Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Written by:
Wendi Friend

Who hasn’t experienced the stereotypical parent freaking out over their child’s choice in music? “Turn that crap down!” They yell from the other room, knowing that their own words will have no impact or influence over the head-boppin’, mind-bending musical frenzy taking place in their child’s room.

Elvis Presley, with his perfected pretty boy look, prolific outpouring of soothing rhythm, and invigorating pelvic thrusts, outraged American parents who felt threatened by his sex appeal. Music broke through the four-square thinking held captive through the 1950’s. Sure, there had been occasional “antichrists” in music who were either dealt with, kept quiet, or swept under the rug by the powers that be. But the sugar sweet, love-me-true songs of yester-year took a sharp turn into evolution, giving way to such things as mini-skirts, go-go boots, and unabashed raw freedom like that later exposed at Woodstock.

Music in America was changing. My question is, did it change with the mindset of the people, or did the people change with the mindset of the music? Rather than being played to inspire foot tappin’, finger snappin’, and the occasional epiphany, music is now a fine tool, honed and sharpened with vengeance, violence, and drugs. But above all, music was and still is being charged with growing sex appeal.

Sex appeal has always been a part of music, this cannot be denied. The way the notes float on air and tickle the senses has a way of not only soothing, but seducing the human Spirit. We are not privy to music as an advanced form of humans; music has been working its magic since the days of Ancient Egypt and beyond. Music has, for as long as human consciousness can remember, been used to enhance sex, like a good cognac. Oysters and an acoustic guitar, a glass of wine with a piano solo, starlight with a little saxophone — these all set a certain mood, a romantic aura. But where music was once the shadow supporting the mood, we are now faced with music that is so influential that it has become the mold. We have become the shadow of the music.

The first case I can truly remember in my own right is when Ozzy Osbourne was accused of causing young fans to commit suicide. Play the record backwards, he’s saying “shoot the gun, shoot the gun.”

That’s what I heard the newscasters report as I channel surfed, hoping with all my heart to find some Scooby Doo or Flinstones to change the subject. I was a kid then — an intelligent one, too, I fancied myself. Only old, closed-minded people would actually think that a stupid song could make someone kill themselves. If some kid took his own life, his troubles went far beyond a bad choice in music! Stop blaming the music, that’s what I thought. But now, I sit here and question whether or not I’ve become one of those old, closed-minded people because I am opposed to today’s music and its influences.

In my day, Cyndi Lauper was a big topic of conversation with her song Be Bop, from her album of the same title. Who remembers this one:

“She bop–he bop–a–we bop. I bop–you bop–a–they bop. Be bop–be bop–a–lu–she bop”?

Be Bop had a great beat, was fun to dance to, easy to sing – it was young, hot and fresh! But it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I realized good ole’ Cyndi was singing about masturbation. Still, her message was subtle, so much so that the generation currently indulging in her style didn’t even know what they were “bopping” to!

George Michael blew all of our minds when he just came outright, laid it on the table with his lyrics to I Want Your Sex from his Faith album:

“It’s natural. It’s chemical (let’s do it). It’s logical. Habitual (can we do it?). It’s sensual. But most of all….. Sex is something that we should do. Sex is something for me and you. Sex is natural – sex is good. Not everybody does it. But everybody should. Sex is natural – sex is fun. Sex is best when it’s….one on one.”

Even this was not an indication of exactly where music and mindset were heading.

My awareness of music while growing up was never too keen. I had a few favorite songs and was aware, for the most part, of the top forty, but my musical education didn’t start until my children began to engulf themselves in today’s greatest hits. I always thought having children while I was young would keep me closely tied to them in experience. I’d still be “cool” and into the same things they are, though at a slightly elevated capacity. But when I started paying attention to the lyrics as well as the beats, and taking in the way young girls express themselves through halter tops, low cut hip-huggers and a saunter instead of a walk. I began to see a connection. These kids are, this music IS sex appeal! A new song hits the airwaves, the kids pick up the lyrics, then suddenly those lyrics become a part of every day chatter. That artist’s style becomes the way the children dress and carry themselves. The mindset of the music is adapted into the mindset of the young ones. Music shapes them, whereas in my day, we shaped music.

But enough about my day. What’s being listened to today? What are the influences being absorbed by the minds of our children? Such influences may include but are not limited to: Eminem, Busta Rhymes, Mystikal, and Outkast.

Sex appeal has become such a dominant part of musical culture that one is forced to wonder, is music changing to suit the needs of an evolving people, or are people changing to the ever influential realm of music?

Eminem is well known with most young people. Much of his controversial lifestyle has been widely publicized, especially his having been banned from MTV. His style of music is such that one WANTS to move their body to the beat, nevermind what he’s saying! But, wait… what is he saying? What is his message? He sums up my point nicely (and I use the term loosely) in his song, Sing for the Moment from the CD 8 Mile, in which he says,

“Entertainment is changin’, intertwinin’ with gangstas, in the land of the killers, a sinner’s mind is a sanctum/ unholy, only have one homie, only this gun, lonely cuz don’t anyone know me/Yet everybody just feels like they can relate, I guess words are a mothafucka they can be great/ or they can degrate, or even worse they can teach hate/It’s like these kids hang on every single statement we make, like they worship us/plus all the stores ship us platinum, now how the fuck did this metamorphosis happen?/”

Busta Rhymes is another favorite among today’s youth. You know, that Just Make it Clap funky Reggae beat from the 2002 album, It Ain’t Safe No More? What is the message of Busta Rhymes? Move past the rhythm and listen closely.

“Hey! Hey! Ain’t no fakin the fluid. Water drippin off asses of women that’s shakin it to it while I’m takin you through it, no mistakin my crew is Flipmode, Baby!!! Got you actin all stupid, now I’m back in the cupid, just to tell you the truth is them niggas that be havin you blacken and ready to lose it, pushin lambos and harley rockin Roberto Cavalli (huh!). Now I got a new hobby, diamonds and tattoos and bodies. Watch me crash through the party, go ‘head and spaz girl. Tattoo in the name of my click across y’ ass girl. We ’bout to blast girl, from here to Albuquerque, like jamaican niggas rockin big chains in socker jerseys. Take you on hotter journeys, the way we put it down. And be hittin be havin you shittin more than a box of hershes. We come to control it. We come to command it. And just for the record, we always come to set a new standard. Act like you know.”

My eleven-year-old son printed out these lyrics at my request when I asked him to show me his favorite songs that he knows the words to. I’ve heard him singing this all the time (although he obviously omitted certain parts!). I love the beat of the song and always turned up the volume — but I never knew what the song was actually saying! The way many songs are put together today, consisting of words that aren’t actually words and spit out at high speeds from multiple voices, the songs are virtually understandable! But the beats are cool, and that’s the catch.

Who is Mystikal?

“Go tell the DJ to put my shit on. I’m keepin you neggas and bitches in jump from the minute I get on. Takin they shirt off, showin they tattoos, screamin and hollerin and all. Got the gift to come up with it, put it together, deliver it, make them feel it, bitch I been on! Sharp! Like you pulled me out of the pencil sharpener. Bad! Like that student in the principal’s office. Put rappers in coffins, they dive like dophins. I’m the damndest lyrical marvel you come across often. So watch yourself! Or fuck around and get beside yourself, I know! Go ahead though… bounce them titties, shake that ass, drop that pussy, but stay in line hoe. Fuck a cain’t, cuz you can can. Cocked up, head down, pussy poppin on a handstand. Leave that pussy smokin. If you gon’ do somethin then bed over and bust that pussy open.”

That’s just verse one of Danger from his Let’s Get Ready album.

Granted, most songs with such vulgarities are “bleeped” when played on the radio. Furthermore, the majority of material with such content now come with warning labels. What’s the warning label for? Parents aren’t buying these albums, kids are! I can also tell you that my kids had no problem walking into a music store and purchasing whatever music they wanted — cut or uncut — without my being there. In fact, I’ve never heard of anyone being carded for music, either. So who are those warning labels for? Besides, who needs a music store or an identification card when anyone can download music or get burned copies from friends?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that the only problem lies in hard-core rap lyrics. Every genre of music presents a handful of artists who not only push the boundaries, but erase the boundaries all together. There’s something for everybody, and the scary part of it is, artists and record producers are well aware of the power and influence they have over youth. Bottom line, though, is bottom dollar — and we all know that sex sells.

I never wanted to become the kind of parent who tells my children not to listen to certain music. I’m not about censorship. I’m not saying don’t make or sell the music. As a young girl, I never understood how freaked out the adults would get over our tunes. But it seems to me that music has changed since the time I was a young girl, and its influence over the behaviors and thought patterns of our children has increased.

Once upon a time, music was molded to the tastes and pleasures of the people. But that was a time long, long ago. In today’s world, we have become the shadow of the music.

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