Explicit music: Is There Substance or Should It Get the Axe?

Everyday I take lunch in my schools’ ASB room with a group of women who I am very fond of. Each of them have insightful opinions and are much kinder than myself. We always listen to music, chat and eat lunch. I’m usually the one that supplies the music for the too-short 35-minute span of time in-between classes, and more often than not I play hip-hop tracks that include, to some, offensive lyrics. Many authority figures in my daily life have a problem with the “offensively worded songs,” I play. If the music is explicit, is there substance or should it get the axe?

I don’t play or listen to music that has unnecessary cursing in it. I listen to a variety of music and if it happens to have curse words in it, I don’t cover my ears.

Most of my music has explicit content and gets the axe from the teacher in the ASB room. I understand the part of this zero tolerance for music with explicit content, say, if my principal were to walk in while we’re playing Kendrick Lamar’s “i,” where he uses the F-word multiple times or even more controversial N-word. I can see how that could look really bad, because the teacher is responsible for what happens in the classroom.

But let’s keep talking about the song “i.” This single by Lamar is an anthem about loving yourself; even when the world is looking down on you and proving you wrong, Lamar preaches to us that you have to love yourself to save yourself from the world. So far that’s worked for him and for many of us.

You can imagine my face when I get told to “Unplug the phone!” look from a teacher when I mean well and just want to play a song that I think the message will speak to someone going through difficult times.

I do believe that songs like Lamar’s are misunderstood because when someone first listens to a song such as this, they only hear the curse words and won’t be able to listen to the story that an artist such as Lamar is telling, and that’s really too bad; because these are usually the people who don’t think inequalities exist.

We can all learn a lot about a struggle that is different from our own through To Pimp a Butterfly; a highly explicit album, but an album that has a valuable message. People need exposure to different thinking, and listening to music like this opens new worlds to them. Music isn’t just an empty vehicle for you to tap your foot to, it’s supposed to challenge and shape thinking.


Hello, I’m Emma Eekhoff. I’m a 17-year-old that would rather be networking for business than at a party with my high school friends. I’m not afraid to share my stance on something, whether it is an art form like music or recent events in the world. I’ve been writing in a journalist setting for only a few years, through my high school’s online newspaper, The Growl Online or for a music blog. I love to connect and network with new people in the worlds of business and music, travel to new places and eat new interesting foods.

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