Last week everybody’s favorite egomaniac Kanye West called himself the “voice of our generation.” For everybody out there who thinks I am going to rip into Kanye for being egotistical, self-serving and an all around jerk, you are only partially right. Although Kanye is a “class act,” his music is brilliant, speaks to the youth of the nation, and he is a voice of our generation.
West is in a group of youth to middle age people who voice their feelings, opinions and “beefs” with the world to help them feel better, pass the day and even just gain some relief from the sharp world around us. And, yes, Kanye, 50 Cent is in this group with you, so you’d both better play nice. This group is the voice of our generation. Musicians are the voice of our generation.
While the world goes through crisis after crisis, the music industry does drop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean musicians are dropping. In fact, more and more bands, rappers and instrumentalists are enlisting in the music army. And the world needs more of them to take their minds off of or even turn them on to the hardships the nation and world are facing.
The “emo” movement, although overdone and a bit out of control (girl jeans as a fashion statement?), did give the young rock scene a voice. Bands like The Cure, Fugazi and The Smiths led the way for bands like Jimmy Eat World, Sunny Day Real Estate and The Promise Ring, which led the way for bands like Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday. All of these bands gave the rock scene a voice and a way to step into the national spotlight.
While “emo” does stand for emotional, the fashion statements had less to do with this than the music itself.
“Emo” gave the musicians a voice to let out their feelings, and in turn, gave fans a voice to help them through the day.
Hip-hop and rap are a prominent voice of “our generation.” Hip-hop and rap lyrics range from social and political movements to partying and women. People want to hear and adhere to these things. The social and political commentaries of Kanye West and Eminem combined with the good-life lyrics and “fashion trends” of 50 Cent and Three 6 Mafia give listeners the boundaries between having a good time and knowing the ways of the world.
Hip-hop fans want the lyrics of the party because it’s their mindset. When they listen to music, they want to be partying and having a good time. But so does everybody who listens to music, it just depends on the mood the listener is in and the artist they are in the mood for.
Country artists offer that border almost more so than the hip-hop and rap artists do. Hip-hop, at least on the surface, only offers the party music in the national hip-hop scene. But country artists offer both in the national scene.
Northwest Arkansas’s country golden boy, Joe Nichols, can bring out songs like “Brokenheartsville” and a country party song like “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.”
Every musician who has ever had a listener play his or her song for enjoyment, emotional reasons, or social and political reasons is the voice of our nation. Everyone from Kanye West to Eminem to Fall Out Boy to Conor Oberst to Dashboard Confessional to Three 6 Mafia to Keith Urban and Britney Spears can be noted as being voices of the youth nation. This could either be scary or comforting, depending on your musical tastes.
Final Thought: Runner-up in the contest for being the primary voice of the youth nation would have to go to adult cartoons. Ever think about the social, political and pop culture references in “South Park” and “Family Guy?” These guys leave no sides unturned and give us an equal representation of every issue at hand. Well, at least part of the time.