Before I start, I want to clarify a few things:
- If your favourite artist is Aubrey Drake Graham then please click off from this blog post; your feelings may get hurt.
- I appreciate and respect all artists and musical genres, even if they are not to my personal tastes. Music is a beautiful art form, that should not be limited to one way of expression.
- The following is my 100% one sided OPINION because I want to highlight a problem.
Right. Now that’s settled…
This week on Twitter, my timeline was flooded with #UnpopularOpinions, Pusha T vs. Drake beef, and the ongoing comedy sketch that is the US President, Donald Trump, meeting with a representative from the ‘Slavery Was A Choice’ household, Kimberly Kardashian West, to discuss prison reform … lol …
A hot mess was my twitter timeline and it was a reminder that life really is just a big reality show; a matrix even..but I digress.
Times change and with each wave of change, the ‘in’ thing is whatever we (the majority) demand and equally whatever is fed to us by the powers that be.
As a young person, still learning and figuring out what it is I want to do, a lot of the time I feel lost in regards to writing about music. There’s soooooo much I could focus on; it’s truly an abyss.
But everywhere I look, it feels like it’s the same sh*t different day. The current music scene and culture (particularly in the UK) more time leaves me feeling unimpressed.
It really grinds my gears, for example, when some of these new artists (I’ll name no names) are categorised under the umbrella of Neo-Soul or R&B when they are doing nothing remotely Neo-Soul or R&B-esque. But moreover, those that make music that are true to the essence of these genres, do not get the recognition that they deserve.
Just because a song has one chord that isn’t part of the basic-ass 4 chord progression that you hear today in most popular music, does not automatically make it Soul/R&B; people hear one 7th chord and a sprinkle of melisma and want to label it R&B. NO.
Just because the artist is black/non-white doesn’t automatically make it Soul/R&B.
Just because it’s a bit more seasoned than usual does not automatically make it Soul/R&B.
Let’s. Be. Clear.
*However, let the record show that these genres are extremely influential and have shaped so much of the music that we listen to today, which is why labels, reporters, & consumers are quick to place artists under this umbrella*
Let me not even start on what we deem to be Hip-Hop nowadays. I’m still learning a lot about Hip-Hop personally; I’m trying to educate myself on the old school greats before coming to the new stuff. There’s some great new content around but equally there’s a lot of crap out there framing itself under the guise of Hip-Hop that I really cannot justify bringing myself to listen to.
This past week has seen the demise of everyone’s beloved Canadian “Hip-Hop” artist , Aubrey Drake Graham.
Don’t get me wrong; I have loved me some Drake. I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t get in my feelings about my perceived man problems (i.e. my crush not liking me back) on multiple occassion to Doing It Wrong or that God’s Plan didn’t make me wish I had some exciting news to share on my socials, so I could put #GodsPlan in the caption.
However, this whole Pusha T vs Drake beef has made it clear as day, for those in constant denial, the problem with artists such as Drake (as loveable as he is)
I highly doubt that Drake’s career will witness any significant downfall in light of this Pusha beef and the controversial blackface photo. In fact, Drake’s ‘Nice For What’ has once again reclaimed its space at No.1 on the Billboard Top 100 Charts since this scandalous photo was revealed to us all. So he is still securing the bag.
I respect his ability to remain popular and likeable over the years. And I think that you have to have a certain quality about you to be able to produce consistent bangers and remain popular. So I give him his props.
In an assignment I did this academic year, I chose to explore the ways in which the 21st century music industry serves as a form of Neo-colonialism, taking a particular focus on its exploitation of Jamaican music, its effects for Jamaica, and its effects on young people within the Jamaican Diaspora shaping their identities (I got a 1st on this assignment, which I was really proud of, hence why I’m mentioning it here 😊)
Drake being a primary culprit of benefiting from the use of Jamaican dancehall rhythms & feels and patois in his music, highlights why this is in many ways problematic and serves as a form of Neo-colonialism.
What’s fed to the masses is an inauthentic, superficial version of a rich, diverse culture, which, despite it being a constant source of inspiration for many artists and entertainment for those in the West, still remains in the background politically & economically.
But that’s a topic for another day.
My frustrations can be summed up as follows:
I’m tired of the fact that we value popularity over excellence.
We praise mediocrity and in turn cheapen the art forms that are supposed to provide us with depth and greater meaning.
Everything is currently about sales, looks, and numbers.
When will the industry and its artists favour sincerity and create music from a place of expression rather than trying to stay relevant?
When will artists recognise the importance of cultivating their craft and sincerely devote themselves to it?
When are we going to respect the art form that is music?
When will singers recognise that their voice is a gift as well as their moneybag that needs to be taken care of? Let SZA’s current circumstance be a lesson; when you don’t value what you have & care for it properly, it comes at a huge cost.
And finally. When are consumers of music going to recognise that just like our food, cars, phones etc. most of the music we consume is manufactured?
The MESS that I’ve seen this week highlights to me the issues that arise when you take the easy route. The shortcut. The quick fix solution.
Having ghost writers & leeching off of cultures which you fail to respect or sew into further than a shout out or album feature is problematic.
Not learning your instrument and learning the proper maintenance of it, is problematic.
The music industry machine will soon burn out from the overload of bullshit that it’s currently producing.
I feel like the current state of what’s produced today highlights the infamous phrase that becoming a famous artist like Beyonce or Drake, meant that you are “selling your soul to the devil”. To be honest, I think that that whole idea is synonymous to the fact that most artists end up signing away a lot of their creative freedom in order to produce what the label wants. Some lose sight of what truly matters when it comes to music, in order to stay at the top.
There are many artists, across genres, producing quality, authentic music. They just don’t get the same recognition. I think that this is because they don’t produce music that is popular and marketable to the masses, or have the desirable “look”. So they aren’t given the same attention or opportunities. That’s just my opinion.
Authenticity will soon be in demand again. Not that it went anywhere.I can’t wait for the portion of this reality show where the inauthentic and superficial loses its pseudo power and influence and we move onto the real sh*t.
And that’s my #UnpopularOpinion 😊
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