My culture is defined by the stories that music has provided from slavery times to present day. Music holds significant meaning to the individual singer and is used as a way to express emotions. A singer can relay spirituality, love or life experiences.
Since the 1400s, our culture sang Negro Hymns to get through miserable and painful times. Our ancestors sang about their struggles and heartaches. They sung to the Almighty for relief and deliverance from the horrible conditions they were enduring, the racist and controlling masters, poverty and slavery itself. During this era, music was a way to express our spirituality. Music was used a codes among our ancestors during this era. Songs held hidden meanings, such as “The Gospel Train” and “Swing low, sweet chariot”, referred to the Underground Railroad, an informal organization who helped many slaves to flee.
In the 1900s, our culture was able to sing a different story. Rhythm and Blues were used to sing about a new found love or a lost love. Blacks hung out in the juke joints and dancehalls and danced the night away to upbeat music. These songs told stories that were heart wrenching, like Lenny Williams’ “Cause I Love You”; early protest, like Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”; or pointing out injustices, like Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On”. A major portion of the story was written during this era. The sincere meanings of songs could be felt and it was easy to relate to situations the singers were going through at the time.
In the 21st century, the younger culture uses Hip-hop to complete the story. Hip-hop is used by young artists to talk about life experiences and the lessons learned. It is a continuation of expressing life while growing up. Rappers want to talk about hunger, homelessness and growing up in the “Ghetto”. Notorious B.I.G (Biggie Smalls) gives listeners guidelines to selling drugs through his lyrics in “Ten Crack Commandments”; Tupac’s take on teen pregnancy in...
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