Rebellious Rhapsody: Metal, Rap, Community, and Individuation

Acad Psychiatry. 2002 Mar;26(1):51-59. doi: 10.1176/appi.ap.26.1.51.


Music can be a powerful force and tool in the life of an adolescent. It forms a social context and informs the adolescent about the adult world through the lens of artists' lives, language, and presence as models. Allegiance to a form of music is allegiance to those who make it, a way to friendship and kinship, and a road to personal identity through belonging. In their relationships formed through music, teens can create a sense of community that may be lacking in the life of family. The rebellious music of earlier generations has given rise to complex musical genres, rap and heavy metal, that are strong in defiance and controversial in their violent and sexual content. What do these musical affiliations tell us about certain segments of adolescent development and culture? The authors consider this question by exploring the form and content of the music while using it to illuminate psychodynamic and psychosocial aspects of adolescent development.