Postmodern. Post-war. Post-racial. You name it, we'll post it.
I find it cute how, for a generation so averse to labels and rigid definitions, we've managed to create a shit ton of labels and...well, definitions. Okay, their not as rigid or conclusive as our forebears, but it's still interesting; our almost desperate attempt to avoid categorization resulting in the uncategorized becoming a category. I should probably back it up a bit, huh?
It starts, as all great trains of thought, with shitty dining hall coffee and a friend. We were like any good hipster on a Tuesday, skipping a lecture and discussing Frank Ocean. I drop a Little Known Black History Fact; how Channel Orange had been the first album to win an Academy Award for Best Urban Contemporary Album in 2013. Think I saw it on UberFacts or something.
As I sip java with the homie, we conclude that, well, neither of us have any idea what the actual fuck Urban Contemporary means. Sure, we knew what the words implied. Urban as shorthand for “black”. Contemporary as an abbreviation of “new shit”. So is Channel Orange Black New Shit? Pharrell Williams won the same award in 2015. Is it, then, New Black Shit?
Being good little millennials, we looked up the Academy's definition online. Ahem,
El oh el. Frank Ocean HATES when you call his music R&B.
My nameless manz, who was then about to leave for his next lecture, throws the coffee cup into the recycling bin before imparting a gem. “I guess it's sort of like when faceass producers say their beats are ‘post-genre’.” He laughed and left.
I stayed and opened my laptop. He may have been on to something. A second Google study session ensues and, it turns out, Franky ain't the only artist averse to name-calling. There’s been a rapidly expanding contingency of music makers defining their tracks as “post-genre”.
I find this problematic; not that labels evolve and evaporate so quickly but that we're starting to abandon them entirely. The prospect of going on iTunes and reading a stack of “post-genre”s litter the right side of my playlists seems bland and uneventful. I feel that, soon, it will be too cool to call anything “anything”. Does that leave us with a lot of nothing?
The problem arose, as always, because the Internet. Well, Soundcloud mostly. Music is over the high school cafeteria model, I get it. Artists want to sit wherever they want, eat wherever they want, and get up to take a shit or trade metaphorical bologna sandwiches for coveted Gogurt packets, if they have to.
But why not just think of cooler titles? Less “Urban Contemporary” and more inclusive or exclusive or regional based dubs. We NEED titles. For the sake of posterity. For the sake of music searches. For the sake of saying "you young whippersnappers don't know nuffin 'bout dat der drill music, sonny" when I'm 97 and nonetheless beating my feat at bingo night.
How about we keep the names and lose the boxes.