There’s something about music with a positive vibration that pushes a soulful sound that just speaks to you in a way words could never describe. Its a feeling, plain and simple. When you hear music that you know has a greater effect on you than just sheer fun and amusement its a feeling unlike anything you’ve been prepared to understand in your impressionable years as a youth. If the music is composed and arranged in sync with certain levels of a distinctive threshold of vibrational frequency it creates a power that is transmuted between each of us as we are all just practically conductors of organic energy. That’s what makes positive music with a powerful message so important on a socially conscious level. It opens us up to ideas and understandings of our own existence with sheer truth, empowered by love in its most basic form.
Its love that exists within the layers of some of the most timeless songs that will live on forever throughout the history in popular culture. Whether we are talking bout John Lennon, Frank Sinatra, Bob Marley, Dave Grohl, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Lauryn Hill, Tupac Shakur, Adele, or Kendrick Lamar, there’s a commonality to the music so many artists just like these share. That commonality is love. They put their heart and soul into the music and regardless of the subject matter itself, their records are laced with their spirit and their love, that lives in a dimension few of us experience and even fewer understand. Its for that very reason that their works are cherished and prized by those of us who are blessed enough to get the chance to create memories with the music that we’ll never forget because those memories playback like a film reel in our heads every time a certain song is played.
There’s always been a highly emotional debate when it comes to discussing the drastic change in the quality of popular music over the course of time. Previous generations obviously have a bone to pick with the state of the music in the current generation and some of their quarrels do have legitimacy. Other arguments are just a matter of taste and the differentiation between social trends that have shifted as well as the standard for normal behavior amongst the youth in our widespread multi-ethnic culture.
But even be that as it may, there’s no denying the impression the music has on all of us and how the centralized theme to the most popular songs on the Billboard Charts today is a far cry from what it once was during the empiric reign FM radio once had. If you broke out a basic timeline of the most popular records in the past 20 years alone, you’ll notice a gradual shift in the content that the public is consuming as well as its effect on us psychologically and socially. Its where most of our slang throughout the generations comes from, which in itself just goes to show how impressionable we all are regardless of age, race and socio-economic background.
Its because of the effects that only music but all entertainment has on social behavior that artists are celebrated, glorified and iconized for their contribution to our society on a massive scale. Though it eventually becomes more of a freak-show of a popularity contest, there is honest, good intent for many artists who simply make music because they love to make music, regardless of the riches and spoils. Its for that reason we tend to dissect artists’ demeanor and what their agenda is for seeking that means to speak to the world and possibly attain influence that will define an era and get inside the minds of millions with their voice, message, sound, words, and image.
Some artists do what they do because of a powerful force that drives the ego’s insatiable desire to be acknowledged and pleased. Regardless of the effects or consequences, that aspect of our nature is quite frightening when you consider how primal we can all be, when influenced in a certain way. The violence, sex, drugs, and questionable urges we all share when acting on sheer impulse are powerful factors that can possess a person that doesn’t have the willpower to assert a more conscientious approach in their behavior. When listening to music that is aimed at feeding those urges you can also feel it just as strongly as you would a positive, soulful record. Its just on the completely opposite end of the spectrum. That being said, one has simply ask themselves, how does their music make them feel? Again, its really that simple.
Popular Hip-hop/Rap once spoke to us in ways that no other genre could compare to. M.C’s wielded socially conscious lines of poetry that pained pictures even the most celebrated films couldn’t capture. Combine that with a melody from soul samples and some smooth drums and it creates a feeling that is nothing short of magical. Again, though the lyrics are important, they’re merely the icing on the cake as the ingredients that make up that cake is the feeling from the music.
Recently, acclaimed Chicago artist Chance the Rapper performed a brand new record on Stephen Colbert. If you’re not familiar with his music, I can just say it touches the heart in a way few artists since the days of Tupac Shakur seem to be capable of anymore. Not just the distinctive high pitch voice or the signature lazy but well polished flow, but the entire vibe that Chance delivers is pure joy to see, hear, and watch live. The performance in itself is just as magnificent as the reaction him and his band ‘The Social Experiment’ receive from what I’m sure was an unfamiliar crowd than they are used to. The song Angels was full of energy, positivity, and fun. You could tell there was a synchronicity between the performers and the audience alike, that only something so pure and powerful could achieve. That’s the power of heartfelt, soulful music. It does more than make you feel good, it changes the vibration of the ground it covers and emits a frequency that literally changes people’s state of mind.
Over the past year late-night television has embraced some of the brightest young performers in Hip-Hop/Rap music. Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Chance the Rapper, and Raury are amongst some of the most recent guests on popular late night TV shows as of recent. All of the performances I’ve seen have been again, magical. There’s just an energy that exists within their music, performance, and crowd that leaves you feeling like something important was just accomplished. My question is, are a handful of these artists enough to shift the music and fans out of the narcissistic, self-centered, and ego driven music that has had a stronghold over not just the Hip-Hop/Rap industry but in Pop music in general. I can only hope amidst the bottle poppin’, lean sippin’ and booty twerking that there can once again be a balance restored to the force. Because, when you think about it deep down, music is just really an instrumentation of the force. Yes, I’m referring to the same force from Star Wars because just like Star wars, there is a light and a dark-side to the world of popular music.
Chance the Rapper’s success is not only impressive because of his independent status as a recording artist, free from a major label, but also because it goes to show how the fans are completely driving the train that has so much steam, its impossible to stand in the way of the road its traveling on. Regardless of what’s popular and gaining recognition from blogs and other media outlets, its music with meaning and soul that connects fans to one another and creates more than just a listening experience. It creates an understanding, a bond if you will that there is more to life than partying, sex, and violent confrontational behavior. Its why its up to artists and fans alike to continue to spread music that is so powerful it can influence social change and ignite movements to propel us past the separation we’ve managed to leverage against one another. Because truth be told, it seems we’ve digressed over the past decade or so with our desensitization to issues that should make us cringe with their atrociousness. It just goes to show how much of our humanity we’re willing to compromise for mere acceptance.
Good news is there has been a drastic shift in the industry as of recent. Artists are using their vast resources with social media and streaming services to show that there is other music being listened to and shared outside of the trap or the strip club. And that’s what I think we should not only encourage as fans and tastemakers but make a point to show in order to create a balance in the industry. Its time we let major labels know that we’re not just listening to one particular type of music, and that there needs to be more variety amongst the masses as that’s where we are in the digital age. We’re in the time of variety and options. We have to remember that, because just as Chance, Kendrick, J. Cole and Raury are exposing fans outside their core demographic of what Rap has to offer, there’s thousands of other artists just like them, as equally as talented, just waiting for their chance to be heard.