Eclectic Tastes

For the last couple of years, I've been a part of something called live tweeting during the Grammy's. Essentially, live tweeting is tweeting about an event as it happens. So live tweeting the Grammy's means tweeting your thoughts and opinions as they happen.

For the last couple of years, there's been a point in the show where half of my timeline (TL) complains about the music they're hearing and the other half lambasts the first half for not having a wide array of musical tastes.

I find myself in the 2nd half more than the first. I don't love every genre (techno makes me nauseous, for example) but I am open to all types of music and I do love genres outside of what I should like, stereotypically (rap/hip-hop and R&B).

My first musical love is DEFINITELY R&B. That's what I grew up with, that's what my friends all listened to, it's my first love. But as I've grown, I've come to appreciate and love other genres as well, and it's been interesting re-counting my steps to this point. What re-counting my steps has done is made me a little more sympathetic to folks who don't get down with cross-genre love. I think it's harder to learn to love music you don't already love later in life. I think that even though many of us hip-hop fans long for some of hip-hop's better years and us R&B lovers really really wish we could go back to singers who can sing and songs that are about something, we continue to check for the newest and the latest because we remember those great albums that got us through our first break ups and our first heart aches and were there when we came into our own... We have longevity with these genres and it's hard to see other genres in that light.

There are several moments in time I can look to as explanation for how I came to love music as a whole instead of just one genre. One thing is that when I was growing up, my mama didn't listen to a whole lot of radio and when she did it was a Christian music station. She played a lot of Michael Bolton in the car when I was growing up and we listened to a lot of gospel. For a number of years, if I heard a Top 40 station or an urban station it was because I was in someone else's car.

In the 4th grade I became friends with some of the "tough guys" in my class. They were what we might call "trailer trash" now but back then they served as some cross between personal body guards and really good friends. One kid, Jamie, probably had a little crush on me back then. I probably had a little crush on him as well. He LOVED Green Day. He talked about them every day and so that I could contribute to morning convos about Green Day I began watching a lot more MTV (and football, because I wanted to talk about that too. First team I liked were the Packers because Jamie liked them). Of course watching MTV led to being exposed to a lot of other bands like and unlike Green Day.

When I was in middle school, a time that is the epitome of trying to be cool, some of my friends stopped listening to our local popular (and only) urban station and began listening to a very new Top 40 station. I followed suit. Of course, I was in middle school at the time of what some people call R&B's heydey (every decade before 2000 there's someone who will say it was R&B's heydey) and so of course I heard a lot of that on this station, but I also got exposed to more pop music that I found myself really liking...

Probably the ultimate experience was moving to a new school where the kids overwhelmingly liked non-urban and older music. Here, I was exposed to the likes of Led Zepplin and the Grateful Dead. I wanted to know what they were talking about and I wanted to prove that I did know about artists who weren't black and so I began watching a lot of VH1 to supplement the little bit of knowledge I did have.

But you know what was really effective was my willingness to give new music a chance. That was in part thanks to my mom who had begun exposing me to other music but also an openness I had to step out and be different. I stayed on top of what was hot on urban radio, but I also made sure that I was listening to music I liked, regardless of the artist. We don't always allow ourselves to step outside of the boxes we get put in. We let unsaid expectations dictate to us what we and what we consume.

I do not consider myself better than anyone because I like a wide array of music. I'm simply just happy that I do.

Oh and one more thing: If you watch the Grammy's and don't see the artists you love on stage performing or winning, I suggest you start buying their albums instead of downloading them for free when the leak the week before.

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