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Isaac Iyoriobhe

Professor Schnitker

MUSC 215


Nights in Charm City

People enjoy different types of music because of its many functions. A plethora of

musicians use music as a way to express their feelings and emotions in which the audience can

relate with. I interviewed my friend Bryan Winchester, and asked him about his musical

preferences and how he relates with them. Bryans favorite genre of music is Hip-Hop/Rap.

Bryan is able to identify with the genre from a racial aspect. I will explain Bryans background,

and the background of his favorite genre. Additionally, I will examine how Hip-Hop/Rap music

captivated Bryan.

Hip-Hop/Rap music originated in New York in the 1970s. Hip-Hop Culture was created

in the poverty-stricken districts where African Americans and Latino teenagers initiated the

elements of the culture: Rapping, DJing, Breakdancing, and Graffiti Writing (The History of Hip

Hop Music Par 1). Through the 1980s-1990s different regions cultivated their own styles of rap

music because it spread across the country (The History of Hip Hop Music Par 3). Furthermore,

different regions creating their own style led to subgenres of rap. Today, hip hop culture rap has

continued to evolve through artists creating new styles and subgenres of rap. Rap was first used

to express peoples feelings about political, social, and economic issues and how these issues

affected the lives of individuals. An example is Fight The Power by Public Enemy in which

the song discusses social and political in black communities.

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My friend Bryan is 19 years old, and was born and raised in East Baltimore. He is one of

three children that comes from a single parent, low-income home. He lives in Perkins Homes a

housing project located deep in the inner city. Growing up without a father in crime infested

area, Bryan learned at a young age how to maneuver in his environment. Also, being that his

mother was a single parent and he is the oldest of his siblings he took a leadership role in raising

his little brother and sister. From an early age, Brian was aware of his socio-economic situation

and was constantly reminded because of his environment and the government aid he received

every month. Bryans embarrassment of his situation propelled him to be a first-generation

college student in his family.

Bryans life experiences allow him to identify with the Rap genre from a racial

aspect. Bryan was introduced to Rap music when he was five years old. His uncle played the

song Through the Wire by Kanye West. Throughout the years Bryan continued to explore the

Rap genre and listen to different artists. As he continued to grow, he listened to rap artists that

conveyed a message that he could relate to. Bryan enjoys listening to artists such as Kendrick

Lamar, Jay-Z, J. Cole, and many others in the lane of Conscious Rap music. He connects to the

stories these artists tell about their upbringings in impoverished, crime filled areas usually

populated by African Americans. In the Kendrick Lamar song Money Trees, featured artist Jay

Rock raps pots with cocaine residue everyday Im hustling/what else is a thug to do when you

eating cheese from the government? (Kendrick Lamar, 2012). This lyric is describing how

young black men in the projects have to resort to selling drugs to make money because they

cannot function off of the government aid they receive. Bryan directly connects to this being that

he receives government aid because his family struggles to make ends meet. When interviewing
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Bryan, he relayed to me how some of his friends are financially in the same position as him and

his family, but resort to illegitimate means for income such as selling drugs.

More and more artists are starting to discuss the social and political problems that African

Americans encounter in their communities on a daily basis. In the DJ Khaled song Jermaines

interlude, featured artist J. Cole discusses the problem of police brutality upon black people in

their communities. When J. Cole raps cause people is out here dying from police that flash the

siren /and pull up and just start firin you can hear the sadness in his voice (DJ Khaled, 2016).

The sadness in his voice shows how he feels about the social climate and issues in African

American communities. This song lyric reminds Bryan of the Freddy Gray incident. On April

12, 2015, Freddie Carlos Gray, Jr. was pursued by police, apprehended, searched, and arrested

(Scriven 120). He did not resist arrest, yet eyewitnesses and film footage tell the tale of a slim

Black man being wrestled to the concrete, tased, placed into a van that makes a mysterious stop

before reaching the police precinct (Scriven 120). Police refused to give Gray immediate

medical treatment after repeated requests (Scriven 120). Gray arrived at the station with a

severed spinal column; dying seven days later (Scriven 120). The aftermath of this event, led to

riots that destroyed parts of the city. Bryan had vested interest in Grays death being that he was

a childhood friend of Gray. During the interview, Bryan described how all of the events were

hard for him to endure because he was not ready to let go of his good friend, and also how the

city he loves so much reacted to the death of his friend. It saddened him to witness the events as

a whole. Towards the end of the interview, Bryan explained how through these hard times music

helped him. One of Bryans favorite songs is Dont Shoot by The Game. When he hears this

song, he is remind of the Gray situation, but he is satisfied to know songs like this are creating
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awareness for police brutality. He explains how this song gives him hope of seeing improvement

in African American communities such as the one he is a part of.

This paper highlights the impact the Hip-Hop/Rap genre on Bryans racial identity. His is

able to identify with a lot of artists subject matter of growing up in the inner city in highly

populated areas of African Americans. When Bryan listens to his favorite artists, he examines

their lyrics and can directly relate to the situations they rap about.


1. What is favorite genre?

2. Who is your favorite artist?
3. Why is this your favorite genre?
4. Why is this your favorite artist?
5. Who/How were you introduced to this genre?
6. What is the significance of this genre of music?
7. How does this genre of music make you feel?
8. Why does this genre make you feel a certain way?
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Works Cited

BMXE The History of Hip Hop Music. Genius,


Khaled, DJ. Jermaines Interlude. Epic Records, CD. 2016

Lamar Kendrick. Money Trees. Aftermath/Interscope Records, CD. 2012

Scriven, Darryl. "Blue on Black Violence: Freddie Gray, Baltimore, South Africa, & the

Quietism of Africana Christian Theology." Journal of Pan African Studies, vol. 8, no. 3,

Aug. 2015, pp. 119-126. EBSCOhost,