To the point where we’ve reduced the listening experience to a cheap thrill, absorbing close to nothing of its underlining meaning.
To be clear, I don’t claim to have my ear to the culture’s neck or being an authority on the state of Hip-Hop because there’s plenty of moments I haven’t seen or experienced, and plenty of music I have yet to hear (both old and new). Simply put, I’m a n*gga that use to rap, who likes rap and now make beats because of rap. I’m not at that “I live and breathe Hip-Hop” level like majority of the people who helped make and develop it to what it is now.
Now that I got that out the way let’s get into the title. I thought about it while skimming thru my feeds and saw an interesting conversation. It said something to the effect that listening to new music is like a new movie coming out. You see it a few times, or less, then it becomes old news over time. For instance, How many people are still in awe over Black Panther? I can’t say I am, but I have watched it time again, and each time I try to find things I might missed, themes or subliminal messages that went over my head because that’s how it works.
First you get familiar, then you refresh your memory a few times with it and then become a master of it in the process, at least that’s what I’m told. But how often is music, preferably Hip-Hop, consumed that way with only so much time in a day? Is it even worth that amount of attention to detail? I’m only talking here so if none of this makes any sense then understand it’s gonna be a bumpy ride moving forward.
Now, I’m not necessarily trying to derive at an answer here. Only re-referencing a point, like Jay-Z once made on The Breakfast Club. That with so many albums and volumes of content being made, how can we ever consume it in its proper fashion? Sure, I suspect there’s those around the globe who can break down line for line or get into the details of a particular project, but how common is that? To where we’re spending time understanding what this or that artist is actually saying as opposed to listening to just say we heard it and are now on to the next joint.
Life is fast and the information age only adds to that speed. Something occurs in the news then days later it’s replaced, damn near forgotten or buried between yesterday and last year’s drama. The same could be said about the music. And I can’t help but wonder if that overconsumption and lack of spending time with this record or the next because we’re being overfed is affecting the entire process, making it akin to a quick roller-coaster ride with a good few minutes of excitement. Now as I say that, I know we all have those pieces of music that bring back memories but that’s because it made an impact so much that it left an imprint. How often is that happening when we’re simply doing ‘one listens’ and then moving on, without really understanding the music or its message if it has one? And I understand that not every soul consumes music to try to figure out the artist and what their music is about. I’m one of those people at the moment.
Music isn’t an experience to me like that where I can tell someone what was Wayne’s motivation behind Carter V on this song or what that song was about. But I know I’m not the only person who glosses over music this way. It’s why I recently began replaying albums I’ve heard and spending time with it. Because a lot of music is timeless. You can listen to a song made from 2008 or before, and have it still resonate in the present time. Just thinking about it, Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album is one of those albums I had the time to appreciate. Whether people liked it or not is immaterial to my experience with it, and that’s mainly because it was at a crucial time I heard it to where it latched on to me. Even now if I go back and listen, it brings up those times. It’s rare for me to have that feeling now. But I haven’t consumed so much music that that’s the reason.
In any case, reposing this question of overconsumption led me into this thought process where large volumes of music cannot adequately be heard at the rate of listening to it once, maybe twice, then moving on. It’s something I wanted to tell myself to not cheat on. Like for me, and other listeners who this applies to, it should be a requirement to really sit down with a good 4 or 5 albums in a given year and zone out with it. Fuse it as if it was a new diet being incorporated into a lifestyle because how can we ever properly hear the music and the artist for what it and they are worth? I’m not an A.I. to where one listens will generate every detail of it in my mind then spit it back out as if I knew it for years.
Oddly enough, that’s how I feel about us. That we’re being treated as highly advanced machines the way music is produced, but we’re not consuming it to where we can tell someone, or ourselves, the intricate details of that particular piece. Only the madmen and women of this world can do something like that, but even them can only consume and understand so much music at a time I feel.