People keep saying the music today sucks; that it’s oversexed, arrogant and materialistic. That may be somewhat true, but that doesn’t mean it’s completely shallow. By compassion today’s music may not seem as poignant as the past, but it must not be dismissed.
Popular music, especially from black artists, is a window into who and where we are as a society. It isn’t the music that causes the problem, but rather the converse. It’s time we learn to read between the lines.
The music is materialistic because of our distorted sense of success. It's just like the times when black kids were inspired by the allure of neighborhood drug dealers, pimps and pickpockets.This generation is inspired by those same kids who grew up to become rappers and athletes. Such imagery of success is used to pacify our community’s ambitions. Thus, in an effort to stop us from aspiring to other socially satisfying opportunities that would be more beneficial to the quality of life of others.
Flaunting diamond chains, Lamborghinis and scantily clad women is a ploy to encourage us to police ourselves into second class citizenship. Progression cannot happen without assets. Both financial and intellectual, the current music is a representation of how we’re indirectly influenced to acquire things that are outwardly wealthy, yet are actually monetary and spiritual liabilities.
Not all music is like this. There are many artists who create music with morally sound themes and uplifting melodies. Music distributors and program directors filter in misogynistic, money flossing tracks to the radio, leaving the listener blind to all other types of music that gets ignored or shelved. In a way, these executives are no different from the mob bosses who sent drugs into Harlem, drugs into Bed-Stuy and guns into South Central; vices to simultaneously temporary alleviate our fears and sorrows while permanently corrupting our minds.
Music must be a tool to take the wool from the front of our eyes, not the poison that taints our bodies and souls. An expansion of possibilities must be exposed to our youth to get their minds out of the gutter and ultimately get some of the music out of it as well. Black music’s relegation as hedonistic and shallow has been happening since the 1950s to condemn our credibility in American expression. We shouldn’t do the same. The next time you hear “Because I Got High,” “Beamer, Benz or Bentley,” or “Sex Therapy,” do not denounce it, but understand that we must change the circumstances before we can change the content.
By: Matthew C. Allen