Music has always been a vehicle for self-expression for both the creator and listener. No matter the messaging or the topic, musicians use their work to share their feelings and thoughts with the world, typically to the pleasure and support of their fans.
As the country continues to fall into the downward spiral caused by our current administration, the trials and tribulations that we are going through as a people aren’t just being televised anymore; they’re being shared, tweeted, posted, and streamed. 45 is a prime example, as he somehow manages to top his last posted message in both prejudice and stupidity with each passing day. With the total domination that social media has on modern culture, we’re constantly force-fed the ideas and beliefs of an administration whose ideals are so blatantly prejudiced that it’s baffling. But the nation’s creatives continue to fight back with their best tool: their art.
By now, we’ve all seen Eminem’s freestyle declaration against President #45 during the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards this week. The message was very clear: Em doesn’t f-ck with our current president. And while many share the sentiment, music critics and fans alike had varied thoughts on the music itself, including: “It’s wack,” “That was garbage,” and, “He’s just riding the wave of what everyone else is saying.”
But others are questioning the source of the discussion rather than the content itself. YG questioned where the support for Eminem’s political assault came from when he dropped an equally, if not more blatant disregard for the Orange Man a year ago with his record “FDT.” In tweets that have since been deleted and blamed on whatever alcohol he was drinking at the time, YG stated, “So we don’t get no credit for dissing TRUMP a year ago? Mann, FUCK TRUMP 4reals tho. Fuck this internet shit. It’s really fuck em.”
In fact, many rappers took the time to diss 45 way before he entered the Oval Office, including Waka Flocka, A Tribe Called Quest, and Kendrick Lamar. And it happened when other men sat in that office. Kanye West told the world George Bush doesn’t care about Black people. Nas spoke on an America without white supremacy in “If I Ruled The World.” Public Enemy’s “Fight The Power” shaped an entire generation.
But don’t trip, the artists of today are creating music that prompts the same type of social commentary on how the world is governed. British rapper Dave recently released “Question Time,” a seven-minute critique of his home country’s political systems, where he cites the poor response to the tragedy at London’s Grenfell Tower and asks why the U.S. is willing to outfit Saudi Arabia with arms but ignores the cries of the Palestinian people.
As we move through these twisted times, the artists who push the envelope will continue to be the voice of the people. And their art will never fall on deaf ears.