College music: Not dirty hippies

Gia Mazur, Reporter

Think about the term “college music.” This is usually associated with artists like Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R., but the iPods of college students are filled with more hip-hop and electronic music— primarily music by white rappers, or “frat boy rappers,” like Asher Roth, Mac Miller and Chris Webby, who tend to rap about partying and drinking.

Junior Dom Dellos believes that most college students relate to this music’s message about letting go. “Here’s why they’re popular: because people like to party. It’s a party scene that they appeal to,” said Dellos.

When did this change from jam bands to rappers happen? Junior Rob Lopez thinks it is because of the connection to the artist and the influence of meeting new people at college with diverse music tastes. “People are trying to get away from the classic college roots which was like Dave Matthews Band,” said Lopez. “I think it has a lot actually to do with all the white rappers that came up, because most of the kids who go to college are white. So, they’re going to automatically connect themselves.”

As a middle-class college student in the suburbs of Northeastern Pennsylvania, it’s difficult to relate to music about the tougher aspects of life. But when someone is rapping about drinking Miller Lite and eating frozen pizza, it becomes easier to develop a connection. College is also where you meet people from different places than where you grew up, and Lopez feels that sometimes someone else’s culture will rub off.

“I think a lot of it also has to do with kids from the inner city bringing in people that nobody’s heard before,” he said.

New rappers and hip-hop artists are constantly emerging into the mainstream because of these people from the inner cities, who are in the hub of the underground rap scene. Lopez also thinks that established artists who feature these underground rappers on their tracks also spark the public’s interest. “If you listen to a Kanye West song and he has X, Y, and Z on it, you’re going to want to know who X, Y, and Z are,” said Lopez. “Like when Jay-Z brought up J. Cole everyone was like, ‘All right, who’s this guy that the legend signed?’”

Lopez feels most college students who are immersed in the music scene will listen to these songs at parties, but they will listen to music with more substance on their own time. Social music is different than music that personally has a meaningful or artistic effect on a person.

Mason Payonk is an up-and-coming rapper from Scranton, who, while still a senior in high school, found a connection with hip-hop music. What initially started as a joke, Payonk would make beats for his friends, but after listening to hip-hop music, he realized he had a connection with it. “Every time I would listen to a [hip-hop] song it would help me think things through if I had problems,” he said. “So I figured if listening can help me think things through, I felt that [making] music could as well.”

Payonk said he used to listen to hardcore and heavy rock music, but the hip-hop songs resonated more with him. “Each song had a different meaning to me,” he said. “There were songs that I could relate to, regardless of my age. For every mood I felt like I had a song to listen to.” Payonk feels the shift from jam bands to hip hop among college students has to do with supply and demand.

“Now, there’s more people making that commercial hip-hop type of music and there’s more of it to listen to,” he said. “I feel like basically with time it just came out on the scene and people just related to it.”

Payonk feels that this “good time” kind of music does not have the staying power of the hip-hop music with deeper meaning. “It’s a trend. Eventually it’s going to go away and people are going to realize that the real music is about life and struggle and hard work,” he said.

Dellos agrees with Payonk, citing his own experiences. “I question myself, ‘When I get older will I be listening to this?’ You listen to the music that appeals to you for that time in your life,” he said.