Evolution and growth is linear, but life (or more specifically, culture) is cyclical. Old things become new. New things become old. Trends inform culture. Culture informs new trends. We see images and absorb certain trends that inspire us. In turn, we internalize and emulate – putting out similar, or exaggerated, images that reflect what we’ve taken in. Those looking to monetize culture then flock to what sells.
There’s nothing new about that model, but access and exposure are at an all-time high. And there is the issue. We have to break the cycle of exploitation. We can’t be mad at the images that are being exploited as if these “characters” don’t exist in the real world. They do. And they’re more prevalent than we’d like to admit. But they aren’t the only images that represent us. Music is not (and has never been) dead. All of our actresses and actors and models didn’t get their start on reality tv/social media. Our leaders take a different shape/form, but they do exist. We have strong, positive, intelligent, young voices that speak for us. They just live outside of the spotlight, which is usually controlled by people outside of the culture that are only looking for what generates clicks, likes, page-views, and dollar signs.
So what do we do? We take more responsibility for what we take in and what we put out. We break our gaze from the machine-controlled spotlight and shine our own lights on the images we prefer. Images that build instead of images that destroy. We redefine the paradigm. The machine already knows that the power is with the people, they just do a better job and rallying the people around their preferred images. It’s up to us to decide where we place our power. We amplify the good and avoid exploiting the bad. We don’t blindly accept what they want us to consume. We start to better understand that in a lot of ways we are what we consume. We start to consume more of the things that are meant to inspire, nurture, and grow us. We demand more of those that are . We demand more of our peers and those that influence us. We demand more of ourselves. We turn off the radio. We become our own curators. We break the cycle.
Talib Kweli – “More or Less”
The Roots & John Legend – Shine
Another gem from Chicago emcee, Chris Crack
A little boom bap goes a long way. Producer-Emcee, Von Pea, gave this Drake joint new life.
Last week I gave you two for the culture as an introduction to deeper conversation. This week I offer you two for self-awareness. Recognition of self. Acknowledgement of our behavior and complete contribution – both, for better or worse.
Thanks to smart phones, wi-fi, and social media, we’re as connected as we’ve ever been. This has so many advantages and perks. I love being able to find new music from all over the world on Soundcloud and watching classic concert footage on YouTube and people watching on Instagram. But for every positive, there’s a negative (or two). Technology allows everyone a platform to say and feel whatever they want publicly. It creates audiences and wherever there is an audience, there’s a performance. And, man, do we love to perform.
We look for and provoke conflict for the sole purpose of collecting footage for social media. We watch TV in front of our Twitter accounts and pack the most ignorant, negative sentiment within the character limitation – again, just to collect retweets and @ mentions. We create memes that humiliate and embarrass innocent people. In the words of Beanie Sigel, we treat Instagram like it’s the “get indicted hotline” posting pictures of ourselves with guns, drugs, and obscene amounts of money with captions bragging about how untouchable the “hustle” is.
We lure women in with money and less-than-politely requests that they bust it open. Then we frown at the lack of loyalty. Our women are purposefully naked and asking to be booked for roles that specifically call for them to be naked. We glorify and support all things ratchet – music, “reality” tv, websites. And then become easily offended when someone outside of the circle calls out the fuckery.
We. Us. Collectively. Because to some on the outside, we’re all the same. Because it’s ‘we’ and ‘us’ when we want justice. Because it’s ‘we’ and ‘us’ when it’s time to celebrate culture. So it’s ‘we’ and ‘us’ when the picture isn’t as pretty. We dress the part. We talk the part. We act the part. We’ll even accept the award for playing the role so well. But please don’t let anyone else comment on it. I mean, who are they to react to the performance?
Be aware. Be better. Be proud.
Goodie Mobb – “The Experience”
Astro ft. Bishop Nehru – K.I.N.G.