In a world where people are judged by how they look and what they associate themselves with, lovers of specific music genres are often subjected to stereotypes that are a far cry from the person they really are.
In June last year, a Catholic priest in Migori County was given a one-year suspension for rapping during his preaching. Obviously, music with any secular influence, even if it has a positive message, has no place in this church.
This stereotyping starts in childhood, where some parents control the kind of music their children listen to, in the process passing down the myths that surround the various categories of music.
In this age when music has become more enshrined in our society, and with it the rise of role models and personalities that young people look up to, does what and who you listen to determine your character?
My taste in music is evolving. While in primary school, I was a huge fan of local music, which changed to RnB, Pop and Jamaican riddims when I joined high school. Then, there was a huge sense of pride when you’d tell your friends what riddim had been dropped and the songs that came with it.
Presently, I love house and trance music, sub genres of electronic music. It has been so for the past five years. In my playlist, you’ll come across artistes and producers that are rarely or never played in our airwaves. Looking back, my experience at university had an impact on the kind of music that appealed to me. It was about when the Swedish House Mafia had released a major global hit, "Don’t you worry child", that had thousands singing along.
I liked the sound of it, and from then on, listened to more of the same genre. I got hooked to the sounds and discovered several DJs and producers along the way. At some point, I would use various software such as Virtual DJ and Traktor to create amateurish mixes of all the songs I had to listen to in the matatu and also share with friends.
I’d be having a conversation with someone and when I mentioned that I was a fan of house or trance music, the person would appear impressed by my foreign taste in music and assume that I came from wealthy home, and that I knew how to party.
The reality though, was that on many occasions when a foreign DJ came to town, I couldn’t afford the ticket, but even when I could, I still could not bring myself to attend because I felt that it wasn’t my scene and that I wouldn’t relate with the crowd either. It was alienating on both ends.
With all the experiences and the evolution I have gone through, I can confidently say that music is just as is, and anybody who chooses to embrace values being portrayed in the words or culture associated with a given genre makes an independent moral decision, not a musical one. There are many people who listen to jams that glorify the gangster life, but are not criminals, as well as many who are lovers of soft music, but are very rough guys. Before judging anyone by the music they listen to, take time to understand why they do it, and who they really are at the core.
As a born–again Christian who serves in the childrens’ department at my church and who attends Bible study regularly, there are those who wonder why I listen to secular music. Mostly, it’s those who serve in church that mostly get concerned when they hear me sing along to a secular song or talk about a particular secular artist.
I have a liking for Afro beat, a combination of elements of West African musical styles and Rhythm and Blues. According to some church ministers, Christians are only supposed to listen to gospel music, any other type of music might corrupt good morals.
Once, I was forced to delete all the secular songs in my phone because I was told that the songs did not glorify God, which is our sole mandate.
I believe that there is an emotional, not spiritual, connection when it comes to music. People relate to music in different ways, religion notwithstanding. One moment, I might relate to a secular song be-cause it reminds me of someone and sing to a gospel song the other moment because it makes me feel happy.
For instance, if I am bored or doing house chores, I will listen to Afrobeat. When I feel down, R&B songs uplift my spirits. However, before and after I pray, or whenever I need to get into praying mood, I listen to gospel songs.
I have been told that any music that is not gospel will make me regress, but from experience, the diversity of the music I listen to doesn’t in any way affect my faith or my relationship with God. If a song makes sense to me, then I will listen to it. When it comes to music, there’s no borderline for me be-tween the artists and their songs. If I don’t like a particular artist due to their character, I won’t listen to them. Presently, my favourite artistes are American artists, Beyonce and Ariana Grande. I believe that my upbringing has everything to do with the fact that I don’t limit myself to a particular genre of music, my parents allowed my siblings and I to listen to whatever music that appealed to us.
Student &Freelance Writer
Growing up, I did not identify with any genre of music, and would listen to any songs played on the radio. Music was just one of the many ways to relax during my downtime.
After completing secondary school in 2012, I got attracted to reggae music, mainly because it was my friends’ favourite genre and I wanted to fit in. With time however, I developed an intimate interest for the music and I started resonating with the messages in the songs besides enjoying the beats and rhythm. I am a loyal reggae listener today. Many misconceptions exist around this particular genre of music. I believed it was associated with drug abuse and that loyal fans subscribes to a particular dress code. Back then, people with dreadlocks were presumed to be reggae fans. I don’t own any clothes that pay homage to the reggae culture though, and have never had dreadlocks. I identify with the music, not the artistes or the perceived culture. Also, I have never attended a reggae event although I consider myself a fan.
To some of my relatives, my choice of music comes as a surprise and arouses questions about my character, largely because of the stereotypical beliefs that are associated with this category of music. I have found that most reggae songs have strong messages embedded with values of peace, love and respect, and I draw a lot of inspiration from them.
My view is that music is a personal journey, and no one should be judged by what they listen to as long as the music doesn’t promote vices such as crime.
Social Media Manager
When I tell people that I don’t listen to mainstream music or that I have a huge disconnect with local artistes, I am met with looks of disbelief and many want to know why.
My taste in music is different. I find no appeal in most local music since I find it predictable. I listen electronic music instead, the kind of songs one can’t dance to.
I grew up listening to the various music genres but settled on this type in 2015. One day, while surfing the internet, I chanced upon a song by Martin Garrix, a Dutch DJ and record producer and got sold out. Through his music, I discovered other artistes and updated my playlist, some of whom have few views and are unknown.
However, for some reason, my mother found the music strange, and attributed the sounds and instrumentation to theistic Satanism, an umbrella term for devil worshippers. While most associate the music with clubbing and drug abuse, I am not into either.
Before I shaved off my hair, I wore an afro, and many would ask me about Hip Hop, a genre I know little about. Various misbeliefs regarding the different genres music aside, I think that the choice of one’s music can say a lot about their personalities. I like to ask new friends what they listen to because it gives me a sneak preview into their social life.