May 28, 2006

A Different Beat

Music is books for the ears. Just like any book I read, my music takes me places. Places I have been, places I want to be, places I haven’t been, places I never want to be in. It acts as the same portal that books are.

And as with books, my music choices are a bit slicker than your average. Not just slicker, they are everything from rustic to fresh to all-out industrial. I am Rock. I am Pop. I am Jazz. I am Electronic. Heck, I am even Country. If there’s one genre that I am not all into, it should be hip-hop. I listen hip-hop, but it sticks to Eminem and Shaggy. People are always asking me, why don’t you listen to hip-hop? I can only say, it’s not my kinda music. They ask have I listened to 50 cent, D12, Jamelia, Kevin Lyttle. I say, no. And they consider this to be so uncool.

Well, being uncool is no-problems with me. That’s part nature for a geek. What’s bad is that people presume stuff about you. They presume you want to act as if you don’t listen to what everyone listens to. You act like you are different. And what have I to say? For starters, Yea, I am fuckin’ different.

HELEN STELLaR is a great Chicago band doing some great music in L.A. I love their music. And when you go over to their official website and read their bio. This is what they have to say.
In an age where style is rewarded over content, cynicism inevitably becomes second nature. Passion and originality have given way to cut-and-paste songwriting and carbon-copy imagery churned out for commercial mass consumption. All is not lost. There is a light that still shines. This is HELEN STELLaR.
This is exactly why I do not like Hip-Hop. There is no originality in hip-hop. Their sound, their style, even their videos are same.

A Car comes the singer gets out singing. He hits a party. Hot Chicks. Ok-looking singer. Huge shirts. Huger Pants. Black-Culture-Gone-Wrong. Gasgsta Rap. Discotheques. Dancing.

This is surely not my kinda music. But then you would say, Ok, you are a fuckin’ Racist. Racist, I am not. If you really want to listen to Black music, listen to Jazz – the original and classy black cultural contribution to Music. I listen to Jazz. To Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane and Dianne Reeves.

To know what’s behind all this shit-talk, you need to know that International music isn’t easy to find in Hyderabad city. You could get the newer stuff, all those boy bands and hip-hop rappers. What you don’t get is the older music. You get Bryan Adams, you get Michael Jackson, and you get Nirvana, but not everything from them. So when I talk about Duran Duran’s Ordinary Life or the oh-so-lovely Moon River, I get a “huh!" People do not listen to this stuff. People don’t want to. And when they don’t listen that, they reflexive-ly do not listen to great music like Tom Petty, Elton John, Sting, John Mayer, Coldplay, James Blunt and many more great musicians and bands who are available in every record store in the city. Instead, they listen to what’s playing on Top 10. They listen to whateva-lyric­-ed hip-hop. They hear what they see.

It’s like they are acting sheep. One jumps the stick, all the others follow.

This, however, is not a critical analysis of music choices. This little write-up is not in anyway offending the hip-hop genre or the true hip-hop lover, the one who’d listen to both Kanye West and MC Hammer. It’s not about people who jump on the latest bandwagon hitting the block. This is about people who jump on the bandwagon and get off. People who listen to hip-hop because it’s cool and would not listen to it when its off-trend.

People don’t want to experiment. They want what is served, meaning, they don’t have a choice in the first place. I’ll talk about myself, I am no hypocrite. Most of my choices are borrowed, acquired taste it’s called. But I guess, everyone’s choices are acquired one way or the other.

I’d never heard the Dark Side of the Moon or Heathen Chemistry or Led Zeppelin I or II or III. I’d never known Mark Knopfler, Sting, Duran Duran or Jim Morrison. I’d never heard tiny dancer or Free Falling or Free Bird. It was other people who made me listen to these records, these bands, these artists.

Other people who might be my friends, people who put these great music into their collection, into their movies, into their car stereo and at the back of their notebooks. People I knew as friends - Rahil, Shakeel and Moid. People I know online but haven’t talked to - Nouman Mohammed Khan, Paul Ranix, and Joe Hesketh. People who are famous like the film makers - Quentin Tarantino, Cameron Crowe, Sofia Coppola, and Robert Rodriguez. Like authors whose books I read with music playing – Tom Spanbauer, Stephen Graham Jones, Christopher Baer, Alex Garland and Douglas Coupland. I don’t know what they listen to but their work inspire me some music.

Yes! I jump on these bandwagons, each and every one of them. But I never get off. I am a geek. And geeks by nature are fanboys. We are loyal to stuff we like, fiercely loyal. Books, Movies, Technology, Theories, Music, whatever it is we remain with them. We remain because whatever our choice is, we know, it is US.

Music isn’t about choices it’s about feelings, emotions, ideology, perspective. Music is about you. Just like the books you read, music defines/instigates/improves your emotions. And just like books it means different to every person. It’s never the same, the music. It’s complex yet simple. It’s just like us.

P.S. Check out Helen Stellar’s io (This time around) on the Soundtrack of Cameron Crowe’s Elizabethtown. Also check out some other music on the official website of Helen Stellar.


sunfever said...

Mmmmm...nice rant - now u chuggin

Arshiya said...

You hit the right nerve mate. Our kinda music makes us a pariah in our own circles. Especially in a city full of people who came closest to listening to any English OST only with Titanic's My Heart Will Go On. And anything else is limited to cute boy bands, hot looking chick popsters or hip-hop numbers that get them moving!! Cheers to us who stand out from the rest of the crowd!