Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Question of the Day - May 12, 2009



Maddy Weese asks:

Which genre of music do you think has the potential to last forever and remain as popular as it is today? What does it take for a genre to dominate and create a lasting effect on the music revolution? How can artists of the rap and hip hop genre be respected as genuine innovators while degrading women, swearing and preaching greed and violence? The popular artist Kanye West's latest hit denigrates women. How can this kind of music be respected on the level of real talent such as Michael Jackson or Madonna?

Hartmann responds:

If we examine the historical trajectory of music it seems that no really great genre ever totally disappears. The most ancient of musical styles are still preserved in the ethnic folk music traditions of modern cultures. Bluegrass, Gospel, Jazz and Country music are the folk genres of America. Latin music is huge and growing. The classical music of Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and many others is still universally offered by symphonic orchestras and through recordings of the classics. As Neil Young sings, "Rock & Roll will never die." These musical traditions will continue to endure and rap will also survive as a cultural phenomenon of our time. Each of these forms has enjoyed a time and place of ubiquitous popularity. The Hip Hop culture spoke to a generation rebelling against poverty, injustice, racism and other societal challenges. The current evolution of political correctness among the young can be attributed, at least in part, to rap music. The challenges faced by the next generation of creative artists will address a different set of social issues. The last line of defense in any democracy is the arts. At a time in history where many of our institutions are crumbling under the weight of their own excesses, artists will be challenged to sing out in defense of liberty, equality and survival. For a genre to endure it requires that the music reach enough people as part of their life experience. If it lasts a few decades it is likely to establish itself at a high enough level to be around a hundred years later. Usually the work of the innovators is what becomes classical in any genre. Kanye is an emulator and may be forgotten in his lifetime. In the end it is the music fan who decides what is important and what will survive. Michael Jackson is one of the great superstars and his music will definitely last. Madonna too has created such an enormous legacy that it will always be preserved and respected. There are many stars that flicker in the tail of the comets that come and go, but only the greatest are remembered. So, despite its perceived flaws, as we look back, the original rappers spoke a clear message of truth. They were universally respected and admired by a whole generation who are not likely to forget them. Any genre in the historical spectrum could be brought to popularity, at any time, by the rise of a superstar devoted to that particular style. In the end only time will tell. Electronica is the one to watch.

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