9 min read

Jonathan Ogbonna

Music is a driving force in the society; it has been present since the dawn of man and about the only thing on earth that was not made on earth. The average person spends several hours a day listening to music, whether they see it as the main activity or just as something to take up space in the background. “Music is an important and extremely useful tool in the way we learn and to deny its power is a waste of a truly wonderful resource” (Kristian David Olson).

Music over time has been used as a tool to point out the problems ravaging the Society. Tupac Shakur, puff daddy, etc. used music to speak the minds of the black people about the racism faced by the black community. Likewise, in apartheid, South Africa, the likes of Brenda, lucky dude and Yvonne Chaka Chaka preached peace and an end to the hatred caused by apartheid. It was also a tool in letting the world know what people are going through as opposed to using news agencies whose content may not reach as many due to their lack of interest in news reports.

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With the experience of music being so close to the human psyche, the listener naturally experiences both emotional highs and lows. In some cases, troubled adolescents have been pushed over the edge while listening to music, or encouraged in their self-destructive habits. Research has revealed that many documented suicides took place while music played in the background. Most of the genres of music that have been of great influence on the world like rock and roll, rock, punk, rap, and afro-hip-hop (from Nigeria) have been seen as containing elements of sexually suggestive and provocative contents which has been known to have an adverse effect on youths leading to rebellion and other social vices. 

Furthermore, sexual promiscuity and excessive profanity in modern music have also been said to affect the impressionable young psyche. The explicit nature of some modern music has desensitized today’s youth to immoral thoughts and actions. The above is just a tip of the iceberg of the numerous effects of both the negative and positive that we have encountered through the spread of music in the Society.

For instance, on June 28, 2019, Nigerian singer, Naira Marley released a single, ‘Soapy’ which is clad with explicit content and lewd lyrics that inspires controversy. While ‘Soapy’ never made any direct reference to masturbation, the word – like ‘roll dice – means ‘to masturbate.’ It came about with how boys use lotion or soap as lubrication to masturbate. He also created a dance for it. Not long, the song became well accepted by his fan base called “The Marlians”. These group of individuals who see Naira Marley as their role model and they follow his footsteps.

As expected, people (Marlians) took the soapy dance too far, using it as a means to promote sexual assault and sexual harassment as some men mimic the action of masturbation on a woman in the guise of a dance move. 

Encouraging songs and dance moves like this would mean to encourage the culture of sexual violence, and creating a more dangerous climate for women everywhere. 

Musicians are carriers of influence, whether or not they are aware of it and whether or not they intend to be. The sound and messages they release directly impact their listeners in powerful ways, more than they (musicians) can ever comprehend. This is especially true of the youths and adolescents of our society, who are still extremely malleable to the world around them. 

But in all styles of music nowadays, there are a plethora of songs with lyrics that glorify sex, drugs, and violence. While it can not be explicitly said that these songs are responsible for inducing such behavioral changes on its listeners, however, research has shown that people are immensely encouraged and inspired in their lines of action through the songs they listen to. Because of this, musicians need to be more conscious of the kind of content they create for their fanbase. 

Having established that people are moved by the kind of songs they listen, imagine the kind of world it would be if we had musicians that made conscious music and impacted the people with positive lyrical content. We would have the influence to empower the hearts and minds of the next generation, and that is something to truly take hold of.

So in short, music has the power to culturally, morally, and emotionally influence our society. Thus, the more intentional we become with the sounds, messages, and moods we create and release through our music, the more powerful we will become in making deep positive impacts. Musicians have the mandate and authority to change the world because of the influence they carry, and that truly makes music something worth dedicating a life to.

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