Sometimes I tend to day dream. I’ll be at a show and remember good times from the 90’s. At times, I can compare things I experienced in 1997 to thinks I’m experiencing now. Other times, I fail to make that connection and end a despondent old fool grasping at a time that is no more.
For example, we just threw our 5th Annual Yule Prog about a week ago. It was a great show, about a dozen or so artists sharing the same stage, all killing it. It’s what we expect every year, what we aim for and what we delivered. It got me thinking about old times, and that’s the highest compliment I can pay to any show, much less something I’m directly a part of.
The memory started flowing though, I had this flashback of being a kid, all of 21 or so, getting to shows EARLY. Me and my friends would usually be some of the first people on line, yes I said “line”. Ok, let’s start from the beginning. Back then there would be a wait outside. This still happens at some venues, I think the whole line thing is more about the venue then the acts and the way they work the door the the times. I think the laws in NYC these days make it so that venues do NOT want people out on the street all that much. That’s a whole other story though.
I remembered though, WHY we would get to shows early. We wanted to hear the DJ spin. DJs would get about an hour, sometimes more and there was so much new shit out on wax then that you were bound to hear brand new joints. Sometimes, the underground bangers you wanted to hear that would connect crowds of people that all thought “they were the only ones up on that”. Sometimes, you’d hear something brand new, you’d sit with your friends trying to figure out “who’s voice is this? It sounds so familiar, but I haven’t heard this before”. Sometimes, you’d end up hearing an old school set and people would literally shout out the lyrics to classics together as if they’d never seen someone in 1997 play Top Billin’ back to back with Dwyck before. Well, I guess in 1997, that was the first time cats started doing shit like that.
I wonder how many people that are under 25 can share that experience? I just can’t fathom that being the case anymore anywhere. What was different about my generation and this generation?
I’m sure many will jump out quickly and say “THE INTERNET!!!!!”. But I’d consider this as well before jumping to the obvious conclusion. Firstly, I’m not harping about turnout at shows per se. Turnout was good for Yule Prog, perhaps the best it’s been in it’s 5 years. Turn out for other underground shows I’ve been to in 2011 have been good too. So this isn’t another one of those “people don’t go outside anymore” types of pieces. I’m getting to more of the WHY do people go to shows and WHAT is it that they expect.
But let’s visit the internet directly as well. Look at most of your popular websites, which have supplanted magazines. Many of the most popular hip-hop blogs are simple cut and paste style presentations. Here’s the song, click this, peace. That’s the post. No incite, no theory, no story. Nothing. Some sites will copy and paste the info presented by the label, that’s even a stretch for many.
Where is the enthusiasm? The love for hip-hop? The love for music? Where are the sites with lengthy reviews. Where are the sites with a healthy discussion of issues in our genre? Where are the interviews? Where are the creative pieces examining new angles and ways of taking in our culture? I can name you a few, I’m proud that a lot of our music lands on sites like these most often actually. I won’t partake in a self serving mention of them, but they know who they are. When I actually take the time to read their sites besides checking out my own posts, I get filled with passion. I get excited to see that on display, to see someone else out there gives a fuck enough to put time and THOUGHT into what they say and think about this music that I’ve spent my whole life working on.
But, is this the norm? No. So you can see, it’s not as if that old fashioned passion of showing up early at shows to get a good location and hear a DJ spin has been replaced with diatribes of passion preaching to the web about a new found love of music. That’s not what’s taking place here.
This is MUCH bigger then the internet. This is a generational gap. There is a flat out difference between people in my age group and people in the age group that followed us, even more so in the generation after that. This isn’t to shit on younger heads, there are lots of people younger then myself that have just as much passion as I do. There are lots of heads older then myself that have no passion for music left in them. It’s not about agism. It’s about the facts.
Is it something about the 9/11 generation that has made them dispassionate? Is it the Bush years? Is it our Reality TV based culture? Is it partly because of the internet? Is there just too much information?
I could go on and on about how I feel the bar has lowered, not just in hip-hop, but in our culture. But throw out the bar, what about the way we feel about things we supposedly DO enjoy? Why aren’t they enjoyed with the full intention that they used to be? All I can do is keep showing my passion. I run a label, I host a podcast, I sqwuak on Twitter, I share my thoughts, I do this blog itself. Hopefully the cup runneth over and inspires others to feel and believe in this shit as much as I do, regardless of their age.