The bar is being raised in many ways, and the danger is becoming imminent as never before. One glaring example came across my radar recently. In the 1990s, when I was transitioning from local youth activism towards global systems change work, I was inspired and motivated by artists like Ben Harper and Public Enemy. They were mainstream musicians who pushed unpleasant messages onto the masses, and I appreciated them, listening for inspiration and reminders when I needed them.
Today I saw a video for Kanye West and Jay Z’s new single, “No Church In The Wild.” The song, which focuses what is right and wrong in the world, is teased by the visceral video. The visuals used pull the viewer into a riot, complete with masked protesters and shielded riot police and horse riding, club wielding cops.
Combined with the danger of these times we’re living in, the world’s most famous and successful rappers have effectively capitalized on the tension of the moment. Their paranoid lyricism, androidian beat, and hyper-crumpy chorus suck us into a painful world where the words of Dr. King have become irrelevant, and the present is disruptively ruled by grim militarism, painful corporatism, and hopeless anarchy. This is the art of the dangerous times we’re living in, and it may either prove prescient, motivating, or irrelevant. Only time will tell.
Write a response and let me know what you think of the video.