As one who, despite being over 30, prides himself on being very much down with the kids and all the music that they love so much, I try to make sure I keep up with what’s new and happening. Yes I do, stop giggling. I’m not a total square, you know – why, I even know that Top of the Pops isn’t on a Friday night any more. See? Not so out of date after all.
Anyway, this means that I often sit in my favourite armchair, puffing on my pipe and wearing my comfiest slippers as I watch MTV Base (I jest, of course – smoking’s a filthy habit). And whilst watching large numbers of music ‘vidz’ (as I believe the kidz tend to call them), I’ve noted certain recurring themes in many of the songs.
And so, for those of you out there who don’t have the time to watch youth television because you’re too tired, too square, or just too busy watching nature documentaries and home makeover shows, I’ve compiled the following list, which summarises the categories into which the vast majority of popular songs now tend to fall.
(Please note that I’m talking here about hip-hop and R’n’B. I find much urban music to be delightfully urbane, and unlike many of my contemporaries, a little bump ‘n’ grind doesn’t make me grind my teeth.)
The categories are as follows:
- “I’m Best”. Usually a male performer, who is at great pains to tell me about his finances, his car, his preferred brand of champagne, and his success with women. Frequently threatening various kinds of violence (such as “poppin’ a cap in my ass”) should I disagree, he seems very certain about his status – and good for him, I say. So few people are sure of their place in the world nowadays. Despite often performing in a street setting, he does not feel the need to close his shirt, instead preferring to show off his stomach muscles, and possibly a large pendant-style jewellery item of some sort.
- “We’re going to do it”. Again, invariably a male artist, and one who informs the listener about the physical activities he intends to enjoy with, presumably, a woman. He’s in no doubt about his attractiveness – perhaps it’s this confidence which the woman in question finds so appealing – and (occasionally using very strong language) he promises to maintain this ‘freaking’ all night long. What an energetic fellow he is. And they say youth is wasted on the young.
- “You are not worthy”. Often female soloists or close-harmony groups, telling the listener that he is unlikely to enjoy the benefits of her love. He occupies, it seems, a lower run on the social ladder, or is from an entirely unsuitable neighbourhood, though on many occasions it seems that the ‘sweet love’ is being withheld due to an apparent paucity of finances, ‘bling’, or an outdated or inappropriately thrifty vehicle or mobile phone. These songs are often sung with what I think is termed ‘sass’, though they do strike me as rather alarming in their implied suggestion that a lady’s favours will inevitably go to the chap with most money or material objects. The thin end of a socio-politically dangerous wedge there, I fear.
- “I regret my mistake”. Oftentimes, this could be mistaken for a female vocal, but it is in fact a male – or chorus of males – singing falsetto. They have, it appears, lost the affections of their ladylove due to an error of judgment. All too frequently this appears to take the form of “makin’ it wit’ yo’ best friend” or similar, or some other misdemeanour which causes one to rather empathise with the lady’s decision to cease relations. However, the chap or chaps in question give the impression of regretting their foolish error, and often prove this by lamenting in the form of a slow, high-pitched song, often performed in the street, or by the sea. In the case of groups, they invariably take turns in expressing their woe, with the vocalist explaining the sense of loss, whilst the others harmonise, or appear forlorn and gaze into the middle distance.
So there you have it. A brief primer for the uninformed as to the leitmotifs in modern youth music, and I hope it helps you to appreciate the kidz’ music as much as I do.
But if you’ll forgive me, I must take my leave, as I need to go and patrol my hood, as I do 24/7. Big shout out to the blogreading massive.