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