i hope you get cancer™

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Fight for your right to residents' parking

I was listening to the Beastie Boys at full volume in the office the other day, while preparing a postgraduate seminar on political economy. Unfortunately my iPod headphones (see earlier post) weren't man enough for the job, and Paul Revere seeped out. One of the five colleagues with whom I share an office still hasn't got over this several days later; he finds the unlikeliness of my musical taste hysterical. Yet as I pointed out to him, I've been listening to hip-hop all my adult life, and to the Beastie Boys since 1985, when I was 24. A few years ago, I was ill in hospital and got talking to this kid of about 19 who played me a hip-hop mp3 he had on his phone, much as one would for a high court judge. Expecting me to pull a face, he looked baffled when I said it sounded OK and asked who it was by. "You like hip-hop?", he asked, and just couldn't compute when I explained I'd been listening to it since I was his age. This has got me thinking, not for the first time, about how hip-hop has been the soundtrack for more than one generation. It is a truism to say that the typical hip-hop fan is white, and given that it has been with us for almost 30 years, it should not be surprising that many devotees are now in their 40s. Yet the music retains an edge, an underground aesthetic, that rock'n'roll lost decades ago. Noone would be surprised if they discovered me listening to U2, or even The Strokes. But the Beastie Boys? Jurassic 5? J-Kwon? Snoop? Geddoudahere! What was heartening when I saw the Beasties at Wembley recently was the sheer diversity of the crowd. I was there with my 15-year old daughter; ages ranged from late teens up, with a reasonable proportion of black and brown faces among an admittedly predominantly white crowd. At most concerts these days, the people streaming out after the show look like they've come off a production line. Not so here. But am I alone? I can't believe 40-somethings are that rare among the hip-hop nation. Or is it simply that one's supposed to have grown out of music by this age? Thoughts welcome...