Discontent Expressed through Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Hip-hop

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Discontent Expressed through Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Hip-hop

In cultures all over the world, music can be seen encompassing many aspects of life for many individuals. It is a form of mass communication that"speaks directly to society as a cultural form", and often reflects a collection and pattern of personal experiences (King 19). Music is so influential because it communicates on three different levels: the physical, emotional, and cognitive. Not only does it operate in a nondiscursive way, by affecting the physiological mode of the body, causing one to move and dance, but it also encourages one to think. This paper will explore music as a form of protest; showing how a political message, in general form, is presented through music. Protest music addresses the social, political, and economic conditions of the times and often speaks directly to the listener's experience (King 20). In the following pages, a general comparison will be made between the evolution and effects of the blues, jazz, reggae music, and hip-hop, with a focus on reggae and hip-hop.

According to musicologist Rod Gruver, life for the lower-class Negro in America in the early 1900's was completely characterized by a sense of alienation:
He had no place to go, no one to turn to. He had no country, no home, no ideology, no art to call his own. History had forced upon him the awful realization that if a black man wanted to have a home of his own in America, he would have to create it himself out of elements of his own culture. (Spencer 61)

There was an obvious split between the lower-classes and the middle classes; between the religious people and the secular. During slavery, secular music was considered blasphemy and forced underground. What emerged from thi...

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