Published on February 14, 2013 | by Helen Olufowobi

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Stereotypes kill the absolute beauty of music

ALN interactive editor Helen Olufowobi

I am confident that I am not alone when I say that there is no way I can live without music. OK, I suppose technically I could but lets not get pedantic about things.

Music is a necessity for me – even when I am not actually listening to it. When I lived at home, my mum was always complaining about my music being on whilst I was sleeping.

Everyone loves a bit of music but what is the obsession with stereotypes?

“OMG! Helen! You’re turning white!” was my friend’s response the first time I decided to listen to genres of music besides hip hop and R ‘n’ B. I was listening to the song that paved the way for funky house; Fish Go Deep – The Cure & The Cause.

A lot of people like to stand on their moral high horse and say they do not hold stereotypes. But come on, who are we kidding?

Lets delve a little deeper and actually think about it.

Britney and punk?

What would you think if you were sitting next to a punk on the bus and they were listening to Britney Spears? Shocked! Why?

Because we would not expect it; Firefly by Breaking Benjamin would be a more fitting song. I am very fond of this song but a lot of people who have heard me listening to it have been as shocked as when the whole world found out that Tiger Woods had 11 mistresses on the side.

The most shocking response I have had to my eclectic music taste was from someone who actually makes music.

“I have everything on my iPod from Britney Spears to Kanye West to My Chemical Romance.”

They were “spitting bars” – as they described it – and they were actually quite good.

I asked what kind of music they listened to and they told me the obvious – grime, hip-hop and R‘n’B. I have no problem with grime and I still do listen to it on the odd occasion, but I kind of threw it in the bin when I left school, but I digress.

When I revealed I have everything on my iPod from Britney Spears to Kanye West to My Chemical Romance – they were not aware of the latter artist so I simplified it to pop, rap and rock, he replied: “You just lost ratings. You’re not black.”

I looked down.

Well I was still black, so clearly, he was visually impaired.

But more importantly it made me realise how narrow-minded people can be towards music and how many seem to believe that all genres of music are completely separate from one another.

Sample beats

I am sure he is not an avid listener of disco music yet disco was very influential in the origin of rap music in the early 1970s and the history of rap shows that instrumentals often sample beats from popular or well-known soul, funk or rock songs.

It is evidently clear that rap artists are moving into an unspoken genre of alternative rap and it shows from the sales generated that we like it.

Everybody loved the legendary duo of Jay-Z and Linkin Park – Numb/Encore. Outkast’s highly acclaimed album, Speakerboxxx/The Love Below incorporated musical genres of rock, punk, jazz, indie and country aside from merely pop and rap.

“Rap is moving into an unspoken genre of alternative rap and the sales show we like it.”

Jay-Z stated that indie rock would play an important role in the evolution of hip hop and without even having to delve into origins and history we can hear the fusion of hip hop and rock on Lil’ Wayne’s album Rebirth.

Not everyone has snapped their CDs or ceased downloading music because of these fusions because these are the songs that everyone actually likes.

I acknowledge we are coming into a more accepting era but simultaneously people seem to be unaware that these fusions are intrinsic in some of the most commercial songs they listen to.

So the next time you pass someone listening to something that you are adamant would never be found in your headphones, just think it may be the same song that was sampled for the very song you are listening to.

Musical diversity is a must and I’m not saying you will or must like every genre of music but until you have broadened your taste…well, you haven’t really experienced the absolute beauty of music.

Follow Helen on Twitter: @HelenSuccess and her blog.

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