I saw an episode from the new webseries The Unwritten Rules the other day and there was a scene that was so profound and struck me in such a significant way, that I had to write about it. In the scene, the protagonist named Racey is the only Black female that works in her office. She is surrounded by misguided Caucasian co-workers that do not fully understand her culture nor do they take the time to do so. In this particular scene, Racey reluctantly goes to lunch with her two co-workers Jessica and Lisa. Jessica asks Racey about the name of the latest Nikki Minaj song. Racey boldly replies, "I don't listen to current hip hop."
I rewound that scene and replayed it at least five times, because I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have been asked a question by a white or black co-worker about a new hip hop song and I have no clue who the artist is or what song they are talking about. Just like Racey, I also do not listen to current hip hop, nor do I listen to much of any kind of pop music unless I'm forced to hear it in a public place (like my job) and it plays endlessly throughout the day. Racey also mentions that she only listens to old school hip hop. I'm the same way as well. The only hip hop I do choose to listen to are artists like Biggie, Tribe Called Quest, and some occasional DMX. Some may consider these artists under the "new school" category, but I still consider them "old school".
The Unwritten Rules in jest pokes fun at the topic of the differences between race and the ignorance of others based on historical stereotypes. However, it's not only some White people who tend to act this way, many Black people respond this way too. In fact, I get more Black people looking at me with an incredulous expression more so than Whites when I tell them my taste in music. My iPod has a myriad of songs in it from Broadway Showtunes to Metallica to Lil Wayne to Michael Bolton. If you were to add my iPod player in some sort of social experiment and try to guess my ethnic background based on the type of music I listen to, I can almost guarantee you would be perplexed as to what race I am. Perhaps most would guess I would be a combination of several races based on the cultural makeup of music I listen to.
I'm not certain why people get so shocked just because I am not familiar with certain popular hip hop artists or know the latest song by Rhianna. I like what I like not because I am Black nor because I am female. I like what I like because its what tickles my fancy. It's a song that heightens my senses, and most of all it's music that feels familiar to me. I tend to listen to music from previous decades, and that is my preference. In my opinion, most of the music of today has turned to mush and it feels like substance has depleted itself from lyrics in songs. I missed songs that told a story. Call me an old fashioned cynic, but I miss song lyrics that actually have a beginning, middle, and end.
I have a few guilty pleasure songs here and there that have no style nor substance (i.e. Lil Wayne) that I like to listen to simply because I like the beat to a song or the hook. However, in the end I think its important that just because someone doesn't listen to pop music doesn't make them some weird recluse that is out of touch with reality. I just simply don't listen to current hip hop music...so why are you so shocked?