Admittedly when I stared JOVM a little over four years ago, I never intended the site or its content to be overtly political; however, political and social issues frequently influences the artists and art that we respond to and love. Let’s face it, political issues influence and inform every aspect of our lives – and the artist can’t somehow exist in some kind of vacuum where political issues or social issues don’t touch them. That just isn’t terribly realistic. But at the end of the day, whether that particular artist is politically motivated and discusses sociopolitical issues through their work is a deeply personal choice; after all, for every Common, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Brother Ali and Immortal Technique, there’s a a Lil’ Jon, Lil’ Wayne, Drake, T-Pain, etc. And to be fair, that’s fine.
But what I think we can all agree on in a is that we live in rather troubling times both for the United States and for humanity in general. Some pundits may openly deny this but there are things that are incontrovertible: there is great inequity, inequality, partisan divisions, misunderstanding, ignorance, hatred and fear. And it seems more than ever, that I turn to music and art for comfort and for understanding —especially after Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice and countless other boys and young men’s senseless deaths.
And over the last few weeks, young people everywhere have taken to streets to protest and letting their voices be heard in as many displays as possible including petitions and letter writing campaigns. And there have been a number of very thoughtful and thought-provoking essays, speeches and articles on the pertinent issues that comprise what may be our time’s greatest and important challenge. Along with that, a number of artists have responded, expressing a collective – although incomprehensibly not universal – sense of horror, confusion, shame, discomfort, disillusion and outrage, among other emotions.