Earlier today I was having a conversation about why a lot of “real” rap music (whatever that means) doesn’t sell anymore. Part of the explanation in my opinion has to do with the fact that a lot of hardcore consumers of music stopped paying for music. With the rise of the internet, blogs, file sharing, ect. It became easier for the rap nerds to just jack records outright, or maybe just pick and choose a couple of songs of a record to download.
Then it lead me to reminisce on how I used to actually pay for records, and how much of a fun experience it was for me. I used to find out about new music/artists from pretty much two sources. MTV Jams and record stores. It makes me laugh considering how I don’t really f*ck with either entities any longer. But that’s what it was. I would spend countless hours in my basement watching MTV jams and then every Saturday or so I would hit the road and go a town over to my personal favorite record store Strawberries.
Now Strawberries was kind of a corny spot, but it had a vital attribute that a lot of other stores didn’t have. They had these headphones stands, much like every other record store. However, what made Strawberries super ill was that you could scan any record in the store and they would provide you with 30 second snippets of all the tracks on the record. So I would literally spend hours just standing in that store going through the hip-hop/rap section checking out CD’s. Now I usually went into the store with a couple of albums in mind (usually inspired by MTV Jams), but would always being checking out other things that caught my eye. This is what made album artwork so important. Now I feel like artwork is kind of secondary because I usually hear music from an artist before I see an album cover from them. But at that point in time that artwork would be my first impression of an artist. Album art was in many ways my “blog” at the time. If I saw something I liked I would scan the record, and get a taste for the artist 30 seconds at a time. Most of those cd’s would be placed directly back into the cd rack. But sometimes I would find music that would come to be the soundtrack to my life. I remember buying up to 5 or 6 records at a time sometimes.
Then I would rush out to the whip, and spend the next couple of hours smoking weed and listening to my new purchases. My point is that it was an experience, and a pure one at that. Buying music was a day long activity for me. There wasn’t a comment section for me to hate in. There wasn’t a blogger to influence my perception of an artist. It was also an activity that required mobility. I didn’t just sit at a computer downloading music, I got off my a$$ and did something. I think that is one weaknesses of the internet. You don’t think you have to put boots on the ground as much to experience the culture, when in reality you most likely do. Buying physical cd’s was just an awesome experience, and while it may be out dated as well. I’m happy I did it, and it will forever shape my lifelong relationship with music.