Hip-hop has always been a source of controversy within the black community, and society as a whole. It's commonly cited as a source of violence and misogyny that pervades our society. However, Hip-hop is in no way the root cause of this, just as books, movies, and television shows are not. Hip-hop is merely the musical equivalent of the struggles of blacks (and other minorities) in America, and often racial bias can interfere with one's understanding of the musical subject matter. Hip-hop can very often be a positive force as well, both in addressing important social issues and in violence prevention.
This the type of image that the words "Hip-hop" and "Rap" conjure in the minds of many. Convicted criminals, covered in tattoos, and on their way to a penitentiary. This is, at least in part, a view somewhat substantiated by certain segments of Hip-hop. There are rappers who will rap about committing violent acts in their music, but there's just as many country music stars who will sing about it in their music aswell.
A study was conducted in which 30 people were given violent rap and country lyrics to read. In almost every scenario, rap was perceived as the only genre exhibiting violence. This is known as an observational bias, and is important to understanding the general anti-rap culture of today. It is also often cited that people who listen to Hip-hop are more prone to violence. However, recent study would suggest that the flip side is the case, that violence prone people are more like to to listen to hip hop, eliminating any form of causation.
This is Philthy Rich, and Oakland-area rapper who has had a life of criminal activity. From his first arrest at age 11, he has seen and committed crimes first hand. However, he doesn't use his music to promote any of this. He is an outspoken anti-violence advocate, participating in a group in Oakland which helps troubled teenagers escape the criminal life. These changes in his lifestyle came about during the time he's spent in Hip-hop. Many other rappers also use their soapbox as a means to spread a positive social message.
In conclusion, Hip-hop is not the negative force that people may want to paint it as. It has just as much good or bad potential as any form of media.