Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday's Op-Ed: The Power Of Music

Music is a very powerful and influential art form. It can provoke change, and can be a great tool for communication and education. However, like any great tool, if it is placed in the wrong hands, it can become a weapon of destruction.

I've witnessed both the positive and negative effects of music. Music has enlightened me, taught me, comforted me, and to a certain extent- raised me. I was born into a time and a city, where drugs- specifically crack- proliferated. Crack was one of the most devastating plagues to ever hit the Black community. I remember seeing the streets littered with crack vials and "crack zombies." I also remember the whole "Crack is Wack" musical campaign. I believe that because popular music during the crack era relayed a message that crack wasn't the thing to do, a large majority of the next generation was turned off to it. This meant that the usage if the highly addictive drug waned in popularity amongst the eighties-babies who grew up hearing their favorite rapper admonish against becoming a "Crackhead." Now fast forward to the new millenium.

Music has now become a weapon that is being used against us. The music that is being promoted to the masses, has mostly been the type that is decaying to the soul. All day long, we are repetitively being played messages of destruction. Messages that cause use to separate and cannibalize ourselves. Men vs. Women, Young vs. Old, Financially Rich vs. Financially Poor, Physically Weak vs. Physically Strong, Psychologically Weak vs. Psychologically Strong- the list could go on and on.

The conflicts that have been branded as "Rap Beef" is sad and intellectually deadening. The shallow manufactured controversy is designed to induce the habit of gossip. The audience is baited into waiting to see what's going to happen next between two entities who most likely really hold no power; however, they are desperate enough to engage in any cheap-trick to garner attention. This is because attention lets their corporate sponsors believe that they are popular, and therefore worthy of a budget. It also satisfies the corporate sponsor's lust to see a Battle Royale. [SIDEBAR: Check out Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man."]

Promoting this type of music to a group of people who are already disenfranchised and plagued with a bevy of social ills, keeps those people disoriented and disorganized. It's a sick trick, and an easy trap that so many of our "entertainers" walk into- knowingly and unknowingly. We have to be smarter, and more ethical than this. We also have to honor the power we have. If we don't honor the power that we have and use it for good, universal law dictates that our destruction is certain.

We don't all have to hold hands and skip down the lily field together- so to speak. However, we should have some type of standard and forethought concerning how we deal with each other as a community. There are better ways for us to relate to each other than what today's popular music is promoting.

Lots of Love,

Elsie Law

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