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What's Happened to Our Motown Legacy?

BY:  Deekah Wyatt

People always tell me I'm an old soul.  I take that as a compliment.  I look around at my generation and I'm discouraged.   I'm upset and I'm frustrated with the attitudes of the people in my age range, my classmates, my peers.  If you don’t mind, reader, I’m going to vent for a moment. In the next few pages you might read something that you don’t agree with. To be totally honest, I hope I make you angry. I hope I make you so angry that you might go out and do something about the decay of not only our arts, but our society as well.

My generation doesn’t exactly have a name. You know how there’s the Baby Boomers, and those Gen-Xers that came before us? They call us “Generation Why?  We’re a generation of people who, for whatever reason, could care less. We could care less about what you think. We could care less about what you do. We could care less about what happens to us tomorrow.

I say “we” because I don’t exclude myself; you can’t point a finger without 4 pointing back. Still, something in me can’t help but feel bewildered in a world where a woman doesn’t know what it feels like to have a door opened for her. I’ll bet Malcolm and Huey opened a door or two in their day.

The state of the human race as a whole is mildly terrifying if you think about it too long. With that being said, this writer can only comment on observations. And I observe my comrades; young black people, urban youth. I don’t mean to exclude anyone, or make and of my readers feel uncomfortable, but this is a topic that affects everyone, so everyone needs to take this in.

It’s recently become more and more apparent to me that the degeneration of my fellow young black Americans is more of a problem than people are making it out to be. So much so that the problem truthfully surpasses color lines.  Half of us are dying in a war we didn’t start and the other half of us are killing each other over bling, or the distribution of illegal opiates from 3rd world brown skinned countries. Meanwhile, women are called every name except the ones we were given, babies are being born who’ll never know their fathers, and AIDS is burning through bodies like wildfire on a Californian hillside.

And so you ask me, “Gee golly, Deekah, what does any of this analytical overly-cynical babble have to do with a Motown anything?”
Well my friends, as with generations before us; it all reflects in our music.   From the “Roarin’ 20’s” to the “Psychedelic 60’s”, music has served as a direct reflection of the attitudes, feelings, and hope of the people. Flipping through the stations on the radio, you can tell, after only a few seconds, which time period the music you’re hearing is from. When someone says Woodstock, people think “the 60’s”, Vietnam and all the frustration that came with it. Such is true in our case; where there are hostile attitudes, angry feelings, and little hope, the music will reflect it; magnifying those feelings to all who listen.

The difference, I believe, is channeling. My generation has a problem “channeling” our emotions. Back in the 60’s, for example, people were just as frustrated about Vietnam as most Americans, today, are frustrated about Bush’s war in Iraq. But they “channeled” their frustration and anger into creating something positive.  Nowadays instead of writing something positive and uplifting, all artists can think to write about is cars, sex, and diamonds.   While we’re on the subject of diamonds, most of the young “gangstas” don’t realize those diamonds they’re wearing probably caused a distant cousin to loose an arm or two.   And it’s not just rap and hip hop, it’s RnB, it’s Pop, it’s even in Soul music now. What happened to the days when men wrote songs about how much they loved a woman, and couldn’t breathe without a woman?

What happened to songs about leaving on a midnight train to somewhere you’ve never been, because you’d rather live in their world than live without them in yours?  When did we trade in love songs, ballads, and political anthems for songs about lunch, instructional dance tracks, and songs about being too much of a flirt for one person?  Who allowed the flowers and candy to be exchanged for a movie and a happy meal? Who decided it was okay for scantily clad women to rule the airwaves in order to promote a song?

The combination of everything young Black Americans are faced with today can be overwhelming to say the least, but I’m here to serve as an example that there is more to life than bling. There is more to believe in than Scarface; and there are more things to do than dancing at the club.  
Today’s black music is stagnant, repetitive, lacking creation, and on the verge of implosion.

I’m sure I’m angering a few people with this piece. And I’m certain that you’re all wondering “who the hell I think I am?” I’m a woman who’s fed up with the state of music. I’ve been fed up for a while now and I challenge anyone and everyone to stand up and do something.   We all know that there are outstanding and creative artists out there, and I’m addressing those artists now to shake the cages of record labels who keep spoon feeding the masses this sludge they call music. DO SOMETHING...DO ANYTHING!

Vive La Revolution...and yes, it will be televised. 


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