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Over the last couple of years or so, I have heard from some of my favorite recording artist that they feel the need to apologize for some of their past works. Namely.the Beastie Boys, Jay-Z, and my all time favorite, Prince. They have all expressed regret for the art that they put out when the were younger, and now feel that they have matured,and don’t want the younger generations to follow in their foots steps. I call BULLSHIT!! The music artist I mentioned are some of my favorites. What they were saying at particular times over the last almost 35 years (that’s almost how long its been since Princes first album hit the streets)touched me in one form or another,depending on what mind set I was at , at God knows what time period in my life. When I was 18 years old ,and first heard The Beastie Boys first album, Licensed to Ill, it blew my mind, and up until that time, was one of the most creative Hip-Hop joints I had ever heard. The fact that they were white made them even more interesting to me, because they were bringing who they were,and their background to something that I loved,and giving it a new tilt.
Jay-Z, we all know his background. He was a hustler, and told his story from that perspective. Not to glorify, but to let us know what his journey was, and how he was overcoming. Nothing wrong with that, no different from any gangster movie,but this time , the so called bad guy lives, and moves on to a life of luxury, and fulfillment as a legitimate business man. Isn’t that the the American Dream?
Mr. Prince Rodgers Nelson. Hands down my favorite artist. The man to me has only a hand full of peers. Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, (maybe). The man writes, plays all the instruments necessary to complete his work, produces,launched or resurrected the careers of a multitude of artists, including indirectly Michael’s little sister Janet( Look up who he fired that helped take Janet to the top). He is sincerely a musical genius.
And all of the aforementioned artist have said they regret some of their work due to how it could have affected young people, or influenced bad behavior. I am disappointed in all three. Pacino has never expressed regret over Scarface, or The Godfather. I am sure Marlon Brando after he did “Last Tango in Paris“ didn’t turn to his significant other and say, “you know, i hope this doesn’t cause other men to go to Paris, and take up with some hot young nymphet, that would be a tragedy”
Art is to be expressed and enjoyed in the flavor that it was intended. When Prince made songs like “Horny Toad”, or the incest tinged “Sister”, or “Erotic City“, he was talking about life. Life that also includes room for songs like “I would die 4 U”, a great song about believing in the power of Jesus Christ.
When you as an artist demean your past work, it is insulting to your fans, who may still find that song, that period of time in their lives something to smile about, and sharing your work with them at that time, something that binds them to you. Be careful how you critique your work. You maybe inadvertently insulting someone who used a song of yours to get them through a hard time, or it may bring a sense of nostalgia,to somebody who remembers meeting the love of their lives dancing to “Paul Revere”, or” Can I get a ….”
All I’m saying is check yourself. And remember, the fans who supported you don’t want to feel like now that your sitting high on the hog you can now demean the work that put you there,cuz you didn’t get there by yourself.