Thursday, April 28, 2011

R&B And Ideological Inconsistency

When I first began this blog I remember telling myself that perhaps sometimes I would review albums on this blog. Write about music that I like. But as it turns out, I have written almost exclusively about personal issues and philosophical issues. Sure, different types of personal and philosophical issues. But my writing doesn't always branch out THAT much. I briefly attempted to write something like poetry, and attempted to write a few things like short stories or vignettes, but that never much worked out.

But tonight as I was cooking myself dinner I had some thoughts about music. I was listening to The-Dream and so naturally I was thinking about R&B music a little bit.

I'll come right out and say it: I love R&B. I also really like some more rap stuff.

I love The-Dream, R. Kelly, Young Jeezy, Kanye West. I like Drake, Lil Wayne, and Lil B. I kinda like Rick Ross. I like what I have heard of Tyler, The Creator (Sorry I haven't listened more Rob).

It is a lot of fun. I enjoy the beats. I enjoy the vocal style. It is just a different type of music and I can't help but like it.

I remember in November 2009 I was standing at my College Park house on Erie Street and The-Dream's 'Mr. Yeah' was playing. I stopped and I said, 'what is this? this is really good'. I didn't even have to make an effort to like The-Dream. I liked it the first time I ever heard it.

Then I started to understand dancing. I didn't understand dancing for the longest time. I didn't want to do it. I just 'didn't know how'. I suppose I still don't 'understand' it. But that is the point. It isn't about words. It is just about moving because the music feels good. And man did R&B help me understand that. You just have to move. You just have to enjoy yourself and express yourself. I suppose in the last few years I've become more and more open to all different kinds of expression, and so dancing is a good one to be comfortable with.

In short, I can't help but feel really good about dancing to R&B and the way it makes me feel.

There is one major problem, however. The lyrical content is typically morally reprehensible. Rap and R&B are loaded with terrible sexism, money-worship, violence, et cetera. But what to do? How am I to deal with this fact? I like this music a great deal, yet completely disagree with its explicit content and message.

A big issue. I guess I can call this an ideological inconsistency. I am using the word ideological in a very imprecise way. It wouldn't be appropriate to call it an intellectual inconsistency because the problem goes deeper than the intellect. My love of R&B isn't governed by some intellectual apprehension of it. It is guided by my emotional response to it, by the sounds and the singing. But when I register it on an intellectual level I can't help but feel troubled. The real tension is between my emotions and my intellect(ual emotions). when I refer to 'the ideological' element of this I am thinking of ideology as something that encompasses both my intellect and my emotions. My emotional and intuitive reactions are conditioned by ideology just as much as my intellectual reactions are. So there is some kind of inconsistency between the 'ideology' that is structuring my emotional reactions and my intellectual reactions. Or maybe my emotions aren't guided by ideology as much as I'm supposing they are. Because I definitely think of my emotions as being structured by social and ideological factors. I'm thinking about status functions and the way I respond emotionally to them.

Eh. I feel like there are deeper problems to think about here. I need to think about this notion of ideology and how it applies to status functions. I need to think about this idea of inconsistency in my own mind.

I know that when I started this writing I had questions about inconsistency, how I could contain these types of inconsistencies within me. Ummm. I'm not sure. What are the levels at which these inconsistencies exist? How can I talk about them? Think about them? Eh.


  1. Riley, just checking on you. Good to see you are still keeping up with the blog writing. I agree, with your view on Rap and R&B. Most if not all of the mainstream artists fell that in order to remain important and succeed, they need to stick to the formula that seems to work best no matter if its not what they actually practice in their own lives. You wouldn't believe how many rappers talk about dealing dope and growing up in the "hood" who's lyrics couldn't be any further from the truth. But hey, what works for me is not to think too deep into the demeaning and misogynistic views unless they are so rampant in a song it literally shakes me to my core (Nicki Minaj ft Eminiem Roman's Revenge) If something has a catchy beat, I'll listen to it at least once. As for Tyler, the Creator... he's dark, a little too dark for my taste. Have you seen the uncensored music video where he literally eats a live beetle on camera? Yuck. And also his lyrics are a little too demonic as well. But hey,
    I'm not knocking him to much, just not for me. If I want to listen to some good rap with good lyrical content, I tend to stray towards Lupe Fiasco, he's pretty good. Although I'm torn because his last album I have played on repeat more than any of his others but if I'm being honest with myself, he's had better messages on prior albums while his most recent is more "what the people seem to like". Evidently, "the people" do like it and I'm one of them, lol. It's lighter content and easier to half listen to while driving. You aren't thinking too hard about what he really means when he says something, lol. Well, enough with this post, hope all is well!

  2. Aww hey Kim! Thanks for stopping by! This R&B business sure is funny. But yeah, I think I just don't think too seriously about it too. In fact, I'm listening to Drake ft. Jeezy right now, and yeah, love it. Whatevs! I'll have to check out Lupe Fiasco. I think I've heard of him. Hope everything is great with you too!