Sometimes I feel like the world is backwards. Well, I should clarify that. Sometimes I feel like the music world is backwards. While I’m no longer the staunch purist I once was, there is still that tiny part of me that will see the “cool new thing” and think “but…this just kinda sucks…”. It’s as if it offends my sensibilities without even trying.
Lately, I’ll see a new video from whatever artist blogs are frothing at the mouth about and it will just kinda bum me out. I mean, people are gonna make the music they gonna make. I tend to blame the fans of bad shit before I’d blame the creators of said bad shit. Really, in 2013, we only have the tastemakers to blame.
As we’ve seen the likes of Riff Raff, Kitty Pride, and Kreayshawn do big things over the last few years, it’s as if the people who set the standards are misleading us.
I know plenty of people who work for blogs, write for magazines and cover music in general. For the most part, these are smart people who actually know about music and have reference points that can be applied to figuring out what makes something good and what makes something bad. You know, a critical ear. It’s similar from knowing the difference between right and wrong. While there is always going to be some grey areas, the basics are pretty simple.
Lately, even these people are willing to sit me down and explain why someone like Kitty Pride is actually awesome. I’ve had people try to sell me on her and why her musics good but they end up selling me everything BUT the music. They sell the idea of her as an artist. “She’s a young girl who just did it for fun…” That’s cool and all but, you know, if the music isn’t particularly good, there’s simply no angle you can spin it to make me think otherwise. I mean…jesus fucking christ…Can we just admit that she’s not good at what she does? And, again, I’m not blaming her. She’s doing what she wants to do. I’m sure she has no aspirations of being a great rapper and I’m sure she doesn’t care the slightest bit about what some over the hill rap fan thinks of her.
She’s just an example of something that is becoming a repeating cycle. Every few weeks, a new “thing” pops up. Sometimes they stick (ASAP Rocky is doing well, Lil B is obviously not going anywhere) and sometimes they flare out as quick as they appeared cause , when it was all said and done, they bought nothing to the table. This is how music has always worked on some level but now it’s done in stop motion speed.
I think part of the issue I take with tastemakers, outside of them even existing, is that a lot of the time they just seem like old people pandering to young people. A whole bunch of motherfuckers trying to hold on to their youth by cosigning what kids like but for a more hip audience. Perhaps they so steeped in irony they can no longer think critically. Who knows? These are the same people who grew up with the music that birthed the type of music that birthed the type of music that birthed the spin off of the music that birthed the type of music that got rearranged into the bastardization we see today. What I’m trying to say is that they know better. Some of the hip hop shit that bloggers hype up gives me the same feeling as if I saw that someone who used to write about the Beatles started hyping up Linkin Park. It simply doesn’t connect.
As a rap fan whose been into this since the 80’s, it’s sometimes hard to separate myself from judging things how I used to. I’ve learned to appreciate things I might have shunned ten years ago. Part of that is simply caring less and not taking music so seriously (I actually highly recommend this to all of you out there). For example, ASAP Rocky is a rapper who, while I don’t love , I get it. He’s got something. An intangible quality that makes his music listenable. Riff Raff, while a total joke, is at least interesting. He’s basically a living , breathing internet troll in music form. I can appreciate that. I’m not about to bump his mixtapes but I’m also not sitting around stewing over his success.
But there is a line. A line that gets crossed all the time. And why, you may ask?
I may not be the right guy to say this but , lately, I’ve been feeling like white people are just getting a little TOO comfortable. Be it the artists themselves or the people who try and dictate what’s the fresh new thing. I just imagine some white dork leaning back in his chair , with a cigar in his dorky mouth thinking “Now is MY time”. There was a time when there were repercussions for being wack. You’d get dissed. You’d get made fun of. Now, it’s as if people will overlook the meal and just focus on why the chef cooked it.
I see videos like this:
I know nothing about this dude. He could be a great guy. But, come the fuck on…I realize the model of hip hop as I know it is dead. That’s fine. I think there is still good music being made on a regular basis. But this is simply not okay. Now, luckily for us, this guy isn’t exactly “the next big thing”. He’s just a dude who made a song that I don’t like. That’s fine. I wish him the best. The fact of the matter is, while this song is easily as good/bad as tons of shit championed by tastemakers, he simply doesn’t fit the criteria. But then you got shit like this dropping and I get nervous:
Now, I’m not a dude whose on all the blogs so I don’t know if this is a “thing” yet. But I feel like it’s only a matter of time. They are the rap equivalent to TaTu. At least that seems to be how they’re angling themselves. Truth be told, the rapper isn’t even bad (well…she’s not great but she can at least kinda flow). Compared to Kitty Pride, she’s fucking Rakim. But still…it just feels like any heat behind this kinda thing is so obviously based on them being who they are (attractive girls of a questionable age that rap about cute girly shit and dress a certain way) as opposed to the actual music. I think this issue I have all comes down to me thinking “Okay, i get it…but who really listens to this?” Like, who is sitting in their car bumping a song like this when they are alone? I feel that way about a lot of music but that feeling is even more intensified when it comes to flavor of the month blogger darlings. I almost feel like no one really listens to it…they just say they do. Maybe I’m being naive and short sighted about it (after all, I’m not exactly cued into what the kids are loving nowadays) but still…
I don’t know who assigned who to be tastemakers. I don’t know who took formerly keen critics of music and forced them to dumb down their standards to pander to a growingly stupid fan base but all I want to say is: Do Better. You guys are better than this. I know in my heart of hearts that you’re not so far gone that you can no longer see things for what they are. Please…you’ve got a strange type of power. There is no shortage of actual good music. Please apply this power towards that and let these flash in the pan jokey musicians turned internet celebrities just fizzle as they should. Please. I beg of you.
That is all.
Oh, and as an aside, I’d like to give props to this dude Anthony Fantano who runs http://theneedledrop.com/. He’s never reviewed anything I’ve worked on (as far as I know) so this isn’t biased like that…but he is what a critic/tastemaker should be. He’s thoughtful, slightly over analytical, honest and passionate about music. I may not agree with everything he loves and hates but , even when that’s the case, he at least makes a strong case for his point. Go peep his reviews. He the model in which todays internet music nerds should be built from.