It is difficult to dissect Lucas’ I’m Not Racist because of its elaborate, intricate lyrics. But basically, Lucas’ lyrics sing about the back-and-forths between the black and white communities on controversial social issues, from the centuries-long enslavement of African descendants by Caucasian masters to the use of the derogatory N word to police brutality against African-Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement. While expletive-laden, the lyrics of the Grammy-nominated rap song I’m Not Racist are, to me, deeper than those of whichever love song from the ‘80s, and proof that today’s music is not devoid of meaning.
Another meaningful song from Lucas, with the chorus “Just make sure you tell my family / It's okay, I'm sorry / But it's too late, I'm sorry / So much weighing on me / I don't wanna live to see another day, I'm sorry / But I can't stay, I'm sorry / So much weighing on me,” is I’m Sorry, which tackles the poignant issue of depression and suicide. Like I’m Not Racist, the song is sung from two perspectives, one from the perspective of a person who suffered from depression and committed suicide, and the other from his brother who is left to deal with the aftermath of the former’s death. The lyrics are definitely heavy, and show that neither hip-hop nor modern music as a whole is all about sex, drugs, and feeling good.
The last modern song we’re going to discuss is yet another rap song, Childish Gambino’s This Is America. The meaning behind the seemingly gibberish lyrics can be better understood if you look closely at the song’s music video. The music video contains a lot of Easter eggs, which holistically point to the impending doom America is facing amid the rise of far-right ideologies. The song’s interesting lyrics draw attention to issues of gun control in America, and possibly all around the world, and racism, especially against people of African descent. While such lyrics are superficially simplistic, the underlying meaning is undeniably deep enough to garner attention and appreciation from critics and laymen alike.
The point of this article is not that ‘80s music has less meaning than today’s music. Neither is it that today’s music is better than music from any other time periods. The point is simply that we shouldn’t make such wild generalizations based on our limited knowledge of something so vast and deep, because every era of music has its good and bad fruits, and to say one era is objectively better than another is nothing short of prejudiced and fallacious.