So I’ve figured out the twin engines that fuel my scholastic inquiry: talking to people and listening to music.
When I feel like studying popular music and people are the most boring things ever it is usually because I haven’t done enough listening to people and enjoying music.
Sounds obvious don’t it?
Yeah, I know. But in my line of work people (and their experiences) and music (and the stuff that comprises it) are the data, the meat, the heart of what I do. And when I dive into it, I find it is the most interesting, exciting, and confusing pool of intrigue that I could imagine. The equation of people + music really does equal a bottomless pit of possibilities of interpretation. And now that I’ve sorta gotten over myself, I enjoy the unexpected answers and perplexing questions that people ask me about Atlanta.
My mind is going into overdrive as I ruminate on some of the ideas people have recently mentioned to me. Some are big ideas others are anecdotal. But all or fodder for intellectual curiosity. I’ve been listening to folx wax poetic about the myth of the “Black mecca” the influence of freaknik of the reverse migration the impact of, the irony of high schools named for prominent African Americans built on streets named for confederate generals, and countless other points of interest.
It’s been fun keeping track of musicians and rappers that every person seems to mention. Shouts out to Kilo Ali, Raheem the Dream, Outkast, and Goodie Mob. It’s also been educational folx talking to me about old school clubs lik Kaya, Altanta Live, The Gate, 559, and 112. Some I had the pleasure of attending, some I’m glad I missed! But each spot contributed something integral to the way people around here engaged with the music and the development of unique Atlanta scenes. Folx have got me revisiting my own musical roots of bass music, the Dungeon Family, and (formerly) indie artists like India.Arie and John Mayer in search of more secrets of the ATL experience.
This says nothing of current hip hop artists. I went to A3C hip hop festival (shout out to one of my fave hip hop heads for the free pass!) where I spent days listening to hip hop artists and producers from around the country. One of my favorite FAVORITE performances was from ATL native, Pill. Man look, he got on stage and performed his street hit “Trap Goin Ham” and the damn club went ham! His energy was infectious. (Also shouts out to the homies, Tanya Morgan, who made me so proud as they rocked the stage, Diamond District, who made a believer out of me, and DJs Premier and 9th Wonder, who also make my soul bounce.)
But so what?
I don’t really know yet, so don’t ask me. And I’m cool with the not knowing (for now). Right now I’m in phase one of this project and just listening to folx and music and allowing myself to just relax and see where these people and these sounds lead me.
I’m the little researcher that could, and I’m starting to believe that there just might be a dissertation and a Ph.D. at the top of this ethnographic mountain!