21 June 2009


I'm planning on highlighting more music on my blog soon (check for some upcoming "Heavy Rotation" posts), especially now that a few good people sent me some recommendations.

I find myself listening to rap less and less nowadays. The knee-jerk response to this would be to attribute the cause to my ever-increasing age, and that I've ceased to relate to much of the subject matter in today's mainstream music. True, I've moved out of the MTV demographic -- I haven't watched a "music*" channel in about three years -- but I haven't missed it, with the exception of videos on Golden-Age Yo! MTV Raps and Rap City on BET. (Nowadays there's not much on either of those stations that holds my interest for longer than a few minutes. Food Network and HGTV, on the other hand, are another story. Design Remix? Hollaaa!)

This might seem strange, considering I still write and record rhymes every now and then. You'd think I'd want to keep up with what's going on in hip-hop on a daily basis. Yes, I still read blogs and Websites dedicated to the science of rhyme. I still keep an ear glued to the street for any news on my favorite MCs and upcoming rappers of note. But the truth of the matter is, I've found that rap can only satisfy a portion of the needs I have as someone who keenly loves music. For me, rap serves a handful of main purposes:
  • the release of aggression
  • appreciation of lyrical dexterity, wordplay and wit
  • the art of storytelling
And that's all I really needed from music for a long, long time. I enjoyed the occasional listen on Top 40 and dove headfirst into mainstream R&B during college (essential research for throwing house parties every few months), but my interests stayed centered on rap. It was the first musical artform that I truly felt connected with and loved, and I couldn't get enough of it. And that's how I liked it.

I used to buy a ton of rap and R&B CD maxi-singles (remember them?) solely for the remixes. During parties, I loved being able to flip it on a crowd and bump a sick remix of whatever was popular back then. Many of the extra tracks on the R&B singles were dance/house-type remixes and I really didn't pay too much attention to them at first, but it wasn't too long before they invaded my brain and I was putting them in my personal heavy rotation. It wasn't bad at all.

A couple of years after that, I happened upon C89.5 in the car, station-surfing in between CDs. As I'd already been semi-introduced to deep house, it wasn't much of a stretch to listen to their playlist. From there, I discovered the myriad forms of trance. 90% of my musical diet still mostly consisted of "bars and hooks", but my palette was slowly expanding. I welcomed the change with open ears.

Today, I can say that I listen to a ton of different kinds of music, although I'm the first to admit my tastes lean toward the urban/electronic aesthetic. The artists currently in my iPod (which I swap out on a regular basis) include A Fine Frenzy, Tiësto, Bosques De Mi Mente, The Ting Tings, Redman & Method Man, Slowdive, Pretty Lights, Scarface, Röyksopp, Emily Wells, Blu & Exile, Sade, GZA, Imogen Heap, Shinichi Osawa, The Blue Seeds, Miles Davis, Björk and RJD2. Maybe it is because I'm getting older, but different genres cover so much more of the emotion and mood that I look for in music now than just in rap. So there's still significant hard drive space devoted to the verses, beats, punchlines and metaphors that I love, but on some days it just doesn't quite fit. I'm confident, however, that something else will.

What's on your iPod?

*I put music in quotes here because over the last decade, MTV -- as well as VH1 and BET -- has steadily decreased airtime devoted to actual music. But you already knew that. They're more like "lifestyle" channels now.

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