School of Criminal Justice Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences – Department of Justice and Human Services

First Advisor

Tina Jaeckle

Second Advisor

Jared Bucker

Third Advisor

James Artley

Fourth Advisor

James Artley


The criminal Black male stereotype, cemented in early American literature, has been perpetuated in movies, TV shows, and now on mainstream radio. For this study, Billboard song lyrics were analyzed for three main themes—violence, misogyny, and drugs/alcohol. Billboard song rankings are based on digital download sales, radio airplay, and Internet streaming. The researcher found that the songs played on hip hop and rap genre radio stations con-tained lyrics that strongly correlated with the three themes. The researcher also examined whether a relationship existed between artist’s race and lyrics about violence, misogyny, and drugs/alcohol. Black artists comprised 48% of the artists studied; compared to White artists’ lyrics, Black artists’ lyrics contained the majority of instances of each theme. The Federal Communications Commission does not restrict vulgar lyrical content played on hip hop and rap radio stations. In addition, according to studies of media influence on the social perceptions of racial groups and history of the Black male’s role in entertainment, the mainstream radio industry selects Black artists whose lyri-cal themes show a prevalence of violence, misogyny, and drugs/alcohol.