In this age of MP3s, iPods, and neverending gigabytes of storage space, it has become clear to me that the consumption of music has changed drastically since I purchased my first CD–Tupac’s “All Eyez On Me”–back at the tender age of 12. As Ms. Lauryn Hill said:
“it could all be so simple/ but you’d rather make it hard….”
When I was first introduced to music, it was via the sounds that floated from my Mom and Dad’s little black boombox as they played the infectious sounds of the 80s….The Clash, The Beat, Sting & The Police, Oingo Bongo, Talking Heads, The Cure…..the list goes on and on. During my grade school years, I would spend my afternoons in afterschool care with my Capri Sun juice pouch and my Handi Snacks huddled in the back corner of the school auditorium at a folding table listening to the genesis of the West Coast G-Funk sound playing through the paper-surround speakers of Ms. Suzie’s black Magnavox boombox.
It was safe to say that since the age of 3, I was hooked on the drug I now know as “music”….in all its multifaceted, sonically-diverse glory.
At the age of 10, my Pops would take me to Tower Records on Saturday nights and we would spend countless hours walking through the rock section as he dissected liner notes and gave me the genealogy of albums that served as the backdrop of his own adolescence.
The flawlessness of Buddy Miles’ drum playing on the Jimi Hendrix “Band Of Gypsies” album. Dynamo harmonica player Lee Oskar’s contributions to the War sound with pal Eric Burdon. The many bands of Eric Clapton. These were things that no 10-year old I knew could even remotely relate to..and yet I somehow felt uniquely blessed to have this opportunity to be exposed to such amazing hidden lands that most of my buddies would never even know existed in the music world.
As the CD became popular and the family’s collection slowly grew, I began to dabble in the art of the mixtape. At first my mixtape adventures were relegated to having to record the sounds coming out of Pops’ mini boombox as they played on Power 106 or 92.3 The Beat (back when hip-hop actually “lived” on those stations). The agony and stress of trying to hit “record” right when a song started. Trying to hit “stop” right before the DJ started talking again. All of this was an exercise in patience, but the payoff was truly worth the agony.
Fast forward to 2009, and my love affair for the music has only consumed me even more so. Seeing as my collection currently stands at 52 gigabytes of music in my iTunes (80% of it is damn good..no lie), another 50 gigabytes worth of music on MP3 discs in a CD book, 250 albums in CD form, and about 100 albums on vinyl, I’ve been feeling like I’ve somewhat reached the point of music overload.
So what do you do when you get tired of the buffet?
You learn to appreciate the joy of a bag of Corn Nuts.
So I say to you all..let’s take it back to the mixtape. Let’s take it back to a time when you put great thought into putting 72 minutes worth of music….music with an INTENDED MESSAGE…onto a CD-R and let it speak volumes as a representation of the head space that you were occupying as you made that mix.
Make a mix for your mom. Make a mix for your boyfriend/girlfriend. Make a “fuck this horrible work week I just had” mix.
Go nuts. But go confidently.
FEEL your way around the mix. Let your selection skills shine, and in this day and age of all these excessive methods of communication, do something out of the ordinary and let the music say everything you need to say……..