Music, Style, and Influence

I am a musician, poet, and a decent singer. I’ve been exposed to several types of music thus far. If it’s one thing I know, it’s that every genre of music has specific messages. Although music genres are fluid and they all influence each other in many different ways, music genres all have a subliminal message. New Orleans Bounce is very popular in Louisiana but I can’t listen to it and truly appreciate it because in my mind no matter what song is played I hear:

Let’s shake your butt. Let’s get so unaware that we ignore that most of this genre is laced with profanity. The genre goes far beyond the basic “Talk that stuff, now roll wit it”. There’s much to do with “bitches and hoes”. It’s really ignorant sounding. I am of the mindset that I’d like to be able to enjoy my music without having to be under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

A similar case can be made for much of hip-hop culture. While there is much purpose in hip-hop music, it still is plagued by the same issues of misogyny, homophobia, and gender exclusion. Hip-hop is very male-dominated. When I listen to most hip-hop songs, I hear the following message:

Let’s drink, let’s complain about what I don’t have.
Let’s disrespect someone harshly. Let’s be exceedingly reckless.
Art is my excuse for being way too over the top. I like money, alcohol, girls, and success.

I believe that the reason artists like Lupe Fiasco aren’t as widely praised as say Drake or Wale… has to do with the substance or the lack of it in much of the hip-hop genre. It’s a war of style versus substance.

No one knew that Drake was highly successful Canadian actor before he “became” Drake.

R & B and hip-hop are often smashed together when attempted to decipher the message behind the music. However, there is a marked difference between smooth R&B and Neo-soul. Smooth-R&B incorporates elements of jazz and soul to lull listeners. I could never work to the smooth R&B because it feels too sleepy. Smooth R&B sends the message: I want to be intimate with you. Sometimes, I want to lift you up, and give you purpose. But mostly, I’d rather blues on about someone or something that broke my heart and how I plan to get revenge.

Pop music is the most wide-ranging of all the genres because what’s popular changes at moment’s notice. All music genres have the chance to be popular. One Direction signifies the new iteration of the boy-band bubble that was very popular in the late nineties and early 2000s. Who cares about such a thing, if you’re not a music executive. Most pop songs have cookie cutter lyrics that’s just the way it is. Of course, the quality of pop music has changed. We are often worried more over the sound than the underlying message.

As EDM with its multitude of sub-categories has changed music as a whole, EDM is very transient. It’s always moving. It often gets type cast as the “WHITE” genre, but there would be no dance music without the R&B music of Cherelle, Chaka Khan, and Patrice Rushen. Many people forget that disco was the first generation of what is now classified as “EDM”.

Hip-Hop is also becoming electronic. How else can “Fetty Wap” and those like him sell records? Half of the music that is classified as “hit music” has some EDM underpinning. Do we remember Lil Jon’s Turn Down for What or “Going Down For Real”. Let’s all stare at the popularity of Justin Bieber’s Purpose.

EDM or Electronic Dance Music is very suggestive. The subliminal messages of EDM may encourage substance abuse and erratic behavior the same way New Orleans bounce can.

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