5 hardest questions essay

In the article “The 5 Hardest Questions in Pop Music” Chris Richards had written 5 questions and gave point of views from different people. The first question was “Is Cultural Appropriation Ever Okay?” Richards had answered that saying “Finding an answer requires us to clarify the difference between theft and influence, or more specifically, taking and making.When Justin Timberlake beatboxes, or Taylor Swift raps, or Miley Cyrus twerks to a trap beat, it feels like taking. On the flip side, when the Talking Heads echo African pop rhythms, or the Wu-Tang Clan channels the spirituality of kung-fu cinema, or Beyoncé writes a country song, it feels more like making.”  I agree with what he is saying because afterwards he started to talk about how it really comes down to the fans and industry just for the fact that rappers that are white who are mediocre climb higher on the charts than what they actually should. 

The other question was “Should we Listen to Music Against A Dead Artist’s Wishes.” I feel that personally it is wrong to put someone whose dead music out to the public but once it’s already out I will listen to it just for the fact that I’m honoring him by listening to his songs. Richards had the same stance as I did stating that he had listened to Prince’s unreleased music to honor him and how it helped him sleep better at night. But one thing I didn’t agree with Richards on was when he was saying how a person just has a specific list of instructions for someone if they were to pass away. I feel that Prince did tell someone but they had gone against what he had said for some reason.

Another question was “Can Artists Still Sell Out?” In the section Richards had given different points of views from different people. For example, Roy Cook had stated that “Kendrick Lamar clearly sold out. But is there anything wrong with this? Well, sure: compromising one’s personal values or one’s musical integrity is an inherently bad thing.” He believes that Kendrick is a sell out because of how he is compromising his personal values or even his music integrity. But then you have someone like Shen-yi Liao when she said “What about Kendrick Lamar? By the time he did the Reebok advertisements, he already had two major label albums. In my view, he already crossed over to the pop side of hip hop. If we viewed him as a pop artist, then no, that wasn’t selling out—because Kendrick Lamar the pop artist cannot sell out.” Shen thinks that Kendrick can’t sell out because he already had 2 major albums and he had moved on to the pop side of hip hop. I agree with Shen and how she was saying how Kendrick didn’t sell out because he already dropped 2 major albums before he had switched over to hip hop.

The fourth question was “Should we Engage in Objectionable Lyrics?”  Richards answer to that was “For a while, my answer was that we always need to listen to music on its own terms, and when we listen to rap, it’s important to remember that we’re usually listening to marginalized voices who might be trying to exert power over their lives however they can. That doesn’t make certain lyrics any less disagreeable, but it does begin to explain why they exist in the first place. And it’s important to understand the circumstances that produced the work.” What he said right there I thought was important because when people listen to rap music they don’t understand what they are saying for the fact of how the rapper is either saying it or the tempo or the song. But if a person actually listens the rapper is probably talking about how they were grown up and the things that they have been through or how they came from nothing to where they are right now in life. So yes I do agree with Richards stance on whether or not to engage in objectionable lyrics because you have to be able to understand where the lyrics are coming from first and why they are like that before you criticize.              

The last question was “Can we Separate The Art From The Artist?”  Richards responded saying “ So you just found out that your favorite pop act doesn’t share your politics, or that they’ve said something hateful about a marginalized group of people, or that they have a history of sexual misconduct, or that they have a history of physical abuse, or that they have a history of both, or all of the above. The more heinous a musician’s transgression, the more painful the fan’s trauma — because when an artist we admire suddenly does something intolerable, we start to lose our grip on the art itself. It’s as if all of that good music was somehow made in bad faith.” But I disagree with him because I personally will still listen to an artist even if they have done something bad. For example, Taymor Mclntyre who goes by “Tay-K” and he was sentenced to 55 years in prison for a murder charger where he was found guilty in at the age of 16.         

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