Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Old Lady Talks About Music and God

Came across this the other day.
It seems like every new song that gains notoriety in the Hip-Hop world is a melodic manifestation of absolute destruction.
I’m aware there are many artists in the Hip-Hop/Rap genre that DO speak life, love and revolution. My point is they are severely outnumbered by the artists spreading death and self destruction. 
Typically, the prerequisite for a ‘poppin’ song nowadays is: 
• someone (probably black) must be murdered for the slightest confrontation.
• someone (probably black) must have sex with someone else’s (probably black) significant other.
• someone (probably black) must steal someone’s (probably black) money or property.
• someone (probably black) must avoid any healthy or constructive method of gaining a livable income.
• someone (probably black) must be completely intoxicated at all times and under no circumstances is sobriety acceptable or favorable. 
Who decided this was the best kind of music black people should be making and promoting? I’ll tell you who, the system of white supremacy [sic; see footnote below]. (...)

Making positive, powerful, enlightening, revolutionary music for the black community (particularly) in America is not a profitable venture.
Well, it used to be.

At the risk of displaying my own get-off-my-lawn-ism, not only do I recall when popular black music – R&B – featured talented vocalists, musicians, composers, and lyricists, I remember when such huge stars used to acknowledge God in their work as a matter of course.

People Get Ready is a 1965 offering from the Impressions. Curtis Mayfield is the lead singer.

People get ready
There's a train a-comin'
Don't need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith
To hear the diesels humming
Don't need no ticket
You just thank the Lord
People get ready
There's a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers
From coast to coast
Faith is the key
Open the doors and board them
There's room for all
The loved the lost
The song is covered regularly at my church.

And take Earth, Wind, and Fire, arguably the most popular R&B band ever. Maurice White had the audacity to name his band after God, not to mention several albums: I Am, All&All, Spirit. Looking back in review, nearly every other song on their 70s and 80s albums was a hymn.

Gratitude (1975).

We just want to give gratitude
Got plenty love we want to give to you
Through good music we’re tryna to say
That the good Lord gonna make a way
From the Grammy juggernaut that was 70s-era Stevie Wonder, Have a Talk With God (1976).

Many of us feel we walk alone without a friend
Never communicating with the One who lives within
Forgetting all about the One who never ever lets you down
And you can talk to him anytime He's always around
When you feel your life's too hard
Just go have a talk with God.
Even when a song wasn’t overtly about God, sometimes an old-school R&B vocalist – who often got his/her start singing in church -- couldn’t help but acknowledge Him.

Consider Bad Luck (1975) by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes.

At the end of the song, their lead sing, the legendary Teddy Pendergrass, ad-libs.
The only thing I got that I can hold on
Is my God!
My God!
Jesus be with me!
And then there was Al Jarreau. Closer to Your Love is from Album of the Year Grammy-nominee Breaking Away (1981). Giving the lyrics a closer listen, it's plain that he is not talking about his significant other.

Don't wanna climb a mountain.
Don't wanna swim a river.
I wanna feel the fire, power,
And all I can dream of.
Don't wanna climb a mountain.
Don't wanna swim a river.
I wanna move in
Closer to your love.
For a token non-R&B offering, there's James Taylor's Fire and Rain (1970).

Won't you look down upon me, Jesus
You've got to help me make a stand
You've just got to see me through another day
My body's aching and my time is at hand
I won't make it any other way
Even some rappers recognize the power inherent in the name of Jesus. Here's Jesus Walks (2009) by Kanye West. And Kanye makes the same point as the writer.

Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know He hear me when my feet get weary
Cause we're the almost nearly extinct
We rappers are role models we rap we don't think
I ain't here to argue about his facial features
Or here to convert atheists into believers
I'm just trying to say the way school need teachers
The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that's the way I need Jesus
So here go my single dog radio needs this
They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus
That means guns, sex, lies, video tape
But if I talk about God my record won't get played
Certainly there are present-day artists who devote their works to God. But there aren't so many Superstars who do this.

What you put into your being -- your mind via your eyes and ears -- has output. The purveyors of the type of "music" described at the top know this.

And I'm not the only one who believes that the devolution of black American music is intentional. But the culprit isn't white supremacism. It's a higher principality and power.

People who've had dreams and visions of Heaven say that it is full of beautiful music. Well, it seems to me that modern Hip Hop is the opposite of that -- grating noise whose purveyors rejoice in theft, murder and destruction.

Doesn't that sound like Hell to you?

Maybe I'm just getting old.

However, the producers of these offerings would go broke if no one were buying it. So what does that say about what we've become?

By the way, about your presence on my lawn ...

*To use the term white “supremacy” implies that whites really are supreme to all others. The term white (or other) supremacism is the correct one.And author of this op-ed is correct except for that line.

(Thanks to Cedric White)

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