Saturday, June 6, 2015

The War On Rock and Roll

It's official:  The hip-hop and dance-pop crowd has been deliberately waging a war on rock and roll.
I always thought that such a "war" was just my own paranoia, but the assault on rock has been undeniable and unavoidable. How else can you explain the time when Madonna signed a fake grunge band, Candlebox, to her vanity record label in an obvious attempt to undermine the grunge movement?  Or all the times she's lent her support to like-minded pop divas whose act is all sexual posture and very little in the way of singing?  Kanye West pretty much made his attitude toward rock music plain when he declared rap "the new rock and roll," and the ability of hip-hop entrepreneurs to turn rap into a cultural force has run a lot of rock radio stations off the air.  I've even suspected Michael Eric Dyson of being in on this assault because, whenever he substitutes for Ed Schultz on MSNBC, he regularly praises rappers and seems to focus on the insufferable Ted Nugent as the quintessential rock and roller while ignoring more reputable rockers like Bruce Springsteen.  Indeed, when he calls Nugent a "washed-up rock star," Dyson almost suggests that the phrase "washed-up rock star" is a redundancy.  As for many of today's rock acts, well, they're just plain written off. But, you propose, maybe this is all a bunch of coincidences, just the natural ebb and flow of musical one genre fading while another one rises.
Or so it seemed.  Until I came across the smoking gun, the solid evidence that the hip-hop/dance-pop crowd have aimed to push rock and roll off the charts and into oblivion.  It comes from none other than Shawn Carter - you know, Beyonc√©'s husband? - in an interview conducted by Pharrell Williams (who's responsible for "Happy," one of the most annoying hits of recent memory and possibly of all time), in which he (Carter) explained how hip-hop was rising in the late eighties, only to be pushed aside temporarily by Nirvana in 1992.  "It was weird," Carter said, "because hip-hop was becoming this force, then grunge music stopped it for one second, ya know?  Those 'hair bands' were too easy for us to take out; when Kurt Cobain came with that statement, it was like, 'We gotta wait awhile.'"  
"Take out?"  Are you telling me that the rappers of the late eighties and the early nineties were looking to go after those late-1980s hair bands, whose inexplicable popularity suggested nothing less than rock and roll going through a weak and difficult period, and eliminate them like they were snipers' nests, like they were an enemy - and eliminate rock and roll itself in the process?  But then, Kurt Cobain so rudely interrupted hip-hop's quest for global cultural domination?  Gee, Mr. Carter, I'm really sorry grunge disrupted your plans to consign rock and roll to the dustbin of history while it was in such a fragile state.  But then, Carter and his ilk got their way; grunge burned out, rock went back into decline, and Madonna returned to the top of the singles charts. And soon, WNEW-FM in New York went off the air, its call letters now ingloriously used for a Washington FM . . . news station.
And if you need any more evidence that rock and roll is disparaged, the term "dad rock" is now in vogue to describe any guitar-based rock act in order to show how square and conservative it is, as explained here in this condescending 2014 Billboard article, because, you know there has to be something wrong with traditional rock and roll if your father likes it!  (For the most part, my father didn't like it, and I myself am not a father.)  
So there is a war on rock and roll.  And now the hip-hop/dance crowd is expecting us to surrender.  Well, guess what, guys.  We're on to you.  And as far as surrendering to that computerized crap you call "music . . ."
We have not yet begun to fight!      

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