Life Style

Does Race Matter in the Choice of Popular Music among Youngsters?

In analyzing the effects of popular music and its effect on the education of youngsters, culture, race and the identity plays a major role. The preference for music among students differs from race to race and it can be demonstrated as follows. Radano and Boholman (2000) explains the relationship between race and the music as race lives in the house of music so that music is full of racial connections. They explain that the popular music is so attached to the race of its listener and the singer, where singers and listeners reflect the values of their race through listening to particular type of music. As explained by Perry, (2002) White American youth likes to listen to music where the researcher has found out that first preference of all respondents was same form of rock and roll where second preference was given to a similar form of country rap and R and B which was specific only to White American. When the researcher asked for the reason why they like the specific kind of music, respondents were not able to provide an answer other than that is what they are used to listen to, indicating that it has been a part of their life style and now they listen it as a habit which they do not want to change. However, race does not play a major role in liking towards some types of music such as rap. In the study of Perry, (2002) it is explained when white students are assigned to popular cultural forms derived from African American and Latin Urban cultures; they tend to change their taste of music to suit the gang of students that he is interacting with. In Perry,(2002)’s example, Matt has started listening to rap music as it made him look like “cool” and sound like “tough” among his peer groups at school. Matt explains that in all rap songs, singers talked about themselves and it had made Matt imagine it as himself in that position which made him feel cooler and tougher in his perspective. Sullivan, (2003) has conducted a research to identify the perception differences in Black and White youth in Midwestern city. Results of the survey reveals that when it comes to rap music, racial differences are minimum, and youth from both the races tend to listen to rap music often. However, when examining in detailed, Sullivan, (2003) found out that even though White Americans youth listen to rap music with a favourable sense, African Americans are more committed to rap songs and considers rap music to be more life affirming than it was perceived by White American youth. It was concluded in the research of Sullivan, (2003) that in selecting rap music, race does not act as a differentiator; however, commitment towards rap music varies significantly depending on the race of the youth. However, the study conducted by Hakanen and Wells, (2003) states that the ethnicity and the race does not play a major role in choosing music by young people which is contradicting with the findings made by Perry, (2002).


  • Boal-Palheiros G.M. and David J. H.. (2001). Listening to music at home and at school. British Journal of Music Education, Vol 18 (02), pp 103-118.
  • Perry, P. (2002), Shades of White: White kids and Racial Identities in High School, Durham, Duke University Press
  • Radano, R. and Boholman P.V. (2000). Music and the racial imagination. London: Sage Publications Ltd.
  • Sullivan, R.E.. (2003). Rap and Race It’s Got a Nice Beat, but What about the Message?. Journal of Black Studies. Vol 33 (5), pp605-622

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