MP3 Blogs are all the rage these days. I suppose in a way, with my occasional song blogs, Divisione di Gioia is something of an MP3 Blog, but the people quoted and mentioned in the linked article have taken it to an entirely different level.
I actually know one of their sources, though it has been a few years since we’ve crossed paths. Oliver Wang, a.k.a. O-Dub, used to hang out with me and my crew when we did our radio show back in college, and he’d show up at many of the parties I’d DJ. I mostly remember him as the kid trying to learn about hip hop, who was constantly asking “what song is that? what song is that?” and then jotting down the information we’d give him. It seems to have really paid off– he now markets himself as quite the expert on hip hop and old soul music. And before you read this as some sort of condemnation, or damnation via faint praise, I give him props for making a name for himself, and even more props for being honest– I see in his blog that he credits his mentors and admits to being a late-comer to the hip hop bandwagon. You’re welcome, Oliver.
After reading a bunch of the MP3 Blogs, I remember why I stopped collecting old soul and breakbeat records: it became this fetishist obsession that everyone and their brother was doing, seemingly more to be trendy than for any admiration of the music. When I started collecting records, virtually no one else was really into that style of music, but I loved the stuff; there is a rawness to those records that was nowhere to be found in the polished fare being transmitted over the airwaves at that time (or now). This meant that I could find great records at affordable prices all over the place. When hip hop went from being underground to mainstream music, a sudden interest picked up in the soul and funk records that spawned the genre. It was neat at first, as I suddenly had other people to talk with about the music, but once it reached a sort of critical mass there was this influx of the fetishists, and it all changed for the worse.
It became crappy for a few reasons, the first of which was strictly supply and demand. As people began wanting the same records, they became harder to find, and record sellers began upping their prices. Not only could I no longer find something awesome in the 99 cents super-saver bin, I pretty much couldn’t find it all. And if I did, the seller wanted $100 for the record.
Economics aside, by far the worst byproduct of all was that I had to associate myself with all those nouveau record-geeks. Imagine if something very personal and enjoyable to you suddenly became the trendiest fad among, say, the popped-collar polo shirt preppie and sorority girl set. Unless those are your people (and if so, my apologies for singling them out as especially moronic), you’d be embarrassed to associate yourself with them. And that’s how it became with the “crate digging rare groove beat junkies,” as they began to label themselves.
They all dressed the same, spoke the same, and had the same want lists. Once one of them would find some great new beat, they all had to have it. They produced massive lists of “All the Funky Songs, Ever” and distributed them. Maybe I am an elitist, but I believe in the whole pay-your-dues, old school mentality. I don’t want to know every great breakbeat record. That takes the fun out of discovering them. When I first found The Incredible Bongo Band’s “Apache” or Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” it was a treat, because I had come across a great track that I knew nothing about. Certainly, other DJs, and some collectors, already must have had those records, but the fact that I’d found the record myself made it fun. Now it’s like collecting stamps. You have this master list of every soul record ever released, and you are supposed to search and search until you find a copy. Boring.
It grew so tiresome, in fact, that eventually I just quit collecting records. The Oliver Wangs of the world had officially sucked all the fun out of it. As he says, now “the whole point is to show off.” To me the point was to find music I liked. Again I should point out– Oliver, pretty okay guy. He is just today’s magufffin, to use what seems to be my new favorite word.
When you like something, sometimes it’s great to find other people who share similar interests. But when that interest becomes something thousands of people are turning to simply because it has become a cool thing to be into, it starts to suck, and when a faddish “scene” develops around it, it sucks even more. There may be a more graceful way to phrase that, but that is basically how I feel. It sucks that a fun hobby was ruined when it became mainstream. I hear people bitching about this all the time with regards to any of a number of once-personal/ now-mainstream interests, and I empathize completely. It does indeed suck.
Today’s Question: Doesn’t that totally suck?