Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Respect My Journey: Music

One of my favorite artists is Bilal. His voice, his writing, his musicality--they all inspire me and keep me in awe. I own all of his albums and I scour the web for his features, credited and uncredited.

But I didn't become a fan until 2008. Yep. Prior to 2008 I thought Bilal was a talented singer, but a flash in the neo-soul pan. It's not that I didn't respect him. I enjoyed his features on Common's and Erykah Badu's albums. I just didn't really start getting into him until I was about 25.

That's the heart of this post: growing and the journey that ensues from that growth. As I progress, so does my taste in music. I picked up Bilal's first album because it was on sale. I didn’t have any expectations. At the age of 25, I guess I was ready to appreciate Bilal.

After becoming a fan and searching voraciously for his other work online, I heard some snippets of the criminally unreleased Love for Sale. For some reason that I cannot explain, I wasn't feeling it. It took me six months to finally download it, and today it's one of my favorite albums of all time.

Again, I have no explanation for why I was slow to get hip, but I enjoyed discovering it, and I realize that my love for Bilal developed when it did because music is reflective of where we are in our lives.

Now, Bilal is simply an example. I've similarly fallen in and out of love with several artists in my musical journey, and I embrace that. My latest "discovery" is Fertile Ground. They've been around for 10 years, and recently parted ways (just my luck), but at age 27, my ears have become attuned to their sound. I'd heard of them before, and I'm sure I'd heard their music, but now, at this time, I’m ready.

I was similarly in love with Trey Songz one summer. After that got me in a lot of trouble with the menfolk, I tired of him. But if you like it, do you. Music should entertain. And who am I (or anybody else) to judge what entertains you?

I don't define my "coolness" with my musical tastes. As I said before, I'm delighted with my journey, and I'm irritated when people judge others based on what they listen to. Lest ye think I'm only a fan of "deep soul" music, I listen to a Ciara mix nearly every morning and afternoon to and from work. Again, no explanation, I just like it. I may grow out of it; I may not. It's my music going into my ears. You do what you will.

In the spirit of being authentic and enjoying that which makes you happy with no shame, I have compiled a lists of truths that you may find liberating:
  1. Despite my "earthiness," I don't own one single album by The Roots, Bob Marley, Mos Def or Maxwell (well, I have one, but I don't listen to it). I have massive respect for them; I'm just not a fan. But who's to say I won't "discover" them later on... That could be fun.
  2. I hardly ever listen to rap anymore. Not because "It's dead," or whatever, I just don't. Not even the classic Dungeon Family stuff. Again, probably a phase, but this is where I am right now.
  3. I still haven't heard Corrine Bailey Rae and Sade's latest albums. I know this is blasphemy, but a lot of good stuff came out last year. I'm still digesting it all.
  4. I listened to Cee Lo's latest album once. Meh. But I'm glad to support it because he released a free album, Stray Bullets, that I absolutely love.Who knows, maybe I'll fall in love with The Ladykiller next year?
Ultimately, it doesn't matter. I like what I like when I like it and there's really no need to dissect the reasons why. It's my musical journey. Respect it.

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