The Power of Music

By Brie Crites

Music is one of the most powerful forces known to mankind. It’s the rhythms, beats, and symphony of notes that make our toes tap, hips shake, and hands clap.

However, it’s the lyrics that we replay over and over in our heads… regardless if we realize it or not.

Lyrics like:

“I got 99 problems

And, a …. ain’t one

If you having girl problems

I feel bad for you, son”

Yeah, you know the rest. Jay-Z released this song as the third single from “The Black Album” in 2004. Millions of young men, particularly of the Black race, replayed this song in their CD players and rehearsed the lyrics enough to spit them at the drop of a dime.

Degrading music invaded the Black community many years ago. And, we are so accustomed to it that it’s not only accepted, it’s celebrated.

Black men (and women) blast degrading music from their subwoofers that demean Black women, like their mothers, grandmothers, and daughters, all hours of the day. So, what do Black women think of this epidemic?

“I believe that kind of music is ruining our [Black] communities. Men go around thinking it’s OK to call women those derogatory names because Lil Wayne or Drake says it in their lyrics,” one woman says. 

She believes that degrading music such as “99 Problems” is infiltrating our neighborhoods and our young boys won’t know better because this type of music is all they listen to.

But, not every Black woman feels this way. In particular, one 24-year old woman says, “It doesn’t matter what they call you. What matters is what you answer to… I can listen to that music because I know that I’m not that girl they’re speaking about.”

When some Black men were asked about phenomenon of this degrading music versus the reoccurring issue of Black women calling men “dogs” and other similar names, they were quick to sound off.

One Black man, 27 years old, states, “I don’t really see the problem with the rap music. Yeah, they say derogatory things to women, but I see women dancing to this music all the time at the clubs. I don’t see any of them fighting it or mad about the lyrics. They are the main ones yelling ‘This my jam!’ when the song comes on.”

He went on to say that women have been demeaning men for years like “Bills, Bills, Bills,” sung by Destiny’s Child. “If I heard one more woman call me a trifling man, I was going to have to hunt Beyonce’ and them down,” he laughed.  

Another Black man, 46 years old, sounded off. “I think that classy, virtuous women don’t like this type of [degrading] music. They are usually the ones that are trying to lift Black men up. We should be able to do the same for them. I think the rap music [that degrades women] and the music about men being worthless needs to stop. None of it is good for us as a people. It tears us down and turns men and women against each other.”

So, what kind of music can heal the wounds brought on by countless years of Black men and Black women fighting one another other?

A fairly new song that is hitting the airwaves seems to be making a small impact on how Black women are treated. The artist, Noel Gourdin, sings about how he spent much of his life calling women derogatory names until he realized how immature he really was.

The song, “Beautiful,” conveys a message that hasn’t been heard in the Black community since the 1964 hit “My Girl” by the Temptations. It doesn’t dwell on the sex, spending money, or popping bottles. It simply addresses the woman and builds her up by speaking to her like the queen she is (or should be).  

“I heard this song on for the first time and I love it! That day I downloaded the song and I haven’t stopped playing it since!” This woman, 30 years old, said that she enjoys Gourdin’s song because it’s something we aren’t used to. We are used to arguing with Black men and trying desperately for them to see us as valuable, not just tolerable.

The song says:

“Girl, you’re a princess

A goddess and flesh of my flesh

You’re majestic

Precious, the best of the best

The Lord created you

Cause He looked at men and knew

That we could never make it on our own, girl”

             A little different than “99 Problems,” huh?

Crites is a contributing writer for Regal Black Men’s Magazine, a publication dedicated to the African American community.

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