May Day! — 60 year old white woman tries to grasp hip hop aesthetics #coloringbooksproject


Dear Friends –

Ok, this is embarrassing. I tried a couple of months ago to start educating myself about hip hop, and I got all kinds of good suggestions from friends and acquaintances as to what artists to listen to. While collecting those suggestions I looked up hip hop on Wikipedia to try to see if I could understand what the difference was/is (if any) between hip hop and rap. Then I broke down and bought the 100 greatest hip hop songs special collectors edition published by Rolling Stone at the supermarket. You know things are bad, when you are reduced to buying magazines in the express lane at Pavilions to try to learn about something.

The good news:

  1. I actually knew who some of these artists mentioned in the Rolling Stone magazine are (the Wu-Tang Clan, Eminim [who I always want to spell M+M], MIA, Public Enemy, Tupac, Erykah Badu [because, please – she’s amazing { I saw her on Dave Chapelle and was hooked}], and the Beastie Boys [jewish]). Oh and Busta Rhymes was on the plane with me and my family and my daughter talked to him.*
  2. That’s the end of the good news.

The bad news is really bad: I have no appreciation for or understanding of how this kind of music works. I can’t really understand the words of the songs, and I don’t know what to listen for musically. My daughter patiently explained that I was supposed to listen for “flow” aka how quickly and well the words are coming out and how nicely they sound. But since I can’t understand what the artists are saying I can’t judge the level of flow. The instrumental part also confuses me. Sometimes, I say “oh yeah, that’s from ‘Genius of Love'” but then I think “and…. that’s cool…. because?”

I feel like I need a class, where the professor could play a little part of the musical selection, and then explain to me what it is I should be hearing. I took a classical music appreciation class like that, and I now can listen to a piece of classical music and guess pretty much what era it is, and have an idea of when it was written.

Are there any classes like that out there online? Youtube videos that explain how this hip hop musical universe works? For white people? Who are on the verge of being senior citizens? (I am one already according to Denny’s).

I ‘m still very appreciative to receive individual music suggestions but I think I need a theory and methods class, so that I have a framework. I don’t have the context musically, and that’s the big issue, I think.



your humble blogger

courtesy of
courtesy of



*also Salt-N-Pepa, also Fresh Prince, who becomes of course a big movie star.



2 thoughts on “May Day! — 60 year old white woman tries to grasp hip hop aesthetics #coloringbooksproject

  1. I’m sure that any system of aesthetics is both teachable and learnable, but I wonder if innovation in pop music shares a key trait of slang. The newest, youngest slang is meant to be indecipherable to parents and grandparents. That’s why new slang emerges. It may be that some music is meant to be difficult for anyone who didn’t grow up with it, that it is intended as a generational barrier.

    I’m sure such a barrier can be crossed, but perhaps some of the traits of hip hop, such as the extensive sampling and quotation, are sort of meant to get a “meh” out of listeners our age. Perhaps that is even an unspoken aesthetic principle.

    Just thinking out loud here. I have little data to go on. I’ve heard hip hop, but I’ve never sought it out or played anything a second time.

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