Maya's Digital Portfolio

Personal connection essay





Music is the most important thing in my entire life. Honestly, I think that music is the most important thing in the world. There are so many things and movements that are shaped or changed by music. Like the Vietnam war protests, some of the BLM protests, or even anti-Trump protests. Think about it… All songs have a meaning or a message. There is also rhetoric in every single song that you listen to.


My whole life all I can remember is music. There is not a single time in my life that I wasn’t listening to music. My first concert was Bob Dylan when I was only six months old, and I have been to many other concerts since then. I and my dad have always had a very close relationship. However, in the last two years, we have gone through some really hard times where we haven’t talked and fought a lot. But throughout the year’s music is what we have in common and still have. My dad contributes to everything that I know and love about music. I remember when I was young, my dad would play this game with me. He would play a song and tell me to guess who sang the song or what band played the song. He would say, “Maya, if you can guess who sings this song I’ll give you five dollars.” Of course, because I was so young I would get it wrong nine times out of ten, but he still does this to me and I get them right most of the time because I wanted to make him happy and proud (and he is).


Music has also gotten me through extremely low points. At times I have felt that I have had nothing in my life that could make me happy besides music. My personal therapy is laying on my bedroom floor and letting the music consume my emotions and make me happy and make me feel loved. For me when I listen to music I feel loved. Even if I may not have physical love at the moment the music creates that for me. I remember this really vivid time in my life where I was going to a dead and company show with my best friend at the time. I was going with just her and I didn’t have my dad with me like I usually do at concerts. When we got to the venue and took our seats, the band played a few songs and it was overall an amazing experience. But, when they played the song “Brokedown Palace” all of the people hugged their friends and family and I was standing alone. However, as the song played on tears filled my eyes and I let the music take me and basically give me a metaphorical hug.


When I look at the music I see that all music has a deep meaning and rhetoric. A lot of people may say that I’m crazy for saying that but that is one of the main reasons that I chose the rhetoric of music through generations for my project. I want to prove a point not only to others but also to myself. I personally have seen that the rhetoric of music can shape people and their beliefs whether those are good or bad. For example, my sister listens to a lot of rap music that has a lot of bad language in it. My dad doesn’t love this. However, I think that he understands that everyone should listen to music that makes them happy or feel the emotion in any way.


Overall this project is one of the most meaningful projects that I will probably ever do. I would not be the person that I am today without music. The world would not be the world that it is today without music. Honestly, it would be so boring. Think about it… What would be playing in elevators or in grocery stores or what would people do in the summer? Not go to concerts? Music has been around for a really long time. There is not one human on this earth that has lived without music. Because without music who would we be?



Artist Statement





The Rogerian argument that I was trying to prove in this project was, can rap music be used to create a convincing rhetorical argument to convince different generations of their message? Because this is a little broad I wanted to focus on four songs about the BLM movement. The Black Lives Matter movement is something that is very important to me because I do believe that America needs to create equality among black people. Specifically when it comes to police brutality.


There were a lot of controversies when all four of these songs were released for example the song FDT by YG and Nipsey Hussle got taken down when it was first released. There was also a lot of debate on the song This is America by Childish Gambino because people didn’t know if he meant to write it with a Black Lives Matter message or not. However when the music video was released that was cleared up, although there is still a lot of debate about it. One of the other songs I chose was by a white writer, the song is called White Privilege by Malkamore. When this song was released there was a social media debate on whether he had the right to rap like this because of the color of his skin. The last song that I chose was the most recently released one, called The Bigger Picture by Lil Baby. I am sure there was some hatred towards this song but because it was released in June I am unsure where the public stands. All of these songs have a clear message and have to do with the Black Lives Matter movement. The question is… Could these songs have an impact on generations like the Baby Boomers and Gen X?


In order to find this out, I decided to interview two people that mean a lot to me in my life. I first interviewed my grandma who is a part of the Baby Boomers and then my dad who is a part of Gen X. To be completely honest I was very nervous going into both of these interviews, just because the songs that I decided to show them have very vulgar words in them and kind of an angry tone. I asked her and my dad questions like; Did you like these songs? Do you think that these songs would have a positive or negative impact on your generation? How do you think that these songs have shaped the younger generations? I also asked, was this Rogerian argument effective? I showed them each of three songs in this order: FDT, This is America, and The Bigger Picture, all of which are QR codes in my collage. Both my grandma and dad had very similar thoughts. They thought that the first and second ones were not effective in their generations. Specifically, because the first one is two vulgar and to quote my grandma, “The video was boring.” The second one didn’t make sense to them because it was too complex and the video was harder to understand for their generations. Surprisingly enough to me, they actually thought that the third one, The Bigger Picture had a very convincing Rogerian message. However my dad and grandma did differ a little bit here because my dad had a hard time staying open-minded but he said and I quote, “I could see how this could work on some people in my generation, however, it didn’t work as much for me because I thought that it promoted violence. This was the thing that my dad kept saying about all of the videos. To conclude I could see both sides of this argument, I can see how the Rogerian argument is effective on some people and not as effective on others.


This college and this project were very important to me. The argument that I was trying to convince my audience was that rap songs can promote a positive Rogerian argument when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement. I did this project because I wanted to make a statement. I feel that a lot of people look at rap music as a negative impact on the younger generations like myself. I can see this with some songs but all artists have something to say and a story to share and be told. All artists want people to listen and think about their lyrics. Why else would you write a song than to show a message or an argument? Music is a way to start a conversation. My dad always says that communication is the world's greatest problem but the one thing that can solve it is music. In the words of Jimmy Hendrix himself, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”



Reflection





My project is about rap songs in the black lives matter movement and how these songs’ Rogerian argument has shaped older and younger generations. I decided to create a collage and a very detailed artist statement explaining the process of the project. I also decided to do two interviews with people apart from the Baby Boomers and Gen X. These two people that I chose were my grandma and my dad. The way that I laid out these interviews was that I asked a series of questions and then showed them three songs and asked them another series of questions. Overall my project went very smoothly and I am very proud of the finished product.


Going into this project I believed that rap music could shape people's perspectives on political issues like Black Lives Matter. This was including the older generations. When starting this project I quickly realized the two sides of this argument. One side is that rap music can politically shape people's perspectives and the other being that it can’t, specifically in older generations. After looking at my research and the interviews I do believe that this type of music can shape the younger generation’s political beliefs but I am still unsure of the older generations. However, I do believe that they can shape some older generations’ perspectives as long as they keep an open mind. This is the major thing that my dad and grandma differed from, my grandma had a very open mind going into them and my dad had a closed mind. Because of this, my grandma’s point of view changed after I showed her the videos and my dads stayed the same. After doing this project I have realized that the younger generations of America are the important ones. We are the ones that have the ability to change things and we are the ones who can keep an open mind to change. In the end, I further understand the older generation’s ideology and why they think the way they do.


I have learned so much about the rhetoric of my project and why it's effective on some people and not as effective on others. I could especially see this when looking at rap music because a lot of people don’t like it because of its bad language and angry tone. However, on the other hand, a lot of people really like it because it can show the real struggle of the artist without sugar coding it. This is especially true when it came to the difference between the older and the younger generations. I learned that the younger generations like rap music because of the real struggle and anger that it showed. I also learned in my interviews that the older generations don't like rap because of the vulgar language and the tone. This was eye-opening to me. Honestly going into this project I didn’t think that I was going to learn as much as I did. I thought that my grandma and dad would hate all of the songs and not stay open-minded at all. Although this was not true.


The willingness to be disturbed plays a huge role in our society and especially in my project. When looking at how I conducted my project and my research I went into it with the willingness to be disturbed and I wanted to make sure that the two people that I interviewed went into it with the willingness to be disturbed. So, when I started my interviews I told them to be willing to be disturbed and keep an open mind. The videos and the songs that I showed were disturbing and most of them were hard to watch and hard to listen to. Overall the media of our current society is disturbing and I feel that one of the major components of the Black lives Matter movement. All of the riots and protests of the BLM movement are very emotional and a little hard to watch. However, for me, this form of rhetoric is very effective because I can see the emotion put into all of the songs and the protests. I see the struggle that black lives have gone through over the years and this is why I feel it needs to be changed. I wish that everyone had more of a willingness to be disturbed because I think that there would be a lot more change in our society if they did.



Bibliography





“FDT.” YouTube, uploaded by WSHH Exclusive, 18 Apr. 2016,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WkZ5e94QnWk


“White Privilege.” YouTube, uploaded by Malkamore, 11 May, 2009,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gdVRlM-kSx8


“This is America.” YouTube, uploaded by Childish Gamino, 5 May 2018,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VYOjWnS4cMY


“The Bigger Picture.” YouTube, uploaded by Lil Baby, 12 June 2020,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VDGysJGNoI