Over the weekend I sat down to work on a mix for a CD that I and another DJ are trying to put out together. Since he is the lesser experienced D,J I asked him to make a mix and then I would design my mix around his. We’re based in Atlanta so I knew it would be mostly down south rap, which I don’t have a problem with. In fact I had a playlist in my mind, but had to switch it up because he ended up using some of the same songs I was thinking of. This caused me to have to go digging for some other tracks online. I figured it wouldn’t be that hard to find something worth adding to the mix but I was oh, so wrong.
I honestly don’t know where to begin so I’ll just be blunt. Today’s rap and R&B music sucks. It doesn’t just suck its plain horrible. As I listened to the music previewing it for some new hotness I was bombarded by unoriginal lyrics, extreme use of vulgar profanity, over sexualized themes, and wack beats. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a DJ and I believe in freedom of expression just like anyone in the industry. I just can’t see how some of this stuff made it out of the studio. There used to be balance in the music world. For every NWA, there was a Public Enemy. For every “Between the Sheets”, there was a “What’s Going On”. What happened to the music you could play in front of the kids or your parents? What happened to singing and rapping about social ills, and just plain old love? Why is everyone claiming to be a drug dealer or killer in our music? And yes the problem is mainly in OUR music. Black Music, Urban Contemporary, or whatever you want to call it, is OUR music. You don’t hear this much killing on the pop charts, and Country music sells way more than Rap and yet they don’t have to cater to the lowest common denominator. Why do we feel the need to only entertain ourselves with violence, drug dealing, and sex, sex, sex?
I’m well aware that there are many exceptions to the rule, but if you turn on “The People’s Station”, or the station “Where Hip-Hop, and R&B Live” you will not hear them; unless the artist is doing a big show in town which rarely happens. Lupe Fiasco doesn’t get major play on the radio; neither does Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Jean Gray, or any other artist with good sense. But you know who does get major play on the radio? Lil, Wayne or anybody he does a song with. Nikki Minaj and her self loathing lyrics get spun every day all day. Black radio will play songs with a black woman calling other black women nappy headed hoes before they will play a song that refers to black women as queens, princesses, or just plain sisters. Make a song about young black men going to college and taking care of their kids and it won’t go anywhere, but make a song about poisoning the community with crack, disrespecting women, or black on black violence and it has great potential to become a hit. Why is that?
As a DJ I take partial responsibility for this because I play some pretty ignorant music from time to time as well. I think what separates me from the radio is the fact that I keep it balanced. I admit that I do like a lot of Jeezy’s songs, and even some Lil Wayne songs. I also like A Tribe Called Quest, and The Roots. See that? That’s called balance. There is a time and a place for everything. You can’t just thug it out all day and all night. There needs to be a compromise somewhere. When will there be a Trey Songz song that doesn’t push sex to the kids? 7:30 in the morning and V-103 is reminding my daughter that Trey invented sex. Don’t they know that parents are riding in the cars with kids going to school?
Chuck D once said that hip-hop is the CNN for the ghetto, and that does remain true even today, but even CNN has some happy ending stories run throughout the day. When is hip-hop going to do that? If rappers want to be mad and have their voices heard why aren’t they getting mad and speaking out against the real problems in the ghetto? Where’s the message about the senseless killings of our youth? The corrupt cops and politicians can do their dirt in the hood and no one would know because most of the ‘hardcore, OG’ rappers are too scared to speak up about that. It’s easier and more profitable to brag about killing your own. We can’t even blame The Man anymore. Most of the crap rap that is put out today is from independent artists that have their own labels or are on local street labels. We’ve been trained long enough by the powers that be to the point that we no longer need guidance on self degradation. We’re on auto pilot now.
I can only imagine what ‘music’ will sound like 10 years from now. Hopefully people will wake up and realize that there is more to life than what we are currently being presented, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. For now I can only do the best that I can and heavily filter the music that goes in my library. I’ll most likely be turning off the radio and digging deeper for musical gems. We all have to do our part and I need to define my role in all of this musical madness.