I was skimming through an article on NPR about M.I.A, a popular rapper, and how she came into fame when I was struck by something she said, “…here I was. I had left Sri Lanka, which is still a very unsafe place. For me to get here, I had to learn to speak English, I had to go to art school, become a rapper — because it’s what America understood the most, in terms of communication.” (NPR Staff). This made me think, is our society one in which the best way to portray a message is through rap?
Music impacts many people’s lives, but I argue that it is not the only way to get a message out there. Music is a great form of communication and reaches a huge portion of the population, but to say that it is the best, I feel, is an overstatement. I do not think that there is one way that is the best, I think it is a mix of many mediums that is the most productive. The reasoning behind why music is not the best medium of communication is because music hits only certain demographics. People have a specific taste in music, some like alternative, opera, country, reggae and so forth but very few people like every type of music. It is difficult to have a song that can hit so many. Rap, in particular, has a particular following. Those who do not enjoy rap usually stay far from it. Those over the age of 50, for example, are not known for having a strong following of rap music, and although I am sure there are those who adore it, there are many who show no interest. If an artist is only trying to get their message to one subset of the population, then music is a terrific way to reach them, but if trying to reach a larger population they will fall short.
This quote that M.I.A stated also made me think that if rap can be so influential in communication then should it be taught in schools? Should rap be taught as a way to express and share thoughts and ideas, in the same way that writing and public speaking are taught? For a student who is trying to find their voice, rap or any music really should be an option for them. Also should we teach literacy in this from of rhetoric? If this music has the power to communicate, should we be teaching students to recognize the topics of the music they are listening to and teach them to combat the absorption of ideas through music? I believe that the option should be presented to students. Schools should offer the ability for student to find their voice and teach them to share it in any way they can. Along with learning how to write we should also learn how to ingest the information. There are a lot of strong messages portrayed in music, there should be avenues to learn how to recognize these messages and learn your opinion either following or against these topics.
Staff, NPR. “‘I Built The Platform Myself’: M.I.A. On Being Heard.” NPR. NPR, 5 Nov. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.