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  • Writer's pictureMy HR Guy

Respect and Pay Homage

Every generation has an opinion of things that were better in their day. Sometimes that's food, or vehicles, or maybe even the quality of goods. But one thing that comes to mind for me is music. I remember when Alicia Keys first came out, I ran to my father to make him listen to it. He had always told me that, "I don't know good music," and that "music today is just noise." I've heard the R&B music of his time, and though I have a strong appreciation for it now, at the time, I just thought he was crazy. Luckily, he wasn't so crazy to not agree that Alicia Keys was fire. I mean, that first album was just crazy. And I sat in my living room playing her songs with a big smile on my face.

As much as I like R&B, I'm a big fan of hip hop. This is also subject to a lot of debates, which isn't a surprise seeing how braggadocios the genre is. I fell in love with hip hop in the mid 80's but I came to really know it in the 90's. I grew up on groups like EPMD, Leaders of the New School, A Tribe Called Quest, and many others. A lot of the rap was fun, and played with words in a way that previous iteration did not. And when it went down the path of a more aggressive style, I was right there with it. The aggression not being the main attraction, but the lyricism was crazy. These talented individuals were telling stories from the street in a way that had never been told before. It was more poetic, and artistic than the movies. This, mid-90's to early 2000's era, is what some of us call the golden age.

And since then, just like my father, I began to feel that music coming out in that genre was nothing but a bunch of noise. It had a different sound, the topics were different and that lyrical art form that I had grown to love, had disappeared. I want to say that some time after 2010, I really stopped listening to the radio. There was nothing on there that I wanted to hear, and no artist that could hold my interest. I was so stuck in, how it used to be.

Then, about a year ago, I was listening to satellite radio. I was paying attention as Ed Lover began to talk like me, about his golden era of rap. That era that I grew up on. He spoke so affectionately about the work those pioneers put in that allowed hip hop to be where it was at now. He then talked about one of the dark sides of hip hop. That when our "legends" get old, they become obsolete. They don't get work, and they don't get respect from the younger generation. The younger generation thinks the old stuff is trash, and it's time to move on. Unlike other musical genres where the legends are celebrated. The young artists know their names, and do shows with them. He spoke about trying to change that.

I've since heard many other similar conversations, but something was said later (I believe by Joe Budden) that I really liked. You have to respect the young artists for what they are doing. They aren't making music for some of us old heads, but it doesn't devalue what they are doing. And ultimately, if we want them to respect the "legends," then the "legends" will need to show the love back. I know it's a very competitive landscape, but if we want it to endure, we need to pay homage to those before us, and happily pave the way for the younger generations.

My HR Guy Interpretation

As much as we draw up laws, and policies to avoid discrimination, it's sometimes hard to overcome the thoughts we have. These pre-conceived notions about what someone brings to the table based on that persons age can be deeply rooted (and hard to notice), but we have to make an effort to overcome that. That first comes with recognizing it. Recognize how you feel when someone older or younger is making a suggestion. Are you open to it, or do you make assumptions? Are you dismissive, or do you try to learn from it?

Secondly, recognize that there is value. Those who did it before you can give you some great advice on how to avoid pitfalls. They may give you valuable insight into the history and the why's and how's. They can school you on their accomplishments, and how they went about achieving them, not so you mirror them, but so you understand the work it takes. But most importantly, they can collaborate with you to combine the best of two different perspectives. And there is value in the newcomers. Not as experienced, and sometimes not as polished, they tend to be on the cutting edge of what can bring you the next big thing. If there is a new way of doing it, they'll know it. If they think it could work, they'll try it. And though they may fail from time to time, when they get it right, it usually pays dividends.

They're also great sponges. Soaking up whatever you can give them, and showing you respect because you've done the same. And if there's something they can do better than you (technology for example), applaud them for that. Admire them, don't block them.

It's like hip hop for me now. I know a lot of what is made out there isn't for me, but that's cool. I respect the hustle. I only hope they pay homage to those who allow them to do what they do today.

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