The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised
Will not be televised, will not be televised
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.
– “The revolution will not be televised” Gil Scott Heron
Super Bowl 50 was the icing on the cake for a running theory myself and close friend Shay Williams have been discussing since June 2015. One of them being the fact that we as Black People, once again, lead the majority of the trends in pop culture. For example, Cam Newton created a cultural frenzy by introducing the rest of America to “the dab.” Despite the fact that the young quarterback makes football fun, the overwhelming majority of the media took a lot of focus labeling Cam a thug or an undesirable role model at times. Incidents like this show that there is still a double-standard in regards to race within American society in 2016.
-Photo Source: CBSsports.com
This double-standard was made more apparent to me after the onslaught of negative comments and reactions regarding Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance because of her wardrobe and her all-black female dancers’ appearance: big (natural) hair, black bonnets, and confidence. Beyoncé, along with her dancers, mirrored modern-day Black Panthers and this pro-black performance rubbed much of America (that still don’t understand #BlackLivesMatter), the wrong way.
Photo Source: cosignmag.com
The Super Bowl reminded me that Black culture is in a state of limbo. Our highs as a collective are extremely high: Black QB winning the NFL MVP award, first Black president serving two terms, hip-hop/rap culture reaching and impacting every corner of the world, the rise of black business owners, entrepreneurs, dancers, musicians, models, artists, painters, photographers and creativity in general has exploded in the Black Culture. But on the same note, our lows are really low as well: the rise of crime in major cities like Chicago and Philadelphia, the homicide rates rapidly increasing in “urban areas”; the Flint water crisis, the mislabeling of Cam Newton and other black celebrities; the consistent double standards with regard to race in America; the South Carolina church shooting in 2015 carried out by a Neo-Nazi, and black people being shot and killed by police has become an epidemic in our country. So much so, it is likely the catalyst that sparked Beyoncé’s Super Bowl performance of her new single “Formation.”
The song “Formation” was released days before the performance, accompanied by what some may call a controversial video. Oddly enough, most people didn’t label Beyoncé’s new single as R&B. Instead, because of its unorthodox sound, it has been labeled trap music. Those familiar with trap music might be puzzled because Beyoncé and trap aren’t something that would necessarily be put together. I believe the labeling is accurate because trap music speaks to the state in which we as Black People live.
The dab is also something that was created within the realm of trap music. So, about this era we live in? How do I explain it? What do I call it? I call this limbo state of our culture “soul trap.” Soul (Noun) dictionary.com has several definitions for this word but the best to relate to my use of this word is: “shared ethnic awareness and pride among black people, especially black Americans.” Trap (Noun) defined in Rap Culture: “As a place where drug transactions take place or somewhere you hustle for money.” More importantly Trap represents the hood in our culture.
I define soul trap as Black Expressionism or rather the beautiful struggle of Black people and lower class culture that has pushed us to no longer desire to be accepted by popular culture and to create for our own people. My awareness of Soul Trap began summer 2015.
Let me start from the beginning when I became more aware of everything taking shape in Black culture. April 2015, my close childhood friend Shay Williams reached out to me to assist him with the first ever art show of his career, he wanted to launch his exhibit in Los Angeles where I currently reside. The concept of this art show would open my eyes and mind to the current cultural shift happening in America and the rise of a new movement in Black culture. Shay titled his art show “Hooligans and Hyenas.” The name was based off the theme of his art work and what was going on in the world at the time.
Shay said, “If America was a jungle, and we were all animals black people/lower-class would be hyenas and those of privilege/White people as lions.” This vision of his is loosely based off “Lion King” when putting Pride Rock into retrospect within the real world. “We are hyenas because they don’t want us to control Pride Rock.”
To Shay, Pride Rock isn’t just race(ism) but class(ism). He continued, “Pride Rock depicts the suburbs we grew up in or how it looks on the outside and the elephant graveyard is the environment we know so well. In the jungle, what pain or struggle does a young lion, the prince of the jungle, have to go through to become king? None. And still with no struggle they have a sense of entitlement. A young hyena has to go through more of a day-to-day struggle with other hyenas. This creates strength in numbers and a sense of family in their community. Despite going through the struggle, hyenas still find time to smile, laugh, and shine through it all. That’s real strength; so who is actually the strongest in the jungle?” This is Shay Will’s artistic perspective on the 1% (the lions) vs the lower middle class (the hyenas).
I’m no art critic, and I do not have a Ph.D. in sociology. So that makes it easier to share Shay’s theory as well as my own because my credibility might be shot but as long as I share my ideas my job is done. Shay’s insight set the foundation for me to define this “soul trap” movement or era; I know, I know, Bryson Tiller has an album entitled “Trap Soul,” and I pray his team doesn’t come after me to change the name of this movement. But to understand it we have to dive into the music, which to me made the sonic boom for all our creative and social media outlets to grow and become part of this cycle that propels soul trap to become an outlet in so many ways.
So why credit trap and not rap?
Brace yourself for what I’m about to say next. Trap music is a subgenre of rap but somehow it has evolved and taken on the persona of rock n’ roll. That’s right! Trap music/culture embodies what rock n’ roll once was in American culture. It became an outlet and shifted this mentality of most of the African-American culture to push to be different, unique, and more importantly to rage against the machine, which right now are the media, police, corporations, and pop culture.
I shared this part of my thoughts with a close friend who is passionate about rock n’ roll to see what kind of rebuttal I would get. One thing I asked him was, “What’s up with the current state of rock n’ roll?” Before he could answer, I followed with stating that rock is dead and trap has taken its place. He responded by saying, “I think you should research rock music a bit more before standing by that statement. And yes, rock is dead because no one has anything to be mad about.” I replied, “Well, black people have a lot to be mad about.” This anger has made soul trap the avant-garde driving our culture.
Chief Editor: Jasmine Walker
Additional Edit: Lawrence Locke
This Article is Dedicated to Kennedy Marie Williams.
Shay Will Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaywill/