Jay-Z and his Unconscious Influence

I came across a video clip of a preacher speaking out against the Hip Hop artist Jay-Z. Proponents of the evils of backmasking, like this preacher, argue that the effects of listening to music with backward messages are manifested in an unconscious manner on the listener’s subsequent behaviour.

He states that:

the heavy metal folks used to do that and they would put the backwards masked messages in your music and they’d say that your subconscious is smart enough—that right brain was smart enough to decode and flip that message so by the time it got to your left brain you understood it and you didn’t even know you understood it. You just acted it out. Because they have the song called Another One Bites the Dust—Queen. Played it backwards it said, I like to smoke marijuana. Yeah, and then they interviewed kids and kids say when they listen to it they just wanna get high, they just want to smoke weed and they had no idea that that message was being reversed in their mind and causing them to want to do that.”

I’d like to point out that contrary to this preacher’s claims, studies have shown that it is, in fact, impossible for the subconscious mind to “decode and flip that message”.

In volume 40, No. 11 of American Psychologist (November 1985), psychologist professors John R. Vokey and J. Don Read address the possibility of unconscious influence within reversed audio.

The proponents of backmasking argue that the effects of greatest concern are not the consciously perceived meanings of backward messages but rather those effects arising from unconscious or subliminal apprehension of the (forward) meaning of the material. Consequently, we also used tasks that required less in the way of conscious apprehension of meaning. We reasoned that if some subconscious mechanism existed for the interpretation of backward messages and their influence upon behaviour, then this mechanism should allow decisions to be made about content without necessarily revealing that content.

Their series of properly controlled scientific experiments included:

  • Identifying whether a backward message when played forward was a statement or a question – 52.1% accuracy (50% expected on the basis of random assignment)
  • whether they believed two sentences had the same meaning with only changes in the active or passive voice or whether the two sentences had different meanings — 44.81% accuracy (50% expected on the basis of random assignment)
  • identifying a series of sentences into whether or not they would make sense if heard in the forward direction – 45.2% accuracy (50% expected on the basis of random assignment)
  • categorizing statements of the sort, “Jesus loves me, this I know” into one of five content categories: nursery rhymes, Christian, satanic, pornographic, and advertising. 19.4% accuracy (20% expected on the basis of random assignment)

Upon the completion of their experiments Vokey and Read concluded, “we could find no evidence that our listeners were influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by the content of backward messages.”

I’m not one to deny that it does SOUND like Jay-Z has an anti-religious message in the reverse clip. It’s my belief that if such a message is intentional, its purpose is to gain publicity for his album. By pointing it out, this video has actually done a favour for Jay-Z. The prudent thing to do would be to ignore such obvious attention grabbing tactics. Nevertheless preachers like this one continue to disseminate the false claim that backwards messages within music can influence those listening. I think it’s because that message draws big crowds and allows the preachers to more easily sell copies of their sermons on DVDs.


[Jay-Z Subliminal Message - YouTube]

(Thanks Cody)

4 thoughts on “Jay-Z and his Unconscious Influence”

  1. If your subconscious mind does not flip the backmasking songs to play correctly, then why do they go through all the trouble of doing it

  2. because these people have to try and bring someone down they have nothing better to do then sit at home and listen to music backwards and try to get something out of nothing

  3. The Facts are facts. If you will do just a small bit if research you will find out that 1. Danger Mouse uses an a cappella version of Jay-Z’s The Black Album and chopped it up to make a new album. 2. The reverse message came for the 11th song on “Danger Mouse Grey Album” not the Black Album. People have to stop being sheep being lead to slaughter. Stop taking what other people say. They people you are telling this to you are the one that are trying to deceive you. Third, if you listen to Jay Z original song and play it backward you will hear nothing. Now if you listen to Danger Mouse song and play it backward you will here what you heard above. But the “MAJOR” point to this is IT IS NOT A MYSTERY. If you listen to the song forward you will not here any lyrics all it sounds like is someone playing bits words that are played backward… I.E when you listen to the long played forward you will think what the heck is that those words that are played backward. So you will go and play the song backward to find out what it is saying…Think people Think for your self. 4 Grey Tuesday was a day of coordinated electronic civil disobedience on February 24, 2004. Led by Downhill Battle, an activist group seeking to restructure the music industry, participating websites posted copies of Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album for free download on its sites for 24 hours in protest of EMI’s attempts to prevent any distribution of this unlicensed work. This protest was provoked by the opinion that the sampling is fair use and that a statutory license should be provided in the same manner as if a song had been covered. IM not saying any more do research and stop being a sheep.

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