Archive for the ‘Music Culture’ Category

Music promotes diversity, and there’s a place for all of it in this world. It’s a global form of expression, irrespective of race, culture or geography. It’s an art fueled by passion and creativity. It’s inspiring, healing and moving. But that seems to be a thing of the past. Like people, music evolves and changes over time. Nowadays though, music has changed so much that is has completely lost its meaning.

Maybe it’s a generation thing; maybe today’s artists are bored and can’t find anything to sing/write about, so they find anything to sing/write about. The Beatles reached such great heights when they did because their music promoted peace and love in a war-torn planet. Musicians were making statements, standing up for what they believed in, using their creative energies to tell us how they felt. But the current generation of musicians is part of a society that is so driven by money and excess. Every career decision is based on profits, while the quality of music takes a back seat.

Maybe it’s the Internet’s fault. A couple of decades ago, social media wasn’t even a term, and now everything revolves around the online world. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts are used to keep fans in the loop, along with YouTube and Vimeo. As a result, people care more about Kimye, than Kanye’s music. You hear less and less about a musician’s work, and more and more about their personal lives (ie who’s dating who, etc) This generation of musicians lives off social media, and knows how to use its power to their advantage. As such the quality of their music suffers, because everyone (themselves included) pays less attention to it, so what we get is (at best) decent karaoke singers with no appreciation for the art of music:

Take the recent Twitter feud between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj. Synopsis: Minaj felt shortchanged because her video wasn’t nominated for some award (even though she was nominated for other awards) and she blamed it on racism towards black female artists. Her track “Anaconda” did have millions of views, but here’s a thought: maybe people watched it because of its shock value, or maybe because of how much it resembled porn. Swift, who sings about ex-bfs and ex-bffs, took the Tweet as a personal attack, then they argued about feminism, then everyone apologized. Petty and narcissistic, not to mention, don’t they have anything else to talk about?

Recently, rapper Meek Mill accused Drake of not writing his own lyrics, which lead to a rap beef between them. Instantly, Drake (or his ghostwriter) put together not 1 but 2 diss tracks to claim the throne in this battle. But when 2 people got shot at his after party, he goes silent for days. Maybe because his PR people told him to, maybe he didn’t know what to say. But how about you rap about that, Aubrey? How about you use your mega-super-ultra fame to address that, instead of (having your ghostwriter) post a blog about it. If he’s revered as one of the best rappers of his time (so lucky Tupac isn’t around anymore,) why doesn’t he prove it and actually say something?

Maybe it’s the fans’ fault too. We eat up the drama too easily. We salivate at controversies, so those in the music industry don’t actually have to care much about their music. They can rely on auto-tune, image, production tricks, and other cheats to make themselves appear better, so why bother putting in any hard work, when they can take the easy way out? Because we let them get away with it. We let them make money off sub-par material, because our expectations for quality music are so low, even mediocrity stands tall. This Rihanna track is a perfect example: here’s an incredibly talented artist capable of so much more, but decides this is what she wants to use her success to say. Where’s the substance?

I get it. There’s enough crap and misery going on in this world, not everyone wants to hear about it in the music they listen to regularly. I also get that music is subjective, so I’m not saying every artist has to be dark and brooding, or that every musician has to make political statements or start some sort of revolution. I’m even okay with fun songs designed to make you dance in a club. But just because a track has a dope beat, that doesn’t give it the right to be about nothing (ie “Turn Down for What.”) I’m just asking for a little more effort on the musician’s part to make music for the love of making music; not because they need even more money than they already have. Their music should make us feel something, really feel something inside; it should mean something. But only a select few artists (like these guys) are doing that these days.

Music today doesn’t require the same amount of artistry as it once did. Anyone can be a DJ, all they need is a laptop. So many musicians sample beats from older songs, and just put a new spin on it. It’s like there’s nothing left to make music about, except there’s so much left to make music about. Musicians aren’t musicians anymore; they’re just fads. The majority of the current generation of musicians don’t seem to care though. They have so much reach, so much influence, so many people paying attention, ready to listen. But they use their voice to make money instead of making a difference. They no longer create art, because they don’t have to. That’s why music’s dead.

Advertisements

Summer is the time for music festivals. The great outdoors, the sunshine, the fresh air – all perfect conditions in which to enjoy some live music. I’ve already been through the types of people you see in the crowd at a concert, so here’s a look at the unique characters you may come in contact with at festivals.

Dehydrates – young teens who love the idea of getting hammered on $18 beers in the dead heat, while watching their favourite band tear it up on the outdoor stage. Here’s a tip for you guys – drink some damn water. Otherwise, you will either faint, puke, get the spins or all of the above. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need to be a mature 30-year-old to understand this concept. Water is the new beer, kids, water is the new beer.

8540647429_76995ae051_o

Loyalists  – these guys are hard core. They’ve likely come to the festival specifically to see the headliner. So they come super early, park themselves at the front of the crowd and stay there the whole day, watching band after band after band they don’t care about perform. They stand a lot. It’s hard for them to get food/water because then they’ll lose their place. They’re on a mission and are pretty successful – caution to anyone who tries to squeeze in front of them.

8933529867_08853ac134_o

Recorders – having an SLR camera with an tripod doesn’t make you cool. Having/using a selfie stick will only cause injury when used in a crowd of thousands. Recording an entire set with your smartphone ruins the experience for anyone standing behind you because all they see is your phone screen – so put it away. Here’s a thought: try actually absorbing the experience instead of documenting it. If you take a minute away from hashtagging, I’m sure your 2 Twitter followers will understand.

concert-phones

Water Hose Guy – I’m not sure if this guy is hired by the festival, or is just some random fan. His role is to take it upon himself to determine when the crowd needs to be soaked by a current of cold water spewing out of a ginormous garden hose. Girls squeal excitedly, boys cheer because what’s better than being in wet clothes for the rest of the day? (note the sarcasm). Why is this guy allowed to decide when people need to be drenched?

28274717_c4d0323824_o

Anti-Hygienics – okay, so I get that being in the summer heat all day can be taxing on the body. I get that sweat happens; that it’s inconvenient to bring a toothbrush with you; that you have no other choice but to use outhouses. But that doesn’t mean you abandon all sense of hygiene. Take a shower before coming; brush your teeth in the morning and bring gum/mint to freshen you up during the day. For the love of God, use hand sanitizer. There’s already enough body odour floating around, why must you add yourself to the mix?

Ultra-music-festival-week-1-miami-fl-2013

Hippies – generally female, I use the term “hippies” loosely because no one who attends festivals are actual hippies: they were all born in the wrong decade. They prance around with their braided hair, ultra high-waisted denim mom shorts, flower crowns, crop tops and complete lack of common sense.

Future_Music_Festival_2013_(8541725920)

Hipsters – generally male, they sport thick beards, skinny pants, vintage kicks, and of course, large-frame glasses. They’re there to be cool, but they don’t care about being cool, so they’re just there ironically. They’re not actually enjoying themselves, but just came along to make fun of the whole experience, whilst documenting the entire thing on Instagram.

8251901645_af5dc6c3e5_o

I started this blog nearly 5 years ago, with the intention of educating people on new music,and exposing them to sounds they may never have heard otherwise. The idea was to diversify, explore, get to know other perspectives; expand our minds so our thoughts don’t get stunted. I jumped into this full force, afraid that too many people were settling for only what was put in front of them. I wanted to show that it’s okay to be critical about music, and to demand better quality.

Music isn’t as polarizing as it used to be, and now more than ever, it has found a way to come together. Rap mixes with rock; hip-hop with country. It’s all over the place, and just goes to show that music really is just one sound interpreted in different ways, different styles. Musicians are more open, more accepting, more willing to experiment. They understand that working together is more effective than apart. I, too, have learned the same thing. As much as I have criticized a lot of music out there, I’ve realized there’s a time and place for everything. Moreover, music is incredibly subjective – there is no wrong answer (unless you’re a Chris Brown fan.)

One of the benefits of writing this blog, is not only myself learning about new music, but also figuring out how to explain it to people. Why I like/dislike a certain track/artist. Why one sound resonates with me more than another. It helps me organize my thoughts, form opinions not solely based on subjectivity, but also backed by facts. It’s a way for me to express myself, and it gives me a voice. Now I write this blog as much for myself as I do for others.

I’ve always been a music fans for all kinds of reasons, and writing about it is something I can’t stop doing. It’s become this obsessive passion, that I need to fuel whenever I can. That intense need, or desire, to put my trains of thought on paper, eventually led me to put together and publish my first book: Stan’s Jams. It revolves around music and how it plays a role in anyone’s life. It draws on the universality of music, and was inspired by how I feel about music.

Scan Jan 2, 2015, 11_05 PM

The response to this project has been overwhelming. Never would I have imagined that so much positivity and enthusiasm could have come from this; people I barely know, excited to read what I wrote. People paying money to read what I wrote. People enjoying what I wrote.

When you create something out of love and passion, it shows. People can feel that beautiful energy and respond to it; I have to admit, it’s quite humbling. I didn’t write this book for fame and fortune; I did it for me, for music, and for anyone else who understands its importance. For those who have encouraged, supported and helped, I thank you a million times over.

What’s next? My goal is continue to write this blog, regardless of how many people actually read it. I want to continue to write about what interests you, so I’m always open to suggestions, comments, etc. I also plan to start a series called “My Date With” in which I deeply examine a past musician’s work and share my thoughts on it. Someone who I never really got around to listening to when they were big, and so will play catch up by immersing myself in their music. Stay tuned for that.

In the meantime: