There are many words for the stories that much of today’s mainstream music culture tells about our generation. Some of these words are rooted from three recurring topics that are often the themes of many songs – addiction, lust, and abuse of drugs and alcohol. These three themes tell stories of loss, powerlessness, hopelessness, depression, dependency and overall bondage.
I want to chat about a few songs that share these common themes within their lyrics – whether they get much awareness behind their true meanings or their impact to the people of our generation.
I am personally a Sublime fan, so negatively critiquing their music kind of bothered me a little, but I wanted to make sure that I covered a variety of genres not just Hip Hop & Rap (or the latter counterpart of “Trap Music”). The theme of addiction is represented through these lyrics in the way that this song may encourage the endless cycle of going out, drinking excessively and living for the night. The problem with living for the night is that, people often make decision that are not in line with their values and morals, that they tend to regret the next day, or that tend to taint their reputation. The bottom line is that there is a LARGE divide between what it looks to live intentionally and mindfully and to live for tonight (every single time you go out).
I happen to be a pretty big fan of this song as well to be honest, but looking deeper into it, I began to think more about the concept of being addicted to a person (which is an addiction that seems far less obvious and detrimental when compared with addiction to drugs or alcohol). However, being addicted to a person that you are in a relationship with – especially when they are not necessarily the “right person for you” – can be just as emotionally harmful because, the codependency level is the same. Emotions and “listening to your heart” can be really confusing and exhausting, and much like other coping mechanisms, being with someone or constantly in contact with them can seem like that person’s only chance at survival in the moment.
Everyone has had their “omg I just need to call this person right now I can’t do this anymore” kind of dramatic moments, but it’s usually never THAT serious and when it feels that serious it’s typically because there is an unhealthy codependency or addiction to a person because you feel you need them to meet a specific need whether it’s love, acceptance, encouragement, safety, etc. The main point is that – like the Maya Angelou quote says – “baby you need to know that you alone are enough”. Once you know that you alone are enough for yourself and for the purpose that you have in your life, then you can start to operate in and make decisions in alignment with your values. THEN you can properly love another person unconditionally.
Probably one of the largest themes within the music industry and culture today is lustfulness and sexuality. Mainstream music artists have made lust seem like a regular, everyday cup of Joe to indulge in and act out of. It’s really unfortunate how the music industry has transformed from classic love ballads such as Ain’t No Mountain High Enough and The Temptations – My Girl to some of the songs listed below.
Robin Thicke – a good talent with good vocal ability who always sways to the more sensual side through his music. The problem with this song and a lost of his music lies in the encouragement of over-sexualization. Many millenials today choose to not be in committed relationships (which is totally fine when done right) however, many choose to be promiscuous and overly sexual with multiple people at a time. So a PG-13 song by a man who was married at the time becomes potential for worse lustful implications in the lifestyles of many milennials today. Addiction to lust and sex is a very present issue within many people, and music culture most likely has a large part to play in the OK’ing of over-sexualization and lust within our society. People become codependent on sexuality almost as much as the other addiction counterparts – alcohol, drugs, etc.
In a generation where illegitimate child bearing is more prominent than ever, and where children are being brought into this world by very young, undereducated parents who end up steering the new generation in the wrong direction, over-sexuality does not need to be played into in the music industry – but it is and it probably will be for awhile. The key is being secure in your own morals and values if you choose to listen to lust-encouraging music. After all, it is your own life and your own decisions to make.
Our generation tells us that we have to live for the night…every single time we go out. Music such as Neyo and Pitbull’s “Tonight” encourages a carefree, do whatever you feel because YOLO kind of life. Work hard during the week, go absolutely crazy on the weekend and act outside of your values because…YOLO! Too bad with that perspective millenials often just find themselves in the same vicious cycle of hookup culture. Feelings are numbed and disregarded and bodies are not valued. People often wonder why they can never find “Mr. Right” or a “good girl”, yet they aren’t making any reflective changes in their own lifestyles to mimic the way they want their love life to look like. It may seem so minor and harmless, but it most definitely starts with the music.
First things first, I LOVE ADELE. Now that has been cleared up, I will further explain why I chose to mention this song as part of the lust theme within the mainstream music industry. I definitely wanted to make sure I covered a variety of genres with this post and didn’t simply victimize hip hop, R&B and rap, so it was very important to mention my girl Adele too. The particular lyrics above from one of her latest songs on 25 called Send My Love addresses one of the main concerns within relationships today. Falling in love, thinking he/she is the one, the guy (or even the girl) convincing their partner it’s time to “take things to the next level”, then ending up getting hurt and repeating the same vicious cycle. The problem with this is that it is a dried up and jaded narrative of “love”. What happened to the women and men who were raised to value their bodies enough to not just give in to some coaxing and temptation within their short-term, flingy relationships.
And no not all relationships today are short-term or flingy; however, the main issue still resides in the fact that women AND men do not value themselves nor their bodies enough in relationships, in turn meaning they do not value their partners nor their partner’s bodies enough to wait and truly stick it out with someone before “taking the relationship to the next level”. Abstinence is so underrated and under-preached in this generation and very few see the value in it BECAUSE they don’t see the values in themselves (if I could write this entire section in all caps without being obnoxious I would). As I have mentioned in a previous post, and as Drake says, know yourself, know your worth.
Abuse of Drugs and Alcohol
Future really is the picture perfect little image of the bad guy that every girl falls for (including Ciara, clearly), and his music is definitely a transparent reflection of his lifestyle. For me, the symbol of drinking alcohol being the first thing you do when you wake up (which he probably does cause it’s Future lol) really shows to be symbolic that alcohol and drugs are really a priority in his life and in the lives of many other millenials. We are a generation that is EXTREMELY SEDATED by all of the pounds of marijuana, bottles of alcohol and pill bottles (or even worse drugs that many become slaves to). Our generation is so sedated that it is negatively impacting our nation’s overall intelligence – yes I know that is a broad statement but it’s true. One of the three types of drugs, depressants, are so engrained in our culture because of alcohol and marijuana. And on the other hand stimulants such as cocaine and certain pills are so widely used now because people really think that “escaping their problems” for a few hours is worth their physical health.
The cold truth remains – the pills, the alcohol, the cocaine, the heroin, no drug out there will fix your life, so quit idolizing people in the music industry whose lives are clearly crumbling from underneath them unless you really just want to see your life crumble from underneath you too. As millenials, and as human beings, we have a higher calling and purpose in our lives than to be sedated, oppressed and controlled by the drugs and the alcohol that we are weekend slaves too – or even daily slaves too. Find a new high.
Codeine – a sleep-inducing and analgesic drug derived from morphine. Yes, here Future is at it again. Within the last two screenshots that I have mentioned him in he has already made reference to champagne, molly, Xanex, and Codeine. Now let me make this clear to you, I am not here to judge or condemn or convict…that is not my job. But I am here to share my observations about the milennial music culture and how it is impacting society. Apparently the side effects of such drugs and alcohol abuse – such as being “Codeine Crazy” is what many rappers in the industry (obvi Future) look for to hide their problems. It’s a sad, sad narrative drug and alcohol abuse and addiction is that tells people there is no other way. But there is a way and a light. Don’t buy into the music culture that wants to keep you sedated.
Now that I’m done ranting, enjoy this really great song by a 19-year old Canadian girl (yes Canadian musicians really are the best and are taking over the music industry: Drake, Justin Bieber, etc.) This song has the perfect amount of “I’m unapologetically me but I’m not going to try too hard to be unapologetically me” while showing relevant cognizance of today’s millenial music culture which often values and romanticizes addiction, lust, alcohol and drugs excessively and above all else.