The Fire of Youth
It is incredible to be young and to have the fire of youth. It is a thing of incandescent beauty and a gift of life: youth. Being young is plain joy and love. The love for music, in particular, is magical. Ever since one could understand what music is, it has been a constant in our lives.
Music has such an effect that our brains can relate particular music and even individual songs or melodies to specific times or periods in our lives. For instance, if I listen to an early 2000’s song, I get memories of my childhood. That is insane when you think of how a combination of melodies, voices, and sounds can create such specific memories. Our brains can connect individual neurons, particular to specific music, to specific memories.
What is Good Music?
Good music is unmistakable and reverberates with our lives. Good music never dies and remains eternal if I may. It is a marvel of life how individuals can create such powerful art out of the creativity of their minds and talent. Music encompasses all spheres of life. Music is for all and can be a part of any particular group in society.
It is a considerable part of lifestyle, celebration, religion, advertising, art, commercialization, and human expression. Music is the thread that ties human life and reality to fantasy and hope, something more. Music is bigger than any of us and, as such, cannot be controlled or whisked away if it achieves the kind of impact I’m trying to exemplify.
Traditional African Music
As Africans, music has been a part of society since humans could make music. Traditional African society manufactured, appreciated, and loved music. If you have had the chance to listen to real traditional African music, you understand the effect and vibrance that authentic and undiluted music can have on people and society.
Music is a companion in life and is always with us, be it in sorrow, joy, grief, struggle, fear, and, most importantly, hope, and longing. Music is, therefore, a constant of life and an essential part of the human experience. We would not have the opportunity to experience genuine emotion and feeling without music.
The Commercialization of Music
As the world becomes more industrial and art increasingly commercialized, many new and derivative types of music have come up. These are offshoots of the primary and most influential genres. If you have read the history of music, you understand that it has morphed over time. Music evolves as times change. The kind of music that we would expect in the future will result from the occurrences of those particular times.
For instance, in times of struggle and war, music is used to denounce war and renounce suffering. Alternatively, it becomes a tool to encourage or preach peace. By listening to the music of a particular period in time, you can tell what was happening during that period.
Rogue Music: The Dark Side of Music
Music also has a dark side and has been used to abuse, harass, or act inappropriately toward certain groups in society. Unfortunately, as beautiful as music can be, it can also get used to incite and spread hate.
Wiley Spreads Hate on Twitter
A good example is how musicians can use their platforms, be it social media, to encourage hateful sentiment. Grime artist Wiley took to Twitter and Instagram recently to spread antisemitic views and hate. Music, over time, has become increasingly confrontational and offensive. Grime is an offshoot of Garage music and is less emotional and more confrontational.
Increasingly Vile Music in Kenya
Locally, here in Kenya, branches of genres, such as Genge, have become increasingly immoral. The content coming off of 'gengetone' and the like heavily objectifies women and dehumanizes the female role in society. Women are an integral part of society, and music should uplift and empower women. However, the increasing commercialization of the music industry has led numerous artists to create sexually inappropriate content as a way to sell their music.
Sex Appeal in Advertising and How It is Ruining Music
In my view, this effect has become magnified by the need for and the encouragement of sex appeal in advertising. For artists to make an adequate income from their music, they need endorsements. As such, sex appeal is a way to ensure that they have adequate fan bases to warrant advertising deals and product endorsements.
The 4 Ps
The situation is becoming more and more about the ‘Other Four P’s in Marketing: Pretty, Power, Pride, and Pomp.’ The more artists get pressured to make money and acquire all these endorsements, the more they produce low-quality and short-lived music.
Should We Boycott Low Quality and Vile Music?
We should boycott music that is of low quality and music created to create a spectacle. If artists feel they need a lot of views on platforms such as YouTube, they should do better and create better music. Numbers matter, but that does not mean that music should be created just for the sake of selling records.
Why Do Some Artists Struggle to Sell Music?
In my personal view, if an artist struggles to sell music, then they are the problem. The same applies to those artists who do all manner of things to attract attention. They should go back to the drawing board and conjure up new and enriching content. As a consumer of music, sex appeal does not appeal to me anymore, and I bet it doesn’t appeal to many of us, music lovers.
Does sex appeal appeal to you?
What Constitutes Authentic African Music?
African music, in particular, should be respectful, moral, and empowering. Women should be empowered and displayed as the queens they are. We should denounce vixen culture and encourage art and music that is feminist and empowering to women.
Proper Messaging to the Female Audience
We should tell our young queens that they are to be respected, viewed as equal to the male gender, and treated right. Music should not get seen to encourage rape culture or the objectification of women. The more we follow and mimic western culture, music, and art, the more we lose our cultural essence.
Kenyans will Play Kenyan Music when It is as Good or Better than International Music
Even with recent campaigns to encourage support for Kenyan music, Kenyan artists should do better. The better and more meaningful the content, the better we will play Kenyan music. An excellent example of authentic African music is Nigerian and Kwaito music.
You can feel the beat and the culture of Western and Southern Africa in their tunes. However, Kenyan music lacks that power and feel that outrightly identifies it with East Africa. Tanzania has also done an excellent job with Bongo and, unsurprisingly, is doing better. Authentic Kenyan music could be heard in the twentieth century, but nowadays not so much.