Art reflects society and its peculiarities
Conscious art highly explores, details, and unfolds several vices that make human lives unbearable in the societies that have bred us. It’s amazing how versatile and diverse art can be; it explores events in the real world as well as the imaginary world, and this is principally brought about by artists themselves—which is brilliant. For instance, music as an art form encompasses all sorts of artists.
Written by Lutakome ‘FELIX’ Fidelis
However, when I think about real art I feel—as an artist myself—that people have to be able to relate to your work though. This calls for the artist to be as close to reality as they possibly can, which apparently is remarkably uncommon today.
(Keep in mind that whenever I mention art, it is not only visual arts or music I am referring to … because art is a gigantic field that you cannot narrow down to just any one of its forms, right?)
Realism comes from embracing the way life is and whatever comes with it, and dealing with it accordingly; that said, I feel/wish art should/would speak (for) and uplift the oppressed folks and societies in all corners of the world.
In my opinion, the appraisal and appreciation of the artist’s artistry plus their work should not be based on mass appeal, but on their aptitude to illustrate the factual depiction of the society.
Ancient African art was characteristic of realism and consciousness. Be it visual arts, music, literature, if you retrospectively gave it a thought you will realize that these two features were more or less the pillars that aesthetically sustained it; and the underlying reason why a lot of people will still say antique art still surpasses modern art.
They dag into a wide range of topics that homed in on politics, romance, social science, and the likes (scruples of this are still apparent). Nonetheless, today I’m afraid I feel that what I comprehend as the true essence of art has been watered down.
Passion and consciousness
Firstly, it is customarily, and the mainstream media is to blame because they have alienated paradigmatically, conscious music. Secondly, nowadays many artists no longer do art for the passion of it, but instead for the ravenous appetite to make some quick bucks. In the end this hardly sustains the quality and authenticity of what they create.
On radio and television stations, conscious music has been eclipsed by dark prodigious lifeless music. For instance, from the hip-hop context, the only thing you ever get to hear on radios is a song from Lil Wayne, Rick Ross, 50 Cent, Drake and similar paradigms, but you never really get to listen to such virtuosos as Common, Mos def, K’naan, A Tribe Called Quest, Master Ace, KRS One, et cetera.
Equally, when you listen to the mostly played African music, most of it is but folderol, and the artists who make real music are ignored. The similar problem has handily affected the endurance of almost all the eminent long-standing music genres.
There are lots of conscious musicians from east, west, north, south and center of Africa, and—in my observation—one only gets to see most them and listen to their music at festivals. What favors that is the small community of fans that appreciates and values them.
I’ve come to understand; for quite some time now that real/conscious music has been one of those few gizmos in many African Countries that have politically and socially freed, besides enhanced the longevity of peoples’ minds/consciousness. And I feel more people need to give it a chance given the current state of affairs in many African countries.
Didi Awadi (Positive Black Soul) from Senegal is one of the most typical African models of a conscious artist. Lots of people, especially the ones being oppressed, relate to his music because he points out and reflects on people’s struggles and problems.
The same thing can be said about Staff Benda Bilili (Congo), Fid Q from (Tanzania), Breakdance Project Uganda (Uganda), as well as the Graffiti movement in Kenya (due to escalating grievances arising within the public, it chose to expose and ruin the ‘devilish forces’ that are mishandling the wellbeing of the country).
Struggles of life
Through art politically and socially conscious artists purposely disclose real issues that affect real people in mundane struggles of life. How can they reach people out there if they are deprived of a platform or an opportunity to be heard on radio or watched on television?
And it’s not a problem for me if art should not be about struggles or pain (because being real or conscious can’t be nailed down to just that); it can as well denote happiness or love or romance or so on, but the topical incentive should at least be induced by the status quo, thereby paying keen attention to the people’s post-relation to your artistic brainchild.
The motive behind why some of these artists engage themselves in art has changed though. Today the media sort of sets the agenda for them. I’ve heard of a few artists that started out as socially conscious, but due to the unavoidable circumstances—I guess—they ended up changing their course of their music.
I presume it has actually happened with many of them. They have recorded and recorded for over and over again, and ironically not even a single track has ‘‘matched’’ the “radio standards”.
It all starts with the audience I think. The dearth of re-evaluation and enthusiasm for conscious music within the audience: People don’t have the stomach and discipline to listen and digest hardcore lyrics about the realities of the world they live in.
It is like they fear to listen to how messed up this world is, but in my opinion this is the true essence of art.
Conscious music/art highly explores, details, and unfolds several vices that make human lives unbearable in the societies that have bred us. It is more like a revelation of the slipshod part of the world we live in—the modern society and its evil peculiarities.
Lutakome ‘FELIX’ Fidelis is a Ugandan freelance writer who mainly writes about hip-hop culture. His major focus is to create awareness of underground hip-hop artists and events.