I see myself as a music junkie. For years now I’ve taken a lot of pride in that. I even see myself as a music connoisseur of sorts. Hip-Hop & R&B music of course, but generally speaking I’ll say urban music in general because these days they consist of a lot of different sounds. I’m so much of a music junkie that I have a policy when listening to music of genres that I’m not familiar with. My policy is that I’ll give it at least one good, honest, and unbiased listen. If it’s good, I’ll rock with it, if not, to the trash it goes. We as individuals, especially of the urban community, we have to support our people and actually purchase music we deem to be good. So I’ve broken down my thought process on this into a few key points.
If you like it cop it… I mean why not? You plan to give it more than a few spins. You like the music, or the artist, or who the artist is affiliated with. There’s obviously something about the music that’s drawing you to it. Spend the money and buy it. You don’t go to a store, see some clothes you like and steal it; you buy it. Now think of the amount of money you spend on clothes you don’t even wear for long periods of time. Clothes that you might wear once and forget about. They cost way more than the amount of money you’ll spend on a good song or album.
Support good music… Now I know this is subjective, but the point remains the same. You like the music, so it’s obviously good to you. Why sell yourself short, and go through the pains of looking for a link when you can just hop to the app in your phone and purchase it. If you’re stuck in the old age and your phone doesn't have those features, walk into a store and buy a hard copy. It’s all the same. Computers have these same features by the way.
By now almost everyone has heard the Kendrick Lamar song (for those who haven't press play above)...it's really Big Sean's song but Kendrick went so hard and said so much that most people forget about Big Sean and no one even listens to that other guy that had the last verse. Sorry Jay Electronica just sit this one out.
I want to address this song and what Kendrick said before I move on though. First Kendrick is a great artist and one of my favorites right now. I think what he did is great for hip-hop. Sparks competition and breathes some fresh air into the game. I feel like it's enough of a shot to spark some controversy but not too much, just the right amount. It's enough of a shot to inspire some rappers that may need some inspiration especially in my lovely city of New York. It packs enough punch to warrant a response yet not so much that we're scared that people (the rappers themselves or die hard fans) will take matters into their own hands to settle or create a non-existent beef between artists. I would feel some type of way if I was Big Sean though. I mean Kendrick could've did all that on his own song. Once again Jay Electronica, please sit the one out.
However, I think there is something lying beneath the shadows and hasn't been addressed by anyone yet. Not to my knowledge at least. Kendrick Lamar is from the west coast, California to be exact. He said he was the King of New York which was already reaching but understandable given the premise of his verse but really though....wait for it...he's not even the best in California. In my opinion, the best rapper out of California right now is...wait for it...Nipsey Hussle. Disagree with me all you want but you're not changing me mind on this one. Yes, I know he hasn't put an album out yet but that further helps me prove my point if you really want me to get into it.
On to the meat of the issue though (I just had to get that off my chest real quick) which is the state of hip-hop. I personally love the state of hip-hop. It's very refreshing. What is refreshing about it to me is that there are a lot of different type of rappers. Granted for every type of rapper there are those that out class the others in that particular type.
The most refreshing thing for me though is that it seems like it's becoming more and more cool and acceptable to rap about subjects other than guns and being a gangsta. Take 2 Chainz for instance, he's one rapper that just raps about money, girls, having fun, and looking fresh when the feds are watching (pun intended). He makes what I call happy music. That life's good and I'm happy so I'm going to go turn up music.
Leading the pack of all current rappers right now and it's not even close is Drake. His music is by far the best right now in every aspect of rap (content, delivery, lyrics...etc) and that doesn't even take into consideration the diversity of the music he makes. He's definite the leader of the pack and he knows it saying things like "niggas be wanting a verse for a verse but that's not a swap to me." He knows he's in a class on his own and I am eagerly waiting for him to drop another gem of an album this fall.
Not too far behind Drake is J. Cole (one of my personal favorites). His second album was definitely better than the first. It has way more substance to it. Sounded like an artist that's definitely in touch with the game and himself. Also, listening to J. Cole is sort of a type of motivation for myself. Here's a guy that went to school and has a college degree but what he wants to do in life has nothing to do with his college degree. I can definitely identify with and support that.
Being the music connoisseur that I am it pains me to say that I haven't really been up on a lot of the new artists out there. This wasn't more evident than during the MTV Video Music Awards. There were certain people who won awards and I didn't really know them. The music sounded vaguely familiar but it wasn't as familiar as I felt it should to get the award it did. So I'm in the process of brushing up on my new artists. Something sparks my attention and I'll probably write about it.
In other aspects of hip-hop there are a lot of people besides the ones mentioned already that are bringing a breath of fresh air to the genre. Rick Ross right now is the equivalent to a perennial all-star in the game. I'm really happy to see the success of Wale. Even happier that after he joined Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group he didn't flip the switch and go mainstream gangsta like a lot of artists do when the get affiliated with a certain group of people. Big Sean is doing his thing. I'm really high on CyHi from G.O.O.D. Music as well. Pusha T has by wrapping about the same kilo of the finest Colombian for over 10 years now, he needs some new subject manner. His lyrics are still fire though.
Believe it or not I'm also really high on Trinidad James. He's in that 2 Chainz category of rappers to me. He also seems like an artist that knows his lane and isn't trying too hard to be what people say he's not. Chief Keef is boo boo powder. He only gets a spin when I'm in turn up mode, on my way to the club, and I don't really care what is being said on the record and I'm just vibing to the beat.
For older artists...Jay-Z did his thing once again. Real cool grown music in my opinion. Lil Wayne makes what I call funny music. I listen to him just to get a kick out of what new clever way he's going to say the same things he has already said before. It hilarious to me. Kanye is still controversial as always, but when you're widely recognized as a musical genius, you can do the type of things that he does. T.I. to me is the equivalent of a savvy veteran. Dropping gems and collecting checks. I'll put the Juicy J in that category as well.
So all in all I'm loving hip-hop in 2013. If there's anyone or anything that I missed and you would like to add to this please feel free to comment and let me know. I just downloaded a whole bunch of Macklemore too so I'm about to see what he's all about because he was all over this year's MTV Video Music Awards.
Mixtape artwork for The Weeknd's Thursday
This is another post that is inspired by music. The song in this case is The Zone by The Weeknd featuring Drake.
What stuck out in the song to me and inspired me to write this post is the line where Drake says:
“she said make enough so I can try some, I thought taking drugs just ain’t you, be you...., yea girl, just be you...”
This brings me to the subject of this post...Being Yourself.
Now I could go on and on about how everyone should be themselves and try not to be someone else but that would fall on deaf ears because not only have we all heard this countless times but also not everyone views this subject the same way. I’m going to stick strictly with my opinion and views of what being yourself is and what it entails.
For starters being yourself is very important to me. Originality is everything. Granted with nearly 7 billion people in the world there are bound to be countless people that are similar to or even nearly identical to you but they’re still different. Even twins, born in the same house, raised by the same parents, eat the same food, around the same people, and even in some cases live the same life still manage to be different in their own way.
To me, being yourself is staying true to your nature. It’s embracing your shortcomings whatever they are, and working to be better. It’s knowing your strengths and playing to them instead of trying really hard to hide your weaknesses or just be different for the sake of it.
Being yourself to me is understanding that you will be influenced by people around you both far and near, but being yourself to me is also knowing that this will happen and accepting the responsibility that comes along with it. That responsibility is to pick and choose what you’re going to let affect you and what you won’t.
One thing that we’re blessed with in life is the ability to choose. In my life today there are people that I choose to emulate. Not because I want to live their life, or because I want to be like them but because I want to better myself. I choose to emulate and be influenced by them because they have achieved or in the process of achieving something that I want or similar to something I aspire to get. That’s where I think the thin line is. In my emulation of these people I don’t do exactly what they do, I just see what they do, see how it applies to me, and then do something similar but not exactly the same thing. Something similar to this I think is reading those self help or motivational books that help you get rich, or be a better investor, or things of that nature If you read those books and do exactly what they say, my opinion is more often than not you’re going to be disappointed However, if you take the key points and ideas from then apply them to your endeavors, you’re more likely to see results.
I vs. Me
For me, being yourself does not include trying to be different also. I think trying hard to be different just solidifies the notion of not being yourself. I say this because an individual's effort to be different means they’re looking for a way to stand out by looking at what’s out there and doing the opposite.
I think to be yourself you have to look within. Dig deep. Find out what makes YOU happy. From activities, to that special someone, or even passions. Whatever it is you CHOOSE to do, do it because that is what YOU want to do it, not because you see someone else doing it or that’s the popular thing to. This doesn’t mean you can’t try something and like it and as a result keep doing it because it’s now something you like, but by the same token it doesn’t mean that you see someone doing something that you know is not good or wrong but you do it anyways because everyone is doing it. For example, someone asks me to join them for a round of golf and I've never played golf before. After trying it out it becomes I do from time to time when I get a chance because I enjoy the activity. Now contrast that with being asked to try some drugs. I clearly know it's not good for me, but I do it anyway because that's what the 'cool' or 'popular' thing to do is.
Simply put I think being yourself is the same thing as writing a research paper without plagiarising. When writing the research paper, it’s okay to use someone’s idea or an idea similar to someone elses, but where you get in trouble is when you don’t cite the sources from which you got said idea from. I think this is the same thing with being yourself. I think you are being yourself as long as you as an individual recognize that you’ve been influenced by certain people, both good and bad, but used that to formulate your own identity and are doing things your own way. This is what I think being yourself encompasses.
What do YOU think? Did I leave something out? Do you have different views?
Just chillin' listening to music...the usual
One thing that those who are close to me know is that I'm a music head and that doesn't even begin to describe the type of relationship I have with music. At one point in time, before my old computer crashed, I had over 15,000 songs on my hard drive.
I don't know exactly how it all started but the earliest I can remember is when I got my first computer in high school. All I did was download music. I used all of the money I could save up to buy something or anything related to music. Those things ranged from Walkmans, to CD players, even the very first iPod. To this day when it comes to my music, I'm willing to pay a few extra bucks to make sure that I get the best or close to the best music accessories to enhance my listening experience. Even when I got my car, the first thing I did was upgrade my sound system.
I even listen to music while I'm working.
I'm so engrained in music that some of the relationships I have with my good friends got started or got strengthened because of the same or similar music interests. Some even got strengthened because either one of us introduced the other person to new music. My personal favorite is when we both see something in one artist that we believe the general public doesn't seem to see. Two examples of such relationships are as follows:
Of course I can’t forget the part of music that makes you think and makes you wonder. I love songs like that because it gives me a different point of view on certain issues (the first song that comes to mind when it comes to music that makes you think is the song “Why” by my favorite artist Jadakiss). I also have a soft spot for songs that seem to have the perfect words to describe what it is you’re trying to say or have been trying to express for a while. A perfect example of that can be seen all over twitter today. A lot of people tweet lyrics and of course some of it has nothing to do with nothing, but there are some that just seem to hit home. Some express love, despair, tragedies, and success or in the words of Charlie Sheen “winning.” These artists just seem to know how to put the right words together to describe exactly what it is they’re talking about. It’s like they make it so that you can identify with them. As of right now I think Drake takes the cake when it comes to that.
I couldn’t talk about music without addressing how it affects me playing basketball. I think this is when I feel the effects of music the most. On days where I feel down or just out of it, I listen to hype music (that’s what I call it) to get me going. Hype music for me is usually fast paced, heavy bass, and overall lives up to the name and hypes me up; it gets me going. Some other days I’m already really hyped up and I feel like I need to dial it back a little bit so I can better concentrate on the task at hand. In those times I listen to slower paced and soothing songs, but one constant theme in all the songs I listen to before I step on the court is success. I make it a point to try and stay away from songs that talk about things other than succeeding. I don’t know what it is, I guess I just like the energy talking about success brings.
Finally, I’d like to talk about my music test. By the way this is strictly my opinion but I’m sure there are people out there that would be inclined to agree with me or see where I’m coming from with this. In my opinion, the true and ultimate test of a good album, mixtape, playlist, any compilation of songs, or sometimes even a single song is how it sounds in the car while you’re driving. If I can’t listen to it while I’m just riding around and gettin’ it (cue 2 Chainz!!!!) then I think it’s not that good or just flat out bad. An album that has passed that test and has that stamp of approval right now is Nas’ recent album Life is Good. I have it on in my car right now. I don’t skip songs at all I just let it play. Whenever I leave and come back I just pick up where I left off and when the album ends it starts right back over.
In conclusion, I think that pretty much covers all the bases as far as me and my relationship with music. However, I have a few questions that I’d like to get some feedback on.
Is your relationship with music anything like mine?
What do you think of my music test? It’s not crazy or weird is it?
What is your music test?
What is your process of deciding if a song, playlist, mixtape, album, or music compilation is good or bad?
When is your favorite time to listen to music? (I don’t have a favorite because I listen to music all the time)
I have a lot more but that’s it for now.