Had the Hulu series “Wu-Tang: An American Saga” premiered two years ago, there’s a good chance that I would’ve been condescendingly critical of it.
As a 1980s baby, I’ve always looked at music through the rosiest of tints. I mean, this is the Wu-Tang Clan. This is the group that defined an entire genre of music in the 1990s.
I remember being a 10-year-old boy catching the bus to buy a brand-new copy of “Wu-Tang Forever” on a two-disc CD set. I remember ripping the cellophane wrapping off and popping in the first disc to my 45-second anti-skip portable CD player.
Ah, the good old days. Nothing a long bus ride and a fresh pack of AA batteries couldn’t solve. 1997 was a great year for hip-hop.
Hip-hop has always been integral to my life and, as a 32-year-old man, I had what I would consider to be the luxury of being wedged in the middle of such a cultural and era-defining expression of music, art, and lifestyle.
Not quite being ready for the impact groups like N.W.A, Geto Boys, or Public Enemy would leave on the culture amid the late 1980s and early 1990s, and seldom listening to anything Lizzo or Travis Scott might shoehorn into radio rotation between mixtape sessions, I personally found myself at a crossroads.
Do I want to become the cynical old grump that I once in my adolescence would chastise and ridicule for not being with “it?’” Do I want to become the guy who was so sequestered in his memories from yesteryear that simply appreciating anything new was unfathomable?
As a Millennial, it’s a unique circumstance to say the very least being raised in an era where a genre of music pioneered by Generation X is still being cultivated by Zennials today. It’s hard being in the middle of something, especially something of such cultural magnitude, and not feeling at least slightly pretentious that the era was the “best” when you were at the forefront it.
That very idea opens the ongoing question of whose era was “better”? Of course, there’s no objective way to substantiate which generation was the most influential to the creation, stability, and expansion of hip-hop, and trying to do so would most likely outlast the chicken or the egg mystery.
New Musical Express, a British online music publication, reports that vinyl is set to outsell CDs for the first time since 1986.
This could mean is that people now simply get a kick out of nostalgia and want to feel like their connection to music takes them back to a time where things were a lot simpler. Or perhaps it could mean that more people like me are finding mediums to blend together eras of music as well as technologies and make the dividers of eras within a genre of music vaguer and more acquiesced.
I don’t know which holds more truth, but I hope it’s the latter. As an avid fan of hip-hop, I want to be the person who can see pieces of his childhood and adolescence being depicted in biopics and sharing with them with the same rose-tint as I saw them, rather than clinging to a faded memory unable to move forward with the changing world.