“No one thinks of Spotify as a means to immortality. But so long as the platform exists, a sort of permanence is granted. Our long finished playlists will become fuel for Discover Weekly long after we’re gone. We become eternal tastemakers, unconsciously curating mixtapes for future listeners.”
Lord forgive me things I don’t understand. I don’t get Kendrick Lamar. I like to pretend I do. I guess what I don’t understand is my relationship with his music, and what I imagine is his relationship with me as his listener, and, most importantly, his relationship with himself.
Campaigning for re-election in 1984, Ronald Reagan riled up a crowd in New Jersey by blasting Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.,” a song which sounds like a latter-day national anthem but which actually takes a critical stance on the Vietnam War and the state of American society left in its wake.
Julia Holter’s music has always suggested a crossroads between what is accessible and alienating; what is pop and what is confident, modern composition. In Have You in My Wilderness, she has sought to directly accommodate both styles, and to move away from the aural and thematic structures that characterized much of her earlier albums.
We cannot presume that Rick Ross is a mastermind, a genius or even sober. We cannot attest to his level of education, his employment history, or his net-worth. We have no idea where he came from: he claims to be Mohammed, the son of Moses, and the reincarnation of Haile Selassie. But, as he tells us on his latest album: none of that matters.
Kanye West is a puzzling man. When I first heard that his newest album would be titled Yeezus, I did what I do in response to most of Kanye’s antics: I burst into laughter. Weeks later, however, when I realized that the album had leaked a few days before the official release date, I was scrambling over the internet in desperation trying to find it.
The moment I first lent my ears to a band on stage, I fell deeply in love. Live music has always been my route to something more, supplying me with a sense of rapture a sermon or a nature walk could never quite compare to.
In a directory on my computer titled “smiles” is a collection of short recordings, musical ideas I wish to return to without going through the trouble of proper notation. The longest and least interesting of them I listen to every few months to ground myself. I’ve renamed it again and again, attempting to remove it from the series of events that surrounded its recording. Now, it is simply the inconspicuous “note 2.aup.”
I have a confession to make: I’m not a hipster, especially when it comes to music. If anything, I’m a reverse hipster; I only hear about things that are popular way, way after they actually are. That’s why I have a Backstreet Boys poster in my room.
The first time I saw the band Yuck perform live, I had never heard of them. They were simply the group warming up for Smith Westerns on a Friday night at a hole in the wall in downtown Nashville. I saw their name on the marquee above the venue and thought “Yuck” sounded weird and off-putting. When they took forever to set up on stage, I went from skeptical to hostile: “Who do these guys think they are? They’re just the warm-up act!”