I was on Twitter recently talking about the recent Chief Keef album. I didn’t think too highly of the album and someone told me, “Maybe you can’t relate to the music.” It wasn’t the first time I’ve heard that argument used to defend music I didn’t particularly agree with or enjoy, but it stung me this time because I’m from Chicago. How dare somebody question what I can or can’t relate to in that context. Instead of trying to convince this person I met only 5 minutes earlier, I decided to go quiet and digest what “you can’t relate” means.
I’m a product of Chicago’s Back of the Yards, South Side area, which is neither good nor bad, but it's had its moments. But that’s not relevant to relating to any album, as I enjoyed Straight Outta Compton and never once stepped on the soil of the CPT. The idea you have to have experienced what is happening in the music in order to understand it is quite possibly the laziest argument you can come up with.
As stated above, this twitter exchange revolved around Chief Keef’s debut album, Finally Rich, and my verdict that album wasn’t good. Keef hails from Chicago’s notorious Englewood neighborhood, know both for its violence and Chicago Bulls superstar Derrick Rose. Keef made major waves earlier this year with “I Don’t Like,” which interestingly enough is one of the only songs on the album that I do like.
Finally Rich is weighed down by extremely limited subject matter (smoking dope, piping down chicks, trolling the internet and flossing hard). It would be accurate for me to say “Yup, I can’t relate, except for the trolling the internet part." It’s true Chief Keef and I don’t have much in common, but is that why I don’t like his album? Of course not. The album is pretty basic, even for an artist of Keef’s caliber.
If Keef expounded on his tough upbringing, I could have appreciated his plight but he didn’t. His choice not mine. It is not my responsibility as a listener to find avenues for which the artist and I should connect; that’s the artist job. It’s their story to tell, share and convey their pain or joy. If you can’t do that, then what’s really the point?
Maybe Chief Keef isn’t as talented as NWA, which would be an easy assumption to make, but lets give Keef some time to prove himself. Maybe relating to people like me isn’t all that important to him. But regardless of whether I can associate myself with something, sometimes the music is just bad, and to quote another Southside of Chicago artist, Common, “If I don’t like it, I don’t like it, it don’t mean that I’m hating.” Maybe the music is plainly bad and no further explanation is needed. Twitter probably couldn’t wrap their minds around or relate to something so simple. That’s that shit I don’t like.
© 2012 GOWHERE — All Rights Reserved
"Our thoughts are the epochs of our lives; all else is but as a journal of the winds that blew while we were here."
~Henry Thoreau, On Man and Nature