Campus needs real musicians, not corporate MTV puppets

Chris Kok

Kent State students paid $21,068.98 for Ryan Cabrera to play a Lupus awareness benefit show on campus last week. While I have no problem with trying to raise money and awareness for Lupus, I have a problem with paying so much for Cabrera to play.

Cabrera is a pre-packaged media creation mass produced by MTV. He has the same boring sound that is constantly recreated, cut to three minutes and then propagated through the airwaves on the demands of his corporate producers, not the listeners. Rather than being known for amazing talent or pushing music in a new direction, Cabrera is more famous for dating a brain-dead lip-synching pop star.

Culture is spoon fed to society, and this is not right. Society should create grassroots culture, rather than having culture forced upon it by the very small minority in control of the media.

American society is becoming increasingly homogenized. Travel from coast to coast, and you can eat the same food (Burger King, Applebee’s.), drink the same coffee (Starbucks) and shop at the same stores (Best Buy, Wal-Mart.). The malls all tend to have the same stores. Where is the variety?

Listen to the radio, and there are usually the same standard choices: pop country, pop rock, easy listening, classic rock, hip hop and R&B. These stations, first of all, don’t reflect the entire spectrum of music, and secondly within their respective genres, they don’t reflect the entire spectrum of that genre.

Take classic rock for example. Led Zeppelin released eight full studio albums during its career, and yet I doubt there are eight Led Zeppelin songs in regular play on the radio. The same can be said for Pink Floyd or Jimi Hendrix, and as someone travels across the country, he or she hears the same songs on the different radio stations. Even the DJs sound the same.

Cabrera is playing into this homogenization of culture. He and other MTV-spawned “musicians” are profiting by limiting the scope of culture. They have sold their souls to the devil for fame and fortune. Currently I can only think of one musician who sold his soul to the devil and didn’t harm society through it: Robert Johnson.

Robert Johnson was a famed blues musician who, according to legend, sold his soul to the devil in order to play the guitar. At least when this happened, major media conglomerates were merely a sparkle in some monopolist’s eye. Instead of having a major corporation that could make Johnson a star without talent, Johnson had to prove himself to other blues musicians at the time. Thus, the devil actually had to give him talent.

Rather than paying for cookie-cutter musicians to come to campus, we should be bringing musicians who actually took the time to create something new. Musicians such as Medeski, Martin & Wood, Les Claypool, Del tha Funkee Homosapien or Blackalicious would provide higher quality music and culture for this campus. These are just a few of the musicians who gained their fame by developing complex music and new sounds, not by selling out to MTV. These musicians are not a part of the homogenization of society.

So with our limited money at Kent State, let’s find something new, not something forced down our throats by media monopolies.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].