The following is an excerpt from the book "Urban Culture Decoded"
Music is the driving force of this new culture. It gives birth to all the other avenues. The fashion we see, the products that are being marketed to us, and the overall commercialism of everything is a direct result of the music. The music promotes the lifestyle as well. Whether it’s gangster music, hustler music, trap music, or sex music; the music is the law. When a song is played repeatedly on the radio and the fans sing along, the words become a chant. When we chant with intent, consciously or subconsciously, we bring that which we are chanting about into existence. Now, the amount of people chanting and the frequency of the chant will determine the speed and rate in which the results will be achieved. Also, this process is further accelerated when the visuals are added via music videos, YouTube, etc. So, think about the same song being played simultaneously across the country on a thousand radio stations and you can begin to see the effects of the music from a different perspective. This process can also have a positive affect if the music and visuals are positive, but have you listened to the radio lately? Corporations have found clever ways to take advantage of this science by paying artist to incorporate their products into the music.
The Prison industry has also profited from the violence and “get rich or die trying” mentality of our youth. And they too are a corporation! The education system has suffered tremendously because today’s youth are more prone to skip school to make music with the hopes of making it big. The many artists who achieve success without ever finishing high school further support this type of thinking. Most rap artists promote criminal activity to get the startup money to pursue a career in music. Simply put, for this generation; music is God. At best, parents and teachers must understand that music is a weapon and in its natural state, a weapon is neutral. It can be used for good (protect), or evil (kill). In the case of Hip Hop in the early eighties, we used it as a weapon of protest police brutality, unemployment, and the many injustices that we were faced with daily. It was the only voice that we had at the time, so we expressed our frustration through dance, art, spoken word, and the drum. It temporarily relieved the pain. Just as our ancestors before us used music to escape the hardships of being slaves on a plantation, we too found solace in the muse. It became our insulation (protection) from the outside world. As you can see over the course of time, the barrel of the “gun” was pointed back at us and Hip Hop became a weapon of its own self-destruction. Eventually the music began to function like a mind control program that fueled itself. Each generation was, and is affected more than the one before it.
The vibration of music in general has devolved dramatically. Never in the annals of time have the lyrics to songs been so vulgar. Never have the lyrics been so violent. Never have we so openly celebrated the degradation of women or the use of drugs. Under the guise of freedom of speech and “creative” expression, the envelope has been pushed to new boundaries without any true accountability. Artist hide behind these terms to deflect the fact that their words are causing harm to those who listen, especially young minds that are still being molded by their experiences. The music is critical because it can bypass the conscious mind and enter the subconscious mind, even without your permission. So, you can’t fight off or ignore music, you can only make yourself aware of its presence and try to safeguard against unwanted subliminal messages planted within the music.
The digital era in music has made it possible for those with no formal training in music to compose great masterpieces, but sometimes, the understanding of how powerful music is can be lost in the digital production and the automated translation of the producer. Digital sound is what sound would sound like if it were really sound. It is an interpretation of sound, using 1’s and 0’s as markers. By not actually playing instruments (in some cases), the spiritual process of using the physical body to enhance sound is bypassed. That’s where the true magic of music resides.
The actual instrument is only an extension of the body, mind and soul of the musician. The jump from analog to digital in every aspect of our lives is critical because it symbolizes the thought process of our youth who want instant results from the efforts. I call it the “microwave” era. Or better yet, it should be called the “digital” era. They want to skip the linear process of achieving their goals. As fast as they can think it, they want to see it. They even have digital cigarettes out now, wow. Most parents and teachers are stuck in the analog way of thinking, which is played out. Our children are digital thinkers so we must upgrade our program or we become obsolete in their eyes. The music is the catalyst. My ancestors taught, “Music is the gateway to the spirit world”. If this is the case we must protect the doorways in which energy can enter to ensure that hostile forces are kept at bay. But with so many uninitiated people creating music, dancing to music and being lost within the music, the process is easier said than done.
The Black Dot is the author or the underground classic Hip-Hop Decoded, and his new book, Urban Culture Decoded.