Rage Against The Ratchet
Riding in the car with my mom, listening to the local Hip-Hop/R&B station when I was younger was a part of my every day routine. Getting excited when my favorite record came on because I could rap/sing every word. Fluently.
It was a part of me. I was a part of it.
The most I would hear from either parent would be, “It would be nice if you knew that math homework like you know those KRS 1 lyrics!”
Laughing off the comment, nobody in the car really skipped a beat. We were all bobbing our heads in unison… Then a record like “Wake Up Everybody” by Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes would come on, the radio would be turned up a little louder, and the vibe remained.
Things have changed so much now. Fast forward to today… Taking my children to school in the morning I have to dodge from station to station trying to avoid sexually explicit, raunchy conversation by the show host. Picking my children up from school at 3pm, when the latest record plays, it's a disaster waiting to happen. I can no longer allow my children to sing these songs. The lyrics are disrespectful, degrading, and poison to a young mind in development. I have worked way too hard for my children to be instantly influenced by this crap. Revolting against all that I teach them? I think not.
Sadly, many of the artists out today don't produce what I would call “radio friendly” music. “Radio friendly” today approves of the b-word and the word “ho.” Once upon a time the profanity in music was hidden so well with clever DJ scratches, "radio" versions almost sounded better than the original. Today, lyrical content is so explicit, even the "clean" version is problematic. Radio stations used to have rules and regulations for the music they played. There was no compromise. Now, it appears radio stations have compromised to please the artist and an industry that continues to push the already blurred lines of what is acceptable to say and suggest in music. That makes it 10Xs harder for me to be a fan of Hip Hop/R&B and parent at the same time. I have to protect my children because radio stations no longer feel a sense of moral responsibility.
And this is where the problem lies.
Music is and has been one of the greatest teaching tools. Even now, at 44, I have to recite the ABC song when alphabetizing. School House Rock helped me learn the Preamble, taught me conjunctions, grammar, mathematics and how a bill became a law.
I can recall legendary Philadelphia natives Gamble & Huff writing a song “Message In Our Music.”
What is the message in our music now?
Take a moment and think about that.
Here’s what I did. I took a Monday morning to listen to our local radio station, Philadelphia’s Power 99FM for the entire day. Here are the songs that played in heavy rotation:
1. BEYONCE FEAT. JAY Z Drunk In Love
2. YG FEAT. JEEZY & RICH HOMIE QUAN My Hitta
3. KID INK FEAT. CHRIS BROWN Show Me
4. RICO LOVE They Don't Know
5. TY DOLLA $IGN FEAT. B.O.B Paranoid
6. DRAKE FEAT. 2 CHAINZ & BIG SEAN All Me
7. AUGUST ALSINA FEAT. TRINIDAD JAMES I Luv This Sh*t
8. TREY SONGZ Na Na
9. QUE OG Bobby Johnson
10. YOUNG THUG Stoner
I was taught that we can speak things into existence. The more we speak over our lives the more we become. Life and Death is in the power of the tongue. So our children speak death into their lives every time these songs are sung. #CGHThought
Radio used to be the place we turn to for information on life, love, health and prosperity. Now it’s a place of death and destruction. History shows us when the music was positive, our community was better. When James Brown said “I’m black and I’m proud,” every black person was proud of their blackness. When Africa Bambada called all the New York gangs together, he told them to stop fighting and taught about knowledge of self. There was peace in the NY streets. He taught about the 4 elements of Hip Hop culture.
Somewhere this has been lost. What are the radio programmers programing? The radio play list? Or the people? Art used to imitate life, now it’s the other way.
So this petition is my plea to the people… WE NEED CHANGE, and the only ones who can make the change is us.
We have to stand up for our children and their children’s children. We have to protest radio and force them to play music that brings integrity back. Music that makes us proud to be black.
We must stand together and band together as a community.
We must let them know that this is unacceptable and will not be tolerated any longer.
So on June 7th 2014, I urge you to go and picket outside of your local urban radio stations.
Those who are in Philadelphia, I will be at Power 99 FM. If you feel how I feel, you are welcome to join me.
I will be there at 10am with my picket sign in hand.