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Grow Up Already! Why Are 80s (and 70s) Babies Still Trying to Control Music.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 , Posted by JD at 7:59 PM

Apparently the BET Awards aired tonight. I wasn’t at all surprised by the number of tweets that showed up on my twitter timeline criticizing today’s music for not being lyrical enough, for being too violent, or otherwise not up to par. To that I say:


If you believe that, most likely you are 25 and above. In fact, you might even be 21 and above. And, if that’s the case, current music is not for you to like. It’s not created for you, and really, it shouldn’t be created by people much older than you. Music has always been driven by young people. Young people are the ones who have hours to spend in their rooms listening to music. They also have parents who give them allowances with which to buy music. Young people have been responsible for almost every major music movement in this country from rock n roll to hip hop.

But what happens when a generation of people refuses to grow up? When 30 year old dads are wearing fitted caps and collecting sneakers? When 40 year old mothers are saying things like 40 is the new 30? (it’s not, by the way)Then what do you get? I tell you what you get, a generation of people who, rather than satisfying themselves with marriage, family, and other cultural endeavors beyond new music, are using their free time to rain on Souljah Boy’s and his fan’s parade.

I use Soulja Boy as an example because for some reason, his music and image seem to bother people my age (27) the most. As someone who doesn’t even PRETEND to feel guilty for jigging when “Donk” comes on the radio, and who thought “Kiss Me Through The Phone” was soooo adorable, I am perplexed by the older (yeah I said it) generation’s issue with Soulja Boy. No, he’s not intellectual. No, he’s not furthering our community. No, he’s not the best rapper. Perhaps he doesn’t even deserve his success (although his hardwork and production talent is undeniable). But he is under 21. And honestly, is Soulja Boy’s sing-rapping effort in “Turn My Swag On” any more offensive to musical sensibilities than Domino’s “Ghetto Jam?,” one of the many songs from back in “my day” that I still know the words too? Is his awkward and not-quite-age-appropriate rap on “Crank Dat” that much worse than one my favorite songs “My Cadillac” by McNasD, where he raps about how his car helps him get “panties?”

I hate to say this, but there is simply something very unseemly about a bunch of near-30 year olds criticizing the musical existence of someone who is barely 19. I would also argue that Soulja Boy’s audience doesn’t and shouldn’t care what a bunch of 25+ 9-5 working stiffs think about the music they listen to on the bus ride to school or while they’re doing homework in the dorms. And, well, they shouldn’t. How would music be today, if my older cousins, parents and their friends got to decide whether Uncle Luke and 2 Live Crew were worthy of radio play? Well actually, they tried, took it all the way to Congress and failed due to the 1st amendment.

Well, thank goodness, at that time, there was an entire genre of music dedicated to people in that age range, it was called “Contemporary R&B.” Luther Vandross, Regina Bell, hell, even Whitney Houston sang for a slightly more mature audience that was halfway between giving up new music altogether and getting over the fact that hip hop was beginning to dominate the scene. Unfortunately, my generation unlike previous generations refuses to mature, and there is no such thing as Contemporary R&B anymore.

The previous generation knew when to quit. I still remember when my Dad found my very first rap TAPE. It was by a female rapper named Boss. My dad heard the blarings of “ya gotta, ya ya ya gotta, ya gotta let a hoe be a hoe” blaring from my “boom box” when he came home from work one day. He immediately demanded to listen to all my rap tapes.

OH S&%$!

At that time, I had 3 rap tapes. He took Boss' "Born Gangstaz" (who I later found out wasn't born Gansta or in CA!), Three Six Mafia’s “Mystic Styles" and Snoop Dogg’s “Doggy Style.” He took my tapes into his bedroom, sat on the edge of the bed, and put each tape into his stereo which previously had only played Gospel music, Kenny G, Patti LaBelle, and Luther Vandross.

I stood in my parent’s bedroom doorway for 30 minutes while my Daddy listened to songs off of each tape shaking his head at some of my favorites like “It ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none."

I got so sick to my stomach as I realized for the first time how terrible this music must sound to tender ears like my father’s. He wouldn't get it, I thought. I didn’t know if I was going to be put out of his house or just generally cussed out and lectured. But I knew for sure my tapes would be confiscated for good.

I was wrong.

My dad took my tapes out, put them back in their cases, and handed to me and said “here, just don’t let me hear them again.”

I didn’t. I asked my mom for a pair of headphones as soon as she got home from work!
I’m not saying that older people can’t like new music. But they should be ready to accept that they will have to pick and choose.

My mom, who is 59 years old, has “Sexy Lady” by Ray J as her ring tone—except for when my Dad calls. In that case, her phone plays “A Little Bit” by 50 cent. (I’m not going to even get into that). She loves Dr. Dre, forced me to download some new R. Kelly and Jamie Foxx onto her new ipod (when did she get that?), and had me buy Warren G’s “Smoking Me Out” by Ron Isley which she played on repeat for 3 weeks when it first came out, and she almost blows my ears out when Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” comes on the radio. I can’t hear. And don’t get me started on her love of old Hot Boyz jams like "Hot Girl" and "Bling Bling."

But beyond a few standout songs and artists here and there, she’s cool just listening to her old tunes, many of which are so filthy I can’t bare to listen to them! Marvin Cease’s “Candy Licker,” and Millie Jackson’s “Slow Tongue,” Chuck Willis “Stoop Down And Let Daddy See,” and pretty much anything by Joe Poonany are on her list of must-haves. If it were up to me, I would eliminate all of this kind of music because, quite frankly, I find it to be disgusting. In fact, I hate to even link to them they bother me so!

But it’s not up to me. I let my mom and her raunchy friends listen to their stuff, although I have a permanent wrinkle in my forehead from gagging as they jig to it.

The truth is, every generation gets to have a sound. I couldn’t believe when Jay-Z, who I remember very CLEARLY saying repeatedly in response to criticism of his just-as-igorant-as-2009-music in the 90s that he was speaking to his generation. That hip hop was “music for young people.” Fast forward to 2009 and Jay-Z is a 40 year old rapper (the same age my Dad was when he took my tapes!) pronouncing musical tools used by younger artists as ‘dead,’ criticizing younger rappers for their way of dressing, and taking credit for making the game what it is even though he says the game shouldn't be what it is. Not to mention, he's still referring to himself as “Young Hov”. I’m sorry sir, at 40 you can’t be “young” anything, unless you are doing a concert at a nursing home.

I am all for encouraging musicians to be better and analyzing the impact of certain messages on our culture, but honestly, my generation needs to quit the nostalgia. Instead of embracing the music that was made for you, you are holding on to youth and control of young folk’s music with a kung fu death grip. Young people deserve to have their own sound, no matter how substandard us “old” folks may find it.

Speaking of substandard, I take this opportunity to leave you with a couple of my favorite songs from my youth. The first is one of my favorite songs of all time, I could listen to it every day.

Scarred by Luke f. Trick Daddy

Hay Crucial Conflict

69 Boys = Donkey, Donkey

Currently have 9 comments:

  1. aceklub says:

    This is what Hip-Hop needs

  1. cybercybil says:

    This is nothing new. Every older generation has decried the musical
    "talent" of the next generation. My grandparent's generation thought Chuck Berry, Beatles, Elvis et al were horrible. My parents, well my dad, thought Parliament/Funkedelic, Prince and Rick James were the antichrist, though he lovingly tolerated numerous weed filled concerts to make me happy. Personally, I like Soulja Boy "hopped out my bed, turned my swag on", but there are others my young adult listens to that I wish would go away. I'm sure in a few years, she will be frowning at certain musical stylings. It's part of the life cycle.

  1. J Danielle says:

    That Cypher vid is great. I love Eminem. I liked the other one with Nicki Minaj and Joe Budden too! Cybil, my mom said that when Chuck Berry came out, her family told her "only sluts do to the twist" THE TWIST = sluts? lmao!

  1. rondel says:

    You make valid points... but I don't know if I agree with this. I'm an 80s baby and I'm gonna keep on saying this music that is being put out today is wack and bullshit. Given a select few singers that can actually sing, entertainers that can actually entertain and rappers that can actually rap. But most of those don't even get any shine. And music won't survive with one or two good artists... music does waaay better when it's a movement. When you can turn on the radio and 10 songs in a row are your shit. When a tour comes out and the lineup is 4 deep and you like everybody from the opening act to the headliners. Whatever... these artists can try again

  1. Genie says:

    I have to disagree as well. I know when I'm not the intended audience for certain artists, for example, Lil' Mama. I'm not a fan of hers, but she doesn't disturb me and make me wish she had less influence on young people. Do I really care if her lip gloss is popping? Nope. I also couldn't stand that silly Chicken Noodle Soup song, but did I really care? Nope, it's a kids song. Soulja Boy, on the other hand, pushes a message to kids that make me say "if I had children they wouldn't be allowed to listen to him in my house."

    The problem I have with hip hop is, there's a lot of adult content being aimed at kids. Then to top it off, the quality really is bad. Let's be honest, those who write the history books are not going to put Soulja Boy down as a one of the great rappers, the way Chuck Berry and Elvis are thought of as great artists today.

  1. I totally agree with @rondel.

    The reason why this generation's music is criticized is because it's just a saturation low quality.

    The 80s babies are the last generation to "experience" music. The music industry was set up completely differently. Artists had to work harder to be recognized because no label wants to invest their money into something that can't be sold.

    The internet killed the music industry and it happened so fast that most people don't even realize it. The internet drastically sped up everything about the process of making a record. We got access to more stuff and we got it faster than ever, especially with music. Artists were boycotting downloading music because that meant that people didn't have to by albums to listen to a song, they just got the song. And they could listen to an album and find out if it's wack before they spend their money. There was no way to slow it down so industry had to speed up their whole process, they had to lessen the quality to keep up with the quantity being demanded. Then you add in all the people who have music programs and make their own music, so now there was an alternative to mainstream.

    So not only are they over-saturated by artists trying to make sure they stay relevant, plus the millions of people who make music because they want their 15 mins. But no one is working on quality because theirs no time. Kids today are being bombarded because they have access to SO MUCH music at once that they don't have the luxury of letting the music resonate for them. So they listen to crap because, but they're not really listening because everything is playing at once.

    So of course, there's gonna be some catchy tunes, but today's music puts so much less of an emphasis on quality.

    It's really not us. The music of this generation is mostly garbage. It's not a coincidence that the most influential stars have careers that began before the concept of internet music.

  1. Imani Grant says:

    hay is my jam!!! I remember I could barely pass my honors chem but I sure could recite all the lyrics to that!!! haha

  1. Great post! When I was in middle/high school I always wondered what music would sound like when I was an adult, and if I would hate my kids' music as much as my parents hated mine. I don't have kids yet, but I have thoroughly lost the taste for cartoons that I used to enjoy. Love that your mom plays "Just a Little Bit" as her ringtone! Damn, that song is hot!

  1. jp678jwu says:

    I so remember when your dad got mad at us for singing Bonita
    You are so not alone my dad took my LiL Kim "Hardcore" album from me! I was soooo pissed!