God Forgives, I Don’t. This is not a personal opinion or character trait of mine. But this is the title of Rick Ross’s new CD. I’ve never been a big fan of his, but I must admit, I like a lot the music he’s done in the past couple years. I even downloaded his free mix tape, Rich Forever. But something about the title of his new CD just makes me not be able to go out and purchase it. I like a few of the songs on it, but does he really believe the mantra of the CD’s title? Don’t get me wrong. I probably couldn’t put my iPod on random in any setting and please everyone in the room. I like all types of music, and some isn’t as clean as it could or should be, but where is the line drawn?
During the first week of its release, God Forgives, I Don’t sold over 100,000 copies and debuted at #1 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart. Could this be partly attributed to pure talent, or pushing the envelope. But even take Madonna and Lady Gaga. Both artists (Lady Gaga more than likely following in the footsteps of Madonna) have pushed the image, interview, performance and sexual envelopes way past the normal acceptance mark. But has the element of shock value become the new norm? Rappers like Eminem were treading on somewhat unfamiliar territory with explicitly violent and disturbing lyrics that had everyone in a frenzy in the late 1990s. But now, would it have the same effect? Have we really just become desensitized over time. Even Nicki Minaj can probably feel less of the heat being directed at her, from not having to pave the way like artists before her did. When Lil Kim exploded on the music scene in 1996, she took music to a place it had never quite been before. But now we want more and more…..and thus artists like Nicki Minaj are created.
By no means is any of this a cut or slight at any current day artists that I have mentioned here. But it is facing the reality that many of the concepts artists are putting out are not necessarily new, they’re just multiplied to the next level. What people think is so taboo now fits for the time, but when will we see that we’re pushing things a little too far? The main goal I see in current popular music is to get you (the consumer) to buy it. No matter what it takes to get there, if we purchase it, the artist’s job is done. Even some of today’s gospel artists like Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin and Lecrae have somewhat capitalized on what the younger generations are listening to. “The God In Me” sounds just like Jamie Foxx’s massive hit “Blame It”, so the general public is already predisposed to liking it. It’s all about what will sell and what won’t.
What are your thoughts? Do you think popular music is unforgiving of certain morals, standards and values? Or are we too uptight and it’s just all in the name of good fun and entertainment? Does real artistry still exist and what percentage of it is the artist’s personal expression or a ploy for sales?