I shared some tweets yesterday…critiquing music and culture a bit. The tweets started with Jay-Z but spiraled into a greater topic.
Some people were upset that I pointed out Jay-Z’s command of literary devices. To them, noticing a metaphor, for example, now means that I can’t hear his mentions of sexism, violence, consumption and capitalism. Nope. I can clearly see both.
I don’t think any art is above recognition of the genius or the grotesque. I don’t have to pretend one does not exist to see the other. (I previously discussed this on my photography blog in a post called All Art Is Not Good…All Artists Are Not Noble. I don’t think art is “inherently good,” so to say that anything with “isms” is no longer art or that it must exclude human ills to be art, excludes most art then. Art imitates life.) I don’t have to say something that includes a negative ideology isn’t art becuase I make no presumption that art/artists is/are without ills. By not constraining myself to a false definition of art that implies only goodness and purity, I can see the full picture of what art is, how it is created, how society impacts artists, and how their art impacts society—both the good and the bad.
Jay-Z loves double entendre, metaphor, simile, onomatopoeia, and allegory.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
(When I said this, I was not implying that this particular line uses all of those mentioned devices. I was thinking of all of his music since Reasonable Doubt.)
J says Warhol. Listeners hear/lyric sites have war hall. If you don’t know Andy Warhol the “work of art” reference is lost in “Already Home”— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
Hyperbolic non-critical thinkers will say I’m equating J to *random White writer on pedestal* OR excusing sexism. NEITHER is what I’ve said.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
Salsa song “Ojitos Chinos” is kinda prejudiced. The beat = great to dance to. So many genres of music has his prob. Dancehall. Rap. Rock.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
Scorpion has a song talmbout the “bitch is hungry so give her inches and feed her well.” The fuck??? But of course the guitar gives life.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
And Dancehall. The amazing beats can’t be denied. But the homophobia, violence, sexism and odd anti-cunnilingus is there too.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
Music like people themselves is complex. There’s creative language use, literary device command and musicality but also “isms” galore.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012
Art reflects the values and vices of its time.— Trudy (@thetrudz) June 9, 2012