Do you watch Family Guy? Do you watch NBA Basketball? Do you read fiction books? Do you play video games?
How come you can sit down on Tuesday night and watch The Wire reruns on demand but someone else can’t drive to the mall after work and listen to Dem Franchize Boyz? Who decided that television can be fiction but music can’t?
Fans of music, specifically urban music, have this fascination with what other people listen to. For some reason, fans of “real hip-hop” (their term, not mine) tend to think they’re part of a higher power. They feel they’re listening to what everybody should be listening to. Beats, hooks, melodies, catchiness, flows – none of that matters. When it comes to hip-hop, apparently it’s all about the lyrics.
And heaven forbid those lyrics are about money! No. They must be about “the struggle”. Even if the artist isn’t struggling. Because that’s what’s real.
My wife watches Real World and Dancing with the Stars. Nobody calls her an idiot. Nobody calls her sheep. Personally? I don’t like those shows. I don’t see the point. But they keep her entertained, so who am I to argue? I sat there depressed for nearly two days when Derek Jeter hurt his calf on his way to 3,000 hits. Did his calf affect my real life? No, baseball is just something that keeps me entertained. But because of that, it was important to me. But to a person who doesn’t watch sports, it was completely irrelevant.
And that’s the point. Music, like television, is entertainment.
There are people who watch CNBC or Bloomberg Television all day to get the latest on the stock market and world news. They watch these networks because they talk about subjects that are relevant to the world. Does that person have the right to tell you that you should turn off Seinfeld and watch Squawk Box because it’s more real? Would you like someone calling you simple or a follower because you watch television for entertainment instead of watching documentaries to learn? Plenty of people feel like Entourage is nothing but a time-waster, the same way many of you feel that listening to Soulja Boy means you don’t understand “good” music.
Music is personal. We relate to artists. We hear a song and somehow connect it to our lives. We believe that the artist knows exactly what we’re feeling because he or she is expressing our exact thoughts in music. So when that artist makes a song that we can’t understand, we feel like that artist has betrayed us. Along those same lines, we feel that any fan of an artist who doesn’t reflect what we feel doesn’t understand us either.
Music is more personal than television. Music can provide a soundtrack to our lives. Music is actually very much like sports. We connect to teams. We live and die Yankee baseball. We enjoy Seinfeld, but we don’t live and die with it. Fans are passionate about teams the way they’re passionate about artists. Often, that leads to a blind eye. A Red Sox fan will seldom acknowledge the flaws in their team, the way a fan of an artist will ignore an artist’s shortcomings. Sometimes, a fan connects so deeply with an artist’s words that they’ll completely ignore the deficiency in production, mixing, melody or choruses.
A Nas fan says Jay-Z sucks because he talks about money and his lyrics aren’t deep enough. A Jay-Z fan will say Nas sucks because he often chooses shitty beats and can’t write hooks. But then Lil Wayne fans will say neither of them are as good as Wayne because they don’t have the same energy or “swag”. Guess what? None of these opinions are wrong, just like none are right. It all depends on what you look for when you turn on the radio. Everybody has a different objective when they listen to music. All opinions should be respected.
Not everybody wants to listen to music to be educated. If you ever watched a comedy show or read a fiction book, then you should automatically lose your right to complain about those who choose to listen to music solely for the beat and hook. Be open-minded. Realize that your opinion isn’t right. It’s no more important than the millions of people who pay to listen to Wacka Flocka Flame’s new single. Music is opinion. Music is feeling. Music is whatever you want it to be.
Just enjoy it.