50 Cent: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare
Throughout my teenage years, one music artist in particular that I enjoyed listening to disturbed my parents the most. This artist was Curtis Jackson, better known to the American public as the rapper 50 Cent. Jackson grew up on the rough streets of Queens, New York with no father to speak of and a cocaine dealer for a mother. After her death, Jackson began to get involved in the narcotics industry that thrived in that area. This troubled upbringing is reflected in the lyrics of his songs, and he rarely pulls punches in his descriptions of life on the streets of urban areas. His popularity began to increase in the early 2000’s with the release of his hit albums Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and The Massacre. Known for his particularly offensive lyrics, 50 Cent songs regularly dealt with things like drug dealing, gang violence, and misogynous themes. One song in particular, “Candy Shop,” off the album The Massacre, shocked my parents the most. Jackson describes in graphic detail a strip club and the activities he engages in while inside. The song received major radio play when it was released, and any time it was played my mother and father insisted on changing the radio station. This idea of fear over children’s exposure to hip-hop music relates to the George Lipsitz article on the Hip-Hop Hearings of the early 1990’s. In testimony from the hearings, prominent members of the black community discussed the negative effects of hip-hop music on youth, saying that the music,” provoked our youth to violence, drug use, and mistreatment of women. This explains why so many of our children are out of control and why we have more black males in jail than we have in college” (Lipsitz, 390). My parents worried that if I was consistently exposed to the sort of obscenity present in hip-hop music by artists like 50 Cent I would be corrupted. This idea was prevalent in many white households as hip-hop music spread to suburban areas, and parents experienced a sort of moral panic over the strange, new form of entertainment.
The music video for the song”Candy Shop” by 50 Cent, off his album The Massacre, released in 2005