Music lyrics are notorious for incorporating vulgar language and references between the chords and melodies we know and love. Radio versions of songs often are accompanied by many holes in the lyrics that have been cut out to make the songs more appropriate for all ages.
This is not new information, in fact, music has had a reputation of requiring ‘parental advisory’ since the 50s. That means that these often offensive references aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they may even be getting worse with time.
Of course, not all music is as inappropriately hardcore. Genres tend to revolve around similar themes and messages. From falling in love to getting wasted and everything in between, each genre shares a consistent audience and identity.
You could probably guess that the most vulgar genres of music are rock and rap. The phrase “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” exists for a reason. And any latest rap song is probably filled with so many references and innuendos that it’s hard to pick up on them all.
A recent analysis by Laguna Treatment gives us some statistics to back up these claims. The average rock or rap song has approximately 6 references to drugs or alcohol. These can be as straightforward or convoluted as the artist makes them – for example in phrases like ‘Henny’ and ‘molly’.
But when it comes to substances broken down by genre, rap is the real leader. Despite rock music’s reputation, rock and roll songs average about three to four references in songs over the past few years. Rap and hip hop on the other hand averages upwards of 10.
Artists with that reference substances the most include Kendrick Lamar, Drake, and Ella Mai – all of which are popular rap/hip hop artists. Ella Mai’s ‘Trip’ released in 2018 was the song with the most recorded mentions of drugs or alcohol – 87 to be exact. That’s about a reference every two seconds!
So we know substances are apparent in popular music, but is that really a problem? The jury’s still out on this one. Many research studies have set out to analyze the effects of similar references in the media on adolescents. But how much can a disguised reference to a drug really impact a child’s thoughts and behaviors?
It’s highly likely that they won’t pick up on the meaning of these terms at a young age. Especially when drugs are alluded to every other second, it would take a close ear to catch and comprehend every unique word. But this does expose people to things that they don’t necessarily need to learn about a young age.
It looks like this is a trend that won’t be disappearing any time soon, so if you’re concerned about the children in your life picking up on these references to substances – take matters into your own hands. Keep a close ear on the music you’re listening and carefully make clean, family-friendly playlists, though this is much easier said than done.