If there’s one thing that’s been on my mind lately even more than before it is the relationship between content and context. At the risk of sounding boring I am gonna briefly explore this relationship in order to make it as plain as I can.
Ok we all know what content is, you buy a coca cola and the content is the drink in the can, you have a conversation with someone and the actual things being discussed and information shared is the content of the conversation, you hear an eloquent speech from say Obama and the actual message, points and ideas being expressed is the content of the speech.
I used to think that content was king, I still do believe that the content of something is one of the most important things but in this information age I’m beginning to feel context is just as important if not more important than the content of something depending on the situation.
In this information age, content and context rule. Any content taken out of context loses it true meaning and any context with no proper content is empty like a can of coke with no drink in it or like an eloquent speech or sermon going on and on with no real substance.
So what is context? Ok let me explain by looking at something going on. If you’re into rap music you would be aware of the Lil Kim vs Nicki Minaj battle. So Lil Kim drops a diss “Black Friday” going at Nicki Minaj and “calling her out” for being a clone and biting her image and style. I saw all the older hip hop heads get happy that finally someone is putting the overhyped Nicki in her place but my view is that in this battle, Lil Kim will lose without Nicki even needing to respond with one direct bar, why? It’s all about context. In the music business right now the business side is more important than the music (that is context is more important than content right now, style over substance, sales over skill, image over depth) and it’s all about numbers, sales and who is buzzing right now, it’s all about perception and who has the image of being successful and “relevant” which nowadays really means “hot” or currently popular. Nicki has all that right now. Apart from all this, Lil Kim will only come off as appearing, desperate, washed up and envious of the current hot lady rapper, that’s the context the content of her diss track is framed in. I mean her last album was almost 6 years ago. If you lose in the battle of context you lose in public perception no matter what content you are dropping. This is not a rule just an observation.
So what IS context? A dictionary definition is: “a set of circumstances or facts surrounding a particular event or situation” Another example can be drawn from how people use The Bible. Folks like to quote Leviticus 19:28 to say “it is written” that it is a sin to get a tattoo but they miss out the verse 27 above it where it talks about not shaving your beard or sideburns or also in that same chapter not mixing fabric (see Leviticus 19:19). I mean come on, if you’re gonna quote a law and push for it to be a rule for all then you’re gonna have to quote the rest and not pick and chose according to your own personal preference and prejudice. It is so convenient to quote a verse out of context to justify one’s own opinion but it doesn’t always make what you say a rule for everyone even if the content of what you’re saying is lifted straight from The Bible. I guess this is why it is written “the letter kills but the Spirit gives life” just following the letter of scripture can kill your spiritual life because it can only make you legalistic, judgmental, self righteous, hypocritical, picking out scriptures to create rules and regulations at your own convenience which doesn’t necessarily lead you into a life of faith in God’s grace and a walk of love and humility talkless of true righteousness and holiness.
So if you’re a content creator of any kind and nowadays we ALL are, (I mean what do you think you’re doing on twitter and facebook all day? You’re creating content with your tweets and facebook status updates among other things you upload!) try to understand the context within which you operate, to not do so could be fatal because in this information superhighway content and context rule like king and queen. When you see artists with no real content or substance being hyped up understand it is because context is taking pre-eminence (who is producing them, who is featuring on their project, are they co-signed by big names, are they endorsed by big name brands, which label are they signed to? How many youtube hits do they have? Are they on 106& Park? Are they on Tim Westwood’s show Etc etc) understand what is going on and keep your eyes open and don’t believe the hype! To me balancing and understanding the relationship between content and context is my aim. I think that’s how to stay relevant in whatever field you’re in.