For quite some time I abandoned listening to the radio due to the lack of music that wasn’t along the lines of my taste. It’s not that I have great distain for music played on the radio, I just prefer the sounds of house, drum & bass, dance, electropop, and other electronic infused tunes. True, you can find music within those genres on satellite radio and certain major cities that have designated stations, but a few years ago it was an anomaly to hear such music in the Top Hits and American Billboard charts.
Growing up I had always been a huge fan of dance/electronic music, but kept it a hidden secret. While all the other kids were listening to hip-hop, rock, and pop, I was off in my own world listening to dance music from Chicago, New York, France (Daft Punk) and London. I had fallen in love with the house music of the 80s/90s, but it didn’t seem to be mainstream amongst my peers. So I kept it secret. House and dance music became a world I could escape to, a world that only a select few had the honor to experience.
As I grew older and began networking with various people at different schools (I moved around a lot,) I ran across a few individuals that were curious about the type of music I listened to. I couldn’t hide how I felt, so I began to open up and share my music playlists with my peers. Bad idea. During the early 2000s everyone was moving beyond the 90s hip-hop and rock scene, and falling in love with the latest trends in hip-hop and rock. Artists such as OutKast (I still love their music,) Jay-Z, Nelly, Missy Elliot, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Beyonce, Mariah Carey, and so many more contemporary artists were at the forefront of the American music scene.
Those artists were daily topics of interests amongst youth and young adults, so when I began telling people I love dance and house music, they’d look at me with uncertainty. It was if they asked themselves, “How can an African-American love techno?” Now, they didn’t actually phrase it like that, but I did have many people tell me that because I was African-American/Black I was acting “White” by listening to techno. The funny thing about their ignorance was the fact that I don’t even listen to techno. I hate techno. I listen to house, drum & bass, electropop, dance, garage, and dub-step, but I don’t enjoy techno. It’s all underneath the music category of electronic dance music, but each sub-genre is different.
The plague of musical ignorance during the early 2000s was frustrating at times, but I managed to survive. I understood that the music I listened to wasn’t quite popular in America, especially in the area I lived, but that just meant I’d have the luxury of daydreaming about one day moving to the United Kingdom. The UK has always been more accepting of a wide range of music, so it made perfect sense during the early 2000s.
But now it seems like I don’t have to daydream about moving to the UK in hopes of living in a culture saturated with dance music. In the past few years it seems as though it’s becoming more acceptable to combine hip-hop with dance music (essentially what many UK grime artists have done for years) and many major artists are know working with world renown DJ’s such as David Guetta, Afro Jack, Eric Prydz, Bob Sinclar, and Swedish House Mafia. The days of being mocked by my peers and called “White” are no longer an issue. Everywhere I turn I hear a major American artist such as Nicki Minaj, Usher, Ludacris, Pitbull, and Chris Brown teaming up with dance music superstars. It’s become popular to listen to dance music, produce dance tracks, and to recite the lyrics to LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem.”
Years ago it wouldn’t have been quite the norm amongst many of today’s urban American youth, but now it’s trendy to listen to dance music. There seems to be this ideology that if you listen to dance music, then you’re part of the “popular” crowd and the “hip” kids.
But prior to the American popularization of dance music, it was a genre that was already being accepted and cherished worldwide. It wasn’t something trendy you tweeted about. Dance music was just good music that people loved worldwide, but it took the American youth quite some time to realize that it’s okay to like dance music. And now that they realize it’s cool, it’s becoming extremely trendy and every artist is now pumping out some catchy dance track in order to stay “cool.”