THE FULL CIRCLE OF MUSIC

I think it’s interesting how music has made a full circle in my life.

I grew up hearing the soft beating of drums and the pulling of strings. The crooning of powerful voices. The vibrance of West African music.

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taken by me in Liberia

My family is from Guinea, a country on the West African coast, and we’re Fulani (the Fula’s were originally nomads–this is why my blog name is so fitting lol). My dad is Ivorian. Our music is so bold and colorful, you can just feel the joy from the instruments. This goes for any music with roots from the African continent.

Alongside African music, 90s-00s R&B, Caribbean, and Latin music were very common during my childhood. I remember belting out to “Three Little Birds,” jamming to intoxicating Zouk beats, and pretending to be Shakira in the confines of my bedroom. Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and Aaliyah, were always there for me as well.

sidenote: Do y’all remember the “Thong Song” by Sisqo?? Apparently, when I was super young, I would always sing that song. And we all know how wild those lyrics are, so imagine little ol’ me singing without a care–knowledge–of what those words mean. 

The Latin influence mostly came from school. As a kid and teen, most of my friends were black and Latino. My friends introduced me to different Reggaeton artists like Daddy Yankee and Nina Sky. I even learned how to dance merengue and bachata without embarrassing myself (ya girl cannot dance…even though she loves to dance).

When I went off to middle school, my music taste took a huge detour. I went from hearing soft drum beats to thundering electric guitars mixed with screaming. Yes, in sixth grade (also known as the Dark Ages), I was a diehard rock fan.

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I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but this wouldn’t be a honest relationship if I left this part from y’all.

It’s so funny how vividly I can remember this stage in my life. I honestly don’t know what attracted me to this genre of music. Maybe it was influenced by the music choices of my best friend at the time. Or maybe I was just trying to find myself through music. 

Some of my fave artists included Bring Me the Horizon (they’re new stuff is really good, sans screaming), Eyes Set to Kill, Evanescence (Bring Me to Life is a bop), Paramore (still love them), Pierce the Veil, Flyleaf and many, many more.

The Dark Ages were short lived. Once sixth grade ended and I changed schools, so did my screamo phase. I guess my ears just couldn’t handle all the yelling. Or maybe, I was tired of seeing and listening to white men all the time. I remember endlessly searching for black, female, and black female lead singers. As expected, the results were few and sometimes none.

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my iPod from the Dark Ages

Soft rock and indie pop were another favorite genre of mine. I actually remember the lyrics to almost every Never Shout Never song. Whenever I was feeling angsty, “Liar Liar” and “Trouble” were my go-to songs.

In seventh grade, I started Taekwondo and was introduced to Korean culture–more specifically, K-pop. When I tell you I was obsessed…sometimes I even dreamed in Korean. I was so fascinated by the culture, I even started watching K-dramas (still to this day, though not as much…I’ll write another post about this. Prepare for hella fangirling) and wished badly to visit South Korea (I plan to in the near future, hopefully).

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Boys Over Flowers, a classic

This period of my life lasted until my freshman year of high school, though I didn’t stop Taekwondo until my junior year.

Now we’re at the end of freshman year and once again, ya girl is on a soul-searching journey. And our lovely weirdo ends up finding the love of her life–90s-00s music.

This is the first step in my full circle of music. And it’s a wonderful first step because music from the 90s and early 00s is perfect for any occasion. Some of the artists from the golden age that I listened to include A Tribe Called Quest, Aaliyah, and Tupac.

The internet helped foster my love for hip-hop, r&b, and new genres that I never knew of. Soundcloud, obviously, introduced me to some of my all-time favorite underground artists and music producers. 8tracks, a place where I pretended I was a DJ and created various playlists, is probably the most important part of this journey. Without 8tracks, I really wouldn’t have made it to the end of this full circle.

While I lived vicariously through my role as a “DJ” (DJ K$tacks on the one and twos), I also found various playlists that broadened my perspective on music. All these new beats and flavors of music nearly overwhelmed me. Yet, all of these songs seemed so…familiar. The beats and lyrics–they all brought back memories of a fonder, younger time.

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another beach in Liberia

These were the songs and artists that I grew up listening to. Albeit I hadn’t heard every Caribbean, African, or old school song known to man, these songs hold a lot of similarity. Like fruit from a tree, they all came from the same root.

And this is where I am today, with a music library so diverse, you’d think it was the United Nations. Don’t believe me? Check out my 8tracks profile right hurr.

If you made to the end of this blogpost, you’re the realest.

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