Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Of Lil Yachty and Open-Mindedness

So earlier today I watched a video made by Anthony Fantano on his channel "Needle Drop", and the latest video at the time of writing this is him putting forth the opinion that the rapper Lil' Yachty might be the incarnation of rap's punk phase. He puts forth the argument that Lil Yachty is clearly rebelling against the foundational idea of what makes rap music good and seems to be deliberately doing the opposite of what should be deemed as "good" rap just because. Even if it's not exactly the opposite, I think a lot of people can agree that it's very different.

And Anthony does a good enough job of articulating why he thinks what he thinks, to the point where a person such as myself can follow the argument well enough to think that I understand where he's coming from when he says these things. Kudos to him for that. As a person who considers himself a fan of the music made by acts that are influenced in some way or another by the classic punk-rock acts of the 70s, I got intrigued by the thought.

The classic punk-rock acts were not "good" rock musicians. They had a primitive mastery of their instruments, they couldn't sing very well and their lyrics were as straight forward as they come, and that was what made them great. Because they rebelled against the idea that "good music" had to be a certain way and proved that "good music" could take on a wider definition. even to this day, most acts that would associate themselves with the term "punk" would not pride themselves in technical traditional musicianship, or at least not any "punk" acts I'm familiar with.

And Lil Yachty seems to be doing the same with his music, says Anthony Fantano. Anthony listens very very widely and has deep knowledge about music in general and also about musical movements and trends, so I trust his opinions when it comes to music, because I know it's coming from a very informed standpoint. Because i trust his opinion, I wanted to listen for myself what ideas Lil Yachty had to offer on his latest solo full-length release "Lil Boat".

I listened to half of it for the first time while on the way to school this morning. I tried to listen from the point of view that Lil Yachty not trying to be good in any way, rather he just wants to express and make a certain type of music that he felt comfortable making. I struggled with it. Through the handful of tracks that I went through, I couldn't quite get why I would want to listen to them more than once. I'm still entrenched in the mindset that the only rap worth listening to was "good" rap.

While parking the car at my school, I started asking myself why it was important for me to "get" Lil Yachty. He wasn't a musician that falls within my tastes in music. I don't find his songs pleasant. But why did I feel disappointed by this fact?

The answer that I have come up with is that I feel like whatever I listen to right now, the songs that I consider "good music", is a sonic comfort zone for me. And by me only listening to the things that I like, I'm afraid that I'm also inadvertently wallowing in my comfort zone, and if I stay in comfort zones for too long, I feel that my mind closes up on me and I slowly but surely lose the ability or rather the inclination towards trying to be open-minded about things.

If I can't bring myself to listen to music that I don't particularly like, how am I going to gather up the wherewithal to listen to opinions and points of view that I don't particularly like? If I lose the inclination to listen to people who have differing opinions and points of view from myself, then I will also slowly but surely lose my will to empathise with people who are different from myself. And I value that ability so much and am trying hard not to deteriorate what little of it I have in me as it is.

So I think there is a legitimate reason for me to try and listen to music I dislike and find out why a person might like it. I don't have to like that music myself, but I think it's important that I put in the effort to understand the appeal of what I personally find unappealing. Because at the end of the day, it might help me build empathy within myself by trying to listen to something as someone else might listen to it. And I think that's a valuable thing to pursue.

Here's to listening to new, "bad" music.

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