On Saturday, July 8, I stood in the Frontier Field outfield, one of the roughly 4,500 people making up the MusicFest crowd. The vibe was up; everyone was enthused. I was surrounded by children --- little kids, 7 or 8 years old at best --- having a great time, dancing and bobbing to the DJ playing Busta Rhymes' pre-show set. He scratched. He demanded that Rochester make some noise. He mixed popular hip hop and r&b hits.
The audience seemed familiar with the DJ's selections, including the lyrics. All of them.
These words blew through the music's rapid-fire delivery like hand grenades. And even though the last expletive is one of my favorites, I winced as I listened along with the moms and kids.
I had already deemed the little girl balanced on the barricade next to me a threat. Between her poppin' 'n' lockin' and fist-pumping, it was just a matter of time before I got a black eye from one of those pointed little elbows. Gosh, she was cute, having a great time, singing along loudly to Shawnna's "Gettin' Some."
"Gettin' some head, I was getting' some head," she shouted along with her friends.
Do little girls know what this means? Should they?
Understand: for more than half my life I've adhered to rebellion and entropy with a decidedly contrarian stance. I embrace aspects in art and culture that confront and challenge, incite, and destroy. I'm a disciple of rock 'n' roll who adheres to the Sinclair mantra: "dope, chaos, and fucking in the streets."
So you'd think I would've been thrilled. Here was the moral decay I had preached about, prayed for, and encouraged, manifesting before me at a so-called family event in an ugly display of vulgarity. Like I said, you'd think I would've been thrilled. But for some reason I just felt sick.
It got worse the more I dwelled on it. This was a city-sponsored family event --- but you can't blame the promoters entirely. These children already knew the words. So finger pointing can begin at home, I suppose.
I dwelled on it some more. It got worse. MusicFest promoters are to blame. The parents are to blame. But I'm to blame as well.
How is the excess and slack morality paramount in rock 'n' roll any different? How is, say, Ted Nugent's "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" any less offensive than "Gettin' Some"? A conflict began to emerge within me, my sense of moral and musical superiority fading. In my rebellious attempts to circumvent restraint and social norms, is my anarchy killing innocence as well?
Putting aside all opinions on the low- or high-brow aspects of this music, it still has its place and relevance. Everything has its time and place. Besides, the majority of the MusicFest line-up was poppy and fun and well-suited for a wide range of ages.
And despite my socially leftist leanings and trouble-making streak, for the most part, I'd like to think I'm a responsible adult. I don't have kids, and if I did I wouldn't take them to see Ted Nugent, or to a hip-hop show for that matter, and act surprised when the profanity started to spew. But then again, if I did, and my little darlings already knew the filthy words, I'd freak.