Sunday, May 6, 2012

When the Music Dies

I think I was eleven or twelve. Maybe somewhere in between.

I was visiting some of my cousins that day.

One who is almost four years older than me grabbed me all of a sudden.

"OMG I have something you have to hear!"

She knew I was starting to get into music. We saw a lot of each other back then so she thought she had something I would like to listen to.

She was right.

I had been hearing more and more hip-hop and rap.

While not a favorite sound there was some cool stuff starting to come out. (this was the mid eighties after all)

You could see the development and growth of it right in front of your eyes.

Still I was very picky with what I listen to at that time. That would change in the coming years but this was different.

What she played for me blew my mind. I was enthralled. We listen to the entire album while sitting her room.

It was short and we had the time.

My musical life changed that day.

Almost immediately I asked her who it was.

She told me.

I asked if they had been around before.

"No they are brand new."

I was hooked.

This trio of artist where nothing like I ever heard or would ever hear again.

It took me some time and scheming to get myself a copy of that first album as my parents would not let my buy it at that time.

I know I wore out at least one copy of that tape.

Then came their second album.

Still one of my favorites to this day. It was without a doubt their magnum opus. We will never hear an album made like that ever again. The multiple layers of sampling they used would not be allowed today with out a mountain of legal wrangling. If original artists would even agree to it.

I know I had both of these on one cassette tape at some point.

I am pretty sure I wore that out too.

I have several of their songs memorized. Lyric for Lyric.

Then with all the legal craziness they turned the hip-hop/rap community on their ear again with their third album.

They knew how to play instruments. So they did. Using them to great backing riffs and beats. Sounds lawyers could not complain about.

This one landed about the time grunge appeared. Thus the record was often mislabeled in the wrong genre.

People just didn't understand what they were doing.

Always challenging their sound, their listeners, even while still distinctly sounding like themselves.

Their subsequent work never stop entertaining me. I always eagerly looked forward to a new release buy a copy as soon as I could make it to a store or pre-ordering it.

I still listen to all their discs to this day.

They were one of my favorite groups and I was a huge fan. I got so many friends hooked on them simply because I listened to them.

That all changed.

This last Friday one of the three succumbed to an long battle with illness.

When I heard the news I was frozen.

I just sat there.


I knew how much their music meant to me. Music was always an escape for me when I was younger. It allowed me to take my mind off of things. Distracting me I would focus on the music to forget thinking about me.

I listen to a lot of different things.

But theirs was always some of the most listen too.

Yet this last Friday I realized that this group as I had come to know and love was gone.

I would never again experience their amazingly creative brand of music as I had known it. The radical creativity, the unique craziness that they dared, and always seemed to succeed at.

Not to mention a part of my childhood died.

There are really no words to describe how much this will be missed.

Today the world is a sadder place. Even with being a fan of their music there idea and creativity influences so much of the musical world today. Just go look out at the other artist acknowledging just how huge this lose is.

All I can say is he will be missed and the group will never be the same without him.


Kelly said...

Beautiful post, Kelli. He will be missed.

I'm a casual hip-hop fan at best, but I've always admired the Beastie Boys. You're totally right about Paul's Boutique. I picked up that and De La Soul's Three Fight High & Rising on the same day on a friend's recommendation. I remember being bowled over by their creativity and the artistic growth it represented. It's a masterpiece (as is Three Feet High).

I'll have to check out more of their work now. Sad that it takes something like this to prompt us to expand our artistic horizons a bit.

Be well...


Jessica Lyn said...

Kelli Bennett said...

@Kelly, OMG!! I love De La Soul too. Many people I know have never heard 'Three Feet High and Rising.

While I never dug into the whole hip-hop scene I did listen to lot of late 80's early 90's stuff. It seemed to me that after 1995 a lot of originality and creativity disappeared.

I was always a big fan of De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, A Tribe Called Quest, Boogie Down Productions(even KRS-ONE on his own.), Digable Planets, The Dream Warrior's.

I just really like the jazz, funk or soul infused stuff a lot of those artist did.

The Beastie Boy's were just in a class all by themselves though.

Kelly said...

@ Jess: I heard about this cover, but hadn't seen it. Thank you for posting it. For a huge band, Coldplay are pretty darn cool. And their hearts are certainly in the right place.

@ Kelly: Three Feet High & Rising is *so* great! You are literally the only other person I know who's heard of it. I got into it because of "Eye Know" and the sample of Steely Dan ("Peg"), but the entire album is wonderful.

I only really like that particular era too. I was going to mention A Tribe Called Quest. Remember "I Left My Wallet In El Segundo"? Such a great song. And yes, Digable Planets were way cool too.

The one thing all of those bands had - including the Beasties - was a sense of humor. I think that, in particular, went missing. And they were adventurous - jazz, funk, and soul - all were fair game.

The only band that is their equal today is (of course) The Roots (bowing head reverently). Their album with John Legend is just mind-blowingly good. And their iTunes session is even better.

Oh, and if you like soul, check out Aloe Blacc:

So yes, thanks a whole bunch for giving me yet *more* albums to dig out of storage now, Kelli! (grumble grumble)