Friday, August 20, 2010

Blackout!


Walked into a record store yesterday (yes they still exist...kinda). It was Second Spin in Sherman Oaks; home of a glorious collection of cheap as shit used CDs, DVDs etc. I'm not one to be down on the digital transformation of the music industry but, I absolutely love tearing off the plastic, opening the case, and digging through the liner notes of an album. There is nothing that can replace having the actual hard copy in your hands. Holding something tangible is a lot more satisfying than clicking an icon and waiting for the "download complete" sign to appear. I'm also a fan of actually listening to an "ALBUM." The whole thing, intro to outro. Hearing each song in context as part of a cohesive whole. Singles are like quickies in the supply closet at lunchtime. A great album is akin to an all night, box-spring cracking, wake up your neighbors from the noise, love making session that inspires you to write terrible poetry.

I copped a couple new joints (Big Boi's "Sir Lucious Left Foot," Eminem's "Recovery" and MGMT's Album from a couple years back "Oracular Spectacular.") And I re-bought Tribe's Midnight Marauders and Blackout by Method Man and Redman. I popped in Blackout first. The album came out around 1998/99 and I actually had the TAPE! I played that damn thing forward and backward and as each song came on in my car yesterday I realized that I knew every lyric, every skit by heart. And I was reminded of how big on an influence these guys were on me. Meth in particular. Just listening to these old verses made me see how often I phrase my words in a similar fashion, use similar vocab, and it especially reminded me of all the battle raps I used to write in middle school.

I still love music. Still love hip-hop. But its rare that I find something to play backwards and forwards nowadays. It may be that I'm older and have more distinguishing tastes when it comes to what I listen to, or it may be that when you're 13 and having your first experiences with the world everything is brighter, better done and more powerful. Or shit, it may just be that music is no longer built for the patient. It is not made to be slowly digested and unfolded over time. Before the digital revolution, you were essentially forced to listen to one thing at a time. So when a CD was in your car or stereo that was the only thing spinning. There were no shuffle buttons that randomly sent you careening through 10,000 songs.

Now there is no right or wrong way to listen to music. But I do fear that we miss out on a lot more music lately. When we immediately judge an album's merit of the first listen, the first single, the first 5 minutes, I think we cheat ourselves. There have been plenty of records that I have owned that I initially hated but after repeat visits fell in love with. I only buy music that I'm reasonably sure I'm still going to be playing 10 years from now. Its an investment. And like an investment you don't jump ship the first day the stock dips. You ride that shit out and see whats in store. I love pandora, and itunes and all that shit, but every once in a while grab an album and let it play start to finish. Live in that world for an hour and experience everything the artist has to show you.

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