The music the kids listen to : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

I used to DJ weddings many years ago. When Gangster Rap reared it's ugly head, I refused to play it unless they had the radio (clean version).

I was curious to hear what our children are hearing, so I got copies of the lyrics to the top 10) songs.

Parents, Pastors, and Preachers: Take your children's radios and MTV and BET away from them at once! Some of the songs (Freak a leek by Petey Pablo for example) uses imagery and language that I don't even use with my wife. One of the songs is a young man lameting over the fact that his girlfriend on the side is pregnant, and that he has to confess it to his wife/main girlfriend. He wants his "main squeeze" to appreciate the fact that he was man enough to admit it (I hope he appreciates alimony and child support).

Other songs by female artists portray our women as (and Bro. Dickens will understand) sybaritic slatterns, whose only thought is shakin' it like a saltshaker or a polaroid picture.

It is no wonder our children are behaving the way they are.

I encourage you to call your radio stations and boycott the advertisers until they stop promoting this music. Boycott the artists and the labels until they change the music.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004


Parson Harper opines -

"Other songs by female artists portray our women as (and Bro. Dickens will understand) sybaritic slatterns, whose only thought is shakin' it like a saltshaker or a polaroid picture."

Not only do I understand but I equally appreciate the correct use of alliterative imagery :-) It would appear that our resident clergyman/geek is influenced by the great wordsmiths of our day like Gore Vidal, William F. Buckley, William Safire and former UN Ambassador Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Former Nixon VP Spiro Agnew, no novice when it came to the Queen's Language, once expressed his disdain for the Washington Press Corps as those "nattering nabobs of negativism". Since you have an intellectual curiousity for the ancient Greek city of Sybaris (whence we get the adjaective sybaritic) you might want to check out the new movie "Troy" which chronicles some notable Greek personalities like Helen of Troy, Achilles (Brad Pitt's character) and a host of other folks. According to the great Greek historian Herodotus, Sybaris was populated with voluptuous women. But, since the ancient Greeks were notorious for exaggeration and hyperbole I tend not to take much stock in the Sybaris report. QED

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004

Rev. Harper,

Although I agree with your basic premise I would caution you in three areas. 1) When one examines the issue of vitriolic lyrics in popular music, you have to put it in a historical context. Salacious lyrics are nothing new. 2) Secondly, the vast majority of hip-hop is still an underground phenomenon and much of the lyrics don't contain content that focuses on the more unsavory aspects of sexual activity. 3)Finally, there are other music genres in which songs contain explicit lyrics. It is unfair to cast disparaging remarks against against hip-hop music. Hip-hop music and culture must bear the burden of our critique and maybe some of our rebuke, but let us look at the entire picture.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004


I understand your disdain for hip hop and rap music. The images are often ugly and immoral. But it is also a reflection of the world in which we live.

The materialistic avarice depicted in the videos and the lyrics are not limited to the young people. A recent post on this very board pointed out that not only the young people desire a high level of conspicuous consumption.

They also point to the evolution of the western way of promulgating that which is deemed beautiful. The misogny that is portrayed in the music is a reflection of the male attack on "radical feminists." The method is often indecent and crude but it is typical of how young people take the mores of the society out of proportion and out of context.

Unfortunately banning our children from watching this will not solve the problem. WE need systemic change in order to bring light to the darkness.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004

I am aware of the lyrics of the past (60 minute man, back door man, Let the Good Times Roll, etc.). At least those songs had the "decency" to cloud their meaning in double-entendre.

Unfortunately, the songs getting airplay make no bones about their meeting. When you say that you're looking for a woman that will come over WHENEVER you call, and knows what she's there for, when you want her to take Ecstasy, Cocaine, Marijuana, and Alcohol and perform lesbian sex (Freak a leek by Petey Pablo), I don't call that salacious; I call that profanity.

When you sing a song about getting caught having sex with someone else, and then deny it ("It wasn't me" by Shaggy), that doesn't promote responsibility or fidelity.

Where are these hip hop songs that our children SHOULD listen to? Roses by OutKast? Guess again. Tipsy by J-Kwon? Nope. Overnight Sensation by Twista? Sounds like a pimp trying to break down a recruit. Southern Hospitality by Ludacris? H*ll no. Name one hip hop song that doesn't use sexual imagery or profanity. Name a hip hop artist that has an album out that uses no profanity or sexual imagery.

Now I agree that other genres have unsavory lyrics....but our kids aren't listening to Saliva, Rammstein, Slipknot, Skrewdriver, and Sevendust. They're listening to Snoop and Cube and Eve and Beyonce and Lil' Flip and Mobb Deep and Ludacris. They're listening to Hip Hop. And we have control over that.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004

Well, first of all, I don't want to debate you on what our kids are listening to. Black kids listen to everything. Black kids are just like black people, not a monolithic group. I would also remind you that 70% of white kids are purchasing and listening to rap also. You can't stop kids from listening to this music. If you keep away from them at home, they will listen to it at school, on the net, on their friends' ipod. What we need to do is listen to the music with our kids and discuss it. Profanity exists everywhere not simply on hip- hop records. If we don't approach this issue realistically and we merely beat on our puritanical drum then we aren't really serious about engaging this generation. And more to your point about who our kids can listen to about the following artists: Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, Dialated Peoples, The Roots, Dead Prez. What about Christian Hip-Hop artists. That white elephant in the room: The Cross Movement, Knowdaverbs, GRITS, Corey Red and Precise, The Ambassador, Gospel Gangstas. Children behave in many of the same ways we did when were growing up and there was no gangsta rap. Nostaligia makes for bad history. But an informed Christian citzenry makes for an empowered people. If we were doing our job in the schools, churches, and society our kids would know and understand the difference between the music they should dance and party to vs. the music they should burn or throw away. You can't change the music until you change the heart.

-- Anonymous, May 18, 2004

These are the artists our kids can listen to: "Kanye West, Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Blackalicious, Dialated Peoples, The Roots, Dead Prez."

Take one off your list....

Kanye West "Slow Jamz" - group sex, drug use....

I agree with you that parents should sit and listen and teach their kids. I disagree when you say you can't stop it. ?

One of the reasons we have Parental Warnings on music is because a parent happened to listen to the words to Darling Nikky, by Prince.Her name? Tipper Gore.

It can be done. White kids may be buying rap, but black artiss are putting it out there.

For those of you who say that if you take the music away from them at home, they'll just get it anyway from their friends at school, I say this:

Will you say the same thing when they come home high or drunk?

Why don't you know who their friends are

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004

Add Kanye West back to the list-- "Jesus Walks." We must teach our children to do what horses do "chew the straw and spit the sticks" There are verses in the bible that detail the tag-teaming group sex phenomenon. That doesn't mean that we dismiss the entire bible because of it. Marvin Gaye sang Sexual Healing do we dismiss "What's going on" As far our children coming home high or drunk. I say this: We can't control the behavior of our children our any other human being when they are away from us. What we can do is teach them, love them, nuture them, pray for them, empower them, forgive them, inspire them, educate them, and then only prayer after we've done all of that. We pray that they make the right decisions.

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004

Rev. Harper, I am with you, but want to remind you that Blacks are not the only hip hop rappers with inappropriate songs. Let's not forget about M & M. And there are others.

I like what KCabral said about changing the heart first. My only problem is, it's pretty hard to change a heart when their mind is being infiltrated with the words to these songs.

My son and I had a discussion about this. I asked him "Should the church take the role of parents and just tell them "NO". And before I had him answer it I asked how he was going to handle this with his sons' and if he would forbid them to listen. He said we must say "NO", but not by merely saying "The Bible says so." We have to explain that in the long run it is damaging to them.

I believe we have to make a stand against it. And require obedience to that demand, just as we require obedience to other things we warn our children about. We should be like Joshua, "As for me and my house we will serve the Lord." We warn because we love them and our desire is for them to have a healthy and abundant life.

Rev. Harper, I respect your stand to boycott the advertisers, artists and labels. The artist and the labels, I don't have a problem, because I have never supported them. But as far as the advertisers, it's such a money game, that many jump on the ban wagon. I bet we'd be really surprised at the number of companies and agencies that are one way or another connected to the artists and their music.

And yes, children will probably hear it outside the house, and over to their friends. But that conviction from being disobedient to parents is still very strong. We must do our part.

In Christ, Carmen

-- Anonymous, May 19, 2004

Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could talk about sexuality in church. We never talk about it in church, we only tell people what they cannot or should not do and then they do what they want to.

But what would happen if instead of leaving the sexual imagery to the rappers we in the church talked about the joy of sex in marriage. The joy of knowing that there is someone who loves you enough to commit his or her whole body only to you.

We could tell people of how crazy it is to share the precious treasure of your body when you would be loathe to let anyone drive your car around the block.

Christians, have yielded this area to the artists and they have done what we have refused to do. Just like the drug dealers will talk to your children about the pleasures of being high, we should not be surprised that someone is shouting from the rafters that sex is good.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2004

Actually Harold our churches do "talk" about sex, albeit in a truncated version when we preach that, "fornication is sin". The reluctance to have an open and honest (emphasis on honest) dialogue about this topic is stymied because too many of us are past, present and future participants in sexual activities outside of the institution of marriage. We suffer from a perceived credibility crisis. Former President Jimmy Carter's (a good Baptist Deacon and Sunday School Teacher) confessional in a Playboy article back in the mid-late 70s is an important read on this topic. President Carter actually spoke for many men when he shared his personal views about marital infidelity. Now the usual disclaimer applies. Read the article and try not to get too distracted with the photos. QED

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2004

Unfortunately, Rev. Harper, it's not just the advertisers that promote that kind of music, but it is at least my understanding that the producers of this music pay the radio stations (in some way, shape or form) for their music to be on the playlist of the DJ's, particularly during prime hours. So, the producers have a vested interest in having this music played. Some people like this kind of music, that is why it is so popular. Fortunately, where I live, there are at least two (2) 24 hour, gospel music stations that I listen to. So, I do not solicit nor support those radio stations that play the kind of music that I do not like, nor do I support those radio stations that play the kind of music that I do not want my children and nieces and nephews to listen to. Thanks.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2004

I am told by my expert on the gnere that "Slow Jamz" is technically a Twista song, on which he is featured, and for which he is producer.

With regard to genres and lyrics: this has been a battle since 1901. As an example, the salacious "Cherry Pie" from the 50s seems tame in comparison to today's sexually explicit How-to guides.

I also peruse the party/jams/magic dials quarterly to see the current state. It is more out of a concern for my children's spiritual welfare, and udnerstand \ing the barrage to which they are exposed, so I can know how to answer their questions, since I cannot be around the three of them 24/7. I must therefore equip them with the tools to dsicern,a nd help them refine their discernment. it is ultimately up to them, as it was to each of us who resisted/embraced our own parents, to decide how they shall walk with Him on their own.

They will learn, as we did - by wisdom (our hope and prayer) or by experience.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2004

We must find a middle ground. This is the music of this generation. We can rail against the messages and the mores of the music but we better find a place for the musicial styles. The more we raise of mature voices in protest the more we push the young people to the music that we abhor.

We must engage our young people in dialogue about the music, what it means and the messages transmitted, and we must do it from a position of respect for the artistic process. My pastor after some very respectful protest by our youth about the music of the youth choir challenged them to find a contemporary approach that they would present to the congregation.

The youth really went crazy over this, they have been rehearsing in the church for hours trying to perfect the lyrics, the arrangements and presentation of this song. (Oh how I wish the Senior Choir would follow their lead) They are doing this without any input from the adults but the song they have produced is an exceptional presentation that honors our faith heritage but also reflects their generation.

So this Sunday our very traditional AME church will get original hip hop and rap from our very own youth. My heart rejoices and my soul cries out Hallelujah!

-- Anonymous, May 21, 2004

Thank you Rev. Harper for such timely discussion. I was just telling a co-worker the other day that I am thankful that I am not a teenager during this time. Quite frankly, the teenagers don't have much to choose from in terms of entertainment. I remember the music from the 50's, 60's, 70's, and mid 80's. This era was the apex of Black contemporary music. It's all downhill from the 90's to the present. It can't get worse than it is now.

If anyone knows of a website which publishes the lyrics to these rap songs, I would be most appreciative if you would make it available to me so that I can know what the song is about.

Teenagers have a much harder time growing up in this era than my generation did. I was shocked when I looked at the NAACP image awards this year and the Motown special. It was a striking contrast to see the obviously talented old school performers on the stage with mediocre modern day artists. Clearly, these poor teenagers don't have any talented celebrities to admire. These contemporary black singers who are so popular today wouldn't have gotten anywhere near a stage or record label when I was a kid. Hopefully, Black people will start making music worth listening to in the future. My co-worker's daughter offers hope in that she is doing remakes of the classic contemporary rhythm and blues by some of our great masters like Marvin Gayes and others.

My co-worker's daughter's name is Nicole Wray and she has produced some CD's already and they should be in your music store.


-- Anonymous, May 22, 2004

Oooh please stop bitching..Petey Pablo's FREAK A LEEK IS THE BEST SONG EVER...

-- Anonymous, May 30, 2004

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