About a decade ago, a new group of talented musicians took over Liberia’s striving music industry with songs that inspired and motivated people. The lyrics were touching and cut across age, sex and religious backgrounds. Whether on love or politics, the lyrics came with positive messages that educated the people.
Fast forward to the present, and things are now different. The lyrics of most of the new releases either promote sex and sexual promiscuity, distaste for authority figures, and or the use of drugs, which encourage people to either embrace or act on the message.
For example, a Hipco song released two or three months ago promoted the use of marijuana, as if it is not a harmful substance, and that people should take it.
The following lyrics are centered on illicit drugs and womanizing:
“Take your degree and give my papie (drug). I love my papie because it make me happy and free my stress”; “Me, I’m a womanizer…I have than plenty…”
However, despite their obviously harmful and demeaning nature, the young generation of fans loves these kinds of lyrics.
Music is a powerful tool that can make people act, as it has a strong influence on the mind. When young people get exposed to these kinds of music, it associates them with drug use, violence and sex, as expressed in the song or video.
Two weeks ago, I did a survey in Caldwell, New Kru Town and Logan Town and found out that most of the teens doing drugs were inspired by these types of songs.
“I love Liberian rap music especially the ones that promote my bad habit. I stated smoking when I became obsessed with such music,” said John, who asked that his full name not be mentioned.
Another drug user, Michael, who constantly abused his girl, said though some of his friends used to take drugs, it was music that got him involved in drug use.
“At that time, all the music I used to listen to centered on music that promoted sexual promiscuity and the use of drug.
“As time goes by, I felt my love for such music grew stronger and it started acting upon me. In these songs, the use of drug was promoted to be a good thing,” he said.
Also, these kinds of music, whether Hipco, Afro Pop or Gbema, encouraged misogyny since they objectify women as only good for sex, and advocate sexually aggressive behavior towards women.
For Terrance, he said his girl was the only person he used to be with until he started listening to music that encouraged having multiple girlfriends.
“Now I have four girlfriends and I’m still hungry for more. Having multiple girlfriends is nothing bad because musicians are saying it is a good thing. If they had not enjoyed womanizing, I don’t think musicians will be singing about it,” Terrance added.
Obviously not all music released nowadays focus on sex and drugs. In fact, we still have artists who are producing great music, without the silly extras.
Liberian music has both positive and negative effects on society. On the positively side, it is used to promote identity, dialogue, entertainment, and ways of making a living. On the negative end, it promotes violence, misogyny, and the abuse and selling of drugs.
However, the interpretation of the impact of the music on the youth will mostly depend on which side one takes or stands.