It is admitted that urban music reflects the culture of the day. For example, Chainsmokers and VVIP’s “Selfie” is a striking reflection of youth and new media culture in recent times. While admitting that changes in music hew to changes in aggregated worldview of society, the reverse is almost certainly true. What then holds music’s significance across generations? More specifically, what makes, e.g. “Serwaa Akoto” by Paa Bobo lyrically worthy of today’s attention?
In a multi-ethnic society such as ours that lacks a dominant cultural stabilizer, musical lyrics must seek to consider the value sensibilities of society’s diversity. Consequently, if music and its lyrical diversity is deemed to have significant impact on popular urban culture, then it’s value orientation needs critical consideration, especially to the sensitivity of society. This said, however, is not oblivious of the distinction between the ecological consideration of music and its economic relevance to the teaming unemployed.
Thus, it is relevant to have ‘biffs’ and most often “manufactured biffs” (Lumba vs. Acheampong; Shatta vs. Samini etc.) to soar up attendance at concerts and anniversary gigs. It is an acceptable trait of the industry.
However, when the economic consideration is broadened to the mythical alignments of communal and ethnic sensitivities (e.g. Nkasei’s Yefri Tuobodom, AB Crentsil’s Atia and the trigger of this short piece, the Krobo woman’s line in Sarkodie’s feature on Kurl’s Jennifer Lomotey) then the line between emotions and entertainment is fused negatively.
It is therefore important for musical lyrics to consciously seek, at least, to promote the minds of its targets instead of it becoming the bête noire of a societal subgroup. Indeed, music sets ‘moods’ and creates ‘atmospheres’ (consider Sexual Healing and a National Anthem). In Bob Marley’s words, when music hits you, you feel no ‘pain’. Unfortunately, sometimes ignorance (Sarkodie’s Kaba, aimed at Manifest) is to blame. Yet, human behavior is influenced by our feelings, which are in turn affected by words. Hence, when the reflective impact of music, in Bob Marley’s view, gives ‘pain’, then something must be wrong.
On the hills of Hueng’s observation, music influences society culturally, emotionally and morally. Indeed, it is a moral law, according to Plato, that gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, and flight to imagination. Making a constructive impact with one’s lyrics therefore involves a conscious attempt to craft messages that promote positive moods and influence but not revive value-laden myths that incite negative vibes in an individual, community or a people.
The leadership of the Musicians Association of Ghana must therefore seize this unwelcomed opportunity to sensitize its membership of the multiplier effects of MUSIC beyond the “blinks”.
Kwaku Yeboah Kwaku.firstname.lastname@example.org