In search of music that makes sense, that means something for the artist and the listeners and which is different from what the masses listen to, I found this video with a mere 1.8m views which is miniscule compared to any new video by the famous pop artists, Selena, Rihanna, DJ Khalid, and others which receives 1.8m in the first few hours of release itself. In a world of Snapchat and Instagram filters, Stephen is an artist in the truest sense of the word. For the ones who’ve heard his songs and people in general who are wondering how on Earth is Snapchat and his music related, well, they’re not but I will use them to create an analogy for what his music is all about.
You only need to hear one song, not like he has released many anyway, to realize how his music is different and show how society works, and what his music means.
“Heaven if you sent us down, so we could build a playground,
For the sinners, to play as saints, you’d be so proud of what we made.
I hope you got some beds around, Cuz you’re the only refuge now,
For every mother, every child, every brother,
That’s caught in the Crossfire”
In the video he portrays a society which is blind and oblivious to what’s happening around them even though, they are living their normal lives. The scene is set in a flea market, where people are selling groceries and takeout in a poor part of town. Everyone is blindfolded with a white cloth, but the one who blindfolds them is shown as the devil, it represents the high ranking officials and the filthy rich of the society who do not want the world to see what’s actually happening.
‘For the sinners, to play as saints’
Stephen’s vision is portrayed perfectly in the devil. He himself is shown as dark and full of darkness, but the blindfolds are white, like a filter on life. So everything seems right, and in its place, just the way the devil wants you to see.
One guy is trying to show everyone what the reality is, with a fire torch in his hand. With the light of the torch, he’s removing the blindfolds so the world can see. Meanwhile, a police officer is shown as blindfolded but chasing the devil. So the law & order IS TRYING at least, to fight the corrupt and everything that’s wrong in the system but he takes a shot and catches the actual saint with the torch. Good people getting caught instead.
All this is from a perspective of a little kid, who is then blindfolded by the devil at the end of the video.
Since then he’s released two more versions of Crossfire Part II  & Part III , on similar lines but covering different aspects of society.
Sincerely yours, Stephen
Stephen has a blog which has excerpts from his diary I think or maybe it is his whole diary. He has been an introvert all his life and he was insecure about his music, even after getting praise from a lot of people. That is why it took a long time for him to actually release his music.
“Criminals aren’t inherently bad people who need fixing, and innocence doesn’t make you a good person.”
He has confessed to being a criminal when he was young. Criminal is a strong word for what he was, and it has been made into a strong word by the society. He says that our generation was misled. From a very young age we are told to fit in, make friends, go to college, pass with flying colors, and work in a job that we don’t love, so we can pay back the debt that was taken to pay for the education and that job in the first place.
People who think there is right and wrong in the world really need to open up their minds, I think. If there was right and wrong and everyone could see it, this would be heaven. If stealing is wrong, is it still wrong when a poor father is stealing to feed his kids because the government doesn’t help? There is only your right and wrong, and there is my right and wrong but there is no universal right and wrong.
In the process of growing up, people are always following their own created, maintained, and evolved ethical values. I used to consider myself ‘a good guy’, in the sense that I would not cheat on someone, I would never steal, and I would never hurt someone on purpose and many more things like this. A couple years later and some days, it’s hard for me to look at myself in the mirror. There is Hope however, because I know it in my heart that even though I’ve made mistakes and done terrible things, I have learnt and I’m a better person because of it. And I know that in my purest form, I’m still that good guy.
Swipe right, Netflix and chill?
Still don’t get the Snapchat reference? Don’t Simon Sinek, a motivational speaker, explains everything that’s wrong with social media and how millennial youth is growing up with sources of instant gratification. There is a hormone, called Dopamine, in our bodies which is released when we feel a sense of satisfaction or achievement, as in sex, success, winning a game or sport, things like that. What’s wrong with dopamine is that it is addictive, and a like on Facebook or Instagram and a quick snap of your friend releases the said hormone which satisfies the receptors in the brain. Giving a sense of euphoria, of which we can not get enough.
So for a millennial, to get that hit is pretty easy. Even shopping, you want something, you head to Amazon and it arrives the same day. You want to feel pretty, post a snap or post and get instant likes and reaffirmations of something that is not even real. Dating, you don’t even have to learn and get past the barrier of breaking the ice. Swipe right, Netflix and chill?
If you’re smart, you might be sensing a pattern here. All these things are short lived, they cannot guarantee long term peace of mind. Job satisfaction, strength of relationships, breaking emotional barriers, getting over your fears, these things take time and effort, it does not happen instantly but the impact and consequential benefits are also long term and affect your life in a positive way, and in a way that it should.
Depression didn’t exist until a couple of decades ago, why? Don’t you think social media has an impact? Elvin Jakinda explains the impact of social media in a spectacular fashion in an answer to the question, ‘What is something that needs to be said?’ on Quora.
“There are girls who get 1000+ likes just for waking up in the morning. And the people that like these pictures are seeing these girls as pixels on a screen, not as people.
Hot girl. Like.
Hot girl. Like.”
There is hope though, take Quora for example. ‘Social media with a twist’, in Elvin’s words. People there are pretty, rich, even celebrities but the only thing that matters on Quora is what their story is. You don’t judge someone by their profile picture, or even with what they have to say. Every story that people share is just a small part of their massive life, and people do realize that. It is very inspiring for the reader and the writer and the asker all at once.
Personally, I deleted Snapchat a few months ago, along with Tinder and Facebook (still using for sharing travel stories but not as much as I used to). I turned off blue ticks and last seen on Whatsapp years ago and I can’t tell you how peaceful it feels. I urge you to try it for a while to see. Not see anything in particular, see everything that’s happening around you. Like Prince Ea would say, Look up!
“Music was the crane that pulled me out of the machine, and now that I can see what’s happening, I want to pull you out too. “Sincerely” is my invitation to the ones who are ready for change, both within themselves and within their country.”
EDIT (22 Jan 2018): Christina Sarich explains how to get your dopamine fix in healthy and positive ways, you will find yourself relating to at least some of them if not all.