“You learn a lot about people when you listen to the songs that mean something to them” – Anonymous
Being a solid prolific and cultic follower/lover of the diverse African heritage music arts, in the black community worldwide I am automatically predisposed to pay keen attention to all types of music genres ranging from, afro-beats/fusion, Jamaican dancehall, UK grime & rap, American hip-hop and any subgenre in between both in the underground scene and the mainstream.
In the current diverse era of popular music, and the Internet’s instant gratification of viral fame it’s hard to miss the message being passed on by our young blood, while most of it may be true half of it is fabrication to satisfy the unfortunate self distorted image of how it feels to be black, because in reality not all black people pop opioid pills, or mix lean (codeine) in their soda for leisure, sell narcotics for a living or have a ton pile of assault rifles laying around their homes as constantly depicted by the so call mumble generation of rappers.
Quite the contrary a huge chunk of black people live free, healthy, prosper financially, and have fulfilling relationships with their loved ones, the other portion of black people who don’t have access to the positive side of life due to the environmental factors around them also urge the same aspiration as the rest of the human race, to drive my point home you have got to watch the documentary about Kendrick Lamar’s triumph a prolific come up in the city of Compton in South-central L.A by Vice (YouTube).
You’ll realize that despite his peers identifying strongly with the gangbang culture (Piru bloods), they are surprisingly honest about their desire to live a better life like normal human beings do, and expressing their despair of having being born and brought up in the gang-infested neighbourhood with illegal and limited options (mostly illegal) as their only escape to a better life.
In this light, Kendrick as a successful rapper managed to escape the ill-fated lifestyle of his peers by overcoming the insanely high odds against him of being either arrested, joining, the set, or dying in the hands of police or a rival gang member and went on to become a worldwide inspiration for kids and youths brought up in the same unavoidable futile circumstances he not only over-achieve through a commercial successful multi-platinum music career but also ‘gang political’ correctness in lyrics that won hearts and respect beyond his crime notorious neighbourhood.
In this context you’ll be forgiven for calling out white-stream media for their blatant and consistent wrongful depiction of the average young black male. This distorted image is used mainly for financial gain and revenue to pad pockets of music labels by manipulatively cashing out on the image rather than the actual story behind it, you may be forgiven for not noticing the recurrent distortion of self-image of black entertainers.
With that out of the way, you’ll agree that it is becoming increasingly hard to filter out and classify the musical content disposable to us online and it takes a keen listener to discover the artists that create relevant music that is true to our reality as black people and social injustices that we face.
J-Cole, another prolific multi-platinum artist often considered as one of the greatest lyricists of his generation, dropped a platinum album (The Revenge of the Dreamers 2) which got tongues wagging all over the internet earlier this year and you really don’t have to be a hard core rap fan to be aware of J’s prominence in the hip-hop community since his breakout debut in the early 2010s, his position in the game as a technical lyrist who is able to strike the balance between the ‘regular’ rapper content about society’s version of success as in over- commercialize vanity lifestyle lyrics and vividly artistic painting the picture of the modern black man as a whole in a deep yet blatantly truthful manner.
For example, in the hit record “Middle child” in which the catchy hook may mislead you to think ‘oh not another song about getting high again’ but further down you’ll be carried away by his charisma and poetic prowess as he summarizes his heartfelt experience as a young black man in the showbiz industry and how his friends and drugs and alcohol habits influence is creativity and personal in the process composing multiple classic records, after addressing the current politics hip hop scene, he schools young upcoming rappers , while at the same time paying homage to veterans who came before him, then on the last verse addressing the major issues regarding the reality that we can all relate to as black folks regarding how the long blood line of oppressive trauma stemming from slavery to present day mass incarceration and transpire to creation of an endless dysfunctional relationships among black families thus negatively affecting black marriages and eventually the black youth unconsciously adopt the same mentality which impairs the ability for their generation to escape the same ill-fate as their father figures.
Although some may argue that the context of the lyrics are predominantly relevant to the African American people, they are furthest from the truth, in real sense the issues regarding the cycle stemming from poverty to drug dealing, gang violence, police brutality is almost identical in every black neighbourhood in the world, no matter the zip code, whether in Chicago, London, Paris, Johannesburg or Lagos. Organized crime stemming from economic inequality and deliberate denial of opportunity is almost similar in all-black communities with a varying exception on the degree of severity like violence and police brutality depending on where you are from. In short, J.cole depicts the despair of the black male to escape the inevitable fate to repeat the same missteps as their predecessors.
This raises the question of how does a black man find a safe place to express anger?
How is it relevant in breaking this cycle of misfortunes?
Such as the consequences of being racially profiled, police brutality and constant violent escapades…
These things manifest and form a chain of reaction – to shut off emotional connections and enter into survival mode this is mainly attributed to the animal instinct (the sub-conscious mind) adaptation to the perceived unfriendly and violent environment in order to survive, the logic behind this form of emotional hibernation is in order to survive one has to completely mask the hurting parts to avoid perceived predation main due to distrust, its nature taking cause in the ecosystem and the tricky phase of defining one’s place in the ecosystem. The fact that we as black male are raised to the notion that concealing our feelings and emotions is a trait that adds to the value of our manhood doesn’t help, it only makes the black almost unreachable on a level of normal human connections emotionally thus shutting down only add to counter-productivity in all aspects of our daily life and this negative chain of reactions tickles down to how we treat our loved ones. , unfortunately, it does not transpire well, as relationships fail due to the ability to express the hurt and anger unfairly imposed on us.
The next sequence that ensures is the development of a certain attitude unconsciously, followed by self-medication as a coping mechanism and if this carries on long enough it inevitably leads to a form of mental illness, irrational traits, emotional emptiness, shallow relationships, infidelity and insane amount of toxic anger and a ticking emotional time bomb. You may agree with me (or not) that self-medication only makes self issues worse by inducing additional issues such as depression and anxiety and serious substance addiction, sure it does helps but it can only treat the symptoms not the root of the problem, which is the main anger and emotional instability induced by the trauma and hurt inflicted upon us by oppressors and our kind. This sequence leads to the creation of a maniac and dangerous carefree state of mind and we sure know what follows violence of sorts, crime, truancy, and ignorance. Thus the next time you come across the phrase ‘break the program’ hint those last few words. In summary, the system is rigged against you before you’re born, the physical disadvantage was put in place to poison your environment and unconsciously affecting you by negatively forcing you adapt to it by any means necessary. It’s wise to note that the most important part of the system is psychologically arming yourself with the perfect software to self-destruct and the consequences of denying the black male a fair environment to thrive affects the family as whole thus disintegration of the black community at the basic level of socialization ; this is beyond unjust to our kind but extremely profitable to industrial complex of prison (which trades on wall street) and a feast binge for corporate media and recording stables cold cashing on our misfortunes.
I can go thousands of words deep days about this but without a workable solution it is meaningless literal blabber
It may be appropriate to recommend awareness of self first and acknowledging the odds against black men and the adaptations to manoeuvre this dangerous moment that yields lifelong consequences but the solution lies with the realization that dysfunctional state worsens when we are divided as a community thus easily conquered, and as political as it sounds unity of the black masses is the first step in healing the tumour that is constantly plagued against us, that is getting all people on board and opening up the vital conversation affecting our kind in general. And how is that possible to unite mass of colored and people of African heritage from different continents, well that’s a no brainer, the universe has already solved that problem for us, and that is through technology, and by leveraging our universal access to online social platforms we can create a platform custom-tailored to us and our specific needs and of course rational policies to avoid drifting from the main purpose of creation of such a platform, such that then dynamic movements like Black life Matters won’t be a onetime time event that trends only for a few weeks after an atrocity against African people occurs but a way of daily life empowerment to the people of our heritage. Intending to break the mental chains and the victim state of mind, although it might be perceived as a simplistic/generalist approach remember even the greatest problems we encounter surprisingly have the simplest solutions. And it is my strong belief that getting everyone on the same level and platform and opening up a simple conversation is the first giant step we have to take. Currently as divided as we are now we might as well forget optimism, and give up hope of ever living the lives we strongly desire and deserve.