Last week, I was hanging out with a couple of friends and I mentioned an electronic music artist that I had heard about in the context of “shows I would actually go to.” I don’t like shows any more (not a position- just can’t help it…social anxiety / burnt on rock clubs, etc.) but I saw this…
actually a decent definition of “hipster”
the one-upsmanship itself isn’t really that novel. it’s what dudes (usually dudes) do to feel each other out. life is a pissing contest. i remember when i first started really getting into hip-hop this would happen constantly. “oh you like x, you heard y?” “yeah, i like the shit z produced on it. you hear z’s other project?” “nah”. sucka.
the difference is the scope. i think when archetypal hipsters do this shit, it’s focused more on specific signifiers of cool for that moment than a broader interest in one topic. it’s not even sizing up someone else’s knowledge for dick-swinging purposes, it’s running down a list of movies or tv shows or artists or rappers or whatever that “cool” people like or have an opinion on. it’s like a secret handshake of cool that changes every month or so. “hipsters” are a mile wide and an inch deep culturally, but firmly believe that the inch they know is the only inch that matters.
this is annoying as hell but also a totally reasonable response to having the cultural guideposts you grew up with obliterated during your teenage years. the internet came along and gave everyone access to everything. figuring out what you were supposed to like suddenly became as daunting as figuring out what you actually like. it was easy for me because i was so myopically devoted to hip-hop; the internet just gave me more rap and more people to talk to about it.
but even among scenes, this created another problem: the decontextualization of the past. when you experience something is an important piece of what it means to you. an influx of new fans and new artists inherently creates a schism between people who been down and people who only recently learned. the original article evoked this idea when he mentions his friend mentioning two bands: one old and one new and obscure.
from a rap standpoint, this reminds me of how easily ideas are tossed down the memory hole. i’m still amazed how ugk was able to go from “openly mocked southern rappers” among Real Headz in the late 90’s, to the pantheon of greatest hip-hop artists ever. not that i’m complaining at all but when you tell a 24 year old that bun b used to not be acknowledged as a legend, they give you the gassiest of faces. it’s also weird how pop-savvy rappers like fat joe and busta rhymes have been lowkey written out of the real hip-hop narrative.
i see it more strikingly with the “outsider techno” scene … dudes who sort of discovered the aesthetic joys of techno through their own routes and (as i understand it) created an entire scene around it that excludes or, at least, is totally ambivalent to the genre’s history even as they wave its flag.
im not really tying this together all that well but mostly i wanted to expand on what is one of the few meaningful traits i’ve ever seen assigned to “hipsters”.