Getting Graphic: Do We Like Explicit Music?

2 May

Recently, it seems to me that we’ve been buying and praising more explicit music than we usually do. The huge increase in the popularity of rap collective OFWGKTA for me has really grabbed my attention and begged the question: Do people really like listening to this stuff?

Now, if you’re at all aware of OFWGKTA, you’ll know that they’re eleven guys who skate a lot and swear a lot, and maybe what amazes me most about them is the way that they’ve masterminded their image. These guys simply do not give a shit. If you hate them, they don’t care, if you love them, they don’t care. They are not going to go out of their way to get you to hear their music, you are going to have to make the effort. They produce what they produce because they want to, and you get the feeling that nobody is ever going to be able to censor their stuff. We’ve previously featured Earl by Earl Sweatshirt, and this song is a perfect example of the messed up stuff that is becoming so popular today. In this song Earl Sweatshirt talks about mixing pieces of decomposing bodies with excrement before eating it. Then he throws up a piece and uses it as bait to fish with. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the appeal. I mean firstly, Earl is a genius, his rhythm and technical attributes are just mesmerising. But then also there’s a morbid fascination with just how messed up the lyrics to these kinds of songs can be. Check out Earl:

It seems to me that Eminem was among the first to be producing this kind of music in a way that so scrutinised by the media and the public. Talking about “Breaking your fucking legs till your bones poke through the skin” has become more and more popular, and there now seems to be some competition to see who can come up with the most sick and twisted lyrics. Maybe it’s just because I was too young when Eminem first started becoming very popular, but his sixth studio album Relapse is what really marked the increase in popularity in this kind of music. There was a huge amount of build up to this album because it had been five years since Encore, and once it was released, critics seemed to rant and rave about the disgusting nature of some of his lyrics. Some said he was looking for attention, others simply said he was mentally deranged; whatever the reason, Relapse stirred up a huge amount of controversy. Perhaps this aspect of the album was talked about so much because of the fact Eminem had not released an album for such a long time, but it seems that since then, it has been less of an issue with other artists’ music. It’s important to realise though, that almost none of them are as popular as Eminem was them. Here’s Same Song & Dance:

Is it only rap? Also recently on the blog, we featured Wicked Games by The Weeknd. If we were to categorise his music, it would probably fall somewhere around the R&B boundary because of the nature of the vocals, and the beat. For an audience so used to Nelly’s “I was thinkin’ ’bout us,” and JLS’s “You only get one shot, so make it count,” The Weeknd’s “Bring the drugs baby, I can bring my pain,” could be shocking at first. Of course the level of obscenity hasn’t yet reached that of rap, but will it really be too long before it does? In Wicked Games, the swear words seem to reflect the frustration of the singer, and because of that for me, it’s great. The ‘I love you why won’t you love me back’ message can get seriously repetitive and boring, even plastic. Do the cursing and obscenities in these songs reflect the genuine frustration and emotion of the artist, and is this why they are more appealing? For me at least, this is definitely the case.

So, what does the future look like? It seems that the popularity of these artists who are not afraid to be a little too creative for the faint of heart will continue to increase, as people search for he who can push the boundary the most. However, it does not seem as though commercial love that appears to be so simple is going to let up either. So, you decide. In 100 years will we have the same kind of kids we do now? Or kids who will run around looking to steal, murder, and abuse? As always, I’d love your opinion.

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