Pl.A.List: What’s Crackin’
Since I got home from “vacation” last week, I’ve been doing some experimental dabbling in the Breakfast Sandwich department and anyone who’s followed me on Facebook would confirm and probably worry about my new obsession w/ my egg rings and the outstanding concoctions they doth spring forth. So for today’s Pl.A.List, to stay in line w/ my obsession of the moment, I’m gonna use the egg as a metaphor (because I feel the need to be more pretentious), while also giving you a little piece of myself. So how do I relate an egg, myself, and a group of songs that, with a build up like this, better make a good point? Well, it goes like this; back in the early 90’s, when it came to music, I was pretty much devoted to Hip Hop, Hip Hop and Hip Hop, it enveloped my whole makeup. I was Hip Hop, NY/NJ Hip Hop to be exact. I did dabble in a little bit of pop music, but it’s pop music, which means everyone’s heard it and it’s kinda impossible to hate an entire genre with absolutely no exceptions, and even that can mostly be attributed to my best friend, Doug, who was basically 5’11”, 150lbs of tightly packed, mainstream culture. To know Doug, is to know every song in the Billboard top 40 by heart, which is fine, to each his own and it did give me at least some variety in my musical outlook. So, there was a teenage Omar, completely encased in a shell surrounded only by Hip Hop Culture and some Pop music and other music types, especially Rock genres, were almost an affront to my tastes and a severe betrayal of my allegiance (Teenage intolerance, it’s Faaantastic!). But there would be 3 significant acts that helped me break out and see the light, turning me from an amorphous blob encased in a cell to a guy who broke out and was allowed to spread myself wider and accept new flavors and spices, totally new and exotic ingredients, creating a better, more diverse me (are you seeing the egg metaphor, cause I’m laying it out there pretty thick. It’s like I’m trying to win the “Beating a Dead Horse award” in the category of ‘Metaphors-We Get It Already!’).
Red Hot Chili Peppers-Give it Away
When this song came out on MTV, I had a foreign feeling; I kinda liked it. I didn’t admit it, but when it came on, I didn’t do the usual and immediately ignore it or change the channel, I would linger and it was in heavy rotation, so every time, I’d linger a little longer before I changed the channel, kinda lying to myself about how much I didn’t like it. During this period in time, a guy in my class, named Justin Case (which is both, an interesting name AND sort of a dick move by his parents, because you know kids jumped on the that name once they figured out the wordplay within.), anyway, Justin and I were in the same row in class and he didn’t really know rap and I didn’t really know rock and in sort of diplomatic conversations, I let him know I kinda liked Give it Away, he said he liked Public Enemy (the ‘Bring the Noize’ remix w/ Anthrax, specifically) and in the pseudo-music UN delegation that Justin and I had set up in the back corner of 6th period, we had a cultural exchange, he let me borrow Blood Sugar Sex Magik and he borrowed ‘Apocalypse ’91 : The Enemy Strikes Black’ and we both liked the albums we borrowed. I think that RHCP album was probably THE best album anyone could’ve given to me at that time to open me up. It was funk heavy a la’ George Clinton and it was produced by Rick Ruben, whom I still associated heavily with early Def Jam; License to Ill, LL Cool J-Radio, etc. So that album would be step one to a whole new me. A more honest me, a guy who could speak on the history of Hip Hop, in depth, from pretty much top to bottom and still dig on some Ozzy. Though at that point in time, I would admit nothing more than the fact that I kinda liked the Chili Peppers because “they were kinda rap”.
Alice in Chains-No Excuses
The next song worked itself nicely into my progression. It came outta nowhere, well out of nowhere as far as I knew, considering that Jar of Flies was not their first album or first success, but it/they were new to me. What helped here is that ‘No Excuses’ wasn’t hardcore, it wasn’t ‘metal’ heavy, it’s almost a retro folk song, even the guitar solo has a classic rock feel and all of that together worked for me, because even though I didn’t listen to pretty much any other kinda rock, I still had an appreciation for that which came before me and ‘No Excuses’ was light enough, that I could excuse it and it got me to the next step of breaking the shell, by now, the cracks in the shell are significant you can tell that it wouldn’t be too much longer before the whole thing breaks open and I just come oozing out into the pan.
This one still shocks me. There is no way I would’ve ever guessed that the me, the pre “Open-Omar” me, would’ve even liked this song and I surely wouldn’t have guessed that this would be the track that basically said, “Stop Bullshitting, stop hating genres and appreciate whatever music it is for the music that it is. Sober was wild, first there’s the video, which is the main reason that I ever stopped to listen to the song in the first place. If its’ 1993-94 and this claymation nightmare shows up on your screen, you’re probably gonna stop and wonder which of Satan’s minions created this monster (and then Satan will tell you it’s a false positive and that he’s gonna take Tool to court for trademark infringement), but you will watch. Then there’s Maynard James Keenan, he has an amazing voice. It’s not so much that it’s “beautiful” but the guy has amazing control and vocal mastery to do a lot of things some the best singers couldn’t dream of. When Maynard wants to stick the note, he’s gonna stick the note. Then there’s the double guitar hits of the song and when it all comes together, it was just the thing I needed to come out of my shell and start looking around the musical landscape. I can still love my De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang, PE, whatever. I was the only one holding me back and these 3 incidents made me realize that. It is not an affront to my values to have a wider range of tastes, in fact, it enhances my appreciation of nuances that I never knew existed. Basically it growed me up a bit and I’m better and happier and mostly, more well rounded for it.
So that’s it, a little autobiographical Pl.A.List, a little metaphor and a little story on how it all began, the catalyst to me opening my horizons and from this, I now get down with some of my newer favorite groups, SoundGarden, The Who, The Stones, and Radiohead (oh beautiful Radiohead), even Jimi Hendrix, groups I may have never dared to try if it hadn’t been for those first few. I opened myself up to new flavors to become the man I am now, The Incredible Edible A.
ps: gotta thank Mark from WordPress for helping me out and fixing the error on the website quickly after I emailed them to get me up and running in mere hours as opposed to days, which a lot of free services will sometimes do. Now I’m back online, ready to torture the world w/ my opinions and prose.