Bread and Circuses- Music as a Reflection of the Times

Bread and Circuses: Music as a Reflection of the Times

Music is definitely a reflection of the time in which it is produced. I will examine and primarily focus on America’s most influential genres; Blues, Jazz, R&B, Rock, and Hip-Hop. Blues is a direct descendant of old work songs that slaves often sung in the cotton and sugar cane fields, has influenced just about every genre of modern music, from the somber and sometimes grim lyrics filled with self-pity, or the actual musical structure of the Blues. Looking back, the lyrics of these songs often were about being cheated on, missing home, being penniless, or generally feeling worthless and low. Their songs attempted to identify with other people who may listen and find themselves in similar circumstances. Time progressed and Jazz started as New Orleans street music, which quickly gained in popularity across the country.

When Jazz became more than street music and attracted reputable and renown performers, the identity of these performers became not unlike the mythical lone cowboy, reveling in his uniqueness and self-reliance, his utter coolness standing above everyone else. Along comes R&B and this cult of personality we saw in the Jazz era is still applied heavily to individual performers, but the formula and content of the songs are almost identical to Blues. Rock hits America like a sack of delightful bricks in the late 50’s, and a mythical individual archetype really takes off and influences all these genres.

Rock and Roll artists dressed to impress, had impeccable hair, and all the ladies wanted to be with them. Songs became more about the artists’ overwhelming awesomeness, and how great they were at playing their instruments, or singing their songs. Fast forward to the late 70’s and 80’s, and you’ll find the foundations of Hip-Hop are all about wearing the right clothing, accessories, jewelry, and bragging about one’s capabilities, possessions and most important, money.

Today, you’ll notice people seem to be much more interested in the wacky hijinks of Pop stars instead of their ability to sing, dance, or whatever their talent requires them to do. The appearance and behavior of these Pop stars on stage and in the newspapers is now what is of most importance to push sales. The content of the songs is often braggadocios and aims to establish the artist as a lone rebel amongst a sea of conformists.

My perspective, this period of music we have been trapped in for over a decade is the worst this country has ever endured. I’m not sure if we can pull ourselves out of this funk, but I have a feeling that the poor quality of the music is inextricably tied to the horrible economy. In the 70’s, when the economy wasn’t doing so great, Disco was quite popular and was viewed with the same scorn as Pop is today.

Alas, maybe there is still hope for the future of music.

Bradford Nims

His Name Is Danny

His Name Is Danny

Eccentric, hyper, exciting, goofy―all words that can be used to describe Danny Brown. The thirty-two year-old rapper from Detroit, Michigan has become quite a big name over the past couple years, and his popularity seems to be growing. From his wild hairstyle, to his missing teeth, and his incredibly energetic music, Danny Brown has become known as one of the unique figures in the world of hip hop. Although it may seem to most that he just appeared out of nowhere, Danny has been in the rap game for a while, but not until recently did he really catch a break.

Similar to many rappers from Detroit, Danny Brown grew up in a pretty rough area. He wasn’t always collecting big paychecks from playing shows. Danny explains in some of his songs how he grew up around poverty, drugs, and violence. By the time he was in his late teens Danny was selling drugs. Eventually, the path lead to some run-ins with the law, and after missing court dates, and essentially being on the run for a while, Brown was caught and spent 8 months in jail. Once he was released his passion for hip hop music began to take priority over selling drugs. Danny went on to release numerous mix tapes, play shows all around Detroit and developed a local following.

Spending years underground, still struggling to make ends meet, Danny Brown’s music finally started to catch on in a major way. His mixtape known as “The Hybrid” seemed to be a hit, and gained the rapper a lot more attention than his previous releases. Shortly thereafter, he released “XXX,” which really put him on the map. He signed a deal with New York based record label “Fools Gold” and his name began spreading like wild fire throughout the hip hop community.

After a lot of struggling, and a lot of persistence, Danny Brown became far more than a local Detroit rapper. His unique EDM influenced brand of hip hop music began to spread across the globe. Brown is playing high profile shows all over the country, and overseas. Even though his career may have taken longer than a lot of rappers, and being over thirty, some might consider him “Old” compared to many rappers. However, Danny Brown is a prime example of what willpower can do for an up-and-coming music artist.

Nina Blanka

Count Up Artist Nina B. Blanka Podcast

Nina B. Blanka is a name you notice. The young woman who carries this name is definitely not one to be ignored. A rapper from the ATL hip hop scene, Nina B. Blanka’s music communicates the importance of developing one’s strengths and having control through independence. She’s a young woman with an incredible drive for achieving her dreams. The powerful combination of beauty, talent, and business acumen makes her, a Boss.

During a recent conversation, Nina B. Blanka expressed, “My music is considered CountUp music. It’s a fun music that talks about being a Boss and working hard to get what you want out of life. I want to inspire young people not to depend on others for self worth, but to feel good about having a job, working hard to climb the ladder of success, and be in positions of power.”

Developing a musical interest was no accident. Growing up in Detroit, and being able to absorb the greatness of the “Queen of Soul” Aretha Franklin in proximity over many years instilled in her not only a love of music, but also a love for the process of creating music. In her youth, she began to write poetry, which led to her writing rap lyrics. She has a strong work ethic and often works 17 hours a day, but creating music does not feel like work to Nina B. Blanka.

Not only does she write some of the hardest hitting lyrics, she also has a head for business managing one of the biggest recording studios in the ATL area, “Hot Beats Recording Studios,” where many of today’s hip hop stars spent session time such as Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and many more.

Well known in the ATL music community, Nina B. Blanka continues to make waves as the “Banjo Boss,” a term she created when her first mixtape, “Banjo Lingo” was released. Nina B. Blanka says “Banjo means money, and most refer to money in the South as Bands. I just put my own twist on it! I love being original, setting trends, and being the girl that’s different.”

Listen to Nina B. Blanka.