Even though you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you what I am listening to right now. In fact, it’s the same thing I have been listening to for the past week and a half (maybe longer, all the days blur together), Kanye West’s new album “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy“. Of course this then begs the question, why is a mild-mannered pediatrician from Indiana listening to this purported loud-mouth, harsh jerk and not, say, John (+/- Cougar) Mellencamp? I thought you’d never ask.
The easy answer is because the man is a musical genius who really knows how to produce a track and lay down a beat, but if I just leave it at that, it makes for an awfully short blog post (plus, there is still laundry to finish drying, so I might as well keep yapping on if I am going to be awake anyways).
FIrst, we should backtrack to why I like hip-hop/rap in the first place. When it comes to music, the overall driving factor is the sound, regardless of genre. For the most part, I don’t really care what the lyrics are, at least when I first start listening to a song. If it has a driving, pounding bass line, that is a good start. The next factor is really the most critical and has led me to like multiple songs that I will never admit to in public. It is also the hardest to explain.
I usually use the word ‘eclectic’, but that doesn’t fully encompass it. When a song has an odd hook, an interesting harmony, or off-beat sample, I am sold. Use a strange instrument like a zither or steel drum, thank you sir, may I have another. (This is why I have always been a fan of ‘The Simpsons’, all of the random and eclectic allusions to anything and everything.) These two factors in general are a big part of rap (although in the past few years this has been common in a lot of pop music as well) and so a long-term love affair is born.
To my uneducated ear, I would say that interesting/colorful beats and samples are pretty much the calling card of Yeezy (or would you prefer Ye or The Louis Vuitton Don (my personal favorite of his self-given nicknames. Makes me wish I had a cooler nickname at some point in my life than Mentos. I’d probably have to dress a lot better to earn a nickname like that so I’ll just drop it.)) He actually got started in the music business as a producer, which shows in his music. So I was drawn to his songs immediately. It’s an added bonus if the song has a dark or angry sounding aspect to it (minor key, ominous or driving drums, etc.) which sums up Kanye’s last album and heavily influences this one as well. (His last album was him dealing with his emotions and anger from the death of his mother after surgery gone bad and breaking up with his girlfriend.)
The best way to describe this album is raw, both in the emotional sense as well as the language sense, which is what I really enjoy about it. There are times when I am listening to these songs (on the last album as well) when, as morbid as it sounds, I wish that I could have a moment when I felt that twisted, wretched and horrible and then be able to let it all out in one angry, primal rage. (Seriously, don’t you wish you could go back and say/sing this to that old boyfriend or girlfriend that unceremoniously dumped you and stomped on your heart. Or maybe that girl who your friend set you up with for the Valentine’s Day dance when you were a freshman in high school, only when you were at a little get together to meet her, she despised you so much she started making out with your other friend in another room. Of course you didn’t do anything about this betrayal, because you are a nice guy and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. So you just sit there and silently keep watching TV. Umm, not that that ever happened to me or anything.) I also secretly relish the explicit and graphic language, not because I condone any of what it says, but because just like the primal rage part, sometimes I wish I could say some of the angry, mean-spirited and awful (as well as witty, on occasion) lyrics without any repercussions (like getting slapped, punched or kicked out of the hospitalist group.)(It’s also why I LOVE celebrity roasts. The comedians say things that are extremely funny but so far out of the bounds of common decency, yet they get away with it because its a roast.)
In the end, I think it is a bit of therapy for me. My whole life, I take the bad feelings and bad thoughts in and push them way, way down where no one can ever see them (and I can conveniently ignore them) because that is what good boys do, and I always wanted (and still do) want to be a good boy. But every once in awhile, I want to be bad. Well, at least pretend that I’m bad.