Soundwaves: Social commentaries in music

By Karlton Tate and Isaac Rosso Klakovich

Throughout history, artists have used their music to make a variety of political statements. Today, the volatile political climate of the country has encouraged artists to declare their positions through their music with unprecedented prevalence. In the world of hip-hop and rap, artists have used events like police shootings and the recent election of Donald Trump as a springboard to make broader statements about topics like racism, oppression, and discrimination. While politics and music will forever be intertwined, it is critical that artists do not allow the quality of their music’s overall listening experience to suffer as a result of an overbearing social commentary.

Making a political album isn’t easy, but with Logic’s lead single, “Everybody,” to his album of the same name, it seemed as though the Maryland rapper might have cracked the code.  Before the album’s release, 2017 was poised for a third successful mainstream rap album following Joey Bada$$’ “All-Amerikkkan Bada$$” and Kendrick Lamar’s “DAMN.” However,  despite boasting Logic’s greatest delivery and production quality of his career, the album’s central focus, its message, is a complete trainwreck.

  Logic’s “Everybody” disappointed both fans and critics

Many albums include skits or spoken word sections, but these seem to pop up much more frequently on social commentary albums. While these can sometimes be an effective way of conveying an artist’s message, they usually come off as being nothing more than a cop out way of providing expansion to their thesis. On Logic’s “Take it Back,” he enters a five minute monologue two minutes into the track in which he shares a brief summary of his entire life. This monologue completely breaks up the flow of what was one of the better songs on the album, and disinterests listeners as its overt preachiness creates an unpleasant listening experience. Like many of the other shortcomings of the album, these uninspired bits of spoken word and skits largely fail due to a lack of concerted effort.

Making a politically resonant takes copious amounts of hard work, so artists like Logic who haphazardly assemble an album and expect to be praised need to reevaluate their creative process. However, on the rare occasion that all these elements come together for a successful political commentary, they can be more effective at inspiring change than almost any other artistic medium.

Leave a Reply