Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip-Hop

Article excerpt

Hadley, S., & Yancy, G. (Eds.). (2012). Therapeutic uses of rap and hip-hop. New York, NY: Routledge, 427 pages. ISBN-10: 978-0-415-88474-7. $34.95. ISBN-13: 9780415-88473-0 $135.00.

Therapeutic Uses of Rap and Hip-Hop, edited by Susan Hadley and George Yancy, advocates for the use of this genre in therapy. By providing an in-depth history and exploration of many case examples and programs, the authors explain not only how hip-hop can be extremely beneficial to clients, but how neglecting or excluding its use can be harmful to clients by sending negative messages about who they are as people and as members or their communities. With the current movement towards person-centered and culturally competent treatment, it is imperative for music therapists and other health care professionals to engage clients in the music and culture they identify with. The authors challenge barriers to using rap and hip-hop in therapy such as misconceived generalizations about negative lyrics and therapist's personal unease related to unfamiliarity. This book addresses a significant gap in the literature and in music therapy training programs. It is a starting point for practitioners who want to incorporate hiphop in their practices, and a wonderful resource for those who already do and want to further understand and develop their work. There is some incongruence between chapters in the meaning of terms, which is discussed and attributed to the lack of literature on the subject. Generally, "hip-hop" includes music, dance, art, poetry, fashion, and all aspects of the culture, while "rap" refers specifically to music.

The book is divided into three major sections. The first provides a comprehensive history of the genre including its development, starting in the South Bronx in the 1970s as well as its West African roots. It also explores various theoretical perspectives connecting hip-hop and treatment. Section 2 provides case examples and descriptions of programs with atrisk youth in which various receptive, recreative, and improvisatory methods are explored. Though the focus is on music-based interventions, there are examples of other creative arts modalities including dance, poetry, and art. The last section provides a similar review of clinical case examples, studies, and programs, focusing on specific settings. The settings include outpatient mental health, a children's hospital, inpatient addictions treatment, oncology, and inpatient forensics. Every chapter in this book not only advocates for the use of rap and hip-hop in treatment, but also helps legitimize it. Arguments against using rap and hip-hop are outlined and challenged by providing historical and social contexts, describing many examples of its benefits through research and case examples, and offering detailed explanations of why and how hip-hop's musical and cultural intricacies facilitate clients in attaining greater health.

The history and theory section starts with a chapter by Andrea Frisch Hara, who provides a history of hip-hop to describe how its musical, social, and cultural attributes are beneficial to adolescents in therapy. The plentiful web links to traditional African music, R&B, blues, and old school and modern rap are excellent in illustrating the development of rap and its roots, and again its significance to adolescent development. In the second chapter, Don Elligan describes the different of types of rap, such as "gansta" and "political," and explains how each type lends itself to psychotherapy with adolescents.

Chapters 3, 4, and 5 offer different theoretical lenses through which to explore rap in music therapy. Aaron Lightstone applies a music-centered approach to the therapeutic use of rap, where the focus is on active music making. Significant aesthetic, thematic, cultural, and historical aspects of rap are discussed, related to their importance in meeting client needs, and related to music therapist's responsibilities to develop knowledge and musical skills. …


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