Friday, 29 May 2009

Getting By

This morning, I woke up
Feeling brand new, I jumped up
Feeling my highs and my lows
In my soul, and my goals
Just to stop smoking, and stop drinking
But I've been thinking I've got my reasons
Just to get by, just to get by
Just to get by, just to get by

The chorus from Talib Kweli's Get By "gives me the goosebumps everytime I listen to it", to quote a few people who commented on That just hit the nail on the head. His further collaboration with MosDef, Kanye West and Busta Rhymes just shows the clear divide between meaningful rap that evolved out of rotten social circumstances, and sell-out (c)rap that goes on about women, jewellery, drugs, and whose gun is bigger. Get By has been one of the best rap songs I have ever heard, and Talib Kweli is possibly the most underrated rap artist ever.

I was surfing around for my psychology write-up stuff the other day when I chanced upon this article on Psychology Today.

The fans of unknown artists are creatures of paradox. They lecture you about indie directors and fame-retardant painters, but they're secretly possessive of them. They dread catching a pet singer on MTV's "Total Request Live" or a beloved author in Oprah's book club (recall the standoff between Oprah Winfrey and self-proclaimed "highbrow" novelist Jonathan Franzen in 2001). But do die-hard fans share such unpopulist sentiments out of a sense of schadenfreude? Or is it just cultural elitism? Ehor Boyanowsky, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, believes that "there is a sense of personal discovery and exclusivity that is diluted by general public acceptance." Or, as Joshua Gamson, Ph.D., author of Claims to Fame: Celebrity in Contemporary America, states, "If too many people know about it, it's no longer any fun."

From what I've observed, it does seem quite a bit like the tendency for some to go for obscurity is borne out of a desperate need to be culturally elitist. I might even have had that phase in life before during those floaty secondary school and JC years, a knee-jerk reaction when I was getting irked out immensely by the sudden awareness of the typicality of mainstream music (along with its various other negative connotations and associations). But for those who hold on to obscurity in such a possessive manner, the ability to appreciate anything for what truly appeals to oneself can end up being quite stunted.

It's trying to declare oneself on top of the pack by finding a niche (which is a niche only because few people appreciate that niche, or the work within the niche is just mediocre) and setting up shop in that obscure little corner, and then laughing at others for not knowing that obscure little corner better.

Then, when ever their favourite obscure work of art is criticized, attacked or questioned about, a common response is defensiveness rather than a rational defense built upon knowledge of the art, because there wasn't really anything else in it other than the vague notion that it's cool to be different and know stuff that others don't.

Go here for the rest of the article.

This post was inspired by drowning in music while carrying out my editing chores, and being in the midst of a sudden lull period at work. A lull that happened only because I've finished what Melissa needs me to do but she has far too much on her hands to get back to me. Poor girl.

Audio Candy:
Talib Kweli - Get By

No comments: