Give We The Pride: Music and Social Change

Chuck D – Give We The Pride ft. Mavis Staples (Official Video) – YouTube.

I crave music with a gritty political message that empowers listeners. I want more of it. I wish more musicians rebelled against the #getmoney trend and did weird, imaginative and interesting stuff, conceptually and lyrically. I wish fashion and beauty weren’t such important parts of the lyrical conversation in popular music.

I thought that was going to be the end of this blog, but I just had so much more to say. I suppose that means that I fall on the verbose side of the word count spectrum.

Chuck D tweeted a flurry of tweets about the music video for Get We the Pride last night, and I played the song on Soul Sessions a few hours later. I loved the spirit of it, but there are also things about the song I disagree with.

Mavis Staples sings a call to action for artists and creatives: “Instead of worrying about wearing clothes and jewelry that don’t do nothing for me because I’ve got the best, most beautiful, brown or chocolate, cocoa butter skin in the world, give me some pride.”

Chuck D begs for rappers to rap authentically, instead of putting on characters.

Yes! More introspection, more reflection on social issues! More positive representation! I would love that in modern music!

While I share Chuck D’s and Mavis Staple’s yearnings, artists should feel free to sing and rap about whatever they want to sing and rap about.

An artist like Nicki Minaj, who often raps about designers and diamonds, should continue reveling in prosperity and independence. The character she plays is part of what makes the theater, satire and drama the space for truth-telling. I only hope she gets weirder and bolder, with more complex lyrics and ideas.

The good stuff is often nuanced, and people hate nuance.

The real tragedy is that there are artists out there that sing and rap and create thoughtful art about a diverse range of subjects and there aren’t enough people who get to listen to them. If only there were a way to make music more democratic, and give everyone a stage to perform…

Oh wait, such a thing exists, and it’s called The Internet.

The good stuff exists and it will rise to the top. I have to keep believing that, I have to keep searching for the good stuff, I can’t just accept the music that’s being sold to me, I have to do my best to share the good stuff, and I have to keep believing that the good stuff is both an accurate portrait of us as a diverse American people, while also acting as a guide for where we need to go to get better and do better.

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