We have been losing a LOT of music legends lately. With the loss of Prince, Billy Paul, David Bowie, Maurice White, Merle Haggard and Phife Dawg all within the last few months, I can’t help but feel like the batons are being passed on. The question is: do we have the people in place to grab them and continue the race?
I’m an artist, and like Erykah Badu says, I’m sensitive about my s***. I’ve been working on my next album off and on for nearly a year, going between disdain and elation with each song since I’m naturally my own worst critic. I have a lot of talented musician friends that are the exact same way, many of whom are sitting on ALBUMS worth of material for any number of reasons.
Meanwhile, instead of cultivating originality and authentic artistry, labels are creating droves of clones and throwing them out to the masses to see what sticks. Revenue has dropped significantly since the Napster-era, so labels are adjusting to this new “normal” after years of operating in crisis mode.
Top 40 has been reduced to mindless fluff that sacrifices lyrical content (and in some cases, actual words) all in the name of a “tight beat”. Sales figures became the priority, and variety was left to starve alongside the Tower Records and Sam Goody’s of yesteryear.
The brilliant thing about the Internet is that the playing field has been leveled. Anyone with a computer and a decent mic can record music and release it worldwide. Unfortunately, this has also allowed the field to be overtaken with those faux-artists chasing dollar signs.
For every brilliant artist to come from this era, there are a hundred Joe Schmos’ with Bugatti dreams (and hubcap talents) flooding the airwaves with fluff, some of which doesn’t even make lyrical sense. While it’s easier to get your music out to the masses, in some ways it’s harder to be heard.
Call me an old geezer if you want, but I like my music to contain comprehensible words.
I’m putting a call-to-action to our generation’s music creators as well as those who consume music. It is up to us to carry the torch and pass it to the future. Yet, there will be nothing left to give if we continue on the path we’ve been on.