Social Responsibility? I Think Not.

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.

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  • William Witherz

    I disagree. For the decades of the 80’s and 90’s Hip Hop had been not only a form of expression but also a ghetto CNN. Popular rappers would not be as accepted if they didn’t speak truths on the ills of society in the midst of sex, drug and party songs. Corporations slowly chipped away at the authenticity of the core of hip hop, so there is no more speaking on the ills, just the sex drugs and party music. If an artist is supposed to bare their soul and give insight into who they are, then the term artist does not apply to most popular rappers at all. Hell, artist doesn’t apply to most popular “musicians” at all.

    • Psyer


  • Psyer

    Nice commentary @G.Avant , and I agree with many of the points. However, I don’t agree with the framing of the subject just based on gp. I think every person has some level of personal responsibility for the condition of the world they are apart of. Being an artist doesn’t allow one to abdicate those responsibilities. The only caveat that I could see would exist in the type of situation, wherein, the artists gained sustenance purely from the good will of people in the form of donations. What I’m describing is a “pure” artist, and I’d be hard pressed naming one. Honestly, Idk if they even can exist outside of our own imagination?

    Many of today’s artists are overt walking commercial brand extensions of corporate entities. When the creation is flipped into a commodity and monetized, it’s just another consumed product and bottom line is what? Top dollar… I’m not mad at that fact, but we’ve long recognized as a society that that self-interest must be accompanied by some level of social responsibility.


  • 5% Hov

    Nicely ambiguous article.
    Hard to disagree.

  • Shawn kemp

    Trinidad James Jones or whatever the hell his name is. He proved this is NOW only a catchy hook game. Groups like NWA, P.E., X CLAN, POOR RIGHTEOUS TEACHERS, ETC. Could not co exist with hip hop of today simply put there is no profit to send a message and educate . Not only that when you send a message and it gets to much attention they will silence you. After NWA made fucc the police the FBI sent them a letter out of fear when they seen how powerful a rapper or group can be behind that mic. Even bacc in the day there was no dissing each other then making a song together? It’s one thing to squash it but then make a song why? That shows you how different the game is. I mean come on dog you got a white girl from Australia rapping like she grew up around black folks lol. Mac miller lol come on bro cats wouldn’t allow that he would be scared to even rap in a blacc club or wear any jewelry this shit crazy now it’s only about money like it or not. This shit is just clown rap now it’s just entertainment my son got me bopping to that no flex zone lol I just don’t look at rap as I did in the past it’s just clown shit no Ice cubes or P.E. in this bitch.

    • britishrose

      oviously rap has to change with the time like afros and bell bottoms was the shit back then and jeri curls were on time .. but today that stuff is laughable to us .. a comedy skit … times change we have to roll with the tides … my kids do the same they dont want to hear nothing unless its got violence or sex in it .. an i dont buy it but they have people who they hang around who do …

      we have to accept the change but what i dont accept is cops shoot children down for no reason .. and the stand your ground law should not apply if its a kid shot to …. if the kid has no gun why would you shot them ? this cop that shot brown clearly was target practicing something to tell his buddies he got him one .. most of them go thier whole career and not shoot anyone and are itching to killl a black if they do have to shoot .. .. or want to shoot … we are target practice for racist … sadly more of these killings will occur take a good look at your son cause if he is 7yo now , by the time he is 19 he may be gone … if they dont lock this cop up who shot brown more of them will killl in higher numbers .. why ? cause this is what they come for to kill up blacks

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  • IROC

    Hiphop was hijacked by devils who only want one type of music garbage is sad, It hurts to hear little kids rapping bout murder drug dealing and sex , radio stations play it 24/7 for inner city youth,It is a plan to destroy to give him or her the only solution is slinging dope and the strip club , To rob a man of knowledge is the worst thing you can do to him he is a slave for sure and many will follow him look around top ten rap songs is about violence or drug dealing or sex or killing somebody

    • Cesar Garcia

      Yup devils. Is perfect word…. They got the money already… Just the thrill of being evil and worshipping satan I guess

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