Music is a timeless way to connect people and cultures. There are endless types of genres that inspire new trends, lingo and ways to act. As music continues to evolve, so does society. Hip Hop and rap is a genre that over time has sparked controversy and debate over where it is taking its listeners. This genre has no shame in speaking out against the government or relating lyrics to real life experiences.

Hip hop is definitely a trendsetter, but it doesn’t necessarily always affect listeners in a positive manner. In the industry, corporate companies have taken over and encouraged artists to reach their target audience with a different method. Nowadays, it seems as if rappers are attempting to appeal to listeners with lyrics and videos that exploit women to increase the amount of viewership.

Let’s call a spade a spade: sex sells in our society, and the media have discovered this particular complex. Hip hop has depicted a picture of how women should be regarded, but in all honesty, it’s time that people given women the respect and treatment they truly deserve.

Most times in the rap world, women represent success and are treated as trophies or possessions. Not all artists subject women like this, but some truly do. Women are used as a way for rappers to demonstrate that they are top tier.

Now, I don’t believe artists do this because they believe that women are inferior. They do it to demonstrate to the world their accomplishments. Their intent is to appear, mainly to younger men, as if they are living the “good life”. It’s all about making money, and putting on this façade does just that.

Children are extremely vulnerable to this type of demonstration. When they see videos of men surrounded by women with money practically falling like water, the image is ingrained in them as the definition of success.

For instance, in the hook of “Successful” by Drake, Trey Songz deliberately relates money, cars, clothes and women (referenced by a more derogatory term that I won’t mention; let’s keep it PG) to success. Isn’t success more than just that? Isn’t it about self-love, good friends and family? Isn’t it about being content with your surroundings and living within your means? The image of success has gotten convoluted and has lost some meaning. I, personally, think that’s kind of sad.

In my opinion, rap and hip hop were not always like this. In the beginning, it didn’t seem as if women were really mentioned in lyrics or seen in videos. Artists talked about real issues and actual experiences. The first verse of Nas’ song “If I Ruled the World” displays his raw emotions and opinions about the lower income population. He shows his discontent with the fact that we live in a world people have to become thugs and gangsters in order to make a living or even gain respect.

As the years progressed, women made more of an appearance because that is what the public wanted to see. Women were sold out in order to gain more recognition. I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that some of the female population are not entirely thrilled about the way they are perceived in music.

Most of the time, women are mentioned using derogatory terminology and cuss words. This creates a sense of false imagery for the public. To put it lightly (or not), it can be extremely demeaning and disrespectful. Women deserve more than that. They are more than just their appearance or an accessory.

Society and the media have slowly but surely worked against the idea that women are equal. As long as the public supports the production of these songs and videos, then nothing is going to change.

While I am a pop-punk/indie music lover to my core, I still enjoy the hip hop genre. I’m not saying you have to stop binge watching music videos or attending concerts of your favorite artists. but I just suggest taking a second to think about what you’re listening to. Support the people who spread positive messages and confront social issues. Endorse those artists and in turn, take hip hop and rap to a new level.