I was recently required to complete a lengthy questionnaire for which I had to swear an oath to answer all questions truthfully and honestly. I’m not going to go into the reason why I was required to take that oath and to complete said questionnaire. That may be fodder for a different post.
But I did find it a bit strange that a number of questions on the questionnaire related to rap music. One question asked how often I listen to rap. The options were “never,” “occasionally,” “often,” and “exclusively.”
I’m not a fan of rap music. I rarely listen to it, and even when I do, I often don’t know what it’s all about. I mostly can’t make out the words. However, since I do regularly watch the TV show “Empire,” I couldn’t answer “never.” Thus, I responded “occasionally.”
The questions then turned to my perception of rap music, asking if I think rap has a negative influence or promotes violence and/or misogyny. The answers were check boxes with the options, “strongly agree,” “somewhat agree,” “somewhat disagree,” and “strongly disagree.”
My impression of rap is that some of it does glorify violence and promotes misogyny. But some rap is uplifting and inspirational. I ended up putting my check marks for those questions on the line that separated the “somewhat agree” and “somewhat disagree” columns.
The next question asked, “explain your answers.” Here is what I wrote:
When I was growing up in the mid-fifties and early sixties, rock ‘n roll was the music most of us teens and young adults listened to. For some reason, many adults at that time thought rock ‘n roll was evil. It was a bad influence, they said. It promoted promiscuity, they said. Many churches called for a ban of rock ‘n roll music.
I remember when Elvis Presley first appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and CBS blacked out the bottom half of the screen so that viewers were unable to see Elvis’ hips gyrating as he sang. I guess CBS didn’t want to pervert the hearts and minds of any viewers.
I also remember the first time The Rolling Stones appeared on the Ed Sullivan show and the censors made Mick Jagger change the lyrics of “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” Jagger rolled his eyes every time he sang that altered line.
When Gene McDaniels recorded “100 Pounds of Clay,” the Catholic Church called that song blasphemous and demanded that radio stations not play it and record stores not sell it.
Yet somehow, the Baby Boomer generation, of which I am one, managed to survive the evil influences of rock ‘n roll and to thrive.
I believe that like my generation, the generation of those who listen to rap music will survive and will ultimately thrive.
After all, it’s only music. And as they say, music soothes the savage beast.