What can we learn from Whitney Houston’s Emmy Award

We remain grateful to a generation that has produced the likes of Whitney Houston, Micheal Jackson, Miriam Makeba, Dorothy Masuku, Yvone Chacka Chacka, Brenda Fassie, LadySmith Black Mambazo.

At times I wonder if music today is just another hobby that people do when they are bored. I mean, the way music lack inspiration is absolutely shocking. Old Skool music get tiring. We have heard these artists for decades.

Number One Destroyer of Music

Miriam Makeba – Mama Africa

The question I often ask myself is: what went wrong?

I have researched and looked at various artists around the world. Countries that are not influenced by the number one destroyer of music stand a better chance to positively influence society. The MTV remains the biggest destroyer of music. Shocker? Yes I am as shocked as you. As the biggest music channel in the world the MTV continues to influence trends. Music Programmers are as responsible in this destruction as the MTV.

Now who am I to tackle such a beast? I am a father, a citizen and a human being. From when I was a child, hope was communicated through music! Dreams and aspirations were largely channeled through music! Compared to where I was as a child, music played a huge role in shaping my worldview that led me to where I am today. Ability for music to produce a certain type of society or generation is something phenomenal.

Music back then produced a generation that went on to achieve the unthinkable! Surviving the age of wars and unrest is not easy. Music created in that era has an incredible longevity. Not to say there was no dance music back then. Not to say there were no useless songs. Useless songs were far and few in between.  The standard measure of a successful song was the Lyrical Quality. Up until the late ‘90s lyrical content was everything in music.

Generations and Music

Things change; they do not stay the same and should not stay the same. The biggest reflection of a generation is music. Generations and Music influence each other. Paging through history you will realize that music reflected a particular generation.

During Apartheid in South Africa music was the biggest tool in fighting the  injustices. Artists of that era are well decorated even today for their fight against Apartheid. While walking people through pain these artists used their craft in affecting change.

The ‘90s saw a generation that was dealing with the aftermath of wars and apartheid. That generation dealt with broken families. This created street life which saw a rise of Street Music in a form rap and a hip-hop culture. Slow jams walked people through pain. The 2000s saw a rise of a generation that do not care and filled with entitlement. The culture of rebelliousness was born. Today’s music is a reflection of that. I mean artists today are self-centered, with poor lyrical content. The world is currently undergoing major challenges, artists are too busy looking at themselves in the mirror for the next selfie on Instagram! The next song will be about how they look on Twitter or Instagram. The same song later on win awards!

The Importance of Lyrical Content and Quality

The prominence of house music has totally robbed us of rich lyrical content in music. Lyrical Content and Quality is critical in a song. My favorite book tells me that with words God created all that we see. Out of His mouth came the light, the moon and stars above. This book also tells me that words became life to the world. So how important are words in a song? My favorite book tells me that I am created in God’s image and so like God my mouth creates!

Writing lyrics has to be the most important part for any artist, because they are create something and has an influence on somebody out there. Lyrics can give life or destroy life. That is how critical lyrical content is. Music producers and Music Programmers have failed to understand the importance of their role. Why do music producers like Quincy Jones, Stevie Wonder and other legends are highly respected in the world today? They were the gatekeepers in the industry. Out of their dedication we were blessed with talent such as Baby Face, Toni Braxton. In South Africa we were blessed with Miriam Makeba, Yvone Chacka Chacka and many more. Lyrics form life or death to the song.

What do we need to fix

My appeal to industry leaders is that: let us turn it around. We have talent in John Legend, Alicia Keys, Black Coffee, Lira, Zonke Dikana. Music Profilers and Producers can we play our roles as leaders in the community and start leading artists and fans into a path of recovery.

Can we stop listening to the beat and start listening to the rest of the song? The beat is only but part of the song. The beat is only 25% of the song. Can we look at the other 30% presentation of the song and 45% lyrical content?

Is it possible for artists today to inspire a generation and walk them through the pain of the world’s economic meltdown?

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