Music is the soundtrack of humankind, an eternal entity that is recognized within every culture and an important aspect of human interaction and activity. Stevie Wonder, himself even said – “Music is a world within itself. it is a language we all understand”. The Allegory Of The Cave by the late Grecian philosopher Plato talks about the intellectual and emotional revelations human experience within the different stages of their lifetime. Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson through his memoir Mo Meta Blues expounds on his own intellectual and emotional revelations using music to pinpoint certain aspects of his own life.
Plato introduces his allegory as a conversation between Socrates, his mentor and Glaucon, his older brother. On the basis, it is revealed the conservation talks about prisoners that have been chained from head to toe in a cave since birth. They witness the passing of shadows, and assume what they see is the inherent truth. The rare prisoner who manages to break their bondage will ultimately make the choice of venturing forward into the light, or reverting back to the darkness which they were accustomed to.
The individual who makes his plight forward will begin to question what they had seen in the cave with what they see now and as such have a struggle upon their journey. As an overarching message about humankind and nature, it is certainly not rare to see this in everyday life.
Ahmir has endured various caves within his life in which he describes in great detail. Some of his caves include; his religion, his social status among many more.
His social status is just one of many recurring young Questlove has found himself trapped in within the course of his lifetime. “If you take an inner city ghetto where there’s crime and violence and drugs – and there was all that around us – the last thing you think you’re going find a family thats teaching its afro’d four-year-old the difference between Carole King’s original. It’s Too Late and The Isley Brothers version..”(Thompson, 17).
Unlike most children, having been the child of notable musicians, Ahmir had certain luxuries and privileges others could only yearn for. He got the chance to be blissfully oblivious regarding the world around him. Having these privileges led to a bigger cave in that Ahmir had a distorted perception of the world. “I thought living in a Howard Johnson’s was normal. I thought everyone had ice machines in the hall and a swimming pool in the middle of a courtyard. One afternoon back in Philadelphia, I was out on the street with some kids, talking about first class airplane meals or room service or something. And one of the kids on the block looked at me like I was an alien..” (Thompson, 20). The perception of this view all had all stemmed from his musical lineage granting him access to things other didn;t have. It became a cave for the other children because Ahmir’s reality had presented itself as a snobbish attitude without intention.
It wouldn’t be until 1983 that religion became a cave that would entrap Ahmir years to come. Like a veil, it further masked young Ahmir and sheltered him from the “violent” world outside his doors.
His intellectual awakening or his journey outside of the cave began in high school. His epiphany began upon meeting Tariq Trotter. “When my mom worried about the kinds of kids I would meet in public school..”(Thompson, PG 53). Ahmir, like the rare individual began to have challenges accepting the true reality which befell him, looking it at the way his parents set for him. Upon to better
The word “revolution” is descended from the Latin word revolutio which means “turn around” has lost its meaning within the 21st century. Nowadays, the new iPhone or driverless cars are seen as revolutionary and groundbreaking. Following the revolution descended from the 1960s, the 1970s had undergone an immense social revolution. From events such the Vietnam War, the Watergate scandal and so much more.
For many Black Americans, our revolution was in the music. Music has always played an fundamental role in the black identity, transcending just mere entertainment. In fact, it was the underlying catalyst that set the way for the impending 1970s. Prior to the 1970s, negro music had largely consisted of jazz, gospel and spirituals. Songs such as Mississippi Goddam by Nina Simone, A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke transition into I Am Black And I’m Proud. To simply say, the only revolution black music has undergone was its sound is to strip the very songs that fueled the rage Black Americans felt and provided them with a solace a few could quench.
Being born into a society which actively seeks to obliterate blackness from the face of the earth time and time again, Ahmir begins to question his blackness. What is blackness? Why is it despised so much that so much time and energy is invested into its eradication while others happily thrive on the contributions blackness has offered the world? These are just a few of the many questions that erupt within the young Ahmir. For him, blackness is not solely contingent upon one simply being black, but how one chooses to express said blackness through whatever medium. On the plantations the slave masters would take away their slaves d… (Thompson. PG 9). It is a simple understatement to just say the slave master knew about libeerative music could be.
Like for many people, school was and still is a major cave in my life to this day. It wasn’t simply that I was a bullied and shy kid. No. It was the fact my teachers would often remark about me being an intelligent t child, more than often I was the smartest in the class. However, my grades didn’t reflect my “true” intelligence. Grades were the tool that my intelligence was measured. Albert Einstein once said “If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it’ll live its whole it’s life believing it’s stupid”. That quote defined my reality. I had let grades determine my intelligence so much that I nearly ended my life over a simple C in a science class. With that being said, it’s absolutely absurd and assine to believe we could accurately depict and asses one’s intelligence with the grades as tool to do so.
I also suffered from a lack of intrinsic motivation. I felt the material I had been taught become redundant. Not only that, but I felt as I progressed in school, very few teachers and what they taught stimulated my young mind. I’m aware a teacher is not obligated to entertain you. However, entertainment wasn’t on my agenda. I sought for things to challenge the way I viewed things around me. Upon meeting teachers like Ms Muhammed, Mr Suarez and Hayden challenged the way I looked at things. It was basically as if they required my silence and complicity to go Despite all these flaws, I would have it no other way. It was all apart of the universe’s plan of aligning me with a higher purpose. A purpose I couldn’t haven seen at the time, but now I’m ecstatic about tackling whatever is in store for my life Fly like an eagle, for the revolution my dear brothers and sister will NOT BE TELEVISED BUT IT WILL BE LIVE.
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