QOTD – Do you listen or hear?


Sidney Deane, who erroneously espoused that all White Men Can’t Jump, while constantly reminding us he was the greatest, vehemently avowed that white people cannot hear Jimi Hendrix.

White people listen to Jimi, but they don’t hear him.

The act of listening, in this scenario, is to allow the sound of music to create the background noise to your life.  To hear, on the other hand, is to connect emotionally, philosophically, spiritually, culturally, or personally with the music.

Rap music used to be something to be heard and not simply listened to.  Just ask Chris Rock- it used to be easy to discuss rap music on an intellectual level.  It used to be easy to explain the art behind groups like Run DMC and NWA.  It was easy to explain the social protest behind a song even if it was flipping a bird at law enforcement.  Anymore?  Maybe not so much.

The fact that a Gangam Style was one of the most popular songs of its year while only having three words in English might tell you what people tend to look for in music anymore.  Drop that beat and make it catchy…

But there are some gems out there if we listen close enough.

The other morning on my Teacher Twitter, I tweeted, “I wonder how many people bumping Magna Carta/Holy Grail have no clue who Basquiat is”.  This is in reference to the song Oceans which contains the chorus: I hope my black skin don’t dirt this white tuxedo/Before the Basquiat show.  The response on Twitter was silent.  In class a group of students asked what a biscuit show was.

Is it imperative we all know who Jean-Michel Basquiat is?  Probably not.  It is, however, interesting to think about how many rapper, hop-hop artists, street poets make allusions and analogies with strong political or social implications that go completely unnoticed.   It is interesting to contemplate why Jay-Z refers to himself as the new Jean-Michel in a song titled “Picasso Baby”.

From humble beginnings to fame impossible to sustain, one burned out in flames, the path’s been one in the same.

QOTD– When you listen to music do you listen to the tune, the rhythm, and the melody or do you hear what the artist is saying? Or are you just like Crosstown  Traffic?  So hard to get through to you.


FREEBIES – check out the videos for a little background on this discussion, or just for fun.

Chris Rock annotated at Rap Genius: http://poetry.rapgenius.com/Chris-rock-i-love-rap-music-annotated

Jay-Z “Oceans”

8 thoughts on “QOTD – Do you listen or hear?

  1. I can’t dance well and I don’t play any instruments. When I listen to music, I listen to the lyrics. Most of the time I search for the videos that have the lyrics on screen so I can read the ones that the music drowns out. I even watch most TV and movies with the captions on. Lyrics that are written well have their own flow to them. You can read the words and make a tune in your head. For me, it is all about the lyrics. The lyrics don’t even have to be deep. I like catchy music as much as the next person but for me catchy music is equivalent to clever lyrics. My favorite thing to listen to is freestyle rap- no hooks, a semi generic beat, and a lyricist rocking the mic. Can’t beat it.

  2. Whenever I Listen To Music, I Usaly Dont “Listen” To It In The First Place, I Just Like It Being There. Like When I’m Doing Something And I’m Listening To Music, I Forget What Was Playing 30 Seconds Ago. I Also Love To Put On Live Streams, I Don’t Know Why But It Feels Nice To Have Someone Talking While I’m Doing Something, Its Less Boring That Way.

  3. I listen to the bass and lyrics. If it got great bass and the rapper is keeping it reall i’m probably going to listin to it a lot

  4. when i hear music, i usually listen to to the rhythm. Other times, if i have heard the song a lot or i am only listening to the music, i understand what the artist is saying. But usually i listen to the rhythm

    • what type of rhythm grabs you?
      what makes a good rhythm?

      do you literally me you understand (i.e. can hear and comprehend the words) or that you connect with the lyrics and understand the artist’s views?

  5. .When i listen to music i listen to the tune, the rhythm and of course what the artist is saying. I like to hear the meaning in a song so if i can relate to it then i can listen to it more or show someone thats feeling how im feeling and have them listen to the song to see if it makes them feel better. when im in a sad mood i usually listen to slow songs or songs that have a sad meaning. when im in a happy mood i listen to up beat song i listen to songs that makes me go skydiving. and when im mad i listen to songs that have a mad meaning a song where i can feel comfortable listening to while im in any of those moods.

  6. There are two types of music I listen to; Music that really is just for the background, it fits the mood of the situation but that’s pretty much it, it keeps the silence from gnawing me down to a maddened husk. The other music is what I really listen to, I connect to it, draw it into me and ignore everything else focusing exclusively on the music.

  7. When i listen to music, i like to focus on the rhythm, tune and words of the song. Usually when i play music, i like to listen closely to the words and meaning of the song to see if i can relate to it in some way.

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