Nah: On Pop Culture and Parenting

On most days I am a bit of a musical snob. I’m content to listen to music via Pandora or playlists composed of songs purchased on iTunes from the smaller circle of artists I deem worthy enough of my money. On my commute to work I often listed to lovers rock. While cooking I put old R & B on at full volume, reliving the glory days of groups like  EWF,Jodeci, Dru Hill and Boyz II Men. My daughter usually watches and laughs as I use my favorite spoon as a microphone and give her a concert that she did not ask for.

However occasionally I feel that I should venture outside of my musical comfort zone and give newer music a try. Last week I came across the following video on YouTube:

After one listen I was feeling it. Seeking to find similar songs I created a new station on Pandora based on The Weeknd. I truly should have done more research, for my like of that station and the songs it generates came to a screeching halt on yesterday’s drive home.

Last year the grammar snob in me was quite irritated with the ubiquity of the phrase ‘or nah’ on social media. However I had not actually listened to the song “Or Nah” by Ty $ prior to yesterday. You can hear it yourself below:

Now at my age and level of maturity I cannot be hypnotized by a beat.  So the opening lines of “Or Nah” had me like:

And once the song concluded this was my reaction:


I know, I know. I’m not the target demographic for such songs. This is a different generation and I simply won’t be able to understand them. I’m also aware that my critique and distaste for it echoes that of my elders twenty years ago. I am slowly beginning to sound like my Mama and Grandma.

But the attitude displayed in “Or Nah” and in the weird, hedonistic genre that modern Urban music has morphed into does not give me pause for myself or my peers. It makes me worry for my daughter. As a parent I know that I cannot protect her forever. She knows that the likes of Ty $  and company exist in the real world, but it is my earnest desire that she never be in an environment where such males are part of her circle.  One of the few things that would make me pitch a fit and abandon my calm, earth-mother style of parenting is the idea of my daughter dating anyone with the mindset of these ‘artists’.

The ideas about love, sex and marriage(or rather the lack of value of marriage) of the younger generations frightens me. Some of my African friends, enamored with the intellect and grace of my daughter, jokingly suggest that our families meet in fifteen years and discuss a union. It’s all fun and games now. But when I  imagine the society that my daughter will walk into as an adult(assuming she chooses to live in the U.S. once she graduates college) I can’t say that I’m completely against the idea. I’m aware that whether or not she marries and/or bears children will ultimately be her own decision. But if she decides that she wants to do so, I am adamant about the pedigree of any man she deals with. I can’t bear the thought of my daughter being around men who have not been raised to value women and family;men who think a woman’s only function in life is to cater to them;men who view women as faceless sex objects. We will continue to raise her to value herself highly. And if ever propositioned in the crude, disrespectful manner shown in that dreadful song her reply will be ‘nah’.


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A native Seattleite and East Coast transplant, I have been interested in politics, religion, and race from the day I saw “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” on the bookshelf belonging to my BFF’s mom back in 1991. While my zealotry has thankfully diminished with maturity, I remain the deep thinking, passionate, and humble woman I have always been.

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