Solid wall of sound

Volume 50, Issue 8: Editor’s Desk

Carlo Javier // Editor-in-Chief

“I’m a creative genius and there’s no other way to word it,” – Kanye West

One of the stereotypes I often encounter is that because I am a Filipino, I should be musically talented. I should be able to play a handful of instruments and that I should be able to wow a crowd at a karaoke bar.

I do wow crowds in karaoke – just not in a good way.

Despite my utter lack of musical talent, I, like mostly anyone, am deeply passionate about music. I listen to a wide variety of genres, try my damnedest to be as open-minded as possible to new sounds and unlike our news editor, I very much consider and value rap’s place in music.

I first encountered and enjoyed the sounds of hip-hop in my childhood – think the likes of Nelly and Ja Rule – but it wasn’t until the seventh grade when I really fell down the rabbit hole of hip-hop wonderland.

By way of the NBA Live 07 soundtrack, I found “Kick, Push” by Lupe Fiasco and “Listen” by Talib Kweli – two songs that unknowingly set me off to an appreciation of not just sound, but lyrics, rhyme schemes and storytelling.

The rabbit hole guided me to other greats that your typical hip-hop head would recommend. From the usual suspects like Kanye West, Nas and OutKast, to deeper cut artists like The Roots, J Dilla and MF Doom. I grew to love hip-hop and even found myself integrating many of its facets in academia, whether it was through the simple use of profound lyrics as a preface for essay subsections, or using Yeezus as a medium to better understand George Herbert Mead’s Symbolic Interactionism Theory.

I saw rap music as a platform that existed beyond simple means of entertainment and business. I saw it as a way to dispense language and vernacular that otherwise would not have permeated past their places of origin.

In one of my final classes at Capilano University as an undergrad, I wrote a comprehensive thesis about my own racial identity and how I see my place in Canada’s multicultural community. In that class and the process of working on my research, I came to an understanding that the works of a great many rappers – and other musicians of other genres, too – not only influenced my place and perspective regarding things such as culture and collective identity, but also my very understanding and use of English. I joked about how Lupe Fiasco and Kanye West taught me the English language. Turns out it wasn’t really a joke.

Although music has been a great part of my life and identity, I, on the other hand, haven’t done much to reciprocate what music has done for me. The talent and capacities to pay tribute to music through actual performance and development of skill do not exist within me. And while I do try to attend a handful of live performances a year, I do still face the financial constraints that restrict my live show attendance.

As cliché as it sounds, music tends to be taken for granted. Much worse is how the hard work and creative process that musicians dedicate to their work can be cast aside by consumers. I may sound like one of the biggest Kanye “Stans”, but the blurred lines between “celebrity” and “artist” is slowly eradicating our genuine and organic appreciation of craft. I fear that when our legendary production designer, Cristian Fowlie, inevitably becomes the celebrity he deserves to be, we could forget that for years he did, and continues to, do the work.

In this week’s issue of the Courier, readers will get an inside look at one of CapU’s most revered programs: Jazz Studies. Like the other arts-based programs of CapU (IDEA, Acting for Stage and Screen, Costuming, etc.) students from the Jazz Studies program can be overlooked and forgotten. It doesn’t help that they often stay in the dwellings of the Fir Building.

Most of the general school demographic might not know, but Jazz Studies have produced quite the number of success stories. As CapU moves towards placing more emphasis on professional studies, I hope that the prestige and success of the Jazz Studies program – and other arts-based fields are not overshadowed, or worse, forgotten.

The arts is an infinitely valuable facet of our lives, and the least we can do to reciprocate that impact is to show appreciation to the artist as a creative, and not as a service provider.

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