We exist in a world teeming with waves of energy that our minds translate into what we perceive as sounds, ranging from the crash of rain on the pavement to the hum of tires on the road. Humanity has taken these noises and applied our understanding of patterns to them, creating music from the bangs and booms hidden around every corner. That is why when someone asks you, “What is hood music?”, your reply should be simple: Hood music is everyone’s music.
Hood music is the concentration of the energy surrounding the lives of those who grow up on broken streets with chain link fencing. It is a mixture of rampaging drums that get you crunk when Lil Jon comes hopping on the stage, combined with the wailing aches of Nina Simone which shout out a challenge to adversity and proclaim that she will feel joy in her life, and peppered with influences from every corner of the world. The musical inspirations of our past guide the creators in the hood, now enabled more than ever with digital music composing tools that help visionary producers shake the world through vibrations in the air.
Hood music can represent the happiest moments in our life, but it’s more frequently the horrors and pains that infiltrate the thoughts and minds of composers and songwriters. It is impossible to divest the rise of megalithic voices like the NWA, Kendrick Lamar, Mos Def, Immortal Technique, and even Kanye from the stories of true suffering of the people in the hands of a world who cares more about the bottom line than your life line. Conversely, the popularity of these artists contains both the activism from the expression of their worldviews from their lives in the hood and the joys we find to keep ourselves sane. After all, Sisqo didn’t make his name off the thong song nor did Luda have his associates demonstrate popping on a handstand because women dancing in string underwear makes a profound statement about the socioeconomic status of the people. Sometimes, it’s more than okay for it to be all about the booty.
So, what is hood music? If you don’t already know, you might have trouble figuring it out.