Thursday, February 12, 2004

Music Wednesday: The Return

While I'm not about to promise that this will become a regular feature again (my track record with "regular features" here at VVH is not particularly encouraging), a few people have requested it, so what the hell.

It occasionally worries me that I dismiss, with very few exceptions, most rock-radio fare these days as atrocious crap. I'm not a authoritarian man by nature, but I pledge right now to donate to and campaign for any politician in my state that promises to propose legislation providing for the detention of the members of Chevelle, Good Charlotte, Hoobastank, Blink 182, and a whole mess of others the second they step across the border. Whether said band members are willing to apologize to the world during halftime of the Superbowl will determine whether or not they are to then be summarily hanged.

"But those bands do suck," you respond, "Why are you worried?"

I am worried because a tiny voice in my head occasionally points out the fact that that's what my father always said about the music I listened to. Is my dismissal of what is currently popular a sign of premature curmudgeonliness? Am I only a few years away from sitting in the front yard, yelling at neighborhood children to keep off the lawn?

I'm actually somewhat serious - there is very little new music that doesn't sound like utter shit to me, and I actually caught myself referring to some Nu Metal song as "just noise" the other day. Just noise?!? Dear God, soon I'll be denouncing Elvis's lurid pelvic gyrations!

Most such fears were put to rest the other day, however, due to a conversation I had with a friend of mine.

I said something to the effect of "So much new music sucks," and he agreed. But here's the thing - I was referring to rock, and he was referring to hip hop.

Here a little background is necessary. As a grade school kid, I had a brief flirtation with rap, mostly top 40 stuff. The last major rap album I remember liking back then was The Chronic. Then, for a variety of reasons, I started to transition to heavy metal and what was then referred to as alternative. By the time Doggystyle came out, I was completely off the rap wagon. Things remained thus for several years.

My senior year of high school, thanks mostly to the efforts of one of my friends from football, I started to get back into hip hop ("Only white boys call it rap anymore, idiot." Thanks, Jermaine). Ever since, I've listened to hip hop with varying regularity.

In the last year or so, due to the influence of yet another friend, I've been taking something of a crash course in hip hop, some of the not-so-top 40 stuff, from early Snoop forward. Piles upon piles of stuff that I missed during my rock-only phase have been filling up my hard drive and my CD case.

The point is, I think I'm reasonably objective about the quality of new hip hop versus old, as I don't really have a specific era I'm attached to. A good chunk of the old is just as new to me as the latest 50 Cent track.

And so I am confident when I say that most new hip hop utterly blows.

For instance, much has been made of 50 Cent - he is probably the rap superstar at the moment (rap as a word is, apparently, acceptable again). But he isn't even on the same planet as, say, Method Man or Mos Def. Sure, he could kick both their asses in a fight, and yeah, he's real tough and all, but fuck that. I'm not watching a goddamn boxing match - I'm listening to music, and overall, the kids don't know what the hell they're doing these days.

Even Eminem, who I think has an insane amount of talent -- certainly more talent than almost anyone else currently releasing albums -- doesn't seem quite so high up there after listening to Method Man and Red Man's Blackout.

And so, in the end, I feel better - because if my friend is right about new rap sucking, I feel a lot more confident in my opinion that so much new rock objectively sucks.

But I only feel a little better, because the ego boost from being right doesn't really make up for the fact that most of the stuff I'm forced to listen to by the television and radio, as we have established, is godawful.

But screw it. I'll always have Buckcherry, and no one can take that away from me.

No comments: