Hip-Hop Isn’t “Real” Music?

Hey, it’s Jason here from Behind The Speakers. And in this video, I wanted to share something a little bit different with you.

So a few weeks ago I hosted this live mixing workshop where people basically tuned in, and I mixed a song in real time from start to finish. And it was a lot of fun, it was a great experience. But I got this email from one of my students who had actually registered for the workshop – so she paid money to attend the workshop – and she sent me this email about a week before the event. She said:

Hi Jason, I saw that you sent in your previous email the artist whose song you were going to be using. I’ve heard another song by this artist, and that you’ve used in another video, and I believe he is a rap artist. If that is the case, it is really disappointing for me. I was hoping you would be mixing something with lots of real instruments, a real vocal, and a lush production so those of us attending the workshop can have a significant learning experience.

So I’ll be honest with you. When I first received that email, I was, I was pretty upset. Because it’s ignorant, it’s just an ignorant email. And my intention in this video’s not to throw this woman under the bus. I don’t know why she sent that email. I don’t know her personally. I’m not here to rail on her. I actually wanted to make this video with a point, so just hang out for a second, there will be a point to this video.

But here’s the thing. In this email, based on what I’ve read, this woman has decided that rap music has nothing to offer her. She’s, she has all these preconceived ideas that somehow like a rap vocal is not a real vocal. And it’s just wrong, it’s wrong. She’s completely wrong. And the more that I thought about this, the more I realized this is not just about this one woman. We all kind of do this.

So when I was a kid growing up in northern California, I was a big fan of rock music. And there was a time in my musical journey where I completely wrote off hip-hop. I thought hip-hop had nothing to offer me because I was a big fan of rock music, and I just listened to rock records. That’s all I listened to. And it took me years to realize how much my own ignorance had actually cost me, because I had actually cut myself off from opportunities to learn and grow and develop as a music maker. I completely cut myself off because of some idea I had that hip-hop wasn’t worth my time.

And I see this, that same thinking in this email. And I know that, you know, maybe this sounds crazy to you, maybe if you don’t feel like this. But if you look a little bit closer, and look a little bit deeper, chances are you’re probably doing some of the same things. And I’m not here to rail on you. But what I’m saying is – for example, if you make hip-hop music, how many of you who are making hip-hop music go watch a tutorial on – you know – mixing rock guitars? Or how many of you listen to the latest folk record that was released last week? Like chances are if you’re making a certain genre of music, you generally tend to stick in that bubble of the same genre that you’re working in.

So we all do this. We all do this. Me, I do this, you probably do this. And what I’m here to tell you is that if this sound familiar, you’re missing out. You’re missing an opportunity to broaden your perspective, and learn and grow and develop. Because if you can expose yourself to different genres of music – whether that means listening to different genres of music, or whether it means watching videos of people mixing different genres of music – the things that you learn are going to help you become a better music maker even in the genre you’re currently working in.

And this is not just about becoming a better music maker. This is about becoming a better human being, because different genres of music are going to expose us to different people’s life experiences. Like, you know, when I listen to Kendrick Lamar’s record and I hear about what it’s like growing up in Compton – like I’m a white Jew who grew up in northern California – like that experience is completely alien to me. So by listening to that record, my own perspective on life broadens.

So I think this is so important, and I wanted to share this email with you. Again, not to rail on this woman, but to communicate this message that regardless of what genre of music you make, really the call to action here is step outside of your comfort zone. So I encourage you if you’re making hip-hop music, go listen to some acoustic music, some jazz records. Go expose yourself to different styles of music. And I promise you, if you can do this, you have so much to gain, so much to benefit from the experience. It will make you a better musician, a better mixer, and just a better human being.

So thanks for watching this. And for more music production tips, videos like these, guess this is a little bit different, but for more videos kind of like this, check out my channel right here, or go to BehindTheSpeakers.com. Thanks.