This will be one of many articles on this subject. We have a lot of problems in our community. We blame education, poverty, etc. on our problems. Some of the real culprits are right there in front of us. Correcting these problems won’t cost a dime. Solutions can be as simple as changing the station on your radio dial. I’m not trying to preach, but I’m going to start this series of by eulogizing my dear friend, The Love Song.
Let’s get something out of the way first. My name is Byron Braxton and I’m an old head. There! I said it. Therefore, I will use the phrase, “Back in the day…” a lot! That being said, back in the day, I did not go on a date without a 90 minute cassette tape in my pocket loaded with Luther, Boyz to Men, New Edition, Surface, Tony Toni Tone, and Troop. These songs were the background music for when you alone and talking with each other. These songs gave your date an idea of who you were. These songs set the tone for the night. These songs helped you express your feelings if you couldn’t quite find the words. New Edition’s Helplessly in Love could represent you like Johnnie Cochran. These songs were magnetic. Generally by the third song, the two of you made your way to the center of the sofa. These songs made you think about the future.
I went through the Billboard top 25 R&B/Hip-Hop songs and NOTHING qualified as a love song. Two songs came very close. The first was Ne-yo’s She Knows. His song talks about admiring a woman that he watching in the club. I was fine with the song until I saw the video. The next near-qualifier was Ciara’s I Bet. The song was actually a break up song, but the melody and Ciara’s angelic voice drew me in. At least for the first minute and 32 seconds, then her lyrics shifted and became a mood killer. “Is that your bitch over there? Giving me the ugly stare. The one with the silicone ass and the Brazilian hair.” That forced me to reclassify this song as an angry woman song. I like the song, but it would not have made my cassette back in the day.
Some may say I’m tripping for no reason. It’s music. Whether you want to acknowledge music shapes our lives. It guides us. Where are the songs that let young men know that it’s OK to be a gentleman with a lady? Where are the songs that teach young men that she is a young lady and not a bitch? Relationships are about meeting halfway. The music that is being pumped into our children’s ears has created a disconnect. Girls aren’t demanding or expecting respect. Boys are treating girls like they’re property and not companions. No songs about slow dancing and enjoying the moment with your love. No songs talk about anything close to love. There’s not one song out there that would make you think, “I’m wrong… I need to apologize.” And we wonder why the domestic violence problem in growing. Female artists are contributing to the problem. Nicki Minaj will make a drunken sailor blush. Out of fear of retaliation one of particular artist’s cult followers, I will not say her name. But she has a daughter and her lyrics are talking about smacking, clapping and spinning. Is that how she wants her daughter to be treated? I think not. Someone would wind up on a “Have you seen this person” billboard. I have two daughters that I will do time for (or at least get drunk on a Mexico beach daily until they catch up to me). Why are we not pushing for our artist to be more responsible.
We are paying people millions of dollars annually to poison the minds of our children. The music that is being played on the radio is robbing out children of their youth and exposing them to the debauch side of the adult world. I know some one will confront me with a recent love song, but that are so far apart and very few in between. Parents turn the channel when you’re in the car to station that plays those classic hits. Let them listen to Lionel Richie sing Hello or Freddie Jackson sing You are my lady. If Keith Sweat comes on, just turn the radio off. You son does not need to learn the art of begging (rim shot). This is a small step in changing our community.
As for my dear friend, The Love Song, I’m not going to say good-bye. I won’t even say farewell. I will keep you alive in my heart through Pandora, YouTube, I tunes. Any internet service that will carry your songs. Maybe one day you will rise up and be the force in our children’s lives like you were in mine. One Sweet day a young artist will embrace your spirit and sing a song loud and strong and place hope, love and joy in the hearts and minds of the young people in our community. I feel like passing the collection plate.