As someone who suffers from dyslexia and ADD issues, I can always appreciate when something important gets through this battlefield that I call a skull and teaches me something that I can hold on to for the rest of my life. Sure, I've had teachers who have cared about me, parents who loved and nurtured me, life experiences that have molded the masturbatory existence that I call a life. I cherish all of those influences, but Hip Hop, believe it or not has taught me a plethora of lessons.(And no, and one of them is not sliding a credit card between a strippers asscrack Ala the Nelly "Tip Drill" video.) From my rapping days when you never knew who was going to suddenly battle you, it taught me to always be prepared and stand up for myself. From a fan standpoint, and someone who cherishes real lyricism, it taught me to have pride in your own work, and not respect anyone who doesn't.(ex: Wack MC's, people who use ghostwriters) Because of critics ranging from piss poor politicians to my own parents, it taught me loyalty, because if you are a Hip Hop fan I'm sure you have defended said art-form more than one would like to admit. Which brings me to the best lesson of all, since most critics who blast Hip Hop are grossly misinformed about it and put every rap act into one barrel, it has taught me to give certain things a chance and not blindly criticize without the proper research. Here is a look at various forms of music, some I know, some I didn't have too experienced with at first, and the final conclusion that I came to.
Country and Western: To be totally honest, up until a few years ago I didn't think much about Country and Western music. As I kid I knew about the standard big names, Willy Nelson, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers, and the only reason I knew about him is because I specifically remember telling a girl "You gotta know when to hold em'" when I was trying to influence her to give me a hand-job. I also remember as a kid seeing these commercials, you know the ones where artists would peddle their music with the songs scrolling down the screen, and seeing men named "Boxcar Willie" and "Slim Whitman" and laughing for minutes because of how ridiculous they looked and sounded. But as time passed and I got older, became more familiar with the music in general, and my band opening up for about a thousand country bands in every shit kicking bar you can imagine, I have a certain respect for it now. When you think about it, hate to be so simplistic about it, but its just "white blues" in a certain sense. I'm not the biggest fan of pop country acts like Shania Twain or the Dixie Chicks, or that Bush apologizing, jingoistic bastard Toby Keith, but I respect country, even though I currently have the same number of country albums as I do Kobe Bryant rap records. Zero.
Rock: Being a child of the 80's, where most kids were exposed to MTV form it's inception, I was exposed to various forms of music. I mean, people shit on MTV and for good reason, but if it wasn't for that 24 hour music channel I wouldn't be able to tell you who the fuck "spandau ballet" is, "Men at Work", "Culture Club", or any other 80's band that leaves a puzzled look on the faces of those born after 1977 when you bring them up. I also think that MTV is responsible for my love of rock music today, if I'm not playing Hip Hop in my car I am playing some "Rage Against the Machine", "The White Stripes", some Hendrix, "System of a Down", even going for some calmer paced stuff like the "Red Hot Chili Peppers". I mentioned before that I have a band and I have found that it is so much different from being an MC because a REAL MC has to control the crowd and have a stage presence. A rock singer, in my experience, besides putting on a good show has to really have a "Fuck you if you don't like it approach".(That usually works with my band) Now, my friend Danny is in what you would call a death medal band and I hate supporting him with a passion. Not because I'm a shitty friend, but because the last time I was at one of his gigs some asshole was on stage and cut himself on purpose. This motherfucker was trying to get blood on people, no one was outraged surprisingly but me, so I threw a full bottle of beer at his face to get him to stop. He stopped, but I haven't been invited to anymore of Danny's shows, and maybe that's a good thing.
Classical: Did I ever tell you that it has been sort of a lifelong goal of mine to be a bona fide "Renaissance man". I'm not shitting you, a refined motherfucker who can recite poetry, astute in the world of politics, art, athletics, just an all around cultured fuck. Well, since I thought that liking and having a deep appreciation of classical music was on the "Renaissance man" list, my dreams were dashed very early. I don't know what it is, but every time I have gone to a classical concert, either with my 11th grade class or on a date with a woman that I could definitely see naked if I could have just kept my eyes open, I have fallen asleep like a baby within minutes.(I snore, so like Mary J Blige without her makeup, it can get pretty ugly..) But after I started dating a flute player who was in a local symphony at the time, I had a new appreciation for classical to the point that I would incorporate certain pieces of it in my guitar solos. I remember people used to come up to me after shows and say, "That guitar solo kicked ass, you are quite the musician to come up with that!!", and before I could just bask in the lie the girl I was dating would say, "Yeah, that is my favorite Beethoven piece!", ruining my shine. But seriously, she introduced me to a whole new world of music that definitely expanded my creativity on many levels. She was great, but since she had a certain hatred for giving "mouth hugs", I think she had enough of me when I would try to encourage her by saying "Come on baby, think of it like a "skin flute!"
Reggae: If I hear someone say, "You must be the first black guy with dreadlocks that I've ever known to HATE Reggae!!", I am going to kick them square in the chest. I'm weird because I don't have an abundance of marijuana and practice rastafarianism? It's not that I hate reggae, let me explain. I actually enjoy reggae, acts like Bob Marley and the Wailers, Pete Tosh, Third World, groups like that I can listen to for hours. But, and I know that many people will disagree with me, "Dancehall" is the music that irritates the ever loving piss out of me whenever it infiltrates my ears. I have tried to like it, listening to it for hours trying to max out my objectivity and find some redeeming value in it. But what ends up happening is I get so frustrated and irritated that I quickly eject that CD and put in some hip hop, letting out orgasmic sounds of refreshment like the character Keenan Ivory Wayans played in "Hollywood Shuffle" when he got his jheri curl activator back. Granted, I have misled women into sleeping with me because I have acted like I'm a dancehall fan, infiltrated a dancehall club and pretended to like the music I was dancing to. Which led to a few nights of guilt free sex, but the end result was the woman in question looking at me like a snitch mob informant when I told her that I actually despised said art-form.
Reggaeton: (see Reggae) I'm not going to go into how much of a fan I'm not of this art form because it would seem mean and offend fans of said art-form. A Cuban friend of mine got mad that I said that Reggaeton was like a "special Olympics for certain rappers who want to mask their lyrical shortcomings" and to never say it again. Damn, I guess I just did. But seriously, it's just irritating to me and I have listened to hours of it and been to many clubs that have played it. It's just not my cup of tea, sorry.
Hip Hop: I was watching Common's video "I used to Love her" where he equates Hip Hop as a girl he has always been in love with, and I came up with my own comparison. Hip Hop to me is like one of your own kids who was the apple of your eye for a long time, but as they grew older they started becoming a first class criminal. I mean, a real fuck up, having to bail them out of jail constantly, pay for lawyers for them, try to get them off of the drug of the moment that they are on. Despite how far they have falling, and what a pain in the ass they can sometimes be, you will always love them unconditionally because they are your child. That, my friends, is Hip Hop to me in a nutshell. Obviously you can tell that I'm a fan, even though the quality of the art-form has taken a nose dive during the last 7 years or so. With groups like Lil John, Mike Jones, that goddamn "Laffy Taffy" motherfucker that I would assassinate for free, and groups of that ilk, it's hard to feel positive of the future of Hip Hop. But I look at it as this, Hip Hop is going through a "hair band" phase right now. Remember in the 80's when you had those bands who wore extremely tight spandex, makeup, and moused hair so high only to rival some women who lived on the Jersey shore? Well people got pretty sick and fucking tired of hearing "Power ballads", so Nirvana came along and changed rock music for the better. The question I have for Hip Hop is, who will be our Kurt Cobain??
R&B: This art-form now is almost as bad as Hip Hop is, with all these "singing thugs" who go on and on about "taking someones lady". I wish one of those dudes would try that shit on me, as I try to strangle him with his chain as he yells "It's just music man, it's just music!" But seriously it seems that the current state of R&B is missing, for lack of a better word, Soul. It seems that the same 5 producers are working with the same 5 writers, and since everyone pretty much sounds the same anyways, we have the luxury of hearing the same monotonous bullshit through television and radio. By the way, what ever happened to good old "Hump Music". Music that you could put on and your lover knows that you are about to give her a pelvic thrusting of a lifetime, or that of a 15 year old.(Maybe that's just me) But you have to use certain artists for certain situations though. For that High School sweetheart who you haven't seen since graduation 91' and you want to set the mood, throw in some Al Green, "Lets stay together" might be a great choice. If you are hanging out with your significant lover on a rainy Sunday afternoon, throw in some Sade and before you know it you will be humping like two drugged up test bunnies. Fellas, you meet some coffee-shop chick sporting a Afro and a dashiki, throw on some Isaac Hayes, if you are drunk enough and squint you might think that you are fucking Pam Greer in her prime. Lastly, if you take home some questionable piece of sex that looks good but probably is more diseased than that monkey in outbreak, throw on two condoms then throw on some Public Enemy. Its not exactly "mood music", but anything to keep your mind off the the bad decision that you are currently inside will help somewhat.