confusion central
if you’re here, you are SO lost.

chicken or egg? (the deeper version)

I have reached the conclusion that rap music is an excellent embodiment of all things dysfunctional. I shouldn’t have to explain myself here (I am strongly opposed to the genre as a whole) but I will anyway for the sake of…open-mindedness? Sure.

In my relatively scattered attempts to make sense of life, the universe and everything, I have reached many conclusions about love, marriage, and, well, the things that accompany them. Frankly, I like to think I have a pretty good grasp of what makes love work and how that, in turn, makes marriage work. I probably don’t, but humoring myself keeps me in a good mood and willing to learn more. (Hey, I’m being honest here!)

And in these studies I have discovered – to some small degree – just how skewed our society is when it comes to conjugal love. Because rap music is constantly emphasizing mindless hooking up without any kind of relational development, I’m forced to conclude that perhaps the single greatest problem in our society can be traced back to our music. Or can it?

Would music glorify something a culture didn’t already condone? or has it become such a cultural status symbol because of the music? I’m more likely to blame the culture for tainting the music than visa versa because I think that music works with what it has. If a group of people in the culture decide that this is cool, their music is likely to reflect it.

There are countless examples of culture impacting music. The Beatles, for crying out loud. And, of course, there are cases where music reflects a desire for change in the culture – for instance, the entire genre known today as punk. Some music laments the fall of our culture (country) and some ignores deeper issues of life (pop). Other genres just shamelessly synchrotize their faith with their culture in order to appeal (CCM). But whatever the music does with the culture, it’s quite clear that the two are irrevocably attached.

So when we look at rap “music,” we have to wonder what, exactly, is being said here. Frankly, I find the music boring. It’s no longer shocking, it’s no longer exciting (if it was to some modicum of the populace to begin with). We all know exactly how it’s going to start (in a club), how things will become “exciting” (lots of alcohol), and how things will culminate (finding an attractive individual to go home with, or, given enough alcohol, just a willing person). Doesn’t this look like a symptom of a culture gone very, very wrong?

I suppose the question I have for my readers would run something like this.

A) To what extent do you believe music accurately reflects any culture?

B) To what extent do you believe music choice reflects any individual?

C) To what extent to you believe your music choice effects you? (Sometimes we are tempted to assign judgments to others that we wouldn’t assume for ourselves… 🙂  I know because I’m guilty of doing that. 😡 )

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6 Responses to “chicken or egg? (the deeper version)”

  1. I think people gravitate toward a type of music because of who they are, but I also think music can definitely impact a person. The other day I was reading Psychology Today, and they actually had an article on this. It talked about people listening to music because of existing traits, but the music being able to impact mood and other things while not necessarily changing anything drastic. True punk rock is extremely political (and pretty much always very left leaning), and while it is doubtful a person who is conservative is going to change their political views because they like the music, it doesn’t mean they don’t have mental changes while listening to it. How often do you think people get “pumped up” to work out, skateboard or do something physically strenuous while listening to music that has no deeper meaning to them? I’d guess a bunch. Also, I know a lot of people who listen to secular rap music and are nice people with healthy relationships. I think it would be unfair, then, to say that music choice could accurately represent an individual to the extent of making judgments about their character. In many cases I think this may be true, but I don’t think you can make it a rule. I do think, however, that music popular within a culture can, to a large extent, predict its basic values. I think in many cases, if people are absolutely disgusted by the lyrics of what is essentially an entire genre (like I am with rap), they will not spend money on the music. But many rappers are rich, signaling that a large portion of the population do not mind the lyrics (at the very least). Of course, there are Christian rappers, and like I said earlier, there are people who listen to music that does not carry with it the values they truly represent. So to recapitulate, it probably depends a lot on the individual. I do think the rising popularity of rap is a good indication of just how valueless our society as a whole is becoming… because, hey! If you can do mindless hookups and just abort the baby later, why not?!? (Don’t answer that, it’s not a real question. That thought disgusts me.)
    Does what I just said make ANY sense whatsoever?

    • Thanks for your feedback, Ralph!

      Your first statement reminds me of my post on whether or not a person’s personality is based on what they’re born with or what happens to them or a little of both. It’s confusing and it can be really extremely circular…it’s hard to really know. You know? Music is easier to deal with because it’s external, but still…. O_o

      In my defense, I should say that I’m not plagiarizing…I don’t read Psychology Today. This really was an original idea! 😀 Lol.

      I think you’re right about people who use fast-paced or loud music to get them wired to do something.That’s what they do at the gym (which is irritating, because they just speed pop and country songs up instead of playing real fast music [that is, punk! 🙂 ]). Perhaps. I’m inclined to agree, though this is something I didn’t initially think about.

      I hope we don’t judge anyone based on darn near anything except their actions in cooperation with or against God’s law, but to those nice friendly people who listen to rap, I’m forced to conclude that they just enjoy the style.

      Hmm hmm hmmm….
      Wait…. Music predicts basic values? Do you think we can use music as an indicator of a certain direction a culture is headed? Ah…but you go on to say that if people dislike the genre on moral grounds, they won’t spend money on it, therefore if more people were more confident about the morals they hold, they wouldn’t consider spending money on it. 😉 Sorry! But this is a prime example of exactly why this can be extremely circuitous.

      This right here (the possibility of abortion) is a huge disincentive to actually find meaningful relationships and work to make them long-lasting. Birth control in pretty much any form is probably one of the biggest “triumphs” of the feminist movement…it creates a free-and-easy approach to what was once considered extremely serious and long-term, effectively removing the consequences of peoples’ actions (to a large extent) and soothing their consciences.

      What you said makes probably a lot more sense than what I wrote originally. 😉 Thanks again for your thoughts. 🙂 I’d love to continue the dialogue if you feel like wasting more time on this post. O_o Lol.

  2. Dang! My comment is longer than your original post! O_o Sorry about that…

  3. The genre is kind of tasteless IMHO.

    But you know me, I’m a rock fan.

  4. Elliott – what about the (heavy metal/Goth rock) that you listen to appeals to you so much more than rap? I’m not trying to pick a fight: I enjoy those genres sometimes. But it makes me wonder…

    Rap may be just tasteless but Nightwish and Lacuna Coil can be /weird/, especially when they draw in elements of ancient Irish mythology or whatever. 😀 You know? Sometimes it’s difficult to pin down what they heck they’re talking about!

    I suppose that raises another question…if you don’t understand the words of a song, should you listen to it? If, after lots of research, you /still/ have no clue what they’re talking about, does that make you at all uncomfortable? Lol. Just a thought. I like singing along to music I like but there are some songs I love that I feel weird singing because I don’t understand them. [/bunny trail]

  5. Bad Religion has a song that’s 56 seconds, and another that’s 52! lol. They’re awesome… 😉
    On a seperate note, punk easily has what are the hardest bass lines to play. MxPx has some pretty dang complicated ones and so does Anti-Flag. “Higher Ground” by the Chili Peppers is way easier to play than some of the songs by Sum 41 and Rise Against I’ve been learning. (Ever heard “Higher Ground”? The bass line in it is considered one of the greatest ever written. It’s not exactly easy to play. 😉 )


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