Published on: February 1, 2011by Michael Sansolo
Every now and again I get a bit of information that reminds me how completely uncool I am. And today I find out that I’m apparently over the hill because I have never been - and doubt I ever will go - clubbing.
I never thought of that as a huge character flaw, since I really have no idea what happens in that scene. Apparently, I am really wrong at least in the mind of Will.I.Am, lead singer of the Black-Eyed Peas. This coming weekend some of you might learn something about the Peas during the Super Bowl. After years of featuring Baby Boomer performers (Springsteen, the Who, the Stones, McCartney) the Super Bowl halftime show is going current with the Black-Eyed Peas.
I advise you to watch them because for many of us, the Black-Eyed Peas are eye opening. Will.I.Am (yes, his name is a sentence) did an interesting interview in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine defining the group’s form of music mixing singing, rap and more. (He calls it “electro.” It’s likely you have heard some of their songs including “I Gotta Feeling,” “Boom Boom Pow” or even a stunningly energetic version of “I’ve had the time of my life.”)
But first consider these two questions from the Times interviewer and the responses from Will.I.Am:
Q: A friend of mine says that nightlife represents the greatest waste of human energy in history of mankind.
A: Your friend probably doesn’t go to clubs. Right now in the world, clubbing is needed. It’s a time when people want to rub shoulders against people they don’t know and share, even if the sharing is expressing your like over a beat.
Q: But clubbing seems to invite a lot of drinking and drug use.
A: So do restaurants. I could go to a restaurant and get drunk. I could go to a restaurant and eat all the wrong food and get freaking diabetes and high cholesterol.
Quite honestly, I have no idea if Will.I.Am is correct or crazy. But the point he makes in the interview is that his music is geared to a specific audience and he has no interest in explaining it to people who don’t get it. You can let that irritate you or you can try to understand. I think we have to try the latter.
Years ago, Danny Wegman, CEO of the incomparable supermarket chain that bears his name, once talked to me about rap, a form of music that we both admitted we do not understood. Danny said he thought many people were underestimating the importance of rap as a new form of expression for a new generation and specific demographics. You can agree or disagree, but I’d argue that Danny likely has a better track record than most of us at picking up on trends.
And that’s why we have to watch the Black-Eyed Peas and we have to listen to the words of Will.I.Am, even if we find them off-putting. Because in his statement, Will.I.Am is talking about how a specific group of people are socializing and the likelihood is that most of us simply don’t understand.
The simple truth is that we live in an extremely diverse society filled with different customs, hobbies, social settings and more that are completely foreign to others. We all delude ourselves into thinking that what we do is the norm and what they do is odd because others would see it the opposite way. As a song from long ago taught us, different strokes for different folks.
The challenge is to learn something about those folks and those strokes, even when we don’t really get it or even like it.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available by clicking here .
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