Music and the social environment. "Brenda's Got a Baby" by Tupac Shakur
When it comes to the topic of music, I would believe my taste to be of an eclectic variety. I’ve always been into many different genres of music such as, but not limited to, rap, hip-hop, R&B, pop, country, alternative, and rock. Like most people I am drawn to the beat of the music but what separates me from most is my love for the lyrics. The lyric’s that tell a story and speaks to a specific cause draws me in and allows me to get lost for the 3-minute duration of the song. One song in particular “Brenda’s Got a Baby” written by Tupac Shakur is a great example of a song that explores the all too common misfortunes of individuals in today’s society. Specifically, Tupac discovers and analyzes the intense troubles of an adolescent female from the inner city and how her struggle affects the whole community.
In the song, Brenda is a young girl (twelve years old), who lives in a ghetto with her distant mother and drug-addicted father. She gets sexually involved with her cousin and in result becomes pregnant. Brenda believed that her cousin who is merely a molester would stay with her and help her raise the baby but on the contrary, he abandons her and leaves her to give birth on a bathroom floor alone. Brenda proceeds to throw the baby in a trashcan but her conscience kicks in and she retrieves the baby after she hears its cries. After being scolded by her mother she runs away from home beginning a life on her own. After many unsuccessful attempts at finding employment she attempts to sell drugs which results in her getting robbed. Her last resort or, as she views it, is prostitution, which ultimately leads her to being murdered. Through the use of sympathetic narration this song explores the pertinent issue of teen pregnancy and the effect it has on young mothers and their families. While examining the struggle of young mothers, Tupac also analyzes the lack of support from the father of the children, the government and society as a whole.
While the characters are fictitious in the song, the story is all but fictional. While reading a newspaper Tupac came across a story about a twelve-year-old girl who got pregnant by her cousin and in not wanting her parents to find out, threw her baby in a trashcan. As shocking as this story is, it resonates to many and impacts individuals all over the world because it is a common situation that has yet to be resolved.
‘Brenda’s Got A Baby’, has many underlying statements about human behavior and the social environment but one that resonates the most with me is how in many areas people feel that when an individual has a problem they are solely alone and their issue doesn’t affect the community. This lack of community support is shown in the first few lines of the song, “ I hear Brenda’s got a baby, but Brenda’s barely got a brain, a damn shame, the girl can hardly spell her name (That’s not our problem, that’s up to Brenda’s family), Well let me show you how it affects the whole community”. In the song Tupac examines how Brenda is apart of a broken system within her family, and her family is apart of a broken system within their community. He illustrates lyrically how the cycle is never ending due to the lack of support and knowledge that everyone possesses. This is in accordance with Kondrat (2002), which states, “ The person as a system exists within the family system that exists within the neighborhood that exists within a community, and so forth (pg. 437). What Kondrat described is also known as the Systems Theory, which is, “a theory that provides an exceptionally useful means for understanding human behavior in many contexts, including the interactions of individuals, groups, families, organizations and communities in the macro social environment” (Kirst-Ashman, 2008, pg. 54). In regards to the community and family style that Tupac illustrated in his song, I believe that by using the empowerment theory, a lot of the misfortunes that took place would have possibly not existed. Kirst-Ashman (2008) defines empowerment as “the process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals can take action to improve their life situations”. She goes on to state that groups using the empowerment approach can strive “to change conditions that thwart the control people have over their lives, that prevent them from accessing needed resources and that keep them from participating in the life of their community” (pg. 56)
The lyrics do not allude to a specific race but the visual for the song has a Black/African American girl as the lead. All of the characters in the family as well as the community are also Black/African American. Unlike race, which is based on biological features and is easier to pinpoint, distinguishing the ethnicity in this piece served to be difficult. Ethnicity is about tradition, learned behavior and customs. It would be too much of an assumption to state what ethnicities were in this piece since it was not clearly stated. This piece suggests the characters are in a lower class in three ways. Firstly, the setting takes place in a ghetto, secondly Brenda has no money and is forced to sell drugs and her body to pay her rent and lastly the song referenced Brenda’s mother wanting a share of her public assistance money.
- Quote paper
- LMSW Otivia Headley (Author), 2013, Music and the social environment. "Brenda's Got a Baby" by Tupac Shakur, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/345094