Music Needs an Exorcism  

Denver_Obsidian 43M
38 posts
5/14/2005 7:01 pm

Last Read:
3/5/2006 9:27 pm

Music Needs an Exorcism

A school teacher recently blew my mind when she told me that, for a few years now, it has been the curriculum of Denver Public Schools to use music as a tool in teaching poetry. They found that, as modern art, it was the most suited, and had far more interesting and complex literary devices then, say, music from Britney Spears. Well, duh. But I was surprised, none the less. I couldn't believe they would take the time to find a modern band whose lyrics were actually fit for child listening. How sad it is that has degraded to the point where this thought would be in my head. But the truth is that and hip-hop music are not what they used to be. When I was a kid, it meant so much more to us.

For some, hip-hop was the language of street prophets. In the days of my youth, artists like Ice-T, Just Ice, Stetasonic, Isis, MC Lyte, and KRS-One (Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over everyOne) were part of a pantheon. We looked up to them because they were teachers. Their music enforced the concepts that true courage and faith prevails over all, life was to be celebrated,
and all choices we make have consequences. To perpetuate ignorance and malice in your music was an abomination in culture, and the rapper that won in a "battle" prevailed through artistic display and insightful lyrics. This was the Golden Age of hip-hop - when the message meant more than market share. In 1989, KRS-One organized artists from across the industry into the Stop The Violence Movement. The product of their labor was the famous song Self-Destruction, which hit home on the subject of violence in our nations ghettos and the proliferation of black-on-black crime. No egos - just a message.

For some, hip-hop was the music of rebellion. It was the battle cry of a social insurrection moving across the airwaves at up to 110 beats per minute. This was the sound of the revolution of my generation, and, this time, the revolution would be televised. Rebel against racial injustice; rebel against socio-political disenfranchisement; rebel against economic disparity; claim whatever cause you want, but believe in something and rebel. In that sound, we found freedom. It surprises most people I meet now that I had guns pulled on me more times on the streets of downtown Cincinnati and Detroit than I did in my first combat tour with the Army. But groups like Public Enemy and X-Clan already knew that. They spent most of their early careers exposing a system that was broken and failing. They knew how to tell me I was worth more than all of that because they knew where I came from. I was the last born son
of the last born son of the last born grandson of an Alabama sharecropper born into bondage; a man who gained literacy in secrecy, and used that tool to speak out about a corrupt system, writing like Fredick Douglas with a slave hand. But in my generation, the revolution would be televised.

For all of us, hip-hop was an escape. Before Queen Letifa ever made a movie, and Will Smith was The Fresh Prince with DJ Jazzy Jeff, Grandmaster Flash and Whodini made us laugh and dance. I remember listening to artists like Slick Rick and wanting to be a rapper myself. When Run DMC broke the charts with My Adidas, I mowed lawns for months to get a pair of shell-toed Adidas with red fatlaces. Then the unthinkable happened: music found an unlikely bride in an emerging dance style. Masters of an acrobatic martial arts system from Brazil and West Africa called Capoeira began migrating to urban areas of the U.S., bringing their art with them. Looking for new students and a way to evolve their art, they found both in intercity kids looking for a new dance style. And just like that, Breakdancing was born. Soon, breakdancing and began to grow and evolve together.

That was the beauty in hip-hop. It was a fluid that never deluded, and could be mixed with anything. It was like water - a universal solvent of all music. Cut it with rock and heavy metal, and you get bands like Onyx and Rage Against the Machine. Cut it with Jazz, and you get acid jazz bands like Outside. Let it crossover into Christian genre, and you get bands like Cross Movement. Hip-hop exists without ethnicity, sex, religion, or nationality. While overseas a couple years ago, I had the pleasure of seeing the influence of music in Israel. Young men in the ghettos of places like Tel Aviv, despondent about their social condition, had found a sound they could relate to coming out of America. After all, the words of hardcore, urban spoke to them: anger at a corrupt police force; fear and anguish over violence on their streets; misery over growing up in urban environments that were
increasingly degrading in civility and morality. So they began picking up microphones and translating the new sound into their own native tongue. They sidestep the targets of occasional suicide bombers, and hope against hopelessness that things will get better if they speak out about them... and so the revolution is being televised.

But now, the world of hip-hop is controlled by corrupt rulers wearing autocratic crowns. Any kid with the proclivity to call a woman a whore, and the guts to curse with impunity, can be a little king. What we see now is an anti-culture that has lead to the Dark Ages of , filled with ignorance and contempt. But that's not the hip-hop I grew up with. It reminds me of The Exorcist, in which we watch an innocent little girl tormented by demons and spouting vulgarities. So maybe music needs an exorcism. Someone needs to purge the demons and release the little girl inside. Then we'll find the hip-hop I fell in love with.

rm_sanitosan69 40M
7 posts
5/15/2005 5:42 pm

That was awesome! I thought I was the only one that felt this way! And you are from Denver? I thought that the only person in Denver who listen to is Shannon Sharpe. I hope I got that joke right. I have been waiting a while to use it. And so my point does not get missed. I concur.

Barbiebunny69 43F

5/15/2005 6:08 pm

Very well written this could totally appear in rolling stone or something... I really enjoyed it

Denver_Obsidian 43M
43 posts
5/18/2005 11:25 pm

Sanito - Yeah, there are hip-hop listeners in Colorado. In fact, more urban areas in this state like Denver and Colorado Springs tend to be more culturally blended then alot of cities out east. That mostly stems from our strong Southwest culture. It's just who we are.

Barbiebunny69 - thank you, baby. You know I love you, don't you?

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