Thursday, February 28, 2013

A walk in the other side of music

Music is a part of human Culture. culture itself is universal. One aspect of culture that best exhibits this universality is music.

All over the world, from Lagos to New York; from manila to Rio; from the icy deserts of Greenland to the tiny islets of New Zealand, musicians, just like others involved in the arts, shape the way the world is viewed. Be it through the captivating moves of Michael Jackson, the mind numbing guitar tunes from Carlos Santana or the soul stirring vocals of Sade Adu, the world feels music and music fills the world.

Perhaps, my choice of music acts is not universal, but still, my point is out.

Like world shapers, artists mould culture. Consciously or not, they manipulate the choices of their subjects, shaping what we wear, where we sleep, what we eat and even in the extreme, who we marry.

Since Human minds are attuned in different ways; the artist, being human, are given to diverse idiosyncrasies that have a bearing on their creations. This character can either be infused with good or suffused with the dark side that we all obviously have.

Recently, just like in the distant past, the arts seem to lean more towards this dark side, exemplified by the runaway success of films like ‘Twilight’ and others of like ilk.

Music, like the movies, appears to be interpreting the times through lyrical content and visuals –the disturbed imagery of accompanying music videos- that some have interpreted to somehow glorify the darkness, personified by a Judaeo-Christian Satan. 

Artists like Jay-Z and his wife Beyonce, Rihanna, Lil Wane, to name a few, are some of those walking the part already taken by metal rock artists in the past.

Undoubtedly, Jay-z is one artist that has over the years delved into what many would consider the occult, if not in fact, then by insinuations.

Jay-Z, who has long been rumoured to belong to an occult order—probably Freemason—fuelled more speculations with the use of occult imagery in his latest video called “Run This Town” (featuring Rihanna and Kanye West).

But this is not the first time Jay-Z is showing signs of occult affiliations. Years earlier he propagated the massively popular ‘Roc sign’ that incorporated a widely known symbol of the Illuminati cult, the left eye within a triangle. Wild fans usually throw the salute during Jay-Z’s stage performances, probably not knowing the origins of the sign or perhaps, not caring.

Jay-Z also has appeared in public wearing a black hoodie with the words “Do What Thou Wilt” engraved on it. Though the words are suggestive in themselves, the fact that they are the official dictum of the Ordo Templi Orientis (O.T.O.) and of its reformer, occultist Aleister Crowley, leaves a whole lot to imagination (The O.T.O. is a hermetic order modelled after Freemasonry and German Illuminism).

Truth is, Jay-Z knows a lot about occult imagery and seeks to either make their use more mainstream or just wants to build an aura of mysticism around his persona, thereby tapping into the growing leaning of the west’s teenagers to the dark side. A phenomenon that has resulted in the cult like following of various vampire movies of which Twilight is a very good example.

Both Beyonce and Rihanna have done songs that centre on possession, with Beyonce taking it further by naming her possessed/possessing persona: her alter ego Sasha Fierce, who she affirms is the fun, sexual and aggressive side of her.

She says: I have someone else that takes over when it’s time for me to work and when I’m on stage, this alter ego that I’ve created that kind of protects me and who I really am”.

Sasha Fierce is at times depicted wearing a dress adorned with an occult symbol of a goats head, otherwise known as Baphomet’s head.

On her part Rihanna, in the video of her song Disturbia explores the bleak world of mind control and demonic possession. Not only does she play with the dark side, she appears to have recently embraced it completely as her recent videos show.

Though this use of occult imagery in video did not start with rap and Hip-hop acts, they appear to be taking it to the next level. If they do this to get recognition, then they have definitely succeeded--if the number of awards some of the artists mentioned above garnered at the last Grammy awards are anything to hinge ones assertions on.

Article first published by Side View magazine in 2010