I'm a black kid from St.Louis. I should be a Rock and Roll expert. Rock was born in St.Louis. The legend and pioneer Chuck Berry is from here. I should've had vinyls upon vinyls to listen to when I was a child but that wasn't the scenario. The closest thing I listen to that was rock was some Michael Jackson songs, wrestlers walk out songs, Weird Al Yankovic Behind The Music special (Don't know why I watched it all the time), and theme songs of cartoons and kid shows that chose to incorporate rock music into those themes. Hip-Hop and R&B was all I listened to and I would not give any other genre a chance.
It wasn't cool to listen to rock on my block. As some of the homies would say, "That's that white people shit," which is funny because it was our people who created it. Crazy how times change. When I would watch music videos on "The Box" every time a rock video would come on I'd change the channel and wait until a E-40 video was playing or something. I never cared.
When I started attending school in a majority white school district. I heard rock music more and more. Still not by choice. It's just what the kids played there. The looks on these white kids faces when I said I never heard of Korn or No Doubt. I listen to No Limit, I never heard of none of these people. They were just so into rock and pop music that it was very hard for me to fit in or relate to anyone. Rap for them was very popular artists at the time like DMX or Limp Bizkit and Insane Clown Posse. Don't get me started on their love for Eminem. He was their savior.
I was old enough to understand the terror of the Columbine school shooting and all I would see on T.V is rock music being blamed for that terror. Marilyn Manson was the name brought up the most. I just knew him from Celebrity Deathmatch and the more they kept blaming rock music for it the more I distanced myself from it. If I heard it at a friends house I would tune it out. I just really had no desire to listen to it.
Then N.E.R.D happened. All I would listen to is N.E.R.D. It went no further than that. I guess because they would blend in melodies with the rock they played is why I was so fascinated by them. They were my favorite rock band. I still wouldn't give anything else a chance.
I was about 22 years old and I meet up with a friend at a bar (He's white) and we always talk about hip-hop. We're in the bar and this song comes on and everyone in the bar is singing this song including him and I ask him who sings this and he just looked at me stunned. After the shock of not knowing this classic song he tells me go out and get this album and listen to it straight through and let me know what you think. I did just that and I was hooked to this album. I won't say the name of the band because I plan to write about them later but I loved what I heard.
After playing the bands music so much I knew that there had to be more great rock music out there for me to hear. I was finally interested. Luckily Google was the baddest bitch on the planet. I'd cuff Google if I could. I type in the search box something like "Greatest Rock Albums." So many results. I see so many interesting album covers. One really stuck out. A naked baby floating under water looking at a single dollar bill on a fish hook. Fucking weird but fuck it I'll give this album a try.
The very first song I say to myself "Yo I heard this on that Weird Al Yankovic behind the music special and this is Diamond Dallas Page theme song!" DDP (Wrestler) came out to the melody and Weird Al made a parody of the song but I never knew who created it. The song was so rock but yet so easy going. The hook was so catchy and the singer's voice was so hypnotizing. The song had me hooked just seconds into it. I wanted more. It was like a drug. This was the day I heard Nirvana.
I've seen Kurt Cobain before but for the wrong reason. He died. I remember seeing him on MTV when he died. Never knew what band he played for I just knew he was a rock star. As an adult listening to these lyrics he wrote, I definitely understand his suicide. I'm listening to his music after the fact so it's easy for me to understand. Just imagine the fans they had before 1994 just thinking it's only music and nothing more. It's really creepy and eerie when I think about it.
Krist on the bass was just so easy going. Dave on the drums carried the tempo of the band. The 3 of them were just so perfect together. I just couldn't stop listening to "Nevermind." I started feeling so ashamed of why didn't I listen to this growing up? If I learned anything about my new found interest in rock music it's that you shouldn't give a fuck what people think. Like what you like. You'll miss out on so much when you try to hide your curiosity and interests.
Nevermind was their most popular album so it's easy to see why it's so loved. I went back and listened to their first album "Bleach" (Dave wasn't apart of the band on that album) and the album was the total opposite of Nevermind. It was dark, filthy, and muddy. Kurt vocals sounded like he was in agony when he sang. It's a album that lived up to the "Grunge" name. I loved that album too. There was the MTV Unplugged album which I think it was a concert that really defined Kurt as an artist. I really loved MTV Unplugged because of how intimate the setting is. It's not a huge stadium. You can see everybody you're playing for. It brings out the best in artists.
The last album the band created "In Utero" is probably the most interesting album out of the three. At the time it was released that would be a weird statement because Kurt was still alive but years later after seeing the documentaries, and getting more insight on his downward spiral you really don't hear those lyrics the same. Listening to "All Apologies" it sounds like a suicide note. Maybe it was. We will never know. The album is really sad. Listen to "Rape Me" and I dare you to come back and tell me that isn't some sad shit. It's the self hatred anthem.
The reason why Kurt Cobain became such an influence for me is that he wasn't afraid to share through his music what made him vulnerable. When I hear Nirvana songs I'm not seeing or hearing a guy that doesn't care about life. I'm seeing a man who really gives a fuck about life. He's always questioning it. He's always curious on why he feels the way he feels. Is happiness truly possible? How do you keep it? Why do we have to pretend to be something we're not to attain it? Put ourselves in positions we don't want to be in to experience it? Why are people cruel?
Kurt really cared about life because if he didn't he wouldn't care to ask questions like that. If anything he cared too much. Kurt showed us that depression can be a disease. The world saw that it's okay to be depressed because not everyone wants the "American Dream." Everyone's idea of happiness isn't identical.
I look back on their career and I saw that they were the weirdos. They were weirdos and they were winning. They were the losers that the jocks would pick on because they didn't act like "American Kids." They didn't care about sports or societal norms. Kurt just wanted to smoke weed and make music. The way they dressed back then wasn't in. It looked like they shopped in the lost and found bin. They didn't look like stereotypical rock artists. They didn't conform to what people thought was cool. They were really the underdogs in rock music.
After becoming a fan close to 13 years after his suicide and watching all the documentaries made about Kurt. I saw a part of me in him. A man always searching. A man always yearning to understand why are things the way that they are. So many emotions he would show. Anger. Curiosity. Despair. He's one of the few artists I relate to. I really thank him for that.
I don't know the exact date I first heard Nirvana but I'll never forget how they made me feel.