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What is Socially Conscious Music and Why Does It Matter?


You may be wondering, “What exactly is socially conscious music?” Socially conscious music is music that is free from racist, sexist, misogynistic, ableist, homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic lyrics and messages. Music with positive social messages challenges dominant social, cultural, and political structures, and uses lyrics that promote consciousness and awareness with the audience. This creates a safer, more inclusive space for everyone to feel free, be themselves, connect with others more easily, and makes music more accessible. Oppressive lyrics can cause real harm, and are completely unnecessary. They’re constant reminders that those of us with marginalized identities and experiences of oppression don’t belong, and don’t deserve better.

      Image by Briam Cute from Pixabay

When I hear a homophobic slur in a song, it’s a painful reminder that this world is not accepting of me or other LGBTQ folx. Songs with racist lyrics degrade and demean people of color, immigrants, and encourage discrimination and a culture of hostility. Songs about getting women drunk and calling them misogynistic slurs promote rape culture and contribute to an unsafe environment for everyone. Oppressive lyrics are microaggressions, slights that are like daily paper cuts that add up and manifest in our bodies, contributing to physical and emotional damage. They’re really not micro at all if you’re the one experiencing them. By giving these types of songs wide play, we’re amplifying their messages, and saying that they’re acceptable.

Well, I’m not down with that. That's why, even if it’s the hottest track of the year, or has the freshest beats, if it demeans or derides someone, I don’t play it. Full stop. We all deserve to be free, and music can be one of the most beautiful expressions of freedom. Cornel West aptly said that, “Love is what justice looks like in public.” It’s not about censorship. It’s about respect, justice, and love.

Imagine a dance space that’s fun, inclusive, and rooted in love. A space where you can move and groove freely, and find joy and connection on the dance floor. Imagine a space where you can be free - free to dance, free to be, and connect with your whole, beautiful self, and the beautiful souls around you; where all of you is welcome, respected, and celebrated. That space is possible. What messages do you choose to amplify?