Think Piece: Ethics and Standards Versus Hit-Pieces in Music Journalism.

by Dustin

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I don’t consider myself a music journalist. I’m an individual who writes about music with my peers for fun. I write because I love music, I love musicians, and honestly, I love the people I get to interact with in the process of putting together articles and interviews. Yet, I regularly find myself feeling furious when checking in on bigger music publications due to the growing trend of hitpiece articles being used as viewer bait. These articles, attempting to undermine public figures, are very often grossly inaccurate. Taking quotes, song lyrics, satiricle works, and the like out of their original context to support imaginary accusations of wrongdoing.

Honestly, it really needs to stop.

I can admit that artists and critics do place themselves into the line of scrutiny – this is an objective truth to the nature to presenting art or discussions on art in a public setting. Of course, you also open yourself up to having your personal views critiqued, as you have now essentially willingly become a public figure. That’s fine. Again, it’s basically part of the gig; however, it becomes incredibly problematic when incompetent journalists lust for attention so severely that they being publishing unsupported attack pieces on these public figures. This has always been an issue in journalism (hate sells), but unfortunately in the past couple of years it’s become the plague of music journalism.

Two cases in particular inspired this think-piece. Susan Edelmen’s attack article on Ka from last year, and Ezra Marcus’ work of the same vein against Anthony Fantano (TheNeedleDrop) from a few days ago. Both authors showed a complete misunderstanding of the individuals they wrote about, yet attempted to spin them into horrible people for the sake of shock value and click-bait. Another similarity is both articles removed context from their “supporting evidence,” turning it into something completely different to give credence to their slanderous claims. Congratulations, you’re both garbage music journalists. Individuals like Susan and Ezra aren’t the problem alone though, they’re merely symptoms of a much larger problem.

The disease itself is the shift away from any sort of sense of a journalistic code of integrity.

Let’s take a look at a few of the generally accepted points that appear in most codes of journalistic ethics and standards. These are sourced through Wikipedia, but if you have access to scholarly journals on the same topic, you’ll find that these are fairly well universally accept. Most importantly in this instance are these four:

1) Reporters are expected to be as accurate as possible given the time allotted to story preparation.
2) Public figures are to be reported on without malice, and reports on these figures should be supported with well understood fact (even in the case of a “smear-piece”).
3) Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance.
4) Show good taste and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity (in other words, shock-bait news is a no-
go).

As far as I am concerned the moment you publish an attack piece that is baseless, you have just discredited yourself entirely as a journalist; moreover, the publications that enable the spread of misinformed works need to be held responsible. These authors are no longer writing in the name of public interest. They’re writing as narcissists. So interested in drumming up attention for themselves that they’re willing to attempt ruining another human’s career in the process without any semblance of a backbone to their work. The outlets that enable these articles to become published for the shock-value draw are equally as disgusting, throwing out any sense of ethics for a few more clicks of ad revenue.

You are killing music journalism. Good work.

I do recommend that anybody interested in holding authors accountable have a look into the standards of journalism. Wikipedia has a really excellent summary page that will give you a general idea, and I think it would really help to form a foundation when it comes to critically assessing whether or not an article is worth giving serious consideration. Individual reputations can be highly tied to what others write about them; even when proven false, slander articles can be chained to someone’s public image for an ungodly amount of time. Be diligent in what you consume, and the journalists you support. If the publications wont hold them responsible, it’s on us to make the effort.

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Think Piece: “End of Days” is Either the Worst or the Funniest Song Ever Released

by Dustin

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Disclaimer: It has been a very slow period for new music releases. This think-piece is a product of that. Try not to take it too seriously.

If you ever went to public school, chances are you knew “that kid.” The one who still ate glue and urinated in his pants at recess in the fifth grade. If hip-hop sub-genres were elementary school students, conspiracy theory rap would be “that kid.” Whether it’s Immortal Technique rapping about his incest-gang-rape fantasies, or Vinnie Paz being himself, this certain pocket of music is an unbridled source of entertainment for all the wrong reasons. While legions of woke individuals gobble up the mass of unsubstantiated facts spewed by these artists, unintelligent sheeple such as myself have the unfortunate pleasure of sitting on the outside and having a quick laugh.

Enter “End of Days” by the aforementioned Vinnie Paz. The magnum opus of ludicrous truther rap, and perhaps one of the funniest hip-hop songs to ever be released.

If you’ve now taken the initiative of turning on the song, you’ll discover that it starts with the hook. This hook is sung by some goon named Block McCloud. Honestly, it’s pretty unlistenable so we’re going to skip over it. All you really need to know is that he’s questioning the average American’s bravery for not believing all the “truth” that Vinnie Paz is about to drop upon us. Let’s educate ourselves, starting from the top of the first verse.

Everybody a slave, only some are aware,
That the government releasin’ poison in the air,
That’s the reason I collect so many guns in my lair,
I ain’t never caught slippin’, never under-prepared.

At this point, Mr. Paz has already invalidated anything he has to say in the rest of “End of Days” by admitting he believes in chemtrails (the idea that the contrails jets produce are actually poison being released by the government for various reasons). If you think about it, this is actually pretty kind of him because it takes out the need for us to do any fact checking. Not that the average Vinnie Paz fan knows what “fact checking” is, but for the rest of us this takes out a very time consuming step.

More importantly however, is that Vinnie Paz is going to protect himself from airborne poisons with guns. Though I am not personally a chemist or an expert in firearms, I am at least seventy percent sure you cannot gun down airborne poison.

Moving on.

There’s fluoride in the water, but nobody know that,
It’s also a prominent ingredient in Prozac,
How could any government bestow that?

Ah yes, you know what else is in water? Hydrogen. You know what else hydrogen is a prominent ingredient in? Hydrogen bombs. Therefor water is dangerous and we should all avoid it. Especially when you consider that all humans to ever die ingested water at some point in their life. Spooky. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how chemistry actually works. Though Prozac’s chemical formula does technically contain fluorine, this is entirely irrelevant to the fluoridation process of water. Who would have thought that Vinnie would make uneducated claims? Oh right, everyone.

Fun fact, wine, raisins, and black tea all contain more fluoride than fluoridated municipal water. I’m sure that’s a government conspiracy too. Big Raisin is trying to control our minds.

That’s not all that I’m here to present you,
I know about the black pope in Solomon’s Temple Yeah,
about the Vatican assassins and how they will get you,
And how they cloned Barack Hussein Obama in a test tube.

At this point I’m assuming that Vinnie Paz realized he actually has zero fucking background on anything he’s rapping about. As such, he’s reverted to just stating that he “knows” these things to sound smart to whatever moron is willing to believe him. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for those Vatican assassins though, I wouldn’t want them to get me. That sounds bad.

At the rate this song is devolving into a caricature of conspiracy theorists, I’m genuinely surprised we’ve not seen a “jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” meme.

Who you think the motherfuckers that crashed in the tower?
Who you think that made it turn into ash in an hour?

Never mind.

The Bird Flu is a lie, the Swine Flu is a lie,
Why would that even come as a surprise?
Yeah, the Polio vaccine made you die,
It caused cancer and it cost a lot of people their lives.

You know what actually cost a lot of people their lives? Polio. The vaccine itself is actually astoundingly safe, to the point that pregnant women and people with HIV/AIDs are allowed to have it with very little risk. Even the oral Polio vaccine only causes complications in about three cases out of every million vaccines administered. Compare that to the absolutely horrendous rates of polio during the 1950s, and it’s clear as day how important the vaccine was. Then again, if you’re taking medical advice from Vinnie Paz, I don’t really expect you to be able to read any of what I just wrote.

Oh, and I’ve had Swine Flu. As far as it being a lie, my three soiled pairs of boxers from shitting myself while vomiting into a bucket beg to differ. 2010 was a rough year.

Honestly, at this point I don’t even remember where I was going with this think-piece. This was supposed to be a concluding paragraph, but listening to the song and reading the lyrics has absolutely fried my brain. I think I wanted to make the case for this being the most accidentally funny song ever released; however, the more I experienced it the more I felt a compulsive desire to shove a railroad spike through my temple. At some point the limescale remover Vinnie Paz drinks for breakfast stopped destroying his vocal chords and started eating away at his grey matter. This is the least professional article I’ve ever written, and I don’t care. I’m too tired from listening to this bullshit.

Fuck Vinnie Paz. “End of Days” is trash. Vaccinate your kids. Goodnight world.

Think Piece: Logic’s “1-800-273-8255” is More Damaging Than Empowering

by Dustin

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I will be upfront and admit that I am not a Logic fan. I really couldn’t care less about most things that Logic releases. He doesn’t make a style of music I care for, but he’s got some talent and he’s usually harmless enough that he’s not worth bashing either; however, there’s something about one of his new songs that very genuinely seemed….worthy of discussion, to put it nicely. The song is “1-800-273-8255”. If the song title looks familiar to you at all, that’s because it’s the number of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Unsurprisingly, that’s also where the song sits topically. Logic on this song made an effort as a celebrity figure to “reach out” to fans through his music, and encourage them to get help with their problems. Now, in theory, that would actually be quite an admirable thing to do. Suicide is a very serious issue, and many are afraid to reach out when they’re grappling with the desire to kill themselves. I was once one of these people, and I’ll be the first to admit that music was one of the key things that helped me pull myself out of the hole and get professional help. Hearing an artist be open about their mental issues on record can be an incredibly powerful experience, particularly if they’re one that you admire.

However, something is severely off with the execution of “1-800-273-8255”. Logic has all the desire in the world to help people on this song, but none of the understanding of what mental illness or suicide actually are. To start, the song is mostly centered around a half-assed concept about an individual calling the suicide prevention line. To be blunt, it horrendously twists the issue to be something smaller than it is. Logic’s analysis of feeling suicidal includes: general sadness, occasional loneliness, and wishing friends would text more often. Basically, “1-800-273-8255” flagrantly tip-toes around the idea of suicide as if Logic was afraid to actually talk about it….when it’s supposed to be a song about not being afraid to reach out for help. Right.

Because of this “1-800-273-8255” felt like an artist abusing the social issue of suicide, stripping it down to it’s simplest (and often flat out incorrect) components, and then casting a wide net so that as many people as possible could relate to it. This is unfortunate, as it presented the opportunity for a major artist to speak on something that close to ten million individuals in the United States alone are faced with on a daily basis. Instead, he spoke about things that seven and a half billion people can relate to, and stamped “suicide” on it as a topic in order to appear as if he cares.

In spite of this, you’d think Logic would have been able to redeem himself on the portions of the song encouraging people to fight through their problems…yet he managed to turn that into a total disaster as well. Telling people that they shouldn’t kill themselves because they might experience “the warm embrace of a lover’s chest” (not verbatim, but close enough) in the Alissa Cara segment of the song is an absolute joke. Logic, people who are in a critical enough mental state that they want to end their own lives do not give a single fuck about the fact that they might one day find someone to share life with. You could have taken a moment to congratulate them on making it this long while coping with intense internal conflict, you could have discussed there being no shame in admitting you need someone else’s help, but instead you chose to trivialize the issue again in a way that makes your single just that much cuter. Well done.

It gets worse.

In a moment of complete and total blissful ignorance Logic drops the lyric, “what’s the day without a little night?” Allow that to sink in for a moment, and then consider the fact that Logic is straight up telling people that if they didn’t experience urges to end their own lives, the good times wouldn’t be as enjoyable. Telling a suicidal individual that they wouldn’t enjoy other parts of life as much if they didn’t have to suffer through endless, suffocating thoughts of self-murder is not tasteful. It isn’t raising awareness either. It is attempting to turn a severe mental issue that takes over your entire being into a positive. You can’t do that. There is absolutely no positive attached to feeling suicidal. Suicidal urges aren’t cute, they’re not glamorous, and you’re not helping raise awareness to how crippling they can be by putting a positive spin on it. You could ignore the rest of the song entirely, but this one line of backhanded suicide ideation is enough to get a sense for how ignorantly grounded “1-800-273-8255” is throughout. And once again, the only really function it serves is a cute little quotable to aid the single factor.

The single factor of a song about suicide.

Suicide and mental illnesses are not the same as feeling lonely all the time. They’re not the same as feeling awkward and out of place. They’re not the same as feeling like nobody wants you. These can be smaller parts of the bigger picture, sure, but “1-800-273-8255” chooses to only focus on them. Logic, you’ve turned suicide prevention into an anthem of easily relatable trite that everyone (particularly teenagers) can relate with. You’ve successfully made a very serious, heart wrenching problem into something quickly digestible and consumable as a single on a major label. Congratulations, you’ve successfully exploited and marginalized suicide for a profit.

Ultimately, this song is a poster-child for one of the biggest issues with how we treat mental illness: lack of education. We do need to be open about these sorts of problems, but we need to approach them with a maturity that this single completely lacks. If you really want to make a difference, do some research. Understand the signs of someone who might be harming themselves, or might be planning to in the future. Be willing to listen when someone opens up to you, and don’t judge them if they opt to receive mental help. If this song did happen to help you, that’s great, but overall we need to approach these things more tactfully. We need to tackle them in a way that doesn’t make those affected by suicide and depression feel like their issues are simple to get through. While Logic doesn’t seem to lack compassion, he clearly lacks understanding, and that is just as damaging.


If you or anyone you know is dealing with depression, thoughts of suicide, or other mental illness, here are some resources that may be of use:

http://mindcheck.ca/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms

http://healthymindscanada.ca/resources/