Immediately after dropping a cuss word, an unfortunate hallmark of hip-hop, rapper Lupe Fiasco adds the line, “And please don’t excuse my language, ‘cuz I would hate for you to misrepresent the true expression of my anguish.”
The album, lengthily titled “Food and Liquor II: The Great American Rap Album Part I,” is the antithesis of what many people have come to recognize as rap; in the song quoted alone [titled ITAL (Roses)], Fiasco advocates buying Camries over Ferraris, calls out both drugs and alcohol, and even dares to mention “being fiscally responsible.” To someone who doesn’t listen to hip-hop, this is a far cry from what has become ‘the norm’.
That’s the beauty of music, though; it’s all expression. There is no precedent artists have to follow; of course some rap songs are going to talk about money, some pop songs will talk about partying, some country singers will sing about their big green tractors, et cetera. Do you have to listen to a specific kind of music to get one particular vibe from it, though? Of course not. Whereas someone might listen to hip-hop for the rappers that talk about making it big and overcoming odds, that doesn’t disqualify enjoying the way some rappers spin words together into varied bars to reach deeper emotion. Music is a very moldable medium, one that can and should fit to the individual.
Junior drummer Alec Wingfield, for example, may not like a single song that tops the charts, but through his own tastes and artistry, the six year member of the County Honor Band has crafted his own musical representation, expressing himself through that constantly.
“I express myself musically through my interpretation of the music that I’m playing, and although the playing of the instrument itself is not wholly unique, what story I am able to tell through my craft is my choice, which allows me to be fully expressive,” said Wingfield, a member of the Blue Devil’s Drum and Bugle Corps, a nationally competing marching band.
Wingfield lists some of his current favorite music as The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, and jazz, though he also listens to a wide spectrum of different music. He also has strong, omniscient views on other people listening to music, supporting the idea that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
“Music has the power to convey a message that cannot be told in words, so take that chance and tell it to the ones who were reluctant to listen to your words. Whatever allows you to escape, go there. Listen to what you want, because it’s not just what gets you through the day, it’s what defines you,” Wingfield said.
Like Wingfield, junior Amanda Kerr also finds great power in music, but the singer recalls a particular moment that really opened her eyes to its potential.
“In fifth grade I saw my first musical, Wicked, at the Pantages Theater. Before then I mainly sang pop but the musical Wicked broadened my singing far beyond generic radio music. I bought the CD and fell in love with Idina Mendzel’s rich voice and her level of vocal ability. Since then I have always taken after Idina’s style of singing and tried to pattern my voice after hers. She is definitely my singing inspiration,” said Kerr, who’s been a three-time member of the Central Coast Honor Choir and is currently in our high school’s honor choir.
Kerr states that she listens to most music, excluding rap, and includes alternative, theatre, pop, country, and blues/jazz as some of her favorites; her favorite all-time band is Cheap Trick. She lists her greatest music accomplishment as performing the National Anthem at the Homecoming game and dance and appreciates her singing capabilities.
“Singing is…like a form of therapy for me, whenever I’m having a rough day I come home and belt out a few songs, and afterwards, I feel much better. But to clarify, I don’t just sing when I’m upset; I sing, when I’m happy, sad, [or] angry,” said Kerr, who has taken choir since fourth grade. “Singing is my passion in life.”
If you connect with it, if it reaches you in a way that you like, or even if it just sounds really good to you, then nobody has a right to question that. Whether you listen to every genre or only one artist, whether you listen for discovering the deeper meanings of things or simply because you like the way it sounds, whatever reason someone has to listen to or make music, it’s all musical expression; all musical expression deserves respect.