Like most people my age, I really like music.
I listen to it constantly and attend concerts whenever I can.
Every time I’m running or working on schoolwork — or even when I’m doing nothing — music is the background noise to my life. When an artist who I love drops a project, I'll sit in attentive reverence while the music plays through my headphones. I recently attended an amazing concert in Greensboro for Mick Jenkins. He was spectacular and wonderful, yet intimate and dynamic.
But it, unusually, was one of the many (many) opener acts this concert had who really stuck with me. At every concert I’ve ever been to, openers almost always suck — they can’t sing or rap, or they just aren’t good performers. The awkward silence that follows most opening acts when they try to get the crowd riled up is crushing to me, even though I participate more than willingly. However, this particular night after a string of lackluster and boring openers, a rapper named Black Linen took the stage and killed it.
None of my friends know Black Linen. And despite being impressed with him, I haven’t breathed a word of him to my friends either. When I got on my phone to listen to music the day after, I decided to look for something new. Rather than look up Black Linen, I thought of a famous artist I hadn’t tried yet. I tapped on their profile, choose a song, and realized I didn’t like it. But even though I didn’t like it, I didn't change the song. I figure if I listened to it enough I’d get to like it.
I didn’t do this because I really like the artist as a person or they represent something I care for — I just wanted to fit in. I want to like the same songs as everybody else. And after awhile of doing this I find myself making excuses for artists simply because everyone else likes them. I may not like an album, but I’ll tell myself it can’t be that bad because the artist is commercially successful, because they make more than a living from their music.
For example, Big Sean recently released "I Decided." The album went number one on the charts — it sold 151,000 units in its first week — but panned critically. Big Sean makes bank off his music, but critics think it sucks.
Sure, it’s catchy, but I don’t like it either. Despite this, I often said to myself, even though I don’t like the album, that he must be successful for a reason. But when I was watching Black Linen at The Blind Tiger I decided something. I don’t like "I Decided." and I don’t really like Big Sean.
Why should I respect an artist because they are successful? I looked up some Black Linen music after the concert. It may not be as slickly produced as a high-profile album, but I like it. And why shouldn’t I? Why is an artist being on Billboard Hot 100 a reason for me to like them? If a musician is rich from their music, congratulations.
But to me that doesn’t mean it’s any good anymore.
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