Message In The Music
Why can't we see the way some men really view us? I think this notion goes across the board as far as races are concerned but it is especially true with black people. We as women don't realize the huge chasm between the lyrics of music composed by men versus those composed by women.
R&B Songs written by women or for women speak of broken hearts, broken promises, and lies. They spin tales of betrayal and desperation, indecision, and rage. Regret, loss, and the desire to make amends are other themes. We regrettably sing of one night stands and wonder why he didn't call. WE turn the radio up and pop our fingers saying, "shh, this is my song" Although it is good to hear another woman that can speak your pain. To know that somebody lived through the same experiences as we have and lived through them, is encouraging in itself. To know you are not alone, unites us all. These women that sing our pain and cry our tears, give respect and a voice to our hurt. They are able to tell the men in our life exactly how we feel when we don't have the courage to say it ourselves, ever been mad at your man and "your song" came on and you turned it up, so he could catch every word? We all have. These women give a face (and gorgeous ones at that) to our pain. Real, raw, and gritty. These queens that can pour out their souls to bless ours.
The lyrics of raps songs written by women or for women speak of women that trust no one. These women feel they are forced to either exploit their sexuality while spitting hard core raps that declare they are as hard as the men that have hurt them. Of course they don't ever admit this fact, but behind every angry woman (especially a black woman) is a man. These hardcore women speak our RAGE! They say and claim they do things that we only dream about. They can take a taboo and turn it into a platinum record. Sometimes they say some of the most disgusting things to let us know, if you in the "game" ain't nothing you shouldn't be ready to do at the drop of a dime. They speak of luxuries afforded to them and speak of a lifestyle that only a few can even imagine. They put the glitter on the word "bitch" and suddenly the name doesn't sound so bad ,if it's self-inflicted. They play hard and live hard. We don't get to see what's on the inside except for the scar tissue. By exposing such anger, and mistrust we are safe to assume that they haven't healed from their past and have no closure. Being lonely, rich, and evil is glamorized. They give us power somehow. If revenge is our secret desire, they give us victory. They attempt to play the game like a man and revel in the power they have over them. The P word is awesome although tasteless, it sends a message of power to the outside world about the woman that can talk about her own P.
Taking both of these approaches into account, we are still missing something...
How is it that we can bounce our heads, ride, sing, and dance to the music and not hear or internalize the words. All this time we have accused men of having selective hearing. How can we miss the very essence of the song, the whole R&B and rap industry? Each mention of a woman by a male artist is a temporary or negative one (of course I am generalizing). We are reduced to body parts and temporary physical liaisons. Have you ever tripped that most slang usage's for sex are violent in nature: screw, slam, hit, stab, cut (up), bang, knock (em) down, ride (as in animal?), drill, tap. All of these suggest some type of action that is usually not associated with another human being. Especially not God's precious daughters. And yet we both, male and female, will rap/sing the lyrics with such fervor, like we wrote it ourselves.
Is there any question as to why relationships don't usually work out? We are hearing 2 different messages in our music! While women are coming from a love standpoint (hence the music) men are coming from another perspective. Until a man is ready for love, the women in between are but mere pauses in their journey of self-discovery.
Listen to the rap music. The lyrics speak of females as if they are concubines or worse. We are referred to as hoes and sluts. Reduced to a collection of orifices and private parts. Never seeing us as whole individuals with feelings, dreams, and brains. Never giving voice to our many complexities and inner mystery. We are Beasts of Burden, our sole purpose on earth is to satisfy men. I am loving Common's single right now, "The Light". In it Common speaks of abstinence DURING a relationship, and a must for God to be at the forefront of any relationship. He explores her wonders as a woman and revels in her differences as a complex, female creature. Thank you Common. There are several rap songs that have paid homage to women, but the truth is: paying tribute to the black woman doesn't pay like degrading the black woman.
R&B does try to atone for what rap does not make accommodations for. Here love songs are sung by a myriad of male performers. Yes, it is easier on the ears as far as the verbiage but when you look at the underlying message it is the same. Our encounters with men are to be temporary and for their pleasure only. Yes, we will be made to feel good but only for a little while. The message is simple: We are expendable.
Now imagine yourself as a youth, coming of age in this era of fast money, cars, and living. As an adolescent female who do you pick to pattern yourself after Lil' Kim or Erykah Badu? Mary J. Blige or Foxxy Brown, Lauren Hill or Trina? I like all of the above mentioned performers, but I am a 28 year-old mother of 2, that can rightly discern what is appropriate for me and what is not. When I was growing up, Salt-n-Pepa was about as risqué as you got. Some of the lyrics, music, and videos are an assault on the senses of our children. We bombard them with these images and music, high-priced garage sale fashion, and unclear messages about sex and relationships and expect the teen pregnancy epidemic to decline. We expect them to practice safe sex while we constantly talk about physical gratification. There are no culprits here - only victims. Ultimately we are the victims, because THEY are our future.
Due to the mixed messages in the music, is there any question why relationships seem so complex? Are we as clueless as we pretend to be about why men don't commit to us anymore? The music explains it all for us. Women seek love, men seek visual and sexual gratification. We are not human but mere ass, tits, skin color, hair, and orifices. How shallow our music has become! How shallow our society has become! How shallow black people have become! I won't even touch on the ever constant mentioning of Rolexes, diamonds, and cars!
As a nation within a nation, we can not afford to perpetuate these shallow and hurtful cycles that weaken our race by weakening our minds and the minds of the young. Yes, it makes good listening but think of the ideals that are being unleashed on an unsupervised audience. No one to monitor, explain, or clarify the images that bombard the youth. THEY are our precious commodities, not the diamonds that are mined from our Motherland by the hands and sweat of our African brothers.
This is directed towards myself first before this message spreads abroad to anyone else. I have to be mindful of the music I select and feed my own spirit and those of my children. As much as I like videos, I can't afford to expose the images presented to my children unless I am there to advise them about what they are viewing. There are so many other forms of music out there that we do not expose ourselves to. There is meaningful music available to the masses of blacks that whisper to ourselves "there has got to be more or a better way" . As I have said before, I also enjoy the music and videos but the cost has become too high for me to pay. My children surely can't afford the high price of immorality in this day of AIDS.