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The immortal sound of music has for generations held the world in awe. Whether it be classical music, rock and roll, or hip-hip, the grasp of music over the human soul will not, and can never be loosened. From the onset of time music has become a messenger to the public, sending critical messages to the people through lyrics. Yet unfortunately, this message has become altered, and as a result some artists look at music not as a messenger to the people but as a commodity for their own personal gain.
The origins of music can not be traced back to one particular time, or place. Music has started at different times for different communities, yet the purpose of music seems to be the same. In many non-Western cultures ancient thinkers understood music as part of a system of cosmological, philosophical, or scientific thought. For instance, the musical scale of ancient China; derived through arithmetic from basic notes. As reflected throughout the ancient Chinese formation of the organization of the universe each degree of the scale was closely related to principal points, the elements, the seasons, the planets, the months of the year, colors, materials, numbers, parts of the human body, animals, smells, and so forth. Furthermore many of the elaborate melody patterns of India, called ragas, are believed to have magical or curative powers. Ragas are traditionally played at specific hours or during specific seasons; it is believed that to depart from this timetable would be harmful to the performer and audience. In some tribal societies, music appears to serve as a special form of communication with supernatural beings, and the prominent use of music in modern Christian and Jewish services may be a remnant of such a purpose. Music has always held an important role in religious rituals.
MUSIC IS STILL A MESSAGE:
From the onset of musical origins, music has been a passageway, whether to teach a moral lesson, talk about the past, or to send a message. Yet in spite of this, through time, and the greed of mankind, this has changed, to a certain degree music has become a commodity. Although through the souls of a select few, through the minds of a few intelligent human beings, music has still sent a message, although the per capita of messages to money parse has declined; the messages are still shining through. Artist that make that difference are people such as Tupac, E-40, Backstreet Boys, N-Sync, Bryan Adams, TLC, and many more.
One example of a message being sent is E40?s song, ?Things will never change.? Through this song, he professes the injustices children go though, and the reason some children end up on the streets or even worse dead. He further explains why young black youth do not have the ability to make it in the world today, after coming out of the homes they grow up in.
The world is crazy boy
This is the way it is
When will we ever learn?
Was I really such a bad child?
Did I deserve to get hit wit boards and hit wit extension cords?
Did you forget that I was your creation?
And all I wanted from you was hope, love, and motivation?
Son you disrespectful when you talking back,
get out my face,
kicked out the house and wouldn?t even let me plead my case
now I?m homeless and I?m freezing like the morgue
Only think keeping me alive is the lord
Needless to say it?s times like these that I?d rather be locked up
then drinking water out my hands, and eating out of garbage cans
Can I come back home?
How could I?
Son you?re on your own why should I?(E40, 1997)
E40, through his lyrics shows why some children turn to a life of crime, how heartless some parents can be, throwing their own flesh and blood on the streets. He tries to send a message to all the parents in the world, begging them to love their children, not to throw them out and make harsh decisions. He tries to tell parents to love their children, through their faults and wrongdoings.
Another dedicated rapper who uses his words to send a message is the late Tupac Shakur. Through his song ?changes? he sends a message to the youth, telling them what is wrong with the world today, and society as a whole. He pleads with them to change the world, and to have all races regardless of origin, or color, to get along together.
Come on come on
I see no changes wake up in the morning and I ask myself
is life worth living should I blast myself?
I’m tired of bein’ poor & even worse I’m black
my stomach hurts so I’m lookin’ for a purse to snatch
Cops give a damn about a negro
pull the trigger kill a nigga he’s a hero
Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares
one less hungry mouth on the welfare
First ship ‘em dope & let ‘em deal to brothers
give ‘em guns step back watch ‘em kill each other
It’s time to fight back that’s what Huey said
2 shots in the dark now Huey’s dead
I got love for my brother but we can never go nowhere
unless we share with each other
We gotta start makin’ changes
learn to see me as a brother instead of 2 distant strangers
and that’s how it’s supposed to be
How can the Devil take a brother if he’s close to me?
I’d love to go back to when we played as kids
but things changed, that’s the way it is (Shakur, 1998).
In this one verse Tupac send many messages to the young black youth, he a respected artist first puts himself in the picture, showing his audience from his perspective what is wrong with the world. He states that being black in America is a struggle, and the only way this struggle will cease is if Blacks stop killing each other and start loving each other. He sends a message saying that if you turn to a life on the streets, stealing, dealing, or using, then eventually you will meet your maker, in his eyes, the Devil.
I see no changes all I see is racist faces
misplaced hate makes disgrace to races
We under I wonder what it takes to make this
one better place, let’s erase the wasted
Take the evil out the people they’ll be acting right
’cause both black and white is smokin’ crack tonight
and only time we chill is when we kill each other
it takes skill to be real, time to heal each other
And although it seems heaven sent
We ain’t ready, to see a black President, uhh
It ain’t a secret don’t conceal the fact
the penitentiary’s packed, and it’s filled with blacks
But some things will never change
try to show another way but you stayin’ in the dope game
Now tell me what’s a mother to do
bein’ real don’t appeal to the brother in you
You gotta operate the easy way
“I made a G today” But you made it in a sleazy way
sellin’ crack to the kids. “I gotta get paid,”
Well hey, well that’s the way it is (Shakur, 1998).
In this verse, Tupac sends an even stronger message, asking humanity to set aside their differences and come together as a whole, to become one family. He further emphasizes the fact that blacks are degraded and are choosing the wrong life paths. He states that the ?penitentiary’s Packed, and it?s filled with blacks? stating that blacks are choosing a life of crime instead of becoming ? black president.? Moreover this verse talks about the degration of the black society as a whole along with the wrong pathways black youth are taking.
And still I see no changes can’t a brother get a little peace
It’s more on the streets than war in the Middle East
Instead of war on poverty they got a war on drugs
so the police can bother me
And I ain’t never did a crime I ain’t have to do
But now I’m back with the facts givin’ it back to you
Don’t let ‘em jack you up, back you up,
crack you up and pimp smack you up
You gotta learn to hold ya own
they get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone
But tell the cops they can’t touch this
I don’t trust this when they try to rush I bust this
That’s the sound of my tool you say it ain’t cool
my mama didn’t raise no fool
And as long as I stay black I gotta stay strapped
& I never get to lay back
‘Cause I always got to worry ’bout the pay backs
some punk that I roughed up way back
comin’ back after all these years
rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat that’s the way it is uhh
Some things will never change(Shakur, 1998).
In the last verse of the song, he again shows his perspective, saying that although he has made mistakes he has learned from them. He tells his listeners not to get involved with a life of crime, because there is no way out. He further emphasized the struggle the black youth must go through to stay alive, and to stay out of trouble, but he states that if you do, you will become someone and something. Within this powerful song, Tupac sends many messages, that are heard through the ears of millions of people.
Although the airwaves have been clustered with songs, which have no meaning, and are merely outlets to make some money. There have been many song, and many artist who have not been corrupted by the power of the dollar, they still use music to send a message. Whether it be morals or a lesson, some artists have not let the power of money destroy the vitality of music, and the true reason it was created.
MUSIC AS A COMMODITY
Although Music has been considered a messenger to the people, some artists have taken the message out of music in exchange for money. These artists do not send a message, but in some cases either sell a dream, talk about ?bitches and money,? or violence. They use the power of lyrics for their own personal benefit, and not for the benefit of the community or the society as a whole. These artists who look for their own personal benefit over the benefit of the community include Marlyson Manson, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Notorious B.I.G., as well as many others.
One example of a recent song, that degrades the female population, a song that is solely used to make money is DMX?s song ?What these Bitches Want.? This single song not only degrades women, it makes them seem like sex toys with no minds, just a tunnel between their legs that can be passed into by men whenever and wherever they want. It further considers women ?bitches? no matter what origin, race, or color. This excerpt from ?what these bitches want? teaches no morals, or lessons, it is merly used as a commodity by DMX.
Aiyyo!! Dog, I meet bitches, discrete bitches
Street bitches, slash, Cocoa Puff sweet bitches (WHAT?)
Make you wanna eat bitches, but not me
Y’all niggaz eat off the plate all you want but not D (UHH)
I fuck with these hoes from a distance
The instant they start to catch feelings
I start to stealin they shit
then I’m out just like a thief in the night
I sink my teeth in to bite
You thinkin life, I’m thinkin more like – whassup tonight?
Come on ma, you know I got a wife
and even though that pussy tight I’m not gon’ jeapordize my life (aight?)
So what is it you want from a nigga? (WHAT?)
I gave you, you gave me – BITCH, I blazed you, you blazed me (c’mon)
Nothin more, nothin less, but you at my door
willin to confess that it’s the best you ever tested
Better than all the rest, I’m like, “Aight girlfriend, hold up
I gave you, what you gave me Boo, a nut (f’real)” (DMX, 1999).
Another rap artist who uses the power of the air waves for his own personal gain is the late Notorios B.I.G., although most of his songs sent a message, this song called ?fucking you tonight? written, produced, and recorded with R. Kelly, sends only one message. That women are only good for one purpose, to be degraded and used as sex objects. Within this song, one can argue that he believes that women are inferior, both mentally and socially, that their entire purpose for existence is to provide men satisfaction sexually. He further states that if men become successful, women will throw themselves at these successful men, begging to have sexual relations with them in exchange for money and style.
Some say the x, make the sex
Spec-tacular, make me lick you from yo neck
To yo back, then ya, shiverin, tgue deliverin
Chills up that spine, that ass is mine
Skip the wine and the candlelight, no Cristal tonight
If its alright with you, we fuckin (that’s alright)
Deja vu, the blunts sparked, finger fuckin in the park
Pissy off Bacardi Dark
Remember when I used to play between yo legs
You begged for me to stop because you know where it would head
Straight to yo mother’s bed
At the Mariott, we be lucky if we find a spot
Next to yo sister, damn I really missed the
way she used to rub my back, when I hit that
Way she used to giggle when yo ass would wiggle
Now I know you used to sweets at the Parker Meridian
Trips to the Carribean, but tonight, no ends
Girl you look fine, like a windface Rolex, you just shine
I like that waistline
Let me hit that from behind, which wall you wanna climb
My styles genuine, girl I love you long time
I got you pinned up, with yo fuckin limbs up
All because you like the way my Benz was rimmed up
Bitch keep yo shin up, please watch me do thee
Nasty, like it when you make it move fast mommy
I like it when you tro’ it pon me
No love makin, strictly back breakin
Ceas’ know, all his hoes, go to my door
Then they go to his flo’, to fuck some more
So no, caviar, sharp bar, uh uh
Strictly sex that’s pretty and left over spaghetti
I know you used to slow CD’s and Don P’s
But tonight its eight tracks and six-packs while I hit that
Lets stop the bullshit baby
Let me take you to the stop, get you hot
So you wanna be with me, Puff Daddy
B.I.G., bring that ass to me (Notorious BIG, 1997).
One artist whose mere existence is to change the ideals of society by not only scaring them, but also sickening them, by his lyrics is Eminem ?The Great White Rapper.? Within all his songs, he either kills his wife or is smoking weed. His not only degrades himself, but he degrades the entire industry, although his lyrics are profane, violent, and grotesque. He does help people realize that the first amendment is too broad. His album has been banned in 27 countries and is being protested all over the United States. Within his first album, he commits suicide twice, talks about weed over 217 times, furthermore he kills his wife, or significant other three times, also he kills seven random people (Partick). Furthermore he makes fun of individuals who have died a tragic death, or respected individuals. His extreme views and lyrics have helped him sell millions of records while sending no message at all. A few examples of his profane language and his violent nature can be seen in his song ?Role Model.?
I strangle you to death and I choke you again, And break your fucking legs till your bones poke through your skin, (AAHHHH)
You beef with me, I’m a even the score equally, take you on Jerry Springer and beat your ass legaly, I gets ???? off of funny home grown,
Cuz’ when I smoke out I hit the trees harder then Soni Bono, (Oh,No)
So if I said I never did drugs that would mean I lied and fucked more than the President does,
Hillary Clinton tried to slap me and call me a pervert,
I ripped her fucking tonsils out, fed her Sherbert,
My nerves hurt and Lately I’m on edge,
Grabbed Vanilla Ice and ripped out his blonde dreds, (Come here you fucker)
Every girl I ever went out is gone les,
Follow me and do exactly what the song says,
Smoke weed, Take pills, Drop out of school, Kill people, And drink,
Jump behind the wheel like its still legal,
I’m dumb enough to walk into a store and steal,
I get a clean shave, bathe, go to a rave, die from an overdose, and dig myself up out of my grave,
My middle finger won’t go down, How do I wave, and this is how I”m suppose to teach kids how to behave.
Me and Marcus Allen went over to see Nicole,
When we heard a knock at the door (Door KNock several times)
Must of been Ron Gold,
Jump behind the door, put the orgy on hold, Kill’em both and smear blood on a White Bronco (We did it),
My mind won’t work if my spine don’t jerk,
I slap Garth Brooks out of his Rim Stone shirt,
I’m not a player just an ill rhymer sayer, That’ll spray a Airasol can up at the Ozone Layer, (SHHH)
My rap style’s warp, I’m running out the morgue, With your dead grandmother’s corps, To throw it on your porch (AAAAHHHHH)
Jump in a chicken or a cartoon with a cape on, and beat up on Fog Horn Leg Horn with a acorn,
I’m about as norm as Norman Baits with afformative traits,
A premature that was four minutes late,
Mother are you there,
I Love You,
I never ment to hit you over the head with that shovel, (Shovel)
Would someone explain to my brain that I just severed a main vein with a chainsaw, and I’m in pain,
I take a breather and sigh,
eigther I’m high or I’m nuts,
Cuz’ if you aint tilting this room neigther am I. (WOAH)
So when you see your mom with a thermometer shoved in her ass then it’s probably obvious that I got it on with her,
Cuz’ when I drop this solo shit,
It’s over with,
I bought Cage’s tape, opened it, and dubbed over it,
(I came to the club drunk with a fake ID),
Don’t you wanna grow-up to be just like me,
(I’ve been wth 10 women who got HIV),
Now don’t you wanna grow-up to be just like me,
(I’ve got genital warts and it burns when I pee),
Don’t you wanna grow-up to be just like me,
(I’ll tie a rope around my penis and jump from a tree),
You probably wanna grow-up to be just like me.(Eminem, 1998)
Within this song he sends a negative message to the permeable minds who listen to his music. He, threw his lyrics kills people, makes fun of respected individuals, has sexual relations, contracts aids, and does many other things to the same effect. His music serves one purpose, to sell records, he has no positive message and is merely rapping to make money. He threw his songs does not send a message, rather he disgraces the rap industry and brings negative energy upon the individuals who run the industry.
Through time music has been altered in it?s definition, where as it was once defined as a messenger to the people, whether it be teaching a lesson, showing a way of life, or teaching a moral lesson. This definition, though the passage of time has adopted a secondary meaning, it can teach a lesson if it would like; or it can be used to make money. There are artists who stand on both definitions, and others who waver back and forth not truly knowing the real definition of music. Yet the only solid point is that there are in fact two definitions of music, and either way the artist will make money, the only question that stands is if the money will be made through teaching a moral or a sin.
DMX. ?What these Bitches Want.? New York: Legit Productions, 1999.
E40. ?Things Will Never Change.? Los Angeles: Absolut Productions, 1996.
Eminem. ?Role Model.? Los Angeles: Bootleg Productions, 1998.
Notorious B.I.G. ?Fucking you Tonite.? New York: Bad Boys Productions, 1997.
Partick, John. ?An Insult To The Rap Industry: Eminem.? December 1999. 12 March 2000.
Shakur, Tupac. ?Changes.? Los Angeles: Bad Boys Productions, 1998.
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