"You Need To Hear This"

It was winter 1993 sitting on the back of the bus with the usual boisterous behaviour then Ian, my classmate came rushing to us shouting “you need to hear this” jamming the headphones onto my head. The next 4 minutes of my life were scintillating, exciting, energised and above all free.

I bounced throughout the day excitedly looking forward to the bus ride home just to listen again and try and convince Ian to let me take the tape home so I can record it on a brand new Memorex 90 minute tape I would buy. That moment solidified my musical taste forever more; the song was ‘The Shiznit’ by Snoop Doggy Dogg. I had listened to this type of music previously and grown fond of it in passing but this song consumed me and made me crave more as though life depended upon it.

Roll on some years later and I have found myself a part of a generation of conscious thinkers that frequently look for the hidden meaning in words or actions almost metaphorically. I have participated in many a conversation regarding musical taste and quite recently a friend asked, what impact did music have on you whilst growing up? The question posed is a huge one and in my experience not frequently discussed in adult life. You see, I recall being dragged to festivals across London throughout the summer by childhood friends listening to thumping bass and the sound of generators scattered across parks like Hackney Downs, Finsbury Park, Burgess and Brockwell parks. The excitement of the journey to go and hear the latest dancehall music never really captured me the same way it did my friends but I enjoyed arriving and seeing large crowds of people gathering to be mesmerised by messages received through huge speakers. After each festival I would sit on the bus listening to the latest Hip Hop music I could get my hands on. I was captivated with the words and meanings behind them, I digress as I roll around comfortably in my duvet of nostalgia not wanting to leave the thought.

Throughout the following years my craving took me deeper and deeper into this genre of music as I discovered a number of artists that felt speaking directly to me. Artists like Ice Cube, Paris, Kam and then Wu Tang Clan without me realising at the time shaped my mind and became heavily influential in terms of how I viewed society. I looked for the hidden meaning in things almost all the time and paid particular attention the words people used and how they strung them together and always asked, why?

Upon reflection this music genre influenced my thought process and ultimately got me labelled as ‘rebellious’ in school as I refused to ignore the lessons being taught me by these artists. Moving into adult life and curiosity literally forcing me to confirm the tales I had heard via music, tales of Kush, Emmet Till, Marcus Garvey, Malcom X, George Washington, Henry Ford and many other historical figures I gained great comfort in being able to verify these tales as opposed to those lessons taught me at school of things that simply didn’t resonate with me.

Forgive me for the nostalgic trip down memory lane but the original question opens up a plethora of emotions, thoughts and memories that have all played a huge part in shaping the person I am today. That being said I ask you, what Influence did music have on you in your youth?