Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Chris Brown, Others, Out 'Ignoranting' One Another

Gil Scott-Heron wrote the celebrated, militant poem "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." The title, which has become a popular mantra, means that thinking is paramount and, unfortunately, not a common practice. Featured on his 1971 album, "Pieces of Man," the lyrical poem describes how media transformed into a medium that keeps individuals, especially African Americans, from thinking. Although Scott-Heron’s piece focused on television, his concept also applies to radio.

As a child growing up in Memphis, music was one of the most socially responsible mediums for communication, political and social activism. This was even applicable to R&B music; although it was one of the most expressive vehicles for transferring the amorous feelings of love, during the Civil Rights era, the music was used to lend voice to important social commentary reflective of the needs of the African American community. In fact, most popular artists consistently used their music for this purpose, producing some of the greatest love songs known to this genre. Whether it was Aretha Franklin's "Respect," which spoke of equality for black women, Marvin Gaye's protest of the Vietnam War in "What's Going On," or James Brown's "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud," music tended to reflect the needs of the community and collective more than the selfish avarice of the individual.

Today, there are few such artists with a focus and dedication that would allow them to sing for the betterment of the African American community. Instead of Marvin Gaye, James Brown, and Sam Cooke, there are the Dream, Pleasure P, Chris Brown and Trey Songz. These individuals, albeit talented, lack substance and often sing about the same topics.

Looking at Trey Songz, it appears that most of his songs are about sex; titles include clear messages -- "Sex for Yo Stereo", "No Clothes On", "Make Love Tonight", "Just Wanna Cut", "Neighbors Know My Name" and "I Invented Sex." One would imagine that a conscious and responsible adult would be able to sing about subjects beyond sex, and I am certain that he could if he tried; however, his focus may be elsewhere. Perhaps he doesn’t know the history of the music that’s representative of the community from which it originates.

Throughout history, we African Americans have used music as a tool to tackle prejudice and racism. It appears that this practice is no longer lived or perceived as vital and may even be considered by some to be unappealing or worse unimportant. The question is, will music ever continue the legacy of Marvin Gaye's "Make Me Wanna Hollar" or Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come"? I cannot answer that, for it seems that most current artists in hip hop and R&B are more interested in being carbon copies — content on "out ignorating” each other. It is obvious that the revolution will not be on the radio either …

16 comments:

Ray Ray said...

it's been awhile, no? at any rate, this is BEYOND true. it's sad what people will forfeit just for a few dollars and a couple of minutes of fame.

T.C. said...

i agree with Ray Ray..this is beyond true. if i hear another "sex" song...its just ridiculous there is no depth no substance no urgency to making sure that we move forward as a people and with the current war on everything including the education of our young people being slipped out with mere "certificates of completion" instead of a "high school diploma" there is plenty of content to be conscious about

Rich Fitzgerald said...

It's bigger than the artists. The radio execs only want this type of poison in our community. "Let them all screw themselves into oblivion" they say. The artists who sing what you subscribe here as good music can't buy a living in the music industry. Instead, artists are given the red carpet treatment to sell their souls.

jalishouse said...

Excellent post. I've been away from the blogger's circle for quite a while, and it's encouraging to read this today.

Hope you and the children are well. Puppy too!

Genius slowly going Insane said...

Yea I agree.

The music on radio has been going south for a long time. I would even say that the music of now has gotten to the point of ignorance. I recently saw a documentary on this same subject and from this documentary I got the view that. It isn't the artist's fault but, the business of radio it's self. The documentary I saw was called "Before The Music Dies".

http://www.televisionwithoutpity.com/hulu/show.php?title=1238

It essentially documents the decline of music that made you want to give a damn about what was going on and not only that offered solutions to the problems that where brought to the for front of mind. I feel the only way that people will be able to hear the music that made you think with a higher consciousness will only be hear or seen on the internet. But, as the internet now being so vast and almost infinite. it is both a blessing and a curse to it's self.

Curious said...

Someone said it before, take the money out. There are too many performers out there trying to copy what made someone else rich and then once they have found it, repeat it over and over again. There are too many companies out there not looking to make good product but good profits and justify the existence of the execs to the shareholders. Take the money out and see what kind of beauty that you get, but that won't happen.

Back in the day Berry Gordy may have been a bastard to the artists that worked for him, but he made people make music that made him proud and not just rich.

Daniel said...

Fame can change a man like money can, you get so caught up in the attention just like when you have money. and 9 times out of 10 they come hand in hand.

James said...

Fame can change a man like money can, you get so caught up in the attention just like when you have money. and 9 times out of 10 they come hand in hand. And if money is the route of all evil then why do we all have jobs?

cordieb said...

The artists push what sells. Look at the titles of your books, RDB - these are the titles, pictures, and ideas that sell big, unfortunately to the future leaderes of black america. Young minds of today are fed so much trash, that they don't know anything else. As responsible artists, we all must contribute to the betterment of our people. Trey Songs does have a very touching, meaningful song from his debut cd, "Just Got to Make It," that I heard played a lot on the radio and purchased, most likely because he's from my home town, the title of the track is "From a Woman's Hands." If you haven't heard it, you've got to go download and here this one! The whole CD is nice, but it wasn't what sells to the youth of today, unfortunately - and the money makers are always pushing to make more money. Any suggestions on stopping the cycle of destruction, Dawg?

Blessings, C.

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