You can watch any of the tens of news channels to see the climate out there. It’s not pretty. It’s just like any disaster movie. There’s always a part where the world is falling apart and people are just running down a rather long hallway to try to escape through a padlocked door. That’s the best metaphor I can give to describe these political campaigns right now. To escape the noise, I always retreat to the thing that does not require any frequent flyer miles or long layovers or require me frantically looking for a charger as my phone counts down to the last bar. Music. There is always music. You can say it’s an escape for us all. It could be it be writing about it or taking pictures of one of my favorite artists. One of the strongest relationship you may have in your life will either be with your headphones or playlist. My apologies to the spouses of the world, but it’s true.
To me, one of the appeals of my relationship with music is that it’s for the most part, colorblind. When I wake up and turn my music on, I usually choose based on what can give me a jolt of energy to start my day. Whether it a solo riff from Metallica’s Kirk Hammett or some clever bars from Royce da 5’9″, it speaks to the beauty of music itself. There is literally something for everyone for all walks of life and I don’t have to use my color to define it. I’ve been blessed to be in the musical journalism field for a better part of two years which has exposed me to amazing opportunities in all genres of music. There was one time where I was on my way to photograph Warped Tour and I was playing Lamb Of God‘s latest album, VII: Sturm und Drang. I have a tendency to blast music (I need to stop that, honestly) and someone, a white man overheard it.
“Are you playing Lamb Of God?”, the man asked me with a puzzled look on his face. “Yea, actually, they are one of my favorite metal bands.” I replied as I prepared to offer some explanation. “That’s really cool, dude. The new album right?” We proceeded to talk about every time we saw them live and what our favorite songs were. I’m not saying that this Disney-like happy ending happens all the time, but I see it happen more often than not. Even photographing a Dropkick Murphysshow last year, where I thought that I was going to catch major static for served as an eye opener. An Irish man bought me a beer, and even though I dislike the Red Sox (Yankees all the way!), we enjoyed the show after I was done taking pictures. Do you see how dope music is?
There are still some work to be done in the industry. Many talented women unfortunately still face harassment and bias no matter what line of work in music they choose. There could be better representation of minorities in bigger music publications (and not just writing about rap music). To date, you have Rolling Stone (0), Spin (2), Pitchfork (4), and Noisey (2). Although, with music, I still have hope that we can always get it right. That’s more than I can say for our political process as of now. As the world seems to be exploding into the last major battle scene of The Dark Knight Rises on the outside, music is giving a blueprint on how to be accepting to everyone on the inside. I can’t really recall feeling out of place for being the only “black” guy in a photo pit. If anything, I feel more at home because we are all fans to something that connects us all.
As I right this, my Facebook news feed is probably full of hot takes from the protests that took place at the Trump convention at Chicago. In politics these days, people are so entrenched in their own views that our processes can become stagnant and downright disgusting. In another corner, friends are debating who is the better rapper – J Cole or Kendrick Lamar. No slurs, no bigotry – just points of view trying to top itself. We are acting searching for answers in ways to come together and often overlook something that we have every day. Listen to the music.