Modern music and political relevance
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
Music has undeniably changed infinitely throughout the years, but it has always been an essential part of human culture. The subjects that have been voiced by music spread from sacred, ancient religions to “I just broke up with my girlfriend and now I’m sad.” This variety is what makes music so interesting; it shows its ability to express any emotion, any thought, any story. During the civil rights movement, singers like Nina Simone and Harry Belafonte were prominent in their using music and making art to voice the need for equal rights.
Recently though, fans of music have for the most part started listening to songs that focus predominantly on breakups and romance. That is not to say that these subjects should not be covered or listened to, but many are acknowledging only this side of musical culture, and it would be undeniably better for people to listen to a bit more of a variety. There are many problems in the world right now, and these are being addressed in modern music. Many singers have spoken out and/or devoted many of their songs to social and political justice--and this is what more people need to be listening to.
An example of one of these singers is up-and-coming artist Jordan Edward Benjamin, known professionally as grandson (lowercased on purpose). His music is a combination of rock, hip-hop, and alternative, with fusions of instrumental and electronic beats. He focuses majorly on modern problems like addiction, mental illness, and social and political injustice. According to his Spotify biography, he has received co-signs from big names like Tom Morello and Bernie Sanders, and has (as of now) about 6,800,000 monthly listeners, a number which is growing by the day.
As an example, in his song 6:00, he writes about violence and police brutality;
Yesterday, I turned on the TV
I saw another man down
He was screaming
He can’t breathe no more
He held his hands high
But then he got struck down
I don’t think I need to explain this, because it speaks for itself. Grandson is speaking out about one of the immense amounts of problems that we see commonly on the news nowadays. The words “he can’t breathe” seem like a callback to the murder of George Floyd, although this song came out in 2016. And yet this still strengthens the song, making it perhaps even more relevant than when it came out.
Another of his songs, Blood // Water, his most-listened, reflects as well the truth about violence being a part of American society; American culture, even. He sings:
Beg me for mercy