Get Me to Listen

Hip hop is in my blood. I think about it constantly. My mind is like one of those old alarm clocks that you could set it to a radio station to wake up to, because that’s exactly what happens to me every morning. I wake up, and for some reason, I instantly start thinking of lyrics to songs. Just one of the things that makes me “special” I guess. Nothing like getting your day started with a little tune. Every day is different also. One day, it’s a Jay-Z song, next day, 2Pac, next day Murphy Lee. I’m telling you all of this, not just because its cheaper than therapy, but also to give you a glimpse of what songs mean to me. It is a major part of my life….always has been. Because of that, I felt that I needed to put down what it takes to make it into the jukebox, that is my brain.

While I’m primarily an old school listener, I don’t necessarily discriminate based on era. New school, old school, doesn’t matter to me as long as it meets some criteria. While I’m not a huge fan of new school, there’s definitely some stuff I can get down with. I’ve listened to many a song in my lifetime. For me to add a song to my “favorites” list, it needs to have several components.

A song has to have a good beat. Nothing like a good ol’ fashioned 808 drum bassline to get things going. The composition of a song has be interesting. While I like a strong bassline, I don’t necessarily want to hear EVERY song have the same bassline. Variety is the spice of life, even in music. Give me something that’ll make me bob my head and that I can turn up and shake the house a bit. Sometimes producers try to go a little too far off the spectrum adding wind chimes and birds chirping or any of the other crazy sounds they might find trying to, I would only guess, distinguish the sound of that song from another. Nothing wrong with being unique as long as the unique doesn’t put you into the “what in the world was that” category.

Lyrics. A song without lryics is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the bread. It can’t be just any lyrics though. I’m always looking for content. Did the content make sense or was it just a bunch of filler words in between the two rhyming words? Every era has it’s songs that fit that category, not just today’s music, which I feel is a big issue with what’s going on in the current state of hip hop. You’ve got my attention with the beat, now tell me a story. Hip hop is not just about a great beat and words that rhyme. It’s about life, struggles, good times and bad. Songs should have a meaning and should flow naturally. Nothing worse than a story that doesn’t flow right. You can tell as soon as you hear the delivery that it doesn’t quite match up with the beat, for example.

Variety. An artist that’s one dimensional, I’ll lose interest quickly. I’m a lover of almost all styles of hip hop. You twist? Nice. Gangsta, gangsta? I can get down. Party/hype music? Let’s do it. The artists that I have the most respect for are those that can cross the lines. Twist on one song, talk about partying on another, tell me a story about life growing up…that’s how you capture me as a fan. There have been plenty of albums that I’ve listened to where I find one or two songs that met the above criteria (beat and lyrics) but as the album continues, it starts to sound like the same song theme over and over again. <Yawn>. Now, the reason I said before that I’m a lover of almost all styles of hip hop is because I most certainly am not a fan of mumble rap. That would go back to my lyrics section.

I guess you could say that for me to be a fan, you’ve got to have it all. A song with a killer beat and terrible lyrics is just as bad as a song with killer lyrics and a terrible beat. Usually, within the first 30 seconds of a song, or by the time I get to the first hook, I’ve already made up my mind. You’ve got to come strong in the beginning if you want a listener to make it to the end. I look forward to the many more years of hip hop to see who else will emerge as a shining star and be added to my ever growing morning jukebox.

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