It’s weird. We’ve entered a generation on instant gratification, and we are often told to speak our minds. Our voices are no longer only heard from our mouths from which they originated, but instead from social media, think pieces, and our actions. The Weeknd and RocNation artist, Belly, let their voice rang loudly when they cancelled their performance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” because it would be airing the same day as Donald Trump’s appearance.
When asked, Belly told the Associated Press, “I’m here on a campaign of positivity and love and to contribute what I can to music. I create songs people go to sleep and wake up to, songs that they fall in love to. For me, being Muslim and being somebody that appreciates my access here in America, I love the fact that I’m able to be here. To play my part in this business is a privilege and a beautiful thing. The fact that I could lose that ability through the actions of someone such as Donald Trump isn’t right to me. At all.”
A vast majority of the time, we keep those with status, wealth, or celebrity on a higher pedestal, and we deem them as token members of society. To a certain extent, they are. Their influence and reach goes far beyond the average. Their bank accounts are typically incomparable to the normal American. Not to discredit the work and faith it took to get there, but they are also the ones who get paid to do what they love. For these reasons they are responsible to carry a torch of social activism, unwarranted or not.
For a long time, musicians separated themselves from politics. They opted to keep their opinion to themselves for the sake of PR, and were the masters of silence and deflection. Those that spoke out, such as Elton John, Michael Jackson, and Harry Belafonte were considered saviors.
Within the last three years, we’ve seen musicians raise their voices. I can’t help but think, It’s about time! From Killer Mike to Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar to Janelle Monae, the timidity that hid behind the flamboyance of great music is gone. Now there is an amplification of confidence, anger, and grief that blasts through the speakers of our homes, cars, and clubs.
It’s a beautiful thing. Whether you’re a writer, accountant, musician or teacher, your voice matters. It shapes and determines the views and values of the generations to come. Though not all of our artists are speaking up (*cough* Drake), it is necessary to acknowledge those that are because sometimes music and politics should intersect.