I grew up in the height of the rap era. I'm talking real hip hop when LL Cool J licked his lips under that Kangol and DMX scared the living daylights out of me with an album cover of him covered in blood. Those were the days when rap wasn't just a genre of music, but it was a movement. It represented a culture. But things often got heated and rap was warfare. You didn't just have competition, you had enemies and your label was often times gang affiliated. You didn't just represent where you were from, you fought for it. When Biggie Smalls was murdered, it was a sure sign that things had gone too far. During the 90's, fans crossed into a dangerous place of obsession where they believed the enemies of their favorite rap star were there enemies as well. They even believed that an entire side of the country they lived in had to be obliterated. As the wars waged between the west and the east, families mourned their loved ones and music lost two great musical icons, Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.
Flash forward to 2013 and this same turbulent culture is evident even now in r&b music. Sure, singers are suppose to be calm cool and collected. They are suppose to make love not war but now and again, shots fire; And it's not just between the men, but between the women as well. Keyshia Cole has caused quite a stir with her controversial comments about Beyonce and Destiny's Child. With one tweet, she was able to mobilize an entire "Beehive" (Beyonce fans) into attacking her and anyone who supports her. Now we have a child dead over the silliness. We have young people who take celebrities so seriously, that they resort to crime to settle their petty difference of opinions. We have a media which exploits, fuels and encourages it.
To be fair, Beyonce has not personally attacked anyone. (At least not by name) But her new song, "Bow Down Bitches" where she boasts about wearing the crown and curses like a drunk hoodrat, stirs an environment of hostility. Now Beyonce is by no way, shape or form responsible for anyone's murder, but she does bare responsibility in the type of messages she puts out. Telling people to bow down will surely anger some people and start heated arguments between fans.
What a lot of people fail to realize is that young people are very impressionable and they take these pop stars very seriously. Whether they signed up for it or not, they are role models. A lot of kids do not mirror themselves after their parents but rather who they see on television. I know that was true for me when I was young watching Ally McBeal. (Don't ask) I know parents should be fully engaged in providing an example for their children but there is only so much you can do. Children will develop most of their opinions about life outside of the home. They will develop their entire personalities separate from the home as they figure out their sense of style and politics, all of which come from the media and pop culture.
I hope we can get to a place in our society where we are beyond this crabs in a barrel mentality. Where people can be proud of others successes and where those who are on top can help bring others up with them. I too was confused by Beyonce's 180 switch. I thought at one point she wanted girls to run the world and was all about girl power and let's rock together. She's got a female band and emerged from a female girl group. But now she's commanding all of us to bow down and ignore anyone else who would dare take her spot. I feel this is dangerous for the fact that a child is dead. We seem to forget how powerful words can be and how seductively persuasive music artists can be for the youth.
Beyonce has run the world for way too long. It is time for everyone to run the world. It is time for all of us to realize that we are all valuable and the accomplishments of others are just that, the accomplishments of others. You don't get to boast about someone else, go to war over someone else, you just get to prove yourself and rise to your own occasion.