Music and Society have always been intimately related. Throughout the years, music has had the power to influence the behavior of individuals and societies. Music has been thought of as a very powerful medium within social groups because It can facilitate communication beyond strictly words. Music has multiple meanings which can promote the development of Individual, cultural and national identities. Today, music has been criticized for corrupting youth. For example, Rap music has been blamed for crimes and murders that take place within cities throughout America.
Rap USIA however serves a more meaningful purpose within societal development and culture. The defiant images of Rap music and Hip-Hop serve as an inspirational outlet of social change through the ideology of the Frankfurt School’s Marxist critical theory. The Frankfurt school was established in the early 19th century as school of Marxist interdisciplinary social theory. Following Marx, they were concerned by the conditions that allowed for social change. They were concerned with the shift from agrarian economy to Industrialization labor in the 19th century.
They were also concerned with lath, class, and most Importantly the oppression of workers by the rich class. They were troubled by the thought that one percent of people owned forty percent of the nation’s wealth, and ninety percent of the people only owned twenty-five percent of the nation’s wealth. These statistics completely contradicted the ideology of the “American Dream”, which indicates that anyone can succeed and make it in America if they work hard. We are indoctrinated with this concept that people are wealthy because they have earned their wealth, and others are poor because they deserve to be poor.
We are brainwashed to believe this ideology because the wealthy are the ruling class which set these ideas for the rest to believe and trust in. The one percent wants us to believe in the American Dream because it instills a “false hope” into our minds and keeps the ninety percent from initiating a revolution. The Frankfurt School’s goal was to develop a revolutionary consciousness which would serve the interest of the ninety percent. The Frankfurt School, however, believed that revolution was hindered by the presence of pop culture and media.
Pop culture was said to be homogeneous and predictable and made for the ;lowest common nominator’. Mass media and pop culture served as an opiate to the masses, which purpose was to distract the working class from their miserable lives of hard work. Pop music was thought of as a brainwashing device which also distracts the working class with mindless entertainment. The Frankfurt school believed that Pop music is distracting us from thinking about economic inequalities, power, wealth and class which would ignite a revolution.
Hip Hop and Rap music, however, completely contradict the Frankfurt School’s theory of mass media and Pop culture. Instead of happy-go-lucky themed music, Hip Hop was developed as a streetwise subculture which believed in power ‘from below’. Rappers from the streets would talk about their stories growing up In the streets and all of the Illegal activities that they would partake In. They also rapped about the defiance of power and laws, as well as critique the Justice system.
They spoke about the Injustices of racism, politics, power, poverty, and wealth. It was known as “conscious” hip hop because it was about social opportunities. Rap music is about revolting and overcoming inequalities. Rap music tells stories of the injustices that occur on the streets, and reveal that not everyone has equal opportunities to obtain the American Dream. A great example of a “conscious Hip Hop” artist is Tuba Shaker. Tuba was a very inspirational artist that depicted racism and the life that he lived in the ghetto through his music.
One of his most inspirational songs is “Changes” in which he explains the daily life in the ghetto and tries to make people change for the better. Tuba begins his song with the verse, “l see no changes, I wake up in the morning and I ask myself, Is life worth living or should I blast myself, I’m tired of being poor, and even worse I’m black”. He also explains racism well with his stanza “Cops give a damn about a negro, Pull the rigger, kill a Amiga, he’s a hero, give the crack to the kids who the hell cares, one less hungry mouth on the welfare”.
Another stanza which demonstrates racism toward African Americans is, “l see no changes, all I see is racist faces, misplaced hate makes disgrace to races”. Tuba also raps about how the penitentiaries are filled with ‘blacks’. He also explains how illegal activities are necessary in order for poor people to survive. He says “l ant never did a crime, I ant have to do”. Tuba’s “Changes” is very moving. Instead of mindless music which distracts individuals from their lives of poverty and from rebelling, this song presents the graphic imagery of life of poor people and their struggles to survive.
The entire purpose of this song is to make a change and rebel against current social and economic structures, and move toward equality. Tuba explains the daily struggles of poverty and violence that people in the ghetto go through, and how it has become normal to them. He explains this with the chorus, “that’s Just the way it is, things will never be the same”. It explains how the poor do not deserve to be poor, and try to overcome poverty, however their skin color ND the place where the live prevents them from achieving wealth.
Through this song, Tuba is encouraging those to think about revolution, and to think about social change and equality and attain it. His goal is to reveal the injustices and tragic events that are occurring in order to change them. Toward the end of the song, Tuba lists a set of changes people should make in order to survive and make in difference in their lives. This song shows that the Ideology of the “American Dream” is indeed a “false consciousness’, and a rebellion is necessary in order to bring equality and Justice.