I have a general belief that Americans make better music than other people, and that black Americans specifically make the best music. If one were to ask me what kind of music I like to listen to, the easiest answer is what Nicholas Payton refers to as Black American Music or #BAM. I love blues, jazz, gospel, funk, soul, R&B, and rock & roll from way back when it was still black music. However, I have one gigantic exception. I don’t listen to Rap and Hip-hop.
I wouldn’t say I dislike rap. It’s fairer to say that I’m indifferent to it. It somehow exists without making an impression on me. This bothers me. I feel like I should like rap and hip-hop, or at the very least appreciate them. I’m the perfect age for it. Rapper’s Delight was getting airplay just as I was beginning to discover music. I grew up with all the classic rappers. But I barely remember any of it.
I can’t seem to figure out why it does so little for me. I can’t even tell the difference between the good and the bad. It doesn’t matter if it’s Snoop or Jay-Z or Tupac or one of the characters in a cartoon my daughter is watching. It all sounds the same to me. The only time a song catches my ear is when the song samples a song that I like. And even then, I just wish I could be listening to the original song.
It would be easy to say that rap just isn’t made for me, a white guy who grew up in a suburb of Hartford. But I have trouble accepting that. I’m white and non-Christian, but I love Mahalia Jackson. Her music clearly wasn’t made for me. I just can’t shake the feeling that my indifference comes from some kind of deficiency in me. I just don’t know how to fill in whatever’s missing.
I generally take some pride in being musically adventurous. I’ll give anything a chance. And while I don’t like everything, I can almost always tell if it was well done or not. I just can’t get there with rap and hip-hop. I find it embarrassing. If anyone thinks they can help, please let me know what I should listen to. I’d love to break through this weird barrier that I have.