Throughout this EPQ the question ” Can modern day grime music negatively impact anti social behaviour ?” will be explored. Inspired by common stereotypes that grime music, along side “aggressive” music genres such as heavy metal and rock , can increase the prominence of belligerent behaviour being displayed by those listening , the focus of this essay will be exploring empirical evidence the see whether there is any relationship between grime music and increased aggressive behaviour.
1*Grime music is a mixture of genres including , hip hop , raga , jungle and garage and originated in the inner city of London during the early 2000’s. This new music style had a massive impact during the begging of the 21st century with the hard hitting topics the artists often addressed through their music, on occasion discussing events that had happened to them or their contemporaries. Many grime artists such as Skepta, Stormzy and Jme, where born and raised in areas around London deemed to be perilous due to the prevalent gang life. 2*In addition to this many of the areas where these musicians grew up were known to have a percentage of people living in poverty which was above that of the London average. And often many modern day grime musicians made up a percentage of those suffering from poverty inequality in the capital.
Due to the fact that grime music typically has reoccurring themes of the artist carrying out illegal or taboo acts, this essay will look into whether the topics focused on in grime music have any relationship in increasing the anti social behaviour executed by those listening. The lyrics that are used in grime songs will also be looked at and using secondary evidence the link between aggressive behaviour and aggressive song lyrics will be analysed to draw a conclusion of whether the link between the two is supported , refuted or possibly equivocal and therefore unknown. Not only will it be the themes of grime music that are explored but, the pace of the music will also be a factor that will be considered and used to come to a decision when contemplating the question ” Can modern day grime music negatively impact anti social behaviour?”.
Moreover the 1994 phenomena of the Mozart Effect will be a topic discussed throughout this essay. The idea that listening to classical music can make the listener can become more intelligent is the main principal of this theory. 3*Criminologists have long known that criminals on average have lower intelligence than the general population , which can be due to poverty and the lack of opportunities that are often available to those classified into lower economic groups. Therefore the prospect that listeners of grime music may act more antisocially and potentially commit illegal acts will be further explored throughout this essay with this theorem in mind.
4*As described by Metropolitin police anti social behaviour is defined as such: “behaviour by a person which causes, or is likely to cause, harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the person”. Throughout this essay criminal statistics will not be analysed but rather the possibility, supported by what neurological and psychological secondary evidence presents, could indicate that grime music may lead to an increase in antisocial behaviour.
The themes of grime music
A popular song “Talkin’ Da Hardest” by London based grime artist Giggs has many controversial topics riddled throughout the song. From drug use to murder and a promiscuous lifestyle . Here are a few lines from said song.
5* Big fur jacket, that’s the thoughts of a pimp
I used to be quiet, did that sort anything?
So I had to run riot when I bought me a ting
Walk with my ting, peddling morphine
Dem times dere I was licking out more green
Skip couple years, ’07 the story
Now I’m Hollowman in some heavy Dior jeans (UUMMM)
***** ****** lookin’ for glory
Wanna beef me so they can tell you a story
It’ll get bloody and it’ll get gory
Clapped in the neck like Amanda in Saw 3
Yeah I got my suttin’ deh pon me
So much straps I’ll have a weaponry ****
Feds try nick me for a murder
But it could’ve been the man that had the weapon before me
The themes discussed in this are not uncommon and are regularly explored in many grime songs. The apparent aggressive tone of the song is bought about by words such as ” bloody”, “gory” and “murder” which undoubtably have negative connotations attached to them. The pugnacious tone of the song appears to encourage or at a minimum glorify what is legally seen as antisocial behaviour.
After listening to many grime songs out of leisure and research it became apparent that many grime tracks contain similar message. In songs such as “Ain’t The Same” by MIST and “Lets Lurk” by 67 ft LD, Dimzy, Asap, Monkey and Giggs it was axiomatic that the topic of selling illegal substances and being part of a gang was crucial. In particular artists like 67 and Harlem Spartans, who were/are originally a gang, often talk about gang violence, taking down opposition, representing their geographical location and dealing drugs. In the song “Kennington where it started” By Harlem Spartans a member of the gang raps “Question , if gang pulls up are you gonna back your bredrin?”. This question directed at the viewers or listeners, asking if there was to be a quarrel between friends and an opposing group of people would they defend their companions. As stated previously the common theme of defending friends regardless of the situation seems to be a reoccurring throughout grime music. Although many grime songs listened to seem to promote various negative aspects is this enough to encourage anti social behaviour by listening alone?
In addition to the key themes of grime music being a licentious lifestyle, violence and unlawful activities there were many songs that offered a more lighthearted rivalrous tone. Songs with friends that poked fun at each other ,one upping each other after each verse. 6*Many grime artists songs present them to be unfazed individuals intent on coming out on top. With an attitude and cockiness that can grasp the audience it appears that for some artists the main aim of their craft is to compete constantly to bring out the best in one and other.In some circumstances it would be family members or close friends who would be battling it out to be named the best artist. In the song “Corn” by Cadet and Big Tobz, who are close friends, the two poke fun at each other. Topics ranged from a bad haircut to going to the gym are often to mocking the emotional instability of each other. Depending on what area of grime listened to it is arguable that the message taken away could differ massively.
Aggressive Lyrics and Aggressive Behaviour?
It was previously thought that listening to “aggressive” music genres like punk , heavy meal and rock could not make the listener angry but actually make them feel calmer. This idea was presented in a study carried out by the University of Queensland . The theory of the study was 7*”extreme music matches and helps to process anger”. Ultimately after carrying out the study the results of the study were as such: 7*”We found the music regulated sadness and enhanced positive emotions,” Sharman said. “When experiencing anger, extreme-music fans liked to listen to music that could match their anger.”
“The music helped them explore the full gamut of emotion they felt, but also left them feeling more active and inspired,” reads the study.
“Results showed levels of hostility, irritability and stress decreased after music was introduced, and the most significant change reported was the level of inspiration they felt.” The result of this study would indicate that the lyrics of a song can in fact, contrary to what may have been previously thought, relax the listener rather than induce feelings of aggression and anger.
8*However a recent study carried out in the Texas Department of Human Services and Iowa State University found that music that has more aggressive lyrics actually can boost the amount of aggressive thoughts and feelings of the listener which may in both short and long term encourage aggressive behaviour. The report then goes on to state how the aggressive lyrics could not only could it perpetuate aggressive behaviour but it also could aid in the development of aggressive personalities and influence the listeners perception of society. In the study 500 college students listened to aggressive songs and were then asked to carry out multiple word association tasks. The main aim of the task was to se if the students linked non aggressive words with aggressive words or filled incomplete words with vowels to make aggressive words. For example filling a the incomplete word “h t” with “hit’ rater that “hat” or “hut”. Craig Anderson who carried out this study has supported his evidence with previous studies that have looked into violent games or violent television shows. 8*He has said ” Content matters….. The message is important for all consumers “. Anderson also added how although it is a popular belief , listening to angry music doesn’t seem to offer the release of built up anger than many pop psychologists and members of the general public seem to think.
Although the two sources seem to contradict each other , it is apparent that the last-mentioned study seems to prevail in terms of results. The study was carried out on such a large sample size ( 500) with many following the trend, being listening to aggressive behaviour does not relax the listener but rather can shift their mood, resulting in short term aggression and what is thought to potentially have long term impacts. To add to this ,with the words sang in many grime songs appearing to promote illegal activities and/or show the fun in partaking in such polemical acts, it may not be unreasonable to suggest that it could potentially appeal to those listening and manifest into an idea that may be considered as something one would want to carry out. On top of this in a minority of grime songs these actions are not presented as being negative and something to be avoided. Instead they are presented as activities that are invigorating and exhilarating . The frequency that these things are discussed could influence those listening to carry out these actions. This could simply be due to the fact that if someone listens to grime music regularly and they constantly are hearing that illegal activities such ash carrying a weapon with intent to harm or selling contraband are things to be celebrated then they themselves may begin to have a similar mentality as the artists and mimic what is being heard. With all of this considered in terms of the aggressive music in grime music it seems to support the idea that grime music could possibly have a negative impact on anti social behaviour.
The Mozart Effect
The Mozart effect is a theory that explores the idea that by listening to grime music your intelligence can be increased . 9*Dr. Gordon Shaw developed the Mozart Effect, a theory that listening to classical music will make you smarter, in the early 1990s. Later studies have shown that this is just a spin in intelligence and this is not a permanent intelligence change. This spike can last around 15 minutes before returning to the original intelligence. Experiment have been carried out in order to observe the legitimacy of the phenomena. Take for example 10*John Hughes, a neurologist at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, who examined hundreds of compositions and concluded that music sequences that regularly repeat every 20 – 30 seconds, just as Mozart’s compositions do prevalently, “may trigger the strongest response in the brain”. In another test focused around the Mozart’s effect but with an additional independent variable which was he participant music preference. 10*Two Canadian University researchers, Nantais and Schellenberg reproduced the Mozart Effect experiment, and extended the study to investigate the relationship between listening to other forms of music and IQ. After doing this they were able to determine that the listener’s preferred to music and not particularly listening to Mozart, made for improved test performance.
Inspired by John Hughes’s conclusion, some primary research has been carried out looking at whether grime music has a regular repeat every 20-30 seconds. 10 grime song instrumentals were looked at , each song ranging from different popularities and the first 20 seconds of each song were recorded. This recording was then played back over the continuing music. It was established that if the beat of the recorded music fit on top of the instrumental without being off beat and was able to do so reaching 1 minute into the song that there was a regular repeat. The results are as followed :
The results show that 6/10 grime song studied had a repeating beat. The other 4/10 had various repeating beats throughout the song changing or returning to previous beats at different points throughout the song. Whilst conducting this study there may have been mistakes made do to human error. The recording may have been started at an incorrect point making the bat seem to be off although it was not. This was taken into consideration and was avoided as best as possible by playing the recording over the track at the place multiple times. By doing this it decreased that chance of error skewering the results improving the reliability. To add to this the songs were also listened by ear after to with the recording just to ensure that the results collected were correct. Once confident that the results collected were in fact correct they were then used in pie chart presented above. The results may also not be the most accurate set of data when the small sample size of music is taken into consideration. There were only 10 songs studied limiting the data and the reliability of the conclusion massively. To improve this ,if the study was to be carried out again to strengthen the conclusion drawn it may be better to use a larger sample size. An additional improvement to comment on would be if the songs were previously selected by an individual who was not personally involved in the research. By using a pre made playlist it would reduce the bias of the researcher and the songs that were selected . Nonetheless the statistics accumulated were conducted as accurately as possible and the results conclude by a marginal difference that the majority of grime songs listened to have a repeating beat. This would mean ( supported by John Hughes’s study) that they as well as Mozart’s music first into the category of music that would stimulate an the area of the brain that would speak a short IQ boost of 15 minutes. This boost would be strengthened if the listener had a liking towards grime music.