We have the facts and we’re going to use them

[This entry was originally posted in 作譜, but I figure it’s a lot more topical here. So I’m moving it.]

NewMusicBox magazine has an interesting essay by Frank J. Oteri about why you should listen to music you hate. Oteri cites two other sources for inspiring him to evaluate music based on objectivity and not on taste.

I think this is only half correct.

Any objective evaluation of music depends on understanding the culture that influenced its making. For the longest time, I didn’t listen to hip-hop, but I refused to say I didn’t like it, which would have been somewhat truthful. Instead, I said I didn’t understand it, and really, it doesn’t reflect the world in which I was raised.

But after watching a five-part documentary (on, of all places, VH-1) charting the history of hip-hop, I discovered the music was in fact rich and varied. And I found in 2003, I was buying quite a bit of hip-hop, albeit from critics darlings such as the Neptunes, Missy Elliott and Outkast.

I used to hate reggae, but that was only because I never heard the good stuff. I was raised listening to Hawaiian artists mangle reggae — they think they can play it, but really, they can’t.

At the moment, I’m ambivalent about jazz, and I think I could come to love the genre if I had the patience to learn how to listen.

And that’s the real crux of Oteri’s argument — you should listen to music you hate because it’s another way to explore the world around you.