The state of music can always be debated depending on a person’s personal tastes. That said, there’s no doubt the bar has been lowered if not obliterated completely in some genres. Today’s rap / hip-hop music is deep in misogyny, promotes violence, drug use, getting drunk, glamourizing death, overtly sexual themed lyrics, how big a woman’s ass is, pumping date rape – as if it’s cool. I’m appalled – where did it all go wrong? Some are heralded for going to prison. Really? It’s one thing to live your dream but it’s another to sell your soul so low without regard for the message or influence just to be ‘popular’ or to make millions of dollars. It’s an outrage that corporations i.e major labels put a lot of money behind these artists and their “messages”, while those with quality and a true love for music and the message languish without support. The fact that these songs are pumped up and out a full blast in shopping malls and boutiques is beyond comprehension as little ones in tow with their parents are subjected to the profanity laced obscenities. It’s a shame really and I’d go as far as to say plain evil. I’ve been an artist for 3 decades and I ask myself what’s really going on in the music business? I believe parents have the primary responsibility for the influence over their children and this goes for extended family and friends, however one can’t turn a blind eye to not just a lack of balance but to the messages being highly promoted and sponsored. An agenda? I say yes.
My song with “Friends” was the first collaboration between a Pop/R&B artist and hardcore hip-hop/rap to feature the custom 16 verse ( I called it a duet when I pitched it at the time) to crossover and become Top Ten Hot 100, R&B Soul and Dance..and all with a timeless message and zero obscenities. I just wanted to make a great song about betrayal. In my head I could only hear the tones of Rakim – it took some convincing to make my label get it. They always wanted me to be “more urban, more ghetto, more street..” – all of which I found marginalizing and insulting but couldn’t see how I related to Eric B and Rakim, I just said ‘trust me – it will work because it’s real.” Luckily, Rakim loved it and was onboard along with Eric B. That’s why I know how artists get sucked into the ‘corporate’ mindset of the imagery they’d like black artists to project. I was never having that and fought to maintain my authenticity.
The video notably blends b-boys, drag queens, and a variety of party people in unity for a good time capturing a slice of New York nightlife at the time. I’m in Jean Paul-Gaultier couture fresh off he Parisian runway that year. A great time was had by all on that sweltering summer day in the village in 1989. Fabulous and street in it’s realness without pandering, being contrived or sending a negative message, certain stereotypes or coonery. Proud.