So I was listening to Chris Brown’s song ‘Loyal’ and you know what, it’s the grossest display of romantic dysfunction I’ve come across in a while. It is well known Rap, Hip Hop, and R&B deal with cheating, trust, respect for your partner, and a host of other issues. Indeed these are universal themes in all genres of music. It makes it accessible and easy to listen to, so I’m not going to discuss whether people should be making music that might glorify dysfunctional relationships. The music and lyrical content exists because there is a reality that is being expressed here. And my attention is on the reality that generates a song like this.

Yes, women are looking for men to have material comfort. A home, a car, and a job or least basic stability are prerequisites for most of us, whether you’re a man or woman because it makes for an easier relationship, especially one just starting out. Why add additional stress to a budding romance worrying about how the rent is going to be paid or if the car is going to get towed away by the financing company? Of course another reality is that sometimes people are coming back from a job loss, bad health, or seriously dangerous levels of stress and their material life isn’t quite right, but they’re working on it. Looking for work, doing temp jobs, networking, going back to school, etc. So sometimes you find people in a low, but they’re on an upswing and like all timing in life, sometimes it’s not quite right. But you take a chance to see if it’ll work out because maybe, just maybe, this person is really worth your time and they are worthy of yours.

Which brings me back to ‘Loyal’. The women and the men in this song are not worth anyone’s time. Why would a woman treat you with respect if she’s just a hoe to you? Why would a guy treat you with respect if all you care about is getting great clothes, jewels, and being a bad bitch (which has multiple meanings apparently, but in this case I mean she’s incredibly attractive and can more than likely do a great booty clap. Not the ‘bad bitch’ of other definitions that include being materially independent, educated, and a person of exacting standards.)

But I digress, I wonder about this because what I can not figure out is this a chicken or an egg situation? Specifically, is it disloyal women who created these cynical men or have cynical men – especially rich one’s and therefore more exposed to money grubbing chicks because that is simply a byproduct of exceptional wealth – helped to create cynical women? I ask this because honestly for however much my personal experience matters, myself and many of my friends have not dealt with this sort of behavior in the least bit. Yeah a little game playing, like presenting the best impression of yourself before you let all your crazy out (because we all have a little, lets be honest). And of course we want the person to be pretty fond of us first before we unleash our more negative traits because they’re likely to continue to deal with us if there is a common bond of respect and mutual understanding in the beginning. Or not displaying too much interest, but definitely not wanting to appear too disinterested, so you don’t scare the person off, but keep them coming back for more time with you. What I just described is pretty normal and it’s not morally wrong, it’s how human beings manage to live with each other. The subtle art of manipulation for the greater good, but absolutely not out right lying because then there is no way to establish trust in that scenario and then the relationship is doomed from the start.

If there are people who manage to live, learn to love one another, and don’t play any more games than necessary exist (and I’m saying they do, I’ve met said folks), why then do such cynical songs exist? As long as R&B has been around people have sung about love, the good and the bad. But the bad has gotten a lot worse, just check out the lyrics to ‘Loyal’ in comparison to an oldie like ‘Break Up To Make Up’ by The Stylistics. Both songs ultimately deal with the bad that comes when being romantically involved with another person, but one is about seeing what can be done to repair the relationship and rightly notes that the behavior displayed is foolish. The other song basically says, ‘We don’t have mutual respect for each other and as the guy if I tried to do that for you, you’d just throw it down the drain so why bother?’

The individuals in this song are not even engaging with or expending any energy on a host of things that matter: doing some internal reflection about why they’re attracting users, declining carnal relations with someone unless they show you respect, taking the time to discuss with their potential paramour why you both are trying so hard to stay detached when there are few of us who do not simply want a loving, accepting, and compatible life partner. I’d take on any one of these introspective questions if it meant a little less cynicism in my life and a better chance for real love. And I wonder if these entertainers are doing the same since music is an expression of reality and also helps create reality. So are listeners not engaging in necessary introspection too? Considering the statistics concerning black love [less marriage than the rest of the country, higher divorces rates, higher levels of STD transmission, more children born out of wedlock or even a stable long term relationship, and higher levels of siblings being born to multiple fathers], the answer might be a big fat no.

This is a disturbing trend and I think maybe we should ask ourselves, get a little introspective and even discuss with our friends and loved ones why this is happening. I personally want people to love ‘love’. It’s wild, intoxicating, can sometimes hurt, but mostly just asks you to respect, understand, accept, grow and remain flexible with the person you’ve decided to spend a good portion of your time with. And the type of cynicism illustrated in ‘Loyal’ just doesn’t leave room for any other type of love or affection, but transactional: eroticism for material gain and we all know there’s a profession for that. So if that’s the way a person feels, they should get out of the relationship game and enter the alternative. Everyone’s expectations will be well met in such an arrangement. Ijs.