Life has many facets, and they are all important. One that takes up a lot of time for most people is that of culture, and one of the aspects of culture that is ubiquitous in its influence is music, all types. Music, though considered as “entertainment,” is actually a very important component of our lives.
This is because everything in our existence is related in one way or another to frequency and vibration. Frequency and vibration are carriers of information.
There are certain frequencies, i.e., music that appeal to differing groups. The following musicians/musical groups have been especially venerated by African Americans – Jay-Z, Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Alicia Keyes, Nina Simone, Gloria Gaynor, Cab Calloway, Chance the Rapper, the Dells, the Spaniels, the Del Vikings, Chaka Khan, Whitney Houston, New Edition, Boys to Men, Lou Rawls, and the Four Tops.
We can also name Ella Fitzgerald, Ray Charles, India.Arie, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, Diana Ross, Tina Turner, Aaliyah, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Queen Latifa, Mahalia Jackson, Etta James, Gladys Knight, Patti Labelle, Billy Eckstein, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, James Brown, and many, many more too numerous to name.
The point is that each of these individuals has gained lasting fame because of the music that they produced.
Music is not frivolous – it greatly impacts the minds and hearts of people. Think back – very often key incidents in our lives are connected with the music that was most prominent at the time. In other words, music is a transmitter of emotion, and that is why it is so valued and so important in our world.
And this is why musicians are so highly paid and are greatly venerated. They are the actual purveyors of emotion, and the kind of frequency varies with time periods. The music of yesterday, therefore, differs quite a bit from the music that we hear today.
One of the most recent, prominent and influential musical movements is what is called Hip-Hop. It started out fairly benign, with the likes of Cool Herc, LL Cool J, Grandmaster Flash, Jam-master Jay, Run D.M.C., Will Smith, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Sean (P. Diddy) Combs, and many, many others.
As Hip Hop progressed, it became more hard core. One of the groups that kicked off the more political forms of the genre was Public Enemy whose signature piece was “Fight the Power.” Gangsta’ Rap followed with artists such as Ice Cube, Ice Tea, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, to name a few. During this phase, people began to lose their lives based on lyrics, most notably, Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Today we have “drill” music which is extremely violent.
Now, if you want proof of the influence of music on the hearts and minds of people in the Black community, think on this: the increase in Black–on-Black murders among Black men today directly corresponds with the increasing violence currently depicted in rap music.
Today, some of the most vile rap music targeting Black people is being produced! This is not an accident. By any standard, contemporary rap music is some of the most vulgar music that has been offered to the public in modern history. The rap music available across mainstream airwaves includes instructions to kill ni**as, kill women and other family members, labels women as b*tches and hoes, and has other degrading elements.
The behavior of our youth has grown progressively worse in this age of mass incarceration as the music has become overtly offensive.
The lesson in all of this is that musicians and musical offerings play an important part in shaping society by impacting the minds of its citizens. Because of this, it will be impossible to change Black communities for the better as long as the vile version of rap music is readily accessible to our youth.
This music is definitely a form of “heir” pollution, in that it passes on information that influences negative behavior. We need a counter-movement, with positive music, that can oppose what is commonly available nowadays, and this needs to happen SOON! A Luta Continua.