Ice Cube told me to “Turn Off The Radio”

Before he became a Disney Dad, 90’s Gangsta Rap was defined and influenced greatly by the one and only Ice Cube. Through aggression and controversy, Much of his work with NWA and his Solo work is still quoted today, “Fuck tha Police”, “A Bitch is a Bitch”, the deeper-yet-easygoing “Today is A Good Day”, “Check Yo Self” … before you Wriggidy-Wreck yourself (*nudge nudge* Das EFX), but this week I’d like to draw from a track called “Turn Off The Radio”.

A lot of discussion has been going on in the Radio world, specifically Calgary, regarding the format change at AMP Radio. For those that haven’t heard, or noticed, they are playing MORE songs, but at a shortened length using “QuickHitz”. In some cases, they just cut the song short, in others they rearrange the song, so they can still cut the repetitive parts out, but still keep all the “changes” in the song (ie, verse, prechorus, chorus, bridge).

Anyway, Is this actually a bad thing? As a songwriter/song listener, my initial reaction is HECK YES. They are ruining the songs, changing the arrangement, appealing to the short attention span of today’s youth, and making music feel more worthless than it already has become. If it catches on, this will only make pop music attempt to appeal to this Market and write even shorter, more meaningless songs. Sad day.

On the other hand, I don’t give a shit. I NEVER listen to the radio… except when I’m forced. Neither does most of the people I’ve seen talking about it on Facebook, etc. MY songs don’t get played on the Radio. The majority of people get their music from Youtube, when they want it on their ipod they download the full versions from Itunes. I recall someone referencing the movie Demolition Man, where in the Future the Radio’s Popular station only plays Commercial “oldies”. I’ve been thinking about this for a few days and given the Market of the Music Industry, It’s not REALLY hurting the musicians. They’ll still get their Royalties (potentially even more) and if the listener actually appreciates the band or the song, they’ll pay for it and download it from itunes or get the CD (I’m old, I know), and then go to the Live show when they come to town (Which I hear is where the real money is still being made).

As a sometimes foul-mouthed Rapper, I’m all too familiar with knowing I have to make “Radio Edits” of songs if I swear, or appealing to a certain standard time-limit of songs. Even Eminem’s 6-minute long “Stan” was shortened for the Music Video 15 years ago, and although it seems kinda lame, it made sense. And knowing that this “shortened” song change is happening, I wouldn’t mind shortening something – if I were to get Radio play – as long as I get to shorten and Edit it MYSELF. A part of the issue I’m feeling from this is because in some cases they are changing the ARRANGEMENT of the song, which to me, is an important part in the songwriting process.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of Hip Hop/Rap shows, and it REALLY kinda gets under my skin when rappers only perform the first or second verse of their song and then “BLAM! BLAM!” the DJ plays a gunshot sound and they move on to the next song. It’s kind of the same thing with Radio, and TOTALLY opposite from Rock bands who Jam out at a Live Show for 6 extra minutes with additional acoustic Breakdowns and Solos in their Epic Masterpiece that’s been overplayed on the Radio 4 billion times.

And those saying it’s the “Younger Generations” fault because they have no attention span? FUuuuuck that, You know you have an ADD friend YOUR AGE who would play songs on the Stereo in your Car and switch it to the next one after the first Chorus. So annoying right? Well now Amp Radio is that Friend.

I’m not usually one to Harp too hard about change in the world, because it happens and sometimes there’s no stopping it, for better or for worse. Maybe it’ll catch on, maybe it won’t, maybe AMP Radio will die just like Much Music and no one will actually care. But I know for a fact Musicians will still be making 3-4 minute long songs, College Radio will still be playing full versions, and Pop Radio will still be super snobby about what they decide to play or not play, and still overplay the shit out of songs 6 months past their shelf-life.

I will still Buy CD’s and download the full songs from Itunes and listen to the songs I Like Front to Back.

So here’s what I think…

“Turn off the Radio! Turn Off That Bullshit”

(Thanks, Mr. Cube).

Ice Cube


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