Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Triple C's & Gunplay

A cursory look through the published material for Rick Ross
reveals a degree of social aberration and overturned values 
that is difficult to grasp as having a real-life origin.  While the
profanity is less than eloquent, the notable elements are
his detailed braggings about an unrestrained life.  From drugs
criminals to prostitutes and unrestrained violence and 
beyond.  Too, there's a recurring theme of status from money.
Not recommended for your reading, of course.

So what is this stuff doing in our entertainment industry?
Why would it be popular rather than ignored by our youth?
Is it influencing their behavior?

Beyond the obviously off-center nature of the content,
what led to such a lifestyle for those involved?  There is
a traceable change, particularly among the poor over the
last several decades, that supports an abandonment of
traditional values, respect for law and authority, and
family traditions.  Beginning in the 80's, the context
of personal development changed to "I'm going to
get mine!"  Those Millennials, as they are called, are
characterized as the 'Generation Me' crowd, marked by
a sense of entitlement and narcissism.  Is that perhaps part
of what we're seeing?

Avoiding the standard 'kids these days' response, how
might we practically and beneficially interact with that
segment of our youth's culture?  It has to be forward-
focused or it won't be heard.  So?
I recall conversations with my dad when I was young where we talked
about the music and lyrics and what they meant.  Is that the approach
that would serve; some open interchange?  Or should we ignore it as many do.
(NC-17 content)

As has been the question in each generation, does the culture produce the music, or does the music produce the culture?

Lyric excerpts here are the tame segments from popular recordings.

While not excusing the musicians or sponsors, there are some interesting cultural issues that lead to and encourage this kind of lifestyle expression.  

From Macklemore, who took home four Grammys (Lyrics, excerpt)

White hoes in the backseat snorting coke
She doing line after line like she’s writing rhymes
I had it hella my love, tryna blow her mind

From Rick Ross with Gunplay - Bogota Rich (lyrics, excerpt)

I got vicious in my veins
I got hate all in my heart
I got revenge all in my brain
Now you just heard a killa start
Snatch a bitch and pull her brain
Smack her (...) and roll away
I just give that bitch a look
ain't gotta tell that hoe behave
When she actin' like a dog
I'ma treat her like a stray
From Rick Ross - I swear to God (lyrics, excerpt)
Rose-gold Jesus, rose-gold watch
All-black Ghost, all-black Glock
Three new flows, that's off top
All white squares, the city on lock
I swear to God, I need a hundred m's
'Til the day I die, I plan to represent
Hold your heads high, we had a nice run
Let the bankers know we have just begun
I broke the mold; my total assets
Will get you (...) left in the past tense
I broke the mold in every aspect
I'll get you (...) left in the past tense

That's probably enough to illustrate the point.

As a side note on the culture vs art question, this year's Grammy Awards show was apparently quite controversial. 'Satanic' according to many.

Just a little way into the show, Christian Gospel singer Natalie Grant, an award nominee, left the Grammys quietly. She later posted on Facebook: "We left the Grammy's early. I've many thoughts about the show tonight, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I'll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen."
Graciously said; good for her.

At least one Grammy winner decided not to attend Sunday night’s show. She received two Grammy awards in absentia. Gospel singer Mandisa explained on Facebook why she decided to stay home rather than accept the awards in person. That's not the world she wants, her explanation goes, and that's not the kind of person she wants to be.

Yeah, me either kid. Choose your battle, fight and win.