RSS

Monthly Archives: July 2013

The Lyrics are Rather Controversial…. Or They Were

Maybe it’s is because I am getting older, but music just doesn’t seem to be the same these days. I remember being excited to hear my favorite artists were releasing a new album, song or even video. The internet wasn’t the force it is today so we mostly heard about it on MTV or in magazines. Better still we would go to the local record store and be pleasantly surprised to see a new CD (or Cassette lol) by our favorite group, band or rapper. I still remember the smell of a brand new tape or CD as I opened the package. You could slap that into your radio and listen to the whole thing. I remember memorizing all the words to my favorite songs and how great i felt when I got them right!

Times have changed and now that I am older it seems something about music has changed. I Don’t feel the same excitement and honestly can’t remember the last time I was excited about new music. Maybe to you this statement doesn’t sound that odd because we all get older, and identify less with current music as this happens. The thing to remember here is that I am a DJ! I spend a minimum of 3 nights a week playing music for crowds so I can earn a living. So if anyone should feel excitement about new music it should be me!

I spend a lot of time, thought and effort pondering why I feel this way. Through all this examination I have come up with a few possible suspects on why I feel the way i do about current music.  Could it be my age and that I identify less with the music. I very seriously considered this several times. I came to the conclusion that this couldn’t be the issue. After several hours, over countless days of couple of years of putting serious thought into this I stumbled upon a conclusion through a newer type of music…. Dub step.

When I was first introduced to Dub Step Music I must admit I was not a fan. So at first this seemed to further my hypothesis of “I was getting old and didn’t relate to the music.” As time went on, however, my opinion changed. Like any good DJ I would play this hideous music if it is what the crowd wanted. After a short time I started to feel something. Keeping an open mind, as I always try to do, I very quickly began to feel the music and respond positively to the energy. After I finally admitted to myself that I liked Dub Step I came to the realization that it couldn’t be my age that was giving me the disconnect with other forms of music, mainly Hip-Hop and Rock.

This was a great discovery for me and it made me focus on the other suspect in my self investigation. This suspect or should I say these suspects I am referring to are “The Lyrics.” I have said for a long time that lyrics aren’t what they used to be. I remember when i was younger people asking me why I liked a certain band or rap group I always answered “the Lyrics” first.

Why should lyrics matter that much anyway? If you have a “Hot” beat does it really matter? I guess that depends on who you ask. Even though I was conscious about my love for lyrics I never really realized how paramount lyrics were and still are to me. It wasn’t until I really examined this issue. Even in writing this piece it has become more apparent to me and I have made some revelations that I will share with you.

To talk about this topic is to talk about society in general. Society is ever evolving which changes music, fashion and art. A great example of this is the 60’s. This was a decade marked by civil disobedience, government corruption and social change. When I listen to the music of this era I feel all of this. As I sing the words and feel the music flow through me transporting me back to those times. Depending on the song it also makes me think of current events such as war and corruption but also love, harmony and the striving for peace.

Skipping ahead to the 80’s and the development of Rap Music we see great change as well. Most Rap groups of the late 80’s were talking about their environment. They would speak of the problems they saw around them. By doing this, knowingly or not, they shed light on what most “Middle Class” Americans either had no clue about or chose to ignore. I will focus on two groups who were as different as night and day. these groups were Public Enemy and N.W.A.

N.W.A., which stands for Niggas With Attitudes, was a group of west coast rappers that included most famously Easy E, Ice Cube and Dr. Dre. They talked about their environment in a way that had not been successfully done until that point. It was considered “Gangster Rap” and critics scorned them for glorifying that lifestyle. It was really no different than movies such as: “Scarface” or “Good Fellas.” There may have been some glorifying going on, but there were also lessons to be learned as well as messages being spread about what was really going on in some American Streets. Whether what they talked about was actually true or fiction didn’t really matter. It didn’t matter because they were mirroring what was happening on a daily basis on the streets of L.A. and most likely many major cities across the U.S. They spoke of gangs, drugs, guns, robbery, prostitution, etc in ways that made you understand just how one could get caught up in all of it. A few years later some movies came out such as “Boyz in Da Hood” “South Central” and “Menace 2 Society”(Just to name a few) which really gave a visual reference to what was going on and what was being depicted in this music

Public Enemy on the other hand was from the east coast. It included Chuck D, Professor Griff, Terminator X, and of course Flavor Flav. They were equally as competent when it came to shedding light on social issues. Their focus was more political however. Where N.W.A. was speaking of symptoms of an illness, Public Enemy was speaking about the illness itself… Inequality! I speak of Class inequality which is easily and conveniently mistaken for racial inequality. Public Enemy understood this and shed light on all levels of inequality whether it be in politics, war, movies and especially music. I remember memorizing lyrics and it gave me chills speaking them… That is power! I didn’t realize then why I got chills or why I felt so empowered, but I have a good idea today why I felt that way.

Getting back to the evolution of society. It seems that for whatever reason (you can draw your own conclusion here) lyrics have went from artists reporting on problems in there community and social issues to talking about their accumulation of materialistic objects and wealth. I’m not putting the blame on the artists themselves. if I had a new Bentley I would want to sing about it too. i am simply pointing out the change in lyrical content over the years.

How does this tie into how music makes a person feel? Well it’s actually quite simple when you think about it. It really relates to money and materialistic pursuits. A majority of people believe happiness is attained by accumulation of wealth. I wrote about this in an earlier piece entitled “Money = Happiness?”  Yes it may feel good to accumulate wealth (I wouldn’t know). I have heard it leaves you empty inside and you are never truly happy as it is never enough. I do, however, have experience with plenty of happiness even though I am far from wealthy. How did I attain this happiness you may ask? Well basically through love, being a decent person and helping others. You can read the piece I just mentioned on my blog if you want to know more.

I believe this is as simple as comparing the Materialistic world versus Spirituality. For example: When we work hard at our job, make a decent wage and pay bills we feel good. Unfortunately it doesn’t last because we have to go back to work everyday to pay more bills each month. Now let’s say you give out some good advice to a friend. This person follows it and they benefit from your advice. This also makes you feel good. Or say you jump someones car who has a dead battery, or you buy a friend a meal. These are simple actions which make you feel good inside as well. Now imagine you gave clothes to a homeless person or fed a hungry child, how would you feel then? This type of good feeling doesn’t fade away as easily because no one can take that deed away from you. The bank can repossess the car you have been making monthly payments on, and even though it felt good to make those payments, it all goes away if they take the car back. Those are a few small examples, but you get the point.

Now to tie this in with lyrics. I can only speak of my personal experience, but whenever I sing lyrics along in my car, the shower, or a club, I feel good as I’m sure we all do. However, when I sing about “Fighting the Power”(Public Enemy)  or “They don’t gotta burn the books they just remove ’em” (Rage Against the Machine) or even “It was All a Dream” (Notorious B.I.G.) It’s a different kind of good feeling. It is different from the good feeling I get when singing about: “got money, and you know it” (Lil Wayne) or “Beamer, Benz and Bentley, my jeans are never empty”(Lloyd Banks). I really believe this feeling translates to how we feel on a daily basis. When we sing or rap about positives things and changing our community or lives for the better we feel something that can’t easily be taken from us.

I am going to end this by quoting the Wyclef song “It doesn’t matter” Featuring the Rock:

Yo, yo, yo I got fifty Bentley’s in the West Indies

(It doesn’t matter!)

I got a pocket full of cheese and a garden full of trees

(It doesn’t matter!)

I just won the bingo bought a crib in Rio

(It doesn’t matter!)

‘Cause if you ain’t sharin’ people ain’t carin’ Come up in the hood and they take everything you wearin’

Advertisements
 
2 Comments

Posted by on July 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

When Does Help Become Too Much Help?

It’s no secret that most everything I was ever told growing up was a lie (By society not my parents). For example: Salt is bad for you, FALSE. Marijuana kills brain cells, FALSE. Sticking our nose into other countries business and starting or supporting wars is vital to the American way of life…. Hmmmmm this one isn’t so easy to make a judgement on. There are no studies or experiments that could be done in a lab to prove or disprove this. Maybe I can examine a few recent wars to see if I can come up with a good answer.

Take the Vietnam War for example. Itvietnamwar2 was touted as being necessary to fight the spread of communism. We had to help those poor Vietnamese people so they wouldn’t fall under Communist rule. Was it really up to the US what happened over there, or up to the people of Vietnam? One major flaw of this countries government is they act like the “Boss” of the world. We see countries and their conflicts and we automatically assume we know what is best for them. Maybe as a “free” society we should try to help other peoples in their fight for freedom, but do we go too far?

Let’s examine this question by comparing these wars with our own revolution. This is a great example because we were struggling for our freedom while being ruled by a monarch in another country. We felt we could do a better job ourselves. We also reached out to other countries for aid, and one that responded was France. They sent troops, ships and money which proved invaluable and helped us win the war.

Some argued the French could have done more to help us. These arguments were very prevalent during the war as well . Our country wanted more troops, ships and aid from the French. It’s obvious now that we didn’t need anymore, and we made good with what we received.

Now imagine for a moment the french did send more help. Say we convinced the nation of France that this war was imperative to stopping the spread of the British Empire and they should make it there number one goal to drive the British out of the American colonies. If we somehow accomplished this and the French sent the majority of their army and naval fleet to the colonies many would see this as a good thing. They would have a huge force and really give the British a pounding. However, the French armies would be encamped all over the new world. This wouldn’t be the intended purpose, but when the war was over the US would have a huge french army “occupying” American soil.  Now let’s say the French realize their huge investment in this new world and want to protect it. After all they just spent countless lives of troops, ships, money etc ensuring our freedom from the Brits. They may feel they would have to leave troops here to protect us from a follow up British invasion or from another country who may swoop in and try to gain control over our new nation. If this were to happened the French would have wasted all those lives and resources for nothing. How could anyone blame them for wanting to protect their investment.

Think about this for a moment. There would be a standing french army on American soil, here to “protect us” from an unseen enemy. From the point of view of the American people, who just gained their independence from one nation, it would look like the French didn’t trust us with this  new freedom that they had just helped us gain. After awhile of this “occupation” the American people could want to rebel against the French, or the French could try to make us part of the their own Empire. One could compare this scenario to the Iraqi war. At first they greeted us as liberators. Then as we became an occupying force they began to resent and rebel against us.

The point here is there could be such a thing as too much “help”. It’s like that old saying: “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he feeds himself for a lifetime.” If our government really wanted to help these countries there may be better ways to go about it. Instead of starting or participating in an all out War we could give them aid, support, and funding. If this isn’t enough to help them gain independence then maybe they are not ready. Maybe it is not their time. Who are we to make that decision? I believe if we do want to give aid or support it should be up to congress however. This way there would be a more representative decision on the part of the American people on who we help and why. Instead of helping a country because they have oil or are strategically important in a region. Of course this would only truly work if you had an uncorrupted system. Which is a whole other story.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on July 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,