Bow Down? No Thanks. But I Will Salute The Underrated Women In Music Who Keep It Humble And Real At All Times
Ah, you thought this was going to be a shade-throwing, Beyonce/Beyhive-bashing free-for-all, huh? No. It’s been done before; probably a million times alone since “Bow Down” dropped. But this is not that. That’s boring and really very non-progressive.
The lyrics that H-Town Stomped their way down my Twitter and Facebook timelines were enough. I didn’t need to hear the song. I got the gist. Shock value. Getting the rumor mill spinning. Debates about feminism. Press. Media coverage as far as the eye can see. Buzz got stirring in the belly of the Beyhive. Mission accomplished.
What all the media attention steered my little old truth-seeking self toward is the world of down-to-earth artists who’ve proven themselves in an equally effective yet totally counterintuitive way: a baseline of truth-telling and humility. Many of them have not secured as vocal a cult following as some contemporary artists, but all things considered, does that even matter? I can sit at an Amel Larrieux show at the Blue Note and listen to an entire set that will speak to any number of situations going on in my life, a millionairess’s life, a poor girl in India’s life. I can tweet her and see her respond, genuinely. How dope is that? I can watch Melanie Fiona’s “Creating of the MF Life” Youtube videos and understand exactly what she puts into her music from her own lips. Not a pre-packaged explanation, but a heartfelt narrative about each song and the process. No gimmicks. Just truth.
I can peruse an Erykah Badu interview and see her respond, “I don’t know. I’ve got to think about that.” Badu, who has TIME IN with music and success in the industry doesn’t try to sugarcoat her way to a “good” answer, but instead offers honesty. Consistently. That’s just her way and music fans respect that. Though the person must evolve, their transparency is what fans vibe with more than anything else. It never fails. The artists who have already and will continue to secure the most meaningful kind of longevity (may not be the most visible or lucrative) are the ones who don’t strive to be untouchable. They just want to make music that is truthful and evolving and says, “Yo, I been there/am there too.”
We often try to weld together the ideas of true artistry and entertainment. And while the two can come together to create a transcendent experience, they aren’t one in the same. Just as processed foods satisfy us for the moment – natural, healthful food vibes with our body chemistry much more because it sustains, it cures, it invites us to be better, to live. There is no difference in music. The processed kind is cool and fun in moderation, but what stands the test of time and elevates us as individuals is in the $40 -ticket, smoky, dimly lit blues club set. It’s a simple “Thank you so much” to a fan’s praise. It’s the “I’m human too” interviews that make us understand that these folks are just on a journey like the rest of us. They’re not untouchable, they’re relatable.
The Behind The Musics and E! True Hollywood Stories and Unsungs show people who were/are so deeply in love with music but pushed to create everything/anything other than what feels real to them. Sell units. Sell out tours. Win Grammys. Be the best. Then, artistry and truth-telling suffers at the hands of being on top and staying on top when Lauryn Hill told us years ago that EVERYone has seasons of “learning and mastership.” No one is going to be on top forever. So what then are most fans going to crave for the long-term? The memory of one crazy hyped show, which was off the chain but cost them a car note? OR album after album of authenticity with track after track that speaks directly to any and every situation they face?
I salute consistent authenticity. Humility. Transparency. That takes courage and I can vibe with that. We vibe with those who come from where we’re from and refuse to pretend that they are larger than life. They leave their not-so-glamorous photos floating around on the Internet because, hey, they’re human too. They show us their scars and let us show them ours too. What they create may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it is their own and you can’t help but to dig that.
So, quite frankly, no, I won’t bow down to any entertainer, but I will stand tall and salute my sistren who are consistently affirming themselves and others, evolving, living honestly and giving me good music to last a lifetime.
La Truly is just encouraging thought, discussion and change among young women through her writing. Check her out on Twitter: @AshleyLaTruly and AboutMe http://www.about.me/latruly.