As time rolls on through infinity one realises the small division of the endlessness that our lifespan actually occupies.
Popular culture changes, fashions come and go, sometimes to return again.. Flared jeans might have to wait a while now that skinny jeans are in vogue once more.. Or drainpipes as they were called in my mums day.. But you never know when some hip trendsetter will re-ignite their reign of designer terror upon us all..
Technology however is rarely unimplemented and the obsolete rarely returns for more than a brief nostalgic flash of defiance.. VHS is an ancient ancestor to Vimeo and the idea of the cassette tape is laughable in the era of the iPod like an abacus to a quad core… even technology that arguably has had a negative affect on us is rarely reversed..
Everything now happens at a speed never historically seen before, the world is getting smaller, people’s access to entertainment and interest in the media around us is at an all time high..
Yet the longterm quality appears to be falling, correct me if I’m wrong, but particularly within music it feels as though we are losing legends year on year but they are not being replaced? Is this actually a result of the technology we now use? Is it the means of delivery by which our current crop of musical expression reaches its audience? Or is it that the audience itself has evolved or mutated together with how we use and appreciate the medium of music itself?
A retrospective look at the music of passed legends like James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Hendrix, Tupac, John Lennon, Bob Marley.. The re-emergence of David Bowie, Madness, The Rolling Stones, even the endurance of Jay-Z at the summit of rap’s mountain, the continued touring from the likes of Public Enemy.. All suggest a proven potential lasting power into the decades that it somehow feels hard to imagine attributing to a lot of the music released currently.. Why?
Maybe in the passage of time I’ll be proven wrong and people will be lauding A$AP Rocky with the same enduring praise as Curtis Mayfield? Don’t get it twisted, I like new music and dig Kendrick Lamar, A$AP and plenty of current music, I’m even really enjoying the new Daft Punk album (mainly cos it sounds like Chic) but somehow it seems as though it’s all a little temporary, as though it’s all good until next month when something else will be trending..
Meanwhile Time Magazine named Bob Marley’s Exodus the album of the century, this year is the 36th anniversary of its release..
When i looked through Rolling Stones Top 100 artists ever, they were nearly all ancient barring the inclusion of one or two rappers such as Jay-Z and The Beastie Boys and Eminem, mostly it was music i’ve heard all my life and before, music that has withstood time enough to define it’s own legacy..
It’s not literally like good music is not being made anymore though, Obviously I’m not suggesting something as stupid as that.. Just that our means of interacting with the music we are exposed to and thus enjoying (or not) is so different than ever before that it makes it harder to imagine anything lasting for decades like it has in the past no matter how good… will these current artists be allowed to stay relevant , grow with their music, can you see them twelve albums deep?
I love the Rudimental and Disclosure records, Bruno Mars too, Jessie J is a great singer, Tinie Tempah has some jams and swag in abundance but how long can the audience maintain it’s attention span verses artists today being able to stay relevant and make music that still touches the people, represents something and be succesful? The music that lasts with us over the long haul of our lives was never dictated to the artists by a media stream, sell by date or reality show schedule in the past…
The YouTube generation has more at their fingertips than ever before, the new up and coming musician can write, record and shoot a video, edit the promo at home and upload it for the world to ignore in two days…
There’s a worldwide audience, with a billion choices and a fifteen second attention threshold, how is the young hopeful going to have a career spanning decades?
The mainstream supported artists like those mentioned earlier have a big push from the established industry machine.. But the machine is not what it was and neither is the audience or the means of delivery.. The equation has changed but the maths teacher hasn’t noticed.. the class are no longer paying attention.. Life is expensive, life is cheap, a career needs success which is defined by money, if it don’t make dollars it don’t make sense.. Back to the grind, the day job.. So music becomes the day job, the daily grind at the expense of integrity?
“You can write my songs just make me famous..”
Music has always at its root been a cultural reflection in some way, but it has now been mostly relegated to ‘content’… In the ‘rap game’ (sic) most new contestants enter into the creative endeavour to chase wealth and a lifestyle, the image is more important than the substance but without substance the structure is hollow and brittle.. Sure it might be shiny but when it caves in it won’t be back… It’ll be replaced!
I know there’s a difference between artistic creation and hustle, I admire the entrepreneurs who are making it work financially but that’s a different subject… Not everyone can sell headphones..
But where is the music that speaks for the people, the world is in turmoil and financial crisis has spread far and wide, wars are the norm, terrorism lurks, culture conflict and oppression are prevalent… Political scandal and lies engulf the west, deprivation and booming slave labour economies dominate the east..
Where are the new minstrels? The storytellers? Chuck D once described Rap music as the streets CNN, Where are the new voices of this era? Representing the struggle on an identifiable level… Representing our days, our pain, our sharing of love and happiness.. The world the majority of us actually live through right now…
There are artists that can and do deliver in this way, Cody Chestnut, Julian Marley and Junior Gong, Nas, Plan B, Natty, Suli Breaks.. Plus countless more that I’m sure you can bring to the worlds attention…
However the fact is that in the world of X-Factor armchair A&R and YouTube attention span deficit, Flash in the pan Twitter trend led pursuit of the hours hottest hashtag…. There is less and less chance of meaningful music being a viable choice instinctive or calculated for the ones coming up with their dreams of ‘making it’… Unless a conscious decision to do so is made somehow..
Simply because their kept too busy trying to ‘make it’ rather than concentrating on what their actually ‘making’…
I think young musicians and singers, rappers, poets etc deserve better, they deserve a budget and need to be re-aligned with the concept of music belonging to us the people,creatively reflecting us and not the imaginary lifestyle and mis-sold dream of the escape from us, the world is not a crime scene, not everyone is going to be a picture perfect millionaire, we won’t all get the girl in the end of our movie… We may have to fight to win.
I wish everyone the best of luck and fully support new music I hear that hits me in the right places.. Who feels it knows it… When it hits you, you feel no pain..
I know this has been a bit of a ramble.. It could be better written but I hope you catch my vibe..
Replace our lost legends.. Or to quote Bill Hicks again.. ‘Play from your fuckin’ heart!!!!’