Why am I inevitably drawn to some music that has excellent beats but questionable lyrics at the same time? I find myself jamming out to Snoop Dogg and R. Kelly in my car while they rap and sing demeaning lyrics about women while using the F-word, the N-word, and several other phrases I wouldn’t want my kids listening in on. Sometimes I put my iPod on shuffle and I go off to do other things while it’s playing in another room. Then I have to come running when I recognize the first beats of a Jay-Z track, or when Disturbed comes on. Lexi has taken to calling them my “adult songs,” and I laugh, but I also wonder why I’m so drawn to them in the first place.
I guess it started when I was 15 and I found this record store in Southwest Philly that sold more than just gospel music. In fact, I don’t even know if they had a gospel record section, but they sure had the latest in gangster rap and r&b. Then, a year later I found another record shop on Baltimore Pike that sold industrial music, and I gravitated to music by Eazy-E and Dr. Dre at the first store, while Nine Inch Nails and KMFDM fascinated me at the second. Before long I had a wide range of these types of music in my collection, supplementing the gospel music and other Christian artists.
But, get this? I liked them more. I would rather hear “March of the Pigs” than Amy Grant’s “Lead Me On.” I would rather crank up “Gangstas Need Love Too” than jam out to “Friends” by Michael W. Smith. Yet, if anyone ever caught me listening to them I would have been so embarrassed. Even now if I’m playing those songs there’s an element of illicitness to it all that I have to admit acts as an aphrodisiac for me in some ways. Maybe that’s it after all, that I feel on some level that I shouldn’t even be listening to it, and by doing so it makes me a kind of bad boy that I never was before, and that maybe I’m still not. But I convince myself of it while the songs are on.