Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Music Class" 1: Music Resolution

“New Years Resolution”

     The saying goes that “it takes thirty days to make something a habit” but it took me half the time; however, it was made so easy for me. Changes don’t occur over night so for the people that believe that on the 31st of December they are going to up and stop something come the 1st of January, they are highly mistaken. Therefore, I started my resolution a bit earlier to ensure I got all the possibilities of relapses and failures out the way so I could be consistent by the time the New Year came around. So for the last two weeks in 2009 I reprogrammed all my radio stations, both at home and in my car, to more alternative, pop, rock or any kind of music stations. I had made up my mind that for the year 2010 I was going to stop listening to Hip-Hop for at least the whole year. Many thought it was ludicrous, impossible or even an interesting resolution. Nonetheless, I was determined to leave it behind for a year to see what would become of it when, and if, I returned to it. I would say that over the past four to five years I have become discontent with the genre’s overall current direction and so I decided to explore any other genre that had more sustenance for my recent insatiable mental and emotional hunger with which Hip-Hop had left me. I was on the search for a palpable energy that could once again provide a visual sound, synesthesia if you may, that spoke relative to real life as Hip-Hop once did for myself and plenty others.

     In all defense, I LOVE Hip-Hop; It’s become a force that has ebbed and flowed through every fiber of my being such as my mind, personality and life. An art form that started out local yet has now reached out and touched many others from different walks of life. It has touched the world in a way that may be unimaginable today to the original creators up in the Bronx. A best kept (ghetto) secret now displayed for the whole word to peep it (Nas’ “Carry on Tradition”  3rd verse). Many may typecast Hip-Hop as black music. But I don’t believe Hip-Hop is about race, color, selling drugs, being the toughest bravado-ist (my made up word), machismo or even about the expensive superficiality and worldly goods that rappers display and covet. The music is about oppression and struggle which we all go through in some shape, way or form and if it just so seems that the music speaks louder to a certain race or color than that is a different story.

     Hip-Hop was created at the latter end of the Civil Rights Movement, in a time when a people were struggling with mental and social oppression, poverty and their own people falling victim to crime, incarceration and drugs. It was created in a time when people were looking for a way for some to express themselves artistically and for others to build awareness of the struggle that was going around in their neighborhoods in hopes that change would occur if the powers that were would listen. It became a political platform of sorts for some but also a medium of release through self-expression and having fun for those that wanted to temporarily or simply forget their woes. Hip-Hop and the culture became a type of escape; a type of drug.

     Hip-Hop spoke about people’s ills and what was going on around them. They weren’t making it up or utilizing it as an engine to propel hate and more crime. Instead it promoted awareness (Fight the Power by Public Enemy), unity (Queen Latifah's U.N.I.T.Y), self-respect and plain old fun (Humpty Dance by Digital Underground). The music was influenced by the life of the people creating it. They say that art inspires life and life inspires art and now its gotten to a point where the music is more so inspiring people’s way of life rather than the other way around. I feel that some, not all but a majority, of the Hip-Hop music has become very bland closer to toxic and deconstructive in the way we, more so our youth, think and in turn conduct ourselves which goes against the art form’s original intentions. The music is filled with “Etch A Sketch”/Cookie-Cutter Label manufactured personas of more non sens-ical (my other made up word)  bubble gum pop lyrics and gimmick filled hooks and songs about partying, drinking, getting high, money, fly, and females (Stack Bundles’ Freestyle 1 and Freestyle 2 explain it best). It has gotten to the point where I can’t even turn to “Gangsta rap” and soundly believe even half of what is being said anymore. There seems to be a range from minimal to no balance in the music and lifestyle; people are either partying their lives away or are being the toughest dudes killing and selling drugs in the streets. Hip-Hop seems to have lost a lot of its originality fueled by passion and color within the past half a decade with the exception of a few old and new artists still maintaining the motivational “IT” factor that has brought it this far. These very reasons are why I decided to give it up for a year and see what I come across. And I must say that I have found some substance. I found exciting new and old music; from classic oldies to new music of today destined for classic status. Therefore, I want to share today, in Music Class, just a couple of the songs that I have enjoyed and that have gotten me through the more recent summer months. Hope you enjoy and get as much, if not more, life out of them then I did.

In order of audio appearance to my ears:

Travis McCoy feat. Bruno Mars “I Wanna Be a Billionaire”:
Possibly considered Hip-Hop? but who didn't appreciate this song? Who couldn't relate? It brings you to a temporary escape and feel good place of entertaining the different things we would do with these potential billionaire pockets..

Paramore “The Only Exception”:
I've like Paramore since they first dropped especially the small girl with the powerful vocals, Hayley Williams, and her red/orange hair. This was a more softer ballad type tone for Paramore then their usual Rock sound that they are known for. Therefore, I appreciated the successful change up along with its substantial lyrics.

Mike Posner “Cooler Than Me”:
I love this song! Because whether its been in the NYCity or out in the Hamptons, us guys have come across the blond headed-trust fund-daddy's "lil princess" girls that cover up their insecurities with "high nose" (you're lesser than me) looks, designer frames, expensive clothes/bags and cars. The girls that think they're better but probably wouldn't be able to hold an intellectual conversation to save their savings accounts. Well played Mr. Posner. *Got to love the Detroit Red Wings jacket too, FIRE!*

Bruno Mars “Just the Way You Are”:
Ever since "I Wanna Be A Billionaire" I've been following Bruno Mars, I like his sound, very soulful and different.
*Lately, I 've been seeing plenty of people with the Fedora, preppy yet unkempt V-neck look even on females, which I must say is pretty sexy when pulled off.*

The Script “Break Even”:
Such power and passion behind Daniel O'Donoghue's voice. He wields a voice and soulfulness that resembles a cross between Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke; He even resembles Mr. Robin a bit. The song is true to the "T", "when a heart breaks, it don't break even". Not only are the lyrics substantial but they are super-par with lines such as "They say bad things happens for a reason/But no wise words are gonna stop the bleeding", "I got time while she got freedom" or "You got his heart and my heart and none of the pain, you took his suitcase, I took the pain"... Very powerful song!

The Script “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”:
After "Break Even", I became addicted and had to make sure that there was more to his group then just a one hit song and I was right; there is more to them!

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