Up Late Bumpin’
It’s late… very late for me considering I am used to getting up at 4am. I just turned off Enya, which I was putting my son to sleep with, in favor of… 2Pac. Did I just hear a needle on the record? Work with me here.
Rap, or Urban Folk music as I like to call it, was something I was not accustomed to listening to up until about 6 years ago. It was a highly misunderstood genre that I shrunk away from. I had previously found it abrasive to most of my senses. I couldn’t understand half of what was being said because to my untrained ear it sounded mumbled, rumbled, grumbled, or simply too fast to be English. I gave up with little interest.
Then, as life would have it, other than; jazz, soul, and R&B it was all I was allowed to listen to for 6 years. Go figure. But the interesting thing is that when I had someone to translate or “break it down” for me, I found that I liked quite a bit of it. Just like every genre it has its shallow end of the pool, but the six foot end is quite enjoyable. Perhaps enjoyment came from working otherwise atrophied muscles to stay afloat. I had to earn the understanding and so, gained appreciation.
As much as I would love to name names, it would be difficult for me to narrow down a list to just a few artists. There is so much range from artists like Missy Elliott to Little Wayne that it is overwhelming to say which one should be the beginning of your exploration. OK, Snoop. I have mad love for that man’s voice of smokey velvet. He can make crass sound like classical; put me right to sleep on an urban pillow of yum.
Ponder this: every type of music has its own form of ignorance. Not one genre escapes it. This being one of those ipso factos, wouldn’t it be ignorant to dismiss rap as ignorant? To those who can’t appreciate it on any level, even if it is just an academic level, I have to question just how sheltered a life you have lived and how sheltered you wish it to remain. Like the music that explored the human condition of the 60’s and the 70’s, rap gives many of us the rare opportunity to delve into the inner city perspective from the safe confines of our Pottery Barn caves.
If one has the courage to dive deeper, the kind of deep that would support plunging off of a high dive, rap gives a raw and unapologetic look at our most primal feelings as they circulate unfiltered in the seclusion of our mind. Embrace the suck! Experience our least celebrated, but experienced daily, characteristics through music. Our culture is so enraptured with wrapping “ugly” up in designer paper and embellishing it in custom bows that we easily fall prey to the saccharine and superficiality that makes up the rituals of our daily life.
Too many times I have found my eyes sting and prick a bit at the surface understanding of the daily challenges of an inordinately large part of our society. Other times I find my chest tight with painful comradery. Sometimes I just need to hear someone keeping it one hundred about just how painful love can be whether it’s familial, romantic, or in the context of friendship. Other times I just need to hear someone have the courage to talk about how exposed the human condition can feel, no sugar added.
If this is an area of the musical playground you have avoided, take a minute to dip your toe in. Odds are you already have by turning on your radio. But if you want to feel some real exhilaration grab hold of your nose, ball up your knees, and cannon ball into some 2Pac: All Eyes On Me. It’s like listening to a pool party of talent.