Hip-Hop's Bad Rap

Teenagers who listen to hardcore rap may be more likely to use drugs, commit crimes and join street gangs than teens who listen to softer music.

By Rebecca Leigh Fox, published on September 1, 2004 - last reviewed on June 9, 2016

Whether music negatively affects behavior has been debated from Elvis to Eminem. Now, a Canadian study has found that, when it comes to rap music and French Canadian teens at least, certain sub-genres of hip-hop are associated with different troubling behaviors.

In a study of 350 male and female teens, researchers Dave Miranda and Michel Claes of the University of Montreal found that kids who listened to French language rap were more likely to use drugs, commit crimes and be in street gangs than those who listened to English language hip-hop/soul, a more hedonistic style of music that celebrates luxury and sexual feats.The study controlled for the teens' exposure to violent media and influence of peer groups. All subjects were bilingual.

Teens who listened to American rap, however, were less likely to commit theft than those who preferred gangsta/hardcore rap. And ironically, gangsta rap enthusiasts were the least likely to belong to a gang.

The study was published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.