This is a pretty interesting look at the nature of those musical charity songs we always hear about. The most famous one is probably “Do they know it’s Christmas?” from the BandAid concert many years ago raising money for African famine relief. Or more recently “What’s going on?“, a benefit song to raise money for AIDS research.
Here’s a little sample of the Onion’s commentary on some of these songs. Below is the video to the West Coast Rap All-Stars‘ “We’re All in the Same Gang”.
Thanks to producer Dr. Dre, “We’re All In The Same Gang” is at least better musically than most heavy-handed cause songs. Ignore the words, and you can almost imagine it’s another prime-era N.W.A. track about blasting motherfuckers in the face with a sawed-off while bitches lick your enormous balls. The problem with “We’re All In The Same Gang” is context. Sure, rapping about ending gang violence is noble, but can one song outweigh the blood-soaked and bullet-riddled gangsta mythology that West Coast rap was built on, especially when the video looks about as cool as an episode of Family Matters? While Straight Outta Compton didn’t necessarily influence youngsters to grab guns and start shooting people, “We’re All In The Same Gang” definitely never convinced them to stop.
I do take some issue with it, but seeing as it is the Onion you can’t really take it too seriously. I think that having these guys preach a better kind of message really may have made a difference. Maybe not doing it in this fashion, but it’s been proven that hip hop can help take away from gang violence. Just look at Afrika Bambaata and all that he accomplished. And obviously as we all know hip hop is way more complex than just a blood-soaked and bullet-riddled mythology!
But hell, any song that gets NWA together with Eazy-E, MC Hammer, and Digital Underground has to be awesome.
Still, the Onion has a point. There’s no disputing there is room for some of these fundraising concerts/songs, and they do manage to raise the profile of some of these issues. We just can’t let artists and celebrities get away with letting this be their only contribution to the cause.
[Update:] Oh, and before you readers think it’s just the silly Americans and some of the Brits leading these waves, witness Canada’s contribution below. “Northern Lights.” from 1985. “Let’s show the world that Canada still cares.” Genius.