As a child, I was taught music was something to master, not to listen to. I was raised, along with both of my siblings, to play an instrument used in a universally Classical sense. I played the piano from the first moment I could sit on the bench until I went off to college. Beethoven, Mozart, Verdi, Haydn, Bach, etc. When my parents did turn on the record player, it was almost always opera, choral or orchestral music. Because of this, I have a refined appreciation for the extraordinary and intricate craft of Classical music.
Throughout my teen years I never listened to music on a walkman or CDman because I was always studying. And in Korea, students rent out booths in silent centers to maximize concentration. Music is not found anywhere. And since all we did was study, there was no time for music.
It wasn’t until much later in life I actually began listening to music outside of the Classical genre. This meant I had to learn, in a relatively short span, what people in the States had been cultivating their entire lives. Today this has manifested in a music library of over 50,000 songs, which according to iTunes, means I have music that can play for half a year without stopping or playing the same song. It also means I have a keen ear for excellent music and sound. I don’t simply have a massive music library, I have an exceptional library, filled with the best, widest variety of music, grown from my life around the world and this country over time.
In Korea because all U.S. culture was 5 years behind, I was exposed to 80s music in the 90s, and developed a love for 80s music. I have a special place for hip hop music because when I lived in the Bay Area, hip hop was used as a radical tool to organize communities. When I lived in the South and was coming out, I was exposed to house music, and because of it I also became interested in jungle, dub, electronica, drum and bass. In New York I’ve grown to love an even broader spectrum of music, including Salsa, Bachata, Reggae, Soca.
Culturally, music means different things to different people and takes on different roles of daily life. Music is an integral part of some cultures so much so it can be found playing 24 hours a day in some neighborhoods, while cooking, cleaning, reading, sitting on the balcony, etc. I am grateful to be living in Brooklyn, one of the most culturally diverse neighborhoods in the country and even the world. It has lead me to some of my favorite music yet.
One day I will be listening to Spanish Rock, the next an Aria, and the next some reggae culcha.After I was introduced to West Indian, Caribbean music, I found it has a unique visceral pull. Fortuitously it is abundant in Brooklyn in certain neighborhoods. And as many reggae/soca enthusiasts know, the good stuff is only sold on CDs, and not sold online. Every so often I perk up my ears when I hear good reggae/dancehall/soca, usually playing out of someone’s car or out of that random store in Brooklyn (that also sells cell phone accessories, scarves, sunglasses and incense). When I hear something moving, I immediately go in and pick up a CD, because a lot of reggae songs are not known by their names, but by their rhythms. And if I don’t get it then, I will never find it again.
After doing this for a while, I’ve accumulated quite a collection, which I have already transferred to my computer, rendering the CDs obsolete. These are the only types of CDs I purchase anymore since everything is now already digital. But once again, the esoteric and elusive reggae DJ compilation is best found on a burned CD sold by the side of the road.
So on Day 343 of my 365 Release, I am giving away this mini library of reggae music. Music I love because I never had to master it, but only had to feel it. Music I love because it speaks to me in ways other music cannot, and carries a history deeply embedded in this city in which I live and love.
Also, for those who have been asking how they can continue to be a part of my journey even after this project, you can subscribe to my monthly email newsletter here, where I share life lessons, contemplations of awesomeness and updates on projects such as this 365 Release and much more.
[I created the 365 Release Project to practice non-attachment, letting go and change by giving away 1 thing a day for 1 year. The background, vision and guidelines to the 365 RELEASE project are here. The running list of everything I have released is here.]