As hard as it may be to say this, I believe it to be true; black music has sunken to a gravely low in terms of the content in songs. It has now become about partying, drugs, alcohol and sex. The consistent flooding of such songs has made it hard for the public to know of positive music because radio and television do not really care about society; people are just ratings to them, and that is why they don’t bother to build the minds that tune into them.
A lot of these corporations are targeting the youth and giving them the wrong impression that life is all about dancing and competing about who can buy more drinks than who. The culture of our music has become a game of ping-pong where artists and fans go back and forth with perpetuating the behaviour that has ruined the music, and the people who listen to it.
R&B used to be more about love and romance, now all you hear are songs that are nothing less than soft porn anthems. People are no longer motivated and told to believe they can fly or find the greatest love of all; can I take you out has now been replaced by buying drinks and expecting sex in return. Sadly, that has not only become what we want to hear, it has become what we want to do. You can’t even tell the difference between an actual rapper and a singer because the lyrics have the same shallow utterances that talk about popping pills, living a party life, objectifying women and treating them as slot machines. It is quite terrible because now even female R&B singers have dropped their standards; they dress up like the women rappers talk about and offer themselves as objects through songs. Black artists’ music videos are always filled with half naked girls in bedrooms, nightclubs and house parties on rented property to create a false impression of opulence, yet the races that make the most revenue out of their music are far from ostentatious. They are comfortable fully clothed and don’t even brag. Instead, they sing about romance, social awareness and making the world a better place.
As a kid, when I heard the line, “I love the way you receive me,” from The Isley’s “Between The Sheets”, I had not even the slightest clue what it meant. It was a grown up thing to say, but it was harmless to my ears as a child, and that is why I only got to understand what it meant when I was much older. Today’s Hip Hop/R&B songs and their lyrics are not child-friendly even when censored because they are graphically descriptive and are on prime time broadcasting platforms that kids are exposed to. Songs with a message get little to no airplay and I guess it is because they carry a positive message that may stop listeners from making poor decisions due to the fact that radio and TV. stations have alcohol brands as advertisers. If they make us dance like life is an everyday party, then it is the more we buy the liquor that makes profit for their clients to pay them.
I know someone out there is saying people choose what they want to listen to, but what choice do they have when their only option is what they are constantly exposed to and with the alternative being a different artist with the same type of message? The longer you expose someone to something, they eventually adapt to it, even in music and that is why some people gained confidence through Hip-Hop and the egos of their favourite rappers, while others became more romantic with the more R&B they listened to.
I’m not just speaking about black music in one specific region, but globally. All we have become is people that celebrate even without reason while our problems pile up. Artists are no longer creative enough to make beautiful music with substance because even people don’t want to listen to the message, they just want to hear a song to dance to, yet the song is likely to become an anthem if the lyrics are about money, drugs and sex. It is quite unfortunate that the overindulgence we perceive as having a good time to escape our problems is the reason why we can’t solve them. Music is the most consumed source of information in the black community for inspiration, comforting and motivation, yet that type of content, the one we actually need most, is the one we don’t even create for ourselves anymore. Our kids are in trouble because the one thing that is meant to be a capsule for positive memories is what is going to rob them off their mental innocence and make them curious to be adults and act like them, even though they don’t have the maturity of an elder.
Written By: Lerato Finiza (@LeratoFiniza)