***Hello, everyone. This is your Champ here, and I’d like to welcome my homie Nat Lavender to the VSB pulpit. It’s her first time and shit so give her a hand***
Music has always been one of the easiest forms of social capital to exchange. And by that, I mean you can’t walk two blocks down the road without tripping over some asshole who wants to stop you and share their half-baked argument about how Kanye making an entire album of Kim Kardashian’s fart sounds is really a self-effacing tribute to the darkskinned White woman.
As a music lover, I sometimes find it difficult to connect with others who have both reasonable taste in and good ideas about music. That’s why I’ve written this handy-dandy not-really-a-guide-but-I’m-the-DJ-here-so-it-is-today about the process of bonding with fellow music lovers.
The most common dilemma with meeting kindred music aficionados is weeding out the bad ones. This will be the most infuriating and hilarious part of the process and is something you’re most likely doing at all times anyway. This stage will be marked by gems like “I don’t listen to rap because it’s too violent” (maybe from a country fan who enjoys listening to songs about women revenge-killing their boyfriends).
This is where you might meet the chick confidently telling you that Jay-Z isn’t in the Illuminati because she’s the president thereof, and if you want she can send you pamphlets, and since they’re responsible for the molly trend in hip hop she can send you free samples if you want, and isn’t this conversation GREAT (the correct responses are no thank you, yes please, and PLEASE don’t stab me, in that order).
Once you’re done surfing through red flags and lust-fueled denial about the direction of LL Cool J’s career, you have a smaller pool of people who’ve managed to convince you that their taste in music could probably make them more qualified to manage artists than Diddy. But since that’s true of just about anyone, you still have some work to do. This is the point where you very politely don’t slap the White dude who tries to (wrongly) correct your pronunciation of Spottieottiedopaliscious and give him his strutting papers. You might also not-so-politely tell him that long ‘o’s are for wack niggas, except when they aren’t.
During this phase, people will give you the safest of their opinions—liking ‘classic’ rappers, hating easy-to-hate artists, building love shrines to overrated dead people.
They’ll probably tell you that they like Dilla, even though your mama, your auntie, your neighbor’s dog, and the confused kid down the street who gained 100 lbs. working at Krispy Kreme will probably say the same. The point is, there isn’t anything flawed about these opinions, but you legitimately will not learn a single thing about them as a person. You’ll be doing a lot of acting like you give a damn about mediocre albums, too.
Note: This is also where you’ll meet a lot of people who “thought I was the only one!!!” to listen to world-famous musicians, because something about hipsters and special snowflakes and intellectual autofellatio. AVOID THESE PEOPLE AT ALL COSTS.
Finally, after noticing a suspicious correlation between J. Cole fans and people who only eat vanilla ice cream and moving past the psychic death of someone telling you Wiz Khalifa has the best flow in hip hop, you find people who really have something to offer in their collections. This is when the relationship starts getting fruitful and you can really start sharing. Maybe they heard an amazing Hiatus Kaiyote remix that you never would have looked at because… let’s be honest, you’re probably not looking for remixes to anything White people made, even if they’re talented. This is like the person who tells you about the pho at the Thai spot that you never would have found/ordered because real niggas don’t mess with that ‘Asian fusion’ stuff. His mama named him Clay, I’ma order pad thai. Or something like that. You beautiful ‘alternative’ people, you.
Trouble in Paradise
Finding a like-minded music lover has its downfalls. For one, you’re bound to run into irreconcilable differences—Houston rap vs. Tennessee rap, A$AP Rocky’s mouf vs. Waka Flocka’s mouf, Miguel vs. women who lack spinal injuries—but this isn’t the real danger. There is no greater spawning ground for unadulterated assholery than a meeting of two self-proclaimed music lovers.
Posturing over music tastes alone is one thing—you can easily find yourself outgunned by a gaggle of rabid Lil B stans who refuse to admit that he does sonically sloppy shit because ‘OMG BUT HE’S BEING SO SUBVERSIVE.’ But with your newfound soundmate, you can posture together, and everyone knows being a douchenozzle with support is the best way. Soon, you’ll find yourself loudtalking no one in particular about how “OMG KEITH SHE’S NEVER HEARD DAFT PUNK MAYBE WE ARE THE ONLY PEOPLE WHO LISTEN TO THEM!” Look, this I’m-totally-being-ironic-even-though-I’m-definitely-not moment will not go over well. Soon enough, you’ll find yourself sinking into a pit of Portishead and Chance the Rapper and White people who wear keffiyehs and losing all your friends and you’ll never know where you went wrong. But OH MY GOD did you hear this amazing new Kid Cudi it’s like he’s trying to make bad music now and we’re so countercultural and edgy and shit.
Real friends let other friends know when they’re being distasteful music snobs. And knowing is half of pretending you know everything.
***Nat is a Cleveland native and longtime reader who spends most of her time reading psychology articles and attempting to confuse White people. She thinks she’s a paradox, but suspects she’s just really lightskinneded. You can find her @PurpleLikeRawr***