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Musical motion means progress

Previously on WhatWouldWesleyDo: Microwave Mayo

So I got super lazy in addition to being really busy and didn’t post my column for last week. It didn’t help that I wasn’t enamored with the final product and generally have felt like I suck at writing lately. Oh well, here you go.

Experimental music leads to more diverse, intertwined culture

April 21, 2009 by Opinions

Column by Wesley Robinson

Growing up, I used to feel awkward for liking some of the music I did, because some of it I wasn’t supposed to like. Culturally, enjoying rock, pop and alternative music was not necessarily an acceptable thing to do. However, with the way radio stations work, record label cross-promotion strategies, and television show soundtracks, there’s more room for people like me who enjoy a little variety in their music.

In listening to different genres, it’s exceptionally easy to follow the flow of trends, ideas, themes, et cetera in culture as music clearly stands out as the dominant popular measuring stick of poverty, sex and political activism, just a few of the topics that prominently grace the medium depicting the attitudes and beliefs of the masses over melodies. Right now, the increases in sub-genres and crossover or collaborative efforts are the “in” thing, displaying our society’s move toward a culturally-fluid state, embracing a wide array of interests and sounds for all people to enjoy.

The infusion of jazz, soul, rock, pop and punk into my favorite genre of hip-hop is a prominent example of what this change can and will do. From formal collaborations like Jay-Z with Coldplay, to Fall Out Boy street mixes featuring lesser-known emcees such as Joe Budden, 88-Keys and MURS, the art form is expanding to represent the overwhelming crossover our world is experiencing. But these are just the tip of the iceberg.

On a less pop-y level, artists like Black Eyed Peas have teamed up with a jazz legend like Sergio Mendes, which is a wonderful gateway to Latin jazz. Introductions to many musical classics come from hip-hop producers like Just Blaze and Kanye West, who sample and blend music ranging from 1950’s rock, pop and soul to utilizing the vast talent of modern day orchestras. No longer is it atypical for the likes of Run DMC to join forces with the likes of Aerosmith to make inventive music.

In fact, Lil’ Wayne, the self-proclaimed best rapper alive, is taking a break from his own music to pursue rock music. Whether or not you like what he is doing, the magnitude of such a move sets a standard for where music will take us. A whole generation of youth will be subject to the rapper’s attempt at an unprecedented crossover. If done right, from the praise and criticism of Lil’ Wayne’s crossover attempt, people will learn so much about music. While no one should ever confuse Wayne’s musical talent with Eric Clapton, Slash or Jimi Hendrix, hopefully in questing to become a rock star, some of the history, tradition and knowledge will be passed to the fan.

One of the easiest ways for the masses to understand the enormity of where the times are taking us is to have leadership that understands where things are going. Whether it be for profit or for actual artistic expression, our musical moguls are leading us toward a diverse and eclectic industry, breeding more and more creativity day by day. If we can live life like we listen to music, maybe we can begin to make steps toward a world that grows smaller and smaller each day as interests branch out and intertwine.

If the editors get the big huge joke I left for a final column, then I’ll have one more formal piece before I go back to being me. BTW, check out the music page. It will be great, but you’ll have to do some work to keep up with it because the page can’t get too cluttered with information.


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