What does it mean to be an artist? Is it the ability to manifest beauty utilizing any medium within your grasps? To shape, to mold, to give those thoughts within the brain a physical form, to be subject to the scorn and adulation of all. We all understand the power of art to influence and manipulate the emotions of the masses. Whether it’s being brought to tears by Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth’s “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”, or being frozen in awe at viewing the unorthodox methods of Jackson Pollock, art plays a vast role in each of our everyday lives. To truly define such a thing is a strenuous task in itself, and to delineate boundaries may be an even more challenging endeavor. Does an artist have the responsibility to attempt to draw the lines themselves or is it the masses responsibility to accept and reject, to embrace and shun? Should an artist’s creative process be convoluted with the potential perception of others?
From Jazz to Rock to Hip Hop we’ve seen the controversy that can arise when people are exposed to different cultures and sounds. These fresh innovative genres would often become the scapegoats of the hour as people placed all the ills of the world at these people’s feet, subjecting these artists to much undue blame and shame for the immoral actions of others. Currently, and for an extended period of time now Hip Hop has been the sacrificial lamb, sent to the slaughter for the sins of its fellow man. Sex, money, drugs, death and despair abound, with every inner city block gripped by siren sounds, blame Hip Hop. A scantily clad woman next to a gun toting lad, blame Hip Hop. When does it stop? When are we as the masses going to quick shifting the blame for our issues and realize that we hold the power as to what is popular and what holds influence in our homes, as well as what occurs in our communities?
As an artist your only responsibility is to create. To delve deep within your soul and offer a bit of insight into whom you truly are, to turn thoughts into what can be perceived by the senses. It’s the masses responsibility to embrace these creations and make the artist into a star or banish them to the bounds of their basement to never be heard from again. An artist should never hold as much influence as they currently do in society. NWA’s “Straight Outta Compton”, should not have been the cue for every black male in the inner city to grab a gun. 2-Live Crew’s “Me So Horny”, should not have caused such a hedonistic frenzy as it did. And Jay-Z certainly shouldn’t be able to inspire anyone to lose 92 bricks. The fact that each of these things had such a perceived influence as they did is indicative of an issue within society as a whole, and it is not the artist’s responsibility to address these issues. Now don’t get me wrong an artist with a righteous cause that CHOOSES to bear that burden is beautiful and should be encouraged, but there is no responsibility outside of their creation.
So community leaders rise up and take control of your communities, parents don’t hesitate to strike with the rod and control your household. Too much power are given to these artists, if you want to make a difference strive to do so, if you don’t be prepared to encounter scrutiny if the people ever awake. But leave the artists to do what they’re here to do. Create.