Music: An Obsession

If you’ve been paying attention to the website since its fairly recent inception, or if you know me personally, you know that I love music. I’ve always been involved or linked to it in some form, whether it be playing instruments, singing in a youth choir, or DJing.

President Barack Obama shared his summer playlists yesterday, so naturally, I looked through them being the musical junkie that I am.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll also notice that there’s a link to a Spotify playlist to the very right of this post that I update regularly with handpicked tracks from my musical collection.

If you haven’t given that playlist a listen, you should

I’ve also added a new Mixes page to the site, which includes mixes I’ve recorded, as well as every song I’ve ever used in them.

You should check that out too

One thing I like about Obama’s apparent musical taste is that it is very eclectic – which I can relate to very well because I strive to be as open-minded as possible when it comes to music, especially when I DJ. Being from The Bahamas, I was always highly influenced by Americanization – American culture, sports, music, food etc. I always liked hip-hop, r&b, rap.

That was easy. That was what was on the radio all the time.

I grew up listening to classics, like this

 

Then, when I started to take DJing more seriously, and realized that I would be getting the majority of my opportunities to perform in America for the foreseeable future, I decided to explore more pop, more house music.

I had to learn to appreciate music like this:

 

It was interesting because when I moved to Minnesota for college two years ago, there are a lot of things I could have talked about that were very different from what I had been used to living in the Caribbean.

Weather? Sure

Food? You bet

But it was always the music that folks listened to that stuck out to me as being so different for me.

Want proof?

This is what Minneapolis sounds like:

 

If you listen to just the first song, “Boomerang” by Doomtree, you’ll hear a lot of different things going on at once. You will hear a strong house influence at first, and then all of a sudden…you will hear..rap?

Or something like it.

That ain’t rap man. They tried.

If you listen to more of the playlist, you’ll hear some Kenny Chesney in there, some Florida Georgia Line here and there – you’ll hear country music. A lot of it. And then, a smattering of pop and indie.

My point is that being a Bahama boy and hearing folks bumping Taylor Swift – my first roommate’s favorite – is one way to feel out of place, real quick.

I realized that going off to college really spurred me to take more an interest in dancehall, reggae, soca – even reggaeton. It was if I wanted to stick out even more than I already did, like I wanted to rebel against the norm and run with it as fast as I could.

I started bumping stuff like this:

I’ve never been to Queens, Brooklyn, or the Bronx. The closest link to the area that I have is some distant family on my father’s side, but not enough to take that seriously. I like to think to myself that musically, that’s where my eclectic musical tastes would fit better. If America is a melting point, those boroughs in New York simmer with influences from Jamaicans, Hispanics, Blacks and Whites alike.

The Bronx sounds like this:

 

A lot closer to aligning with my own musical compass.

It’s fitting that one of my favorite songs of all time is this mid-90s rap cut from Queensbridge’s own, Mobb Deep.

 

Music is a powerful tool. Moving from The Bahamas to rural Minnesota – going through that culture shock – really allowed me to embrace its power. Its power to express what my own words couldn’t. It encouraged me to stand out as an individual, to embrace my flaws and differences, to love my Blackness, and my Caribbean ancestry.

As I continue to figure out how to traverse this confusing myriad we call life, I can take comfort in the fact that music will remain an outlet, a teacher and a guide that I’m glad to have.

What track is guiding you today?

 

 

 

 

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