October 12, 2010
I realize that for some of you the title to this Strictly Truth may be somewhat offensive, however, I find it rather funny seeing as it related directly to the picture above so...sorry.
Strictly Truth has been a venue for us to pose questions that illicit thought and provoke new insight on topics that are conducive to growth. I was on Twitter one day and I noticed that people have been truly taken with the youtube sensation "Shawt Bus Shawty" (click the link to view the short), so much so that its already received upwards of 8 million hits and is being imitated by young kids around the country. The mock depiction of contemporary artists: Waka Flocka Flame (Waka!), Gucci Mane (brrrr), OJ Da Juiceman (ayy!), and everyone's favorite possible drug addict, Soulja Boy (SOULLLGERR), is not only a hilarious spoof but, more alarmingly, strikingly parallel to the artists individual work. This all begged me to ask the question:
Is Today’s Music making The Kids Dumb?
Peep the weigh in by K. Masenda below...and challenge yourselves to think outside of the short bus. Again, my apologies for the pun.
Peace. Love. Truth.
Today’s artists face a listening audience that opens them up to more scrutiny than ever. Sure, there was a time when artists were on the scene five, ten, 20 years ago and beyond, but those artists didn’t have to worry about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, or any other media dissecting them like a science project. In those days, it was mainly about if their music was any good. While they had to answer questions, comments, and concerns about quality and integrity, it didn’t come in droves and in waves like it does in this day and time.
We see artists now who not only make music, but they have to live within the microscope of the music and the persona behind it. Dare them to try to sell it as entertainment, which some artists do. Some artists will be quick to tell you they are selling a character, or a lifestyle, and therefore, their music should be viewed within that scope. The counter, from detractors, is that kids are being exposed to it, and they lack the capacities to differentiate between fantasy and reality. While that last statement might be true, something has to be said about a person’s role that has the ability to deter kids from listening to it in the first place; that is, if a detractor’s concern really is about the kids.
For example, I was ten years old in 1992, which also made me 11 years old in 1993. Two albums were released in those years that were seen as toxic, debilitating, and destructive to not only the youth, but overall society by their detractors, opposition, and people who also said they were concerned for the youth being exposed to them. Those albums were The Chronic and Doggystyle. When they came out, I was young and impressionable and saw how cool the videos were, how cool I thought Dre and Snoop were, and how dope the lyrics were, even though I had little idea of what they were talking about. Despite my perception of them, my folks weren’t having it. Not only was I not listening to their music at home, I wasn’t allowed to listen to it in the car, and I certainly wasn’t allowed to own the albums. Their logic was I was a child and they weren’t going to allow me to be able to listen to their albums, no matter how much I wanted to.
They weren’t blaming Snoop, Dre, Death Row, or Interscope for their involvement in making albums like theirs. They weren’t ever holding them to some idealistic standard or standing on some philosophical perch about what’s right and wrong. They simply said that I, as their son, wasn’t allowed to listen to them, until I was able to get their album with my own money and until I was of age, and wouldn’t you guess it? I didn’t listen to either of those albums until high school, despite them being released when I was in the sixth and seventh grade, respectively.
Yes, times have changed, and kids have access to resources that kids my age certainly didn’t have in our time. However, the point remained that when an adult, in this case my parents, said no, that meant no. If there is a concern that some of today’s artists are poisoning the kids and making them dumber, then whose responsibility is it? I think artists should take some of it, but there’s also an understanding of how the game goes, and to be totally honest and 100% real, one of my boys says it best: the music we grew up on is way more destructive than what the kids today are listening to. With that said, my energy isn’t so much fueled toward the artists, because artists will always do what the majority of their base wants them to do, even if it is making music that some of the listening public isn’t crazy about, or outright despises. Instead, it will be geared towards adults to make sure they take proper measures to keep the exposure to a minimum. That is, if their genuine concern is about the kids.