Music has always been used as a means of expression. It inspires and motivates. Yet with lists such as this one named 20 Most Controversial Songs of All Time we see that music can also be crude and offensive.
Recently in the rap music world there was an uproar on lyrics that were said to be offensive. This song happened to be Rick Ross’ verse in Rocko’s U.O.E.N.O. The verse in question is “Put Molly all in her champagne, she ain’t even know it. I took her home and I enjoyed that, she ain’t even know it.” Lyrics like this clearly depicting rape sparked raged a huge back lash for one of today’s most popular rappers. That being said, music has always been a source of controversy. I do not at all condone Ross’ lyrics but when music is constantly used to criticize culture, demean women, glorify crime- among other things, when is the line drawn and how far is too far?
The thing is that I don’t know that there is a right or wrong answer to this question. While for some a song may be entirely offensive, it could be poetic or relatable to another. Sort of in the way that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are songs like Killing In the Name by Rage Against The Machine and Fuck The Police by N.W.A. that take a look at our government, our flaws and expose them to the world. Songs that are the cause of controversy and despite how crude some songs can be, they tend to be effective in their execution. These songs are songs that are infamous for their meaning- Killing In the Name was written in retaliation to the Rodney King beating and Fuck the Police an expression of racial profiling and racism. Messages, that as controversial as they may be have been, have captured the voice of the times.
We do not share the same beliefs or cultures or opinions. Therefore we won’t all agree on when music takes things too far. In truth I believe that we need to protest the things that we don’t agree with. Continuing my example of Rick Ross, the line highlighted above was the cause of so much backlash that Ross was forced to apologize for the line. Not all artists have the same motivations for creating controversial songs. Some do it because they believe in their message and others for the sake of publicity. After all, in such industries it is said that no publicity is bad publicity. However, regardless of any notions or messages we, the public and the fans, can make or break a musicians career. We are the ones who buy the albums, request them on the radio and attend the concerts. We are their bread and butter and if we choose to stand against them because of the message they are portraying in their music, as do our friends and family, it is the ultimate backlash. One lost fan in the scope of things is pretty insignificant but a lost fan who has something to say about an artist and makes their message be heard can be a devastating blow.
Music is a means of expression- It inspires and motivates. Yet music can also be crude and offensive. Ultimately we as individuals must decide when music goes too far. We must decide what are boundaries are and ensure that we do not condone or promote those artists/songs that we consider disrespectful. We must take a stand as a society and draw our own lines because we have the power to stand up for what we believe in and the power to make a difference.