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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Era Vs. Genre: Are You With It?

Tupac ShakurI was trying to figure out who to paint for the Waxploitation: Lost in Transit show happening at the Hip-Hop Theater Festival on Monday, July 7th. More and more, it seems people are suggesting artists from the 70's: Peter Frampton, New York Dolls, Lee "Scratch" Perry...

I know I'm a child of the 80's. I grew up listening to Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, Talking Heads, Culture Club, Eurythmics, Twisted Sister, and Devo. But before you say, "You poor thing!", the sometimes outlandish music that was pop in that era did leave me very open to other music as my taste developed. What I mean is, that even though the radio hits were of questionable musical worth occassionally in and of themselves, the language of the music of that time has had a lasting and valid impact on both my musical sensibility and what has come after the aftermath of disco.

Languages always fascinate me, whether they be spoken, played, or painted. As a result of what happened to the language of American pop music during the 80's, I've ended up responding to progressive rock, heavy metal, electronica, hip-hop... you name it. If I think about it, the only type of music that kind of missed being included in my internal musical library is country pop, mostly because country wasn't really pop then. It's cool to see how the culture you grew up in has affected you.

So then, when I started to explore less mainstream music, what I liked ended up fitting somehow into that weird mashup of genres as they were in that era. This isn't to say that my initial musical framework didn't change. As I developed and changed, my individual taste changed. But everything was consciously or unconsciously compared to what I'd heard as a pre-teen. If "That sounds like..." had an answer that I knew I liked, I'd listen more. If not, I wasn't ready for that music.

I think era can influence genre and vice versa. What's popular during an era, what defines it when we look back on it, influences genres of music as artists seek to fit in to the mainstream. They also stay true to their roots though, so each unique artist and those that can be grouped as a genre influence what is created during an era. This creates what we end up using to define the era.

I think this makes sense. I don't know if it means anything. It's just something that came to mind when I realized that I have several Eminem CDs today while I still don't have The Beastie Boys first album or anything by Public Enemy. Put another way, I have a special place in my heart for Michael's "Beat It", but I don't even know the name of the song by that dancing guy, what's-his-name, that all the girls love today.

What is your music, your culture?



Dimebag said...

Wow! This rules. I really dig your stuff!


d.edlen said...


The Simpsons, Monty Python, and Spinal Tap... I dig your taste in humor!