any of the following things? Would you say never, once or twice, several times, or many times? ” The first scale captures involvement in property crime, including self-reported property damage, theft under $50, breaking into a car, stealing a car, stealing a bike, breaking and entering a home, drug dealing and theft over $50 (alpha = . 6). The second scale measures violent offending and includes carrying a hidden weapon such as a gun or knife in public, using physical force on another person to get money or other things, attacking someone with the idea of seriously hurting him or her, hitting or threatening to hit a parent or teacher, getting into a physical fight with someone, and taking part in a fight where a group of friends were up against another group (alpha = . 81). SES, School Measures and Cultural Capital

The impact of students’ sociodemographic backgrounds is initially examined in terms of demographic variables-age, gender, Canadian identity (“Do you think of yourself as Canadian? “-a measure of perceived inclusion in Canadian society), and race. Socioeconomic status is captured through indicators of parents and family situation, and includes measures of parental educational attainment (whether or not they had attended postsecondary education), family intactness (whether or not respondents grew up in a two-parent household), a measure of subjective social class based on perceptions of family income.

Next we include a set of measures related to educational attainment, experiences and expectations: self-reported grades (proportion receiving mostly As), skipping school, suspension from school, educational stream (general or academic stream) and a more evaluative question about the degree of importance that young people attached to education. Listening to Rap • 705 Finally, we include a measure of respondents’ own cultural capital activities.

While mainly used as an explanation of educational and occupational attainment (DiMaggio 1982; DiMaggio and Mohr 1995; Aschaffenburg and Maas 1997), measures of cultural capital have also been deployed to uncover dispositions, or orientations, towards the arts (Bourdieu 1984; Swartz 1997). We use it here as a further measure ofthe characteristics and lifestyles ofthe audience for rap-its possession bestowing status upon individuals and the music that they listen to, its absence denoting the opposite.

Our seven-item cultural capital index comprises both traditional highbrow pursuits-going to the symphony, visiting museums-and the sorts of respectable leisure activities (playing a musical instrument, attending cultural events, going to the library, reading a book for pleasure and hobbies) that contribute to the cultural resources available to young people. The sum of these seven items is standardized and has an alpha of . 65. Descriptive statistics and other details on all measures can be found in Appendix A. Analytic Procedure Multivariate logistic regression is employed in four separate analyses.

First, a strong preference for Rap and Hip/Hop-being an Urban Music Enthusiast-is regressed on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures. Next, we regress being an Urban Music Enthusiast on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures for three racial groups-white, black and Asian/South Asian youth. For each racial group we run four separate models that include baseline measures only, followed by models that add social injustice, property crime and violent crime. All analyses were conducted with the Stata 8. computer program (StataCorp 2001) using the survey commands that account for intra-cluster correlation due to the complex sampling strategy. Results We can quickly confirm the enormous popularity of rap with our respondents. It has the highest average approval rating of any musical genre, with some 33 percent of students saying that they liked it “very much,” and 21 percent saying that they liked it “quite a lot. ” Rap clearly appeals to a broad range of young listeners and is, therefore very much part of a common music culture among high school students.

But our cluster analysis (Table 1) also isolates a group of students who enjoy rap music and little else. Examining the approval radng for each music genre relative to the cluster means, where scores approaching 1 indicate a strong approval ofthe genre, and scores approaching 5 indicate a strong dislike, demonstrates that Urban Music Enthusiasts have a strong preference for rap and hip-hop, reggae and dance hall; a more moderate liking for soul and R&B, and a below average liking for all other musical genres.

We think that our Urban Music Enthusiasts fit the profile of music univores-individuals who appreciate a few musical styles while disliking everything 706 • Social Forces mi) else-as described in the research of Peterson (1992) and Bryson (1997). Bryson links univorous taste among American adults to low status, particular racial and ethnic groups, and regional differences. She also notes that univorous taste, when compared to omnivorous taste, is more likely to be related to what she calls “subcultural spheres. ” (Bryson 1997:147) Our Urban Music Enthusiasts appear to be rap univores who may also be adhering to “sub-cultural spheres. Of the 605 Urban Music Enthusiasts in our sample, 275 {A6%) are black, 117 (19%) are white, 115 (19%) are Asian or South Asian, and 98 (16%) are from other racial groups. These figures tell us that young black people still comprise the central component of the rap audience; moreover, roughly 57 percent of black youth is Urban Music Enthusiasts). At the same time, we observe evidence of a significant racial crossover. White Urban Music Enthusiasts constitute 8. 6 percent of the white students in our sample, while Asian Urban Music Enthusiasts make up 9. 5 percent of all Asian students.

The racial composition of the Urban Music Enthusiast taste culture prompts two further questions: Eirst, of the black students surveyed, what factors in addition to race predict their univorous interest in rap? Second, of white and Asian students, what factors encourage their involvement in an essentially black music culture, an involvement that clearly sets them apart from other white and Asian students? Table 2 provides results for Urban Music Enthusiasts membership regressed on sociodemographic, socioeconomic status and school measures, with separate analyses for white, black and Asian/South Asian young people.

Paying particular attention to the findings for each racial group, what is common to all three groups of Urban Music Enthusiasts is that, compared to other students in our sample, they are poorly endowed with cultural capital and are not especially good students. Few other background factors have any significant or consistent impact upon a disposition towards Urban Music. For white students, parental SES, family structure and subjective social class, have no bearing upon their musical preferences, whereas school suspension and poor grades are strong predictors.

For black students. Urban Music enthusiasm is more common among younger students and those less likely to identify as Canadian. Being a black youth identified as an Urban Music Enthusiast is also strongly related to growing up in a single-parent family and skipping school. For their part, Asian/South Asian youth are something of an anomaly-among them. Urban Music Enthusiasm is positively associated with social class and having well-educated mothers-but like other Urban Music Enthusiasts it is also strongly related to school suspension and skipping school.

We are less interested, however, in the sociodemographic and socioeconomic factors that may lead to being an Urban Music Enthusiast than in the relationship between being a Urban Music Enthusiast and representations of rap-either as part of a culture of resistance and/or as a basis for subcultural delinquency. Tables 3 through 5 describe the distribution of being an Urban Music Enthusiast across three racial groups (white, black, Asian/South Asian) as shaped by perceptions Listening to Rap • 707 I i I u (O re (/> CO o (U 1. 76 4. 37 ,01a ‘V— re . r; o — U; c n t – – CO CO cr; – ^ • ^ CD – ^ CO CO CD CM CNl T – CD CN? -“i^

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Dependent Measures Yes ~ Urban Music Enthusiasts No Social Injustice (index of amount of agreement or Z-score disagreement regarding the following statements: people from my racial group are more likely to be unfairly stopped and questioned by the police than people from other racial groups; discrimination makes it hard for people from my racial group to find a good job; discrimination makes it difficult for people from my racial group to get good marks in school; students from rich families have an easier time getting ahead than students from poor families; everyone has an equal chance of getting ahead in Canada; it is rare for an innocent person to be wrongly sent to jail, with an a=. 65). continued on the following page 722 • Social Forces 88(2] Appendix A. ontinued Coding Variables Independent Measures Property Crime (index of frequency of involvement Z-score in breaking into cars, minor theft under $50, property damage, stealing bikes, breaking and entering into homes, stealing cars, major theft over $50, and drug dealing, with an pi=. 86), _ . ^ Violent Crime (index of frequency of carrying a hidden Z-score weapon like a gun or knife in public, using physical force on another person to get money or other things; attacked someone with the idea of seriously hurting that person, hit or threatened to hit a parent or teacher, getting into a physical fight with someone, and taken part in a fight where a group of friends were up against another arouD. with an a=. 81). Mean/ Cases Percent 3344 3288 Copyright of Social Forces is the property of University of North Carolina Press and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or