By Chelsey Perry
“Is it worth it?”
This is the thought that replays over and over again in my mind.
I can sit back and get lost in the song Waves by Kanye West, but I can’t loosen the thought that repeats over and over again in my head when I’m listening to it. “Slavery was a choice…” He said that. The creator of this beautiful and genius song filled with enticing melodies intertwined with lows and highs that are the epitome of bliss to one’s ears said that slavery was a choice.
For me, I don’t like Kanye. I still listen to Waves… because it’s Waves. It’s an amazing song. I feel like it’s easy for me to get lost and forget all of the horrible and damaging things that he said when he disregarded the entire black community to support a heathen.
Although, for me personally I don’t listen to anything after Life of Pablo. That’s my personal limit with him. However, things are a lot different when I turn on Sad! by XXXtentacion. I can hum along to the melodramatic tune at first and feel swept away by the drumming beat in my ears.
It’s not worth it though.
To me, this beautifully sad song is not worth listening to when I remember that XXX threatened to stick a barbecue pitchfork up his pregnant girlfriend’s vagina, and beat her almost to death several times for small things that would brush off of any sane person’s shoulders.
However, that’s just me.
Someone might find happiness from listening to XXX, they might be able to separate the artist from the song and not think of how he tortured a young woman’s life. All I can discern from his music is this overwhelming feeling of guilt. Guilt from listening to someone that made someone else’s life hell… so I refuse to listen to him.
That’s not to say that I’m okay with Kanye disregarding the black population. I just find his faults easier to detach from his music. I only really listen to The Life of Pablo. I guess for me I have certain limits when it comes to listening to problematic artists’ music.
I’m not perfect.
There is this hard and often gut-wrenching debate. You fall in love with someone’s music, and then you’re often susceptible to falling in love with the artist. When that artist does something unspeakable… maybe it shakes you to your core, maybe it just gives you a chilly feeling of uneasiness. But when this person that you spent months admiring because of how they spoke to your soul through their music does something that is inhumane… What are you supposed to do? Do you delete them from your playlist and never listen again?
For some people that would be the right choice. For others, they may still cling to the music, and cling to the impact that this person left upon them. For me, I usually fall under the first option.
I begrudgingly take out my headphones and begin the solemn and heartbreaking task of deleting songs that used to speak to me, because after hearing about the artist’s actions the only song I can hear is the news headlines.
So for me, that’s the option that makes the most sense. But I’ve found this gray area because I can’t make myself stop listening to “Waves” no matter how much I despise Kanye. That song connected with me during a time in my life that I really needed it to.
The question eventually stops becoming do we cancel this artist or not. The question really comes to: Do we condemn the people that still listen to those artists? Are you going to shame someone for being an active fan of R Kelly?
Personally, I would speak shamefully of someone that still supported him. But at the same time I’m not in control of anyone’s connection with music.
The number of artists that have unspeakable acts are only rising and rising as we receive more news in an information-driven universe. It’s up to you what you decide to do with the information that you receive.
As a journalist, I have an obligation to be truthful. I personally don’t know the ins and outs of right versus wrong when it comes to separating or not separating an artist from their work. What makes me feel that listening to a specific Kanye song is okay, but listening to XXX is not? I don’t know the rules, I just go off of what I feel.
Keep in mind that I have my own personal bias. I have to check myself and see whether my own personal choice to still listen to certain music is really worth it. It’s a conversation that I’m still having with myself. The Life of Pablo is my personal limit. It’s up to you to decide what matters to you.
Ask yourself if it’s worth it to continue listening to some of the sketchy and questionable people in your playlist. It’s about connecting with yourself, and understanding the impact of listening to the music of problematic individuals.
Are you directly supporting them? Are you contributing to their wealth and perhaps an unhealthy platform that they are pushing? Is it harmless to get lost in their music? Do you need to stop listening to them and will you be making a negative impact if you continue to support a certain artist?
Sometimes it can be hard to ask these questions, and even harder to let go. Consider these questions the next time that you press play. I will too.