Late last year, I got an Uber with my grandparents from the Whitney to a Williamsburg bar. Putting the internal inconsistencies plaguing that sentence to one side, what was most interesting about the ride was the driver/car combo. I didn’t ask Trevor how old he was when his Audi A6 pulled up but I’m not sure the answer would have changed the ridiculous sense of youth that permeated the luxury vehicle. Occasionally I feel old. But I tend to surround myself with enough in the way of cultural ephemera to not feel disconnected, to still feel of a piece with the kids these days. In Trevor’s Audi, I was suddenly ancient. I can usually hold court when it comes to hip-hop chat but Trevor was in a whole other league. When I, sheepishly, mentioned that I liked Chance The Rapper (who was riding the wave of Coloring Book‘s popularity at the time), he looked at me with a face so thoroughly unimpressed I wanted to jump out at the next light and walk to Brooklyn. ‘Who are you into, then?’ I asked, hoping to find some common ground.
While the whole concept of Uber was foreign to my grandparents, happily ensconced in the back of the German luxury car and oblivious to the cultural shaming going down up front, Trevor’s answer to my innocent question involved names and terms so unfamiliar that I didn’t really know where to start in reply. Trevor spoke of a world of hip-hop removed from the everyday, bounded by the geographical limits of particular neighbourhoods and utterly impenetrable to those who found themselves on the outside looking in. One expects, in this age of hyper-consolidated musical consumption that, despite the myriad choices available to us on streaming services and the like, most kids bopping around with Beats in their ears on the subway are listening to the same Spotify Top 40 drivel. Not so. Trevor opened my eyes to healthy, and entirely stealthy, music subcultures, bubbling up on the peripheries of this concrete island. His number one recommendation? A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie.
I think I laughed at the time. I’d like to say it was because the name A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is ridiculous but it was probably nerves boiling over. What did I think of his latest mixtape with so-and-so? Uh. But how good was this one track, right? Er. Had I not heard of him? So. I was ultimately less impressed with Trevor’s enthusiasm for ABWDH than I was woefully demoralized by my patent youth-culture blind spot, and so I didn’t look him up. This past weekend, as ridiculous cars are wont to do on my street, ‘Drowning’ was reintroduced to me at full volume at about 1 a.m. Roused from my slumber, I vividly recalled the lullaby-like melody that belies the boastful quality of the lyrics and have since immersed myself deeply in the track. I still can’t stomach Kodak Black’s childish verse, and I’m only now getting around to telling people that one of my new favourite tracks is by this other guy with a ridiculous artist name, but I like the feeling listening to ‘Drowning’ gives me. Is it bad to listen to music that you organically dislike if, slowly, you come around and realize it contains the elixir of youth?
A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie – Drowning (Water) Ft. Kodak Black