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No, Spike. The Exact Opposite Will Happen

spike.jpgWe all know that Barack Obama is a powerful figure, but is he really powerful enough to galvanize the Black creative community into generating better output? Yes, according to Spike Lee: "I believe artists have to lead the way. The same way as in the turbulent 60s... that music reflected both the difficult times we were going through and the enthusiasm and optimism we had, too. And I think Obama is going to have the same effect on African-American artists - and it's needed." I call bullsh*t, Spike. Some of the best music came to us as a result of struggle and oppression. The easier things got for us, the lazier the output became. Hip Hop was arguably a lot better before the drug dealers that became rappers were suddenly becoming executives. No longer does an artist have to work his/her ass off to create a hit song, they can simply create a new dance on YouTube or re-pimp overused slang (who's keeping "swag" alive?). Although I'm 125% for an Obama presidency, I have little faith that Black popular music as a whole will use such a historic moment to sit down, think for a moment, and create something spectacular and nuanced. Poets maybe. Visual artists, perhaps. I'll even say filmmakers. But rappers and singers? When pigs fly over snow-capped mountains in Hell. [H/T: SH]


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10 Responses

  1. Cousin what are you smoking?
    I couldn't disagree with you more - because what Spike Lee describes is already happening. The fact of the matter is they haven't had much to inspire them since hip-hop was born - that's why it started right? When you have an artist who is as hard as they come like The Game...the GAME now, is speaking out regularly on the presidential campaign AND rather intelligently took Jesse Jackson to task? Sorry that's impact. Some may have revenue motives, as Dead Prez stated at the DNC last week, but the fact is the nation listens when hip-hop speaks, and will continue to.
    Sorry I think you got out ahead of your defense on this one Nova.
    If you took thugs out of hip-hop we'd be listening to crickets.

  2. I'm just as cynical as nOva is on this one. Rappers and singers make isolated, political statements all the time that are glaringly contrary those made in their "artistic" output, the platform through which their messages are most widely received. The nation may listen when hip-hop speaks but nowadays it pays most attention to the beats behind the words.
    Also, Lee needs to recognize that pinning the hopes of a black artistic/musical renaissance on the impact of a single person is ridiculously stupid. Let's get him in the White House before we start expecting him to perform miracles. Obama '08!

  3. Sorry.... I agree with Spike. WIN or lose the Obama effect has already given credence back to intelligent, logical and inspired thinking. I think the change comes from the seeing MORE artists with agendas in tune with Barack and the HUNDREDS of other "community organizers" that can be seen standing a little taller.
    Some of these "community organizers" ( I love that term when the media uses it against Obama 🙂 are musicians and artists. Hopefully they will get out of the home studio and PERFORM in front of the "communities" to inspire creative art, creative thought AND creative action.
    The existing Black Music playas may not "Sit Down" as you say. But the others, rarely heard, will have a better chance to be noticed by those looking for a similar vision and inspiration.

  4. A musical Renaissance should come as a result of an attention to detail and committment to quality. If an artist steps his/her game up, it needn't be Obama- or politics-related. Some of the best music in the great tapestry or Hip Hop and Soul do not have political messages or "consciousness" behind them. Instead, they were meldodically progressive, experimental and came from the artist at times being holed up in a room with his/her thoughts. It's about being creative, not political. To that end, the existence of the Obama campaign should have no bearing on the "movement" Spike speaks of. It should be happening with or without him.

  5. Also worth pointing out, if the Obama campaign was somehow truly galvanizing change within the industry, then artists would be doing more than these Obama tribute records. The industry as a whole would be more willing to provide a platform for a talented female MC, for one, as well as the artists that HAVE been making statements for eons while struggling to sell records. All these come-lately Obama records are well-intentioned, but offensively late.

  6. Please separate the evil entity called "The Industry" and the creative pool that is "The People".......people.
    And lets forget Spike for a moment. Lets consider the premise; Art ( music) moving forward because of a non musical influence. New and existing artists have been writing creative sh*t for years with some taking notice and loving it. The move forward comes with an enlightened view by more people.
    In other words Obama reps a more progressive mindset than the past. Some DJs "share" the same progressive nature. Look at Michael Baisden. His show has become more progressive. his numbers are growing. He shares the attitude with or without Obama ... but it fits with the new breed leaders and listeners.
    I'll stop giving Obama all the credit for feeling optimistic when others stop blaming "The Industry" for the all the dis-interest in creative soulful music by non mainstream artists.

  7. If you can list at least 5 artists in the Black mainstream (since that was the leg of music I personally implicated in the post) that have been inspired to create music that is creatively progressive as a result of the climate created by the Obama campaign but do not explicitly reference Obama or politics, then I will happily concede the point. 🙂

  8. Hold on now ..... I dont think these "black republican" rappers even have the vocabulary change. Outside of Nas and Black Thought and those with the "Conscous" label, no one expects 36Mafia to do a mainstream protest song.
    When it comes to musicians and singers I "kinda" see your point. Do I see Usher making this generations "Whats Going On?" maybe not.
    But the climate is right for him, John Legend, Maxwell, D'Angelo and even Musiq to reach beyond hit singles.
    My reading of the question is more about the bubbling under artists BECOMING more mainstream because of the climate. Donnie, Martin Luther, Van Hunt, Lyfe Jennings .....artists with the chops to write a "song song".
    And if Youtube, MySPace and Soulbounce is an example of new media, whos to say that the next Soulja Boy/Tay Zonday breakout star wont be some talented little black kid with a guitar in one hand and a mouse in the other?
    And oh ..... its probably more likely that Alicia Keyes or Jill Scott will create this generations "Whats Going On?" before a brother. I just focused on brothers because we have to be more "Obama-like" in our thinking; fearless, rational and responsible.

  9. What about George Bush...isn't that enough struggle for creativity?!



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