Music and Influence

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Music forms a significant part of human lives. The messages portrayed in songs affect how people think and their perceptions of social, economic and political events. Music has a long and extensive history and has been used in different communities for numerous functions with its key role being entertainment. Historians dug into the in the various parts of Asia and found artifacts and painting that show people playing musical instruments (Gerrato, 2015). The artifacts are estimated to be more than four thousand years. Historical pieces of evidence also show that all the diverse cultures had specific musical instruments and unique ways of playing these musical gadgets. The 20th century marked the transformation of the art of music as new instruments emerged and songs were written basing on social, economic or political events. The second half of the century saw the emergence of popular groups such as World Class Wreckin’ Cru and individuals such as Michael Jackson, Tupac Shakur, and John Lennon. This paper evaluates music and its influences from 1960 to 2010.

Events and their Connection to Music

Martin Luther King Jr. was a renowned orator, a leader of the civil rights and a respected clergyman. The fearless leader led the popular “March on Washington” where he made one of the greatest speeches of all times (Loudermilk, 2013). On April 4, 1968, the clergyman was fatally shot at his apartment and rushed to a healthcare facility. Unfortunately, King succumbed to the gun injuries and died the same day. Martin Luther King Jr.’s death spurred an intense wave of debate among most individuals of the African American descent. The assassination was also listed in the books of histories, and many movies and songs have been produced to remember this ordeal. Barely three days after King’s assassination, a renowned performer Nina Simone released a tribute to the fallen hero at Long Island. The musician and her band played “Why? (The King of Love is Dead).” The crew had just learned the song some few moments before performing it. A series of other songs have also been released in remembrance of the April 4, 1968’s ordeal (Loudermilk, 2013).

President Richard Nixon is among the few world leaders that have ever tendered in their resignations while still in power. The national leader played a key role in the Vietnam and Iran wars in the 1970s. Americans demonstrated against this war and organized a nationwide protest that saw the killing of four students who were unarmed. The resignation of President Richard Nixon was prompted by many situations among them being and impeachment threats (Havens, 2014). According to Havens (2014), rock stars critiqued President Richard Nixon’s actions and his constant deployment of soldiers to Vietnam. Anti-Nixon songs such as “Sweet Home Alabama,” were released after the Marvin Gaye recorded ‘what’s going on,’ a song that commemorated the Vietnamese and Iranian wars in 1971. Marvin sings, “”Father, father, we don’t need to escalate/Watergate scandal that saw the president resign. You see, war is not the answer for only love can conquer hate,” (Gerrato, 2015).

The environment is of significance to the sustainability of human lives. In the 1980’s, deforestation was at its peak. Poachers murdered rare wild animals, and animal tests had just emerged (Vogel, 2015). The crises led to the signing of several environment-based international agreements with the goal of conserving the environment. Michael Jackson’ a renowned pop artist took advantage of the 1980’s situation to record and perform an album entitled “Earth song.” The album was born in 1988 but officially released seven years later. Earth song was the first single to address issues of environment and animal welfare directly. The song also sensitized the public regarding the sustainable measures that could assist in sustaining the environment and ensuring that animal welfares were observed (Vogel, 2015). Earth song not only talked about environmental concerns and overfishing in oceans but also moral issues such as wars. For example, Michael sings, “What about children dying (What about us) Can’t you hear them cry” indicating that the young generation perished in wars.

Racism is a malign social issue not only in the US but also in other regions of the globe. The history of racism is not well defined, but its prevalence is currently felt in most parts of the globe. In the US, African Americans have been some of the victim’s racism. The individuals of this origin always claim that the other races are against them especially the Caucasian Americans. Police brutality is at its peak in the neighborhood of African Americans. Racist tensions in the United States heightened in the 1990s. Several civil unrests such as the 1992 “Los Angeles Riots” sprung up in the final decade of the 20th century (Belleci, 2014). In 1995, more than 30 African American churches were brought down by a series of arsons. The destruction of the “Alfred Murrah Federal Building” in the same year that killed 168 people was an extreme form of domestic terrorism that was spurred by racial differences. African Americans expressed their feelings regarding racism through rap music that was in its evolutionary stages. Tupac Shakur, a prominent figure in rap music expressed his opinions regarding racism in a song entitled changes. The hip hop song featured Talent and was recorded in 1992 and released in 1998 (Belleci, 2014). The song’s primary focus was on the treatment unfair of African Americans by the various security authorities, the war on drugs, the perpetuation of poverty, and racism. Tupac and Talent recommended that there ought to be the reconciliation of “black” and “white” races. Changes transformed how the two races viewed one another as it advocated for unity in diversity.

The dawning years of the first decade of the century were dark as the United states experienced the greatest terrorist attack since its independence. The country had to beef up its security to protect its residents and citizens from external attacks. In 2008, American political system experienced a change as the Americans elected their first president of the African American descent (Belleci, 2014). The election of Barack Obama was received warmly by most countries of the globe. Historians and political scientists believe that the election of this individual as United States’ 44th president was a realization of Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision (Belleci, 2014). The media also changed following the outcome of the 2008 polls. Most films incorporated African American actors who were assigned prominent characters. In less than two months, Young Jeezy and Nas released a song entitled “My president.” The award-winning song expressed the joy that the musician had following the election of President Obama. Many other songs by artists of different races mentioned Obama in their lyrics. Young Jeezy mentioned that the US was officially black due to the race of the then head of state.

Music and Activism

Songs played a crucial role in the years when there was intense activism in the US. The various activist groups would use songs to express their dissatisfaction in the ways that the government conducted its duties. Rap artists, mainly African Americans, would sing to the tune of activist groups (Vogel, 2015). Over the past two to three decades the intensity of activism has significantly reduced, and the songs have shifted focus on other crucial social aspects such as police brutality, peace, and cultural and racial tolerance

Music and Technology

Technology has significantly transformed the music industry. Initially, musicians would use various instruments such as the guitar, pianos, drums, and violins. All these instruments have been transformed by technology to produce more efficient versions such as the electric guitar and electric violins (Havens, 2014). Producers and sound engineers use a computerized system to shoot, produce and refine music audios and videos. Consequently, the qualities of music audios and videos have been transformed. The internet has transformed the music industry as musicians, and their fans can meet through the internet and social media platforms. Musicians also market their music by sharing them on technological avenues such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchats.

Summary

Music is a tool through which artists pass messages to their listeners. The form of entertainment is influenced by political, economic, cultural, and environmental factors. Technology has also enhanced music production as it boosts audio and video qualities. The events in this discussion chronologically took place with a few of them having commonalities. For instance, Martin Luther King’s murder prompted interests in his work. Many scholars believe that his murder was politically motivated as he would criticize the government of several occasions. The assassination also prompted racial tension in the preceding years that led to intense protests in the 1990s. Obama’s election could also be linked to Martin Luther as he mentioned that he dreamt of a “black” leader of the country. However, the incidences happening in the 1970s and 1980s had limited commonalities apart from the intense activism witnessed in the two decades. The songs discussed, apart from Young Jeezy and Nas’ “My president” were transferred to other decades. Up to date, most people listen to Tupac’s Changes, Nina Simone’s “Why? (The King of Love is Dead),” Earth Song by Michael, and Marvin Gaye’s ‘what’s going on.’ Therefore, Young Jeezy’s “My President” is the only song that might be considered as an anthem for its decade.

References

Belleci, J. (2014). A hard knocks life: Black cultural responses to the new Jim Crow and the war on drugs in Los Angeles, 1985-1995. California State University, Fullerton.

Gerrato, O. (2015). 7 songs that mattered in the ’70s – CNN. CNN. Retrieved 6 August 2017, from http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/10/entertainment/pop-songs-music-seventies/index.html

Havens, T. R. (2014). Fire Across the Sea: The Vietnam War and Japan 1965-1975. Princeton University Press.

Loudermilk, A. (2013). Nina Simone & the Civil Rights Movement: protest at her piano, audience at her feet. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 14(3), 121.

Vogel, J. (2015). “I Ain’t Scared of No Sheets”: Re‐Screening Black Masculinity in Michael Jackson’s Black or White. Journal of Popular Music Studies, 27(1), 90-123.

Appendix

Earth song vs. Michael Jackson

What about sunriseWhat about rainWhat about all the things that you saidWe were to gainWhat about killing fieldsIs there a timeWhat about all the thingsThat you said were yours and mine

Did you ever stop to noticeAll the blood we’ve shed beforeDid you ever stop to noticeThis crying Earth, these weeping shores

Aah, ooh

What have we done to the worldLook what we’ve doneWhat about all the peaceThat you pledge your only son

What about flowering fieldsIs there a timeWhat about all the dreamsThat you said was yours and mine

Did you ever stop to noticeAll the children dead from warDid you ever stop to noticeThis crying earth, these weeping shores

Aah, oohAah, ooh

I used to dreamI used to glance beyond the starsNow I don’t know where we areAlthough I know we’ve drifted far

Aah, oohAah, ooh

Aah, oohAah, ooh

Hey, what about yesterday(What about us)What about the seas(What about us)The heavens are falling down(What about us)I can’t even breathe(What about us)What about apathy(What about us)Drowning in the seas(What about us)What about the promised landPreachin’ what I believe(What about us)What about the holy land(What about it)What about the greed(What about us)Where did we go wrongSomeone tell me why(What about us)What about baby boy(What about him)What about the days(What about us)What about all their joyDo we give a damn

Aah, oohAah, ooh

Young Jeezy ft Nas “My President”

Intro: Young Jeezy]

Yeah, be the realest shit I never wrote

I ain’t write this by the way, nigga

Some real shit right here, nigga

This’ll be the realest shit you ever quote

Let’s go

[Hook: Young Jeezy]

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My mama ain’t at home and daddy’s still in jail

Tryin’ to make a plate, anybody seen the scale?

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My money’s light green and my Jordans light grey

And they love to see white, now how much you tryin’ to pay?

Let’s go!

[Verse 1: Young Jeezy]

Today was a good day, hope I have me a great night

I don’t know what you fishin’ for, but catch you a great white

Me, I see great white, heavy as killer whales

I cannot believe this, who knew it came in bales?

Who knew what came with jail?

Who knew what came with prison?

Just ’cause you got opinions

Does that make you a politician

Bush robbed all of us, would that make him a criminal?

And then he cheated in Florida

Would that make him a Seminole?

I say, and I quote, “We need a miracle.”

And I say a miracle ’cause this shit is hysterical

By my nephews and nieces, I will email Jesus

Tell him forward to Moses and CC Allah

Mr. Soul Survivor, guess that make me a Konvict

Be all you can be, now don’t that sound like some dumb shit

When you die over crude oil as black as my nigga Bu

It’s really a Desert Storm, that’s word to my nigga Clue

Catch me in Las Vegas, A.R., Arizona

Rep for them real niggas, I’m winnin’ in California

Winnin’ in Tennessee, hands down Atlanta

Landslide Alabama, on my way to Savannah

[Hook: Young Jeezy]

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My mama ain’t at home and daddy’s still in jail

Tryin’ to make a plate, anybody seen the scale?

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My money’s light green and my Jordans light grey

And they love to see white, now how much you tryin’ to pay?

Let’s go!

[Verse 2: Young Jeezy]

I said I woke up this mornin’, headache this big

Pay all these damn bills, feed all these damn kids

Buy all these school shoes, buy all these school clothes

For some strange reason my son addicted to Polo’s

Love me some spinach dip, I’m addicted to Houston’s

And if the numbers is right I’ll take a trip out to Houston

An earthquake out in China, a hurricane in New Orleans

Street Dreams Tour, I showed my ass in New Orleans

Did it for Soulja Slim, brought out B.G.

It’s all love, Bun, I’m forgivin’ you, Pimp C

You know how the Pimp be, that nigga gon’ speak his mind

If he could speak down from Heaven

He’d tell me stay on my grind

Tell him I’m doin’ fine, Obama for mankind

We ready for damn change, so y’all let the man shine

Stuntin’ on Martin Luther, feelin’ just like a king

Guess this is what he meant

When he said that he had a dream

[Hook: Young Jeezy]

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My mama ain’t at home and daddy’s still in jail

Tryin’ to make a plate, anybody seen the scale?

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My money’s light green and my Jordans light grey

And they love to see white, now how much you tryin’ to pay?

Let’s go!

[Verse 3: Nas]

Yeah, our history, black history

No president ever did shit for me

Had to hit the streets, had to flip some keys

So a nigga won’t go broke

Then they put us in jail, now a nigga can’t go vote

So I spend dough on these hoes strippin’

She ain’t a politician, honey’s a pole-itician

My president is black, Rose golden charms

22-inch rims like Hulk Hogan’s arms

When thousands of peoples is riled up to see you

That can arouse your ego

We’ve got mouths to feed, so

Gotta stay true to who you are and where you came from

‘Cause at the top will be the same place you hang from

No matter how big you can ever be

For whatever fee or publicity, never lose your integrity

For years there’s been some prize horses in this stable

Just two albums in, I’m the realest nigga on this label

Mr. Black President, yo, Obama for real

They gotta put your face on the 5000 dollar bill

[Hook: Young Jeezy]

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My mama ain’t at home and daddy’s still in jail

Tryin’ to make a plate, anybody seen the scale?

My president is black, my Lambo’s blue

And I’ll be goddamned if my rims ain’t too

My money’s light green and my Jordans light grey

And they love to see white, now how much you tryin’ to pay?

Let’s go!

[Outro: Young Jeezy]

So I’m sittin’ right here now, man

It’s June 3rd, haha, 2:08 AM

Nigga, I wanna say win, lose or draw

Man, we congratulate you already, homie

See, I motivate the thugs, right?

You motivate us, homie, that’s what it is

This a hands-off policy

Y’all touch him, we ridin’, nigga

Yeah, first black president, win, lose or draw, nigga

Haha, matter of fact, you know what it is, man?

Shouts out to Jackie Robinson, Booker T. Washington, homie

Oh, you ain’t think I knew that shit?

Sydney Poitier, what they do?

I’m important too though: I was the first nigga to ride through my hood in a Lamborghini

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