Rap, trap and expression of anger
We know that music represents the soundtrack of an era, the language through which the new generations define their collective belonging and personal identity. What is the role of Rap and Trap in making young people express anger?But what is it that music can really do?
Advertising message The very popular Rock Psychologist in an article on his Facebook page states that music has always had the ability to lighten the spirit by promoting communication between mind, body and soul, helping the person to correctly express feelings and relate to others , the environment, one’s inner self (Lippi 2017). In fact, it has been shown that music can have a very powerful effect on our emotions: it can make us happy or help us overcome our fears, triggering sensations and hormones that have a direct and immediate effect on our mood. Starting from this assumption Spotify from 2014 chooses a song for every emotion. This digital music service, thanks to Jacob Jolij, professor of cognitive psychology and neuroscience at the University of Groningen, he was able to identify the songs that elicit a more immediate emotional response. The playlist contains the most effective tracks to go from sadness to happiness or from anger to optimism (La Stampa 2014).
These are only modern and contemporary examples of success that deal with the benefits that songs have in the expression of emotions, but to realize this we can think of all those times that we have tried to help a friend by giving him a music album or advising him to listen to a song on Youtube.
Given these premises we can imagine that music could be a very useful tool to be used also in the therapeutic setting.
We will focus, in particular, on the function that Rap and Trap could have in the expression of anger. To do this, however, we must first understand what we are referring to when we talk about these two musical genres.
Rap is based on the search for rhymes, assonances, metaphors and rhetorical figures sung or spoken on musical bases characterized by uniform rhythms. The first forms of this musical genre can be traced back to the 1950s and 1960s in African American culture, but real Rap music developed around the 70s and 80s in the urban climate of the South Bronx, a neighborhood of New York characterized by the presence of different ethnic groups and a particularly difficult socio-economic context. The different ethnic groups therefore used this musical form as a means of denouncing discrimination and injustice, identifying itself with its underlying message, with the style and with the whole Hip-Hop culture. Thus began to emerge a real non-conformist movement capable of expressing itself through a very powerful tool: art (Rose, 1994). The rappers, almost always coming from disadvantaged social contexts, exhibit a particularly virilized, rebellious and aggressive image; in fact, they show themselves with clothing and an attitude similar to the gangsters of the 20s and with an ostentation of the wealth obtained through music, showing off jewelry and luxury goods both on the streets, and in their concerts and music videos.
In its passage in Europe, Rap music loses only part of this violent image and still remains a musical genre that expresses above all anger and denunciation by the weakest (Miscioscia, 2019).
Trap, on the other hand, takes its name from the trap houses: abandoned buildings in Atlanta where drug addicts, in the 90s, went to buy drugs. These were places of perdition, marked by degradation, which however contributed to influencing the imagination of many very young people of the 2000s. The era of Millennials began, boys who loved rap, but who decided to break with that tradition – even though they were children – and who therefore invented a new musical genre, Trap. This does not originate within the walls of the trap houses in Atlanta, but takes up its themes from them: it praises drugs and a life of ease and wealth, does not fight degradation and is not an anti-system. (From hip hop to trap: the metamorphosis of “rapping” in history, 2018).
In our opinion, one of the elements that unites the songs Trap and Rap is the desire for social and personal redemption often manifested through words full of anger. Both genres have something to tell, they are born from the concrete of the streets and often from suffering.
Advertising message Since excess is the watchword of the two musical genres, which tell the story of the street life between crime and hardship, the good life and beautiful things, violence, the sale of drugs and the harsh experiences that artists have faced in cities, are often genres demonized by parents. But what if we go beyond the surface? We know that music represents the soundtrack of an era, or the first most important language through which the new generations define their own collective belonging and identity (Miscioscia, 2019) and that, more generally, adolescence is a period in which anger is often the answer to a conflict (with oneself, with parents and with the world). With this awareness we could enter into relationship with them, as parents or therapists, using the music they listen to? In our opinion, therapy could be a valuable tool, since it would represent a more functional way for children to express and contain anger and at the same time the way in which they can get in touch and communicate their conflicts and everything that is happening in their internal world. Put simply, a means by which young people manage to recognize, share, interpret and elaborate their life. because for the children it would represent a more functional way to express and contain anger and at the same time the way in which they can get in touch and communicate their conflicts and everything that is happening in their internal world. Put simply, a means by which young people manage to recognize, share, interpret and elaborate their life. because for the children it would represent a more functional way to express and contain anger and at the same time the way in which they can get in touch and communicate their conflicts and everything that is happening in their internal world. Put simply, a means by which young people manage to recognize, share, interpret and elaborate their life.
An example of the use of Rap music in therapy is reported by colleagues Arianna Ferretti and Luca Pelusi (2017) on State of Mind. They write about the use of Group Rap Therapy, or an intervention practice created in America that uses Rap music as a therapeutic tool for adolescents residing in risky contexts and characterized by a high rate of violence. They report that some studies that have deepened the relationship between Rap music and criminal behavior have found that Rap texts influence people’s emotions and feelings without, however, leading to problematic behaviors (Gardstrom, 1999).
We believe that the use of Rap and Trap would also be interesting in individual settings with adolescents and young adults with emotional dysregulation. If it is true that these musical genres can be useful to impulsive patients, who often use violent actions in response to the emotion of anger, to switch from a dysfunctional mode to a more functional one; they can also benefit from young people who, on the contrary, do not authorize themselves to express it, allowing them to feel free to start familiarizing themselves with it in a protected way.
With imagination, the therapist could trace many ways in which to use these current musical genres both in session and through the use of homework. For example, the boy may be asked to associate a certain song emotionally close to him with each ABC having the underlying emotion of anger so as to channel it positively; or again, to compose a text in which he recounts the problems for him in rhyming, rapping or trapping, so as to have a correct emotional distance, giving vent to frustrations and experiencing experiences of creativity, trust and control. Through the texts and attitudes of rappers and trappers we can get in touch with the characteristics and difficulties that young people encounter along the way of their social birth such as pain, anger,
In general, in adolescence emotions are very intense and can take control: with consequent impulsiveness, mood swings, sudden irritability and it is useful that this energy, therefore, can be collected and enclosed in activities with a strong emotional impact, but at low risk. like music. In this perspective, it could be useful for parents to lower their prejudices and defenses, to start using these popular musical genres as a tool to fully understand their children and have a shared communication channel with them.
So, to put it in the words of the Rock Psychologist, let’s arm ourselves with patience and a Rap (or Trap) playlist to get in touch with today’s kids: instead of being disgusted by their choices, let’s try to understand them to create a constructive dialogue .