The movement away from original storytelling as a cornerstone has made it so that podcasts may replace my hip-hop
I have been subscribed to some sort of music streaming service for as long as I can remember. I think it’s amazing that for the cost of one album a month, we get to enjoy an unlimited amount of music, podcasts and even stand up comedy. Most people find that too expensive, and would rather listen to music on YouTube. On YouTube, if the music is uploaded from an official source then the artist and their affiliates may receive some royalty payments for the advertising but that’s about it. Streaming isn’t much better with the artist and company only seeing fractions of a penny for each stream. This all leads to one important question: If you get what you pay for, what happens when music doesn’t cost us anything? Is music quality deteriorating as a result, and is hip-hop the number one casualty?
I remember as a young teenager asking my mom to get me Eminem’s album, the Marshall Mathers LP, without disclosing much about the artist other than the fact he was named after one of her favorite candies. Saving up lunch money and being forced to pick which album to buy made it all more exciting. I would burn the CDs onto a computer and make a brand new ultimate mix CD with all the best songs from my collection. Creating the perfect playlist was truly an art form. I would put the disc in my portable CD player, which I kept in my school backpack. Eventually the disc would stop skipping and I could make out the words. These words would construct a story that would give you chance to learn something or get to know someone on a personal level. It could be a story of struggle, success, or in the case of Eminem, all round hilarious insanity.
This nostalgia attack of the “good ol’ days” is not to say that personal lyrics no longer exist in more modern hip-hop. It definitely still does – though maybe not as much in popular hit singles (see Bad & Boujee). My main point is that REAL music, like most art forms, should have a personal touch of originality. After listening to an artist’s entire album you should have a better understanding of the artist as a person. A good examples are J. Cole’s 2011 track titled “Lost Ones” where he talks about having a baby with a girl when he is ill-prepared. The song explains vividly the thoughts going through both his head and the expectant mothers. Kendrick Lamar has been critically acclaimed for this ability to provoke so much thought with his lyrics. They are genuine thoughts on the part of the artist and it is this authenticity that resonates with the audience.
After becoming disillusioned with the lack of new and original content in the form of music I have turned to listening to podcasts.
For those of you still not very familiar with podcasts, they are basically recorded conversations. Sounds boring right? Not so – if you listen to the right ones. Some of my favorites are the Joe Rogan Experience and The Tim Ferris Show. Both of these guys are very interesting guys and I would suggest doing your own google searches. In order to have an entertaining podcast you should include guests from different walks of life with very interesting stories to tell. This is the same ingredient that made so many of us fall in love with Hip-Hop to begin with. It is all about the stories.
Though externally it may seem like we are all so different, once you get someone to talk about their genuine human experiences we find a strong sense of relativity between one another. Listening to 2pac rap about how re-invigorated he was after surviving a robbery that nearly cost him his life or listening to Nas spit bars about his ideal woman in “Cherry Wine” has the same magical component as listening to the story of a journalist who survived a near death experience while scuba diving in a ship wreck or tuning into a lecture by a sex therapist that explores the deeper emotional connections of sex.
It’s the HUMAN COMPONENT. Knowing that others face difficulties and achieve success just as we do, gives us a special connection to the art.
Check out this list of 10 of my favorite songs:
A Must Have List for Music Lovers