Starting my senior year of high school, I’ve listened to mainly rap music — from artists like Childish Gambino and A$AP Rocky, to Pop Smoke, JPEGMafia, and Baby Keem — it was all rap. Then the pandemic hit, and over the past six months, I’ve noticed that the music I like to listen to has shifted.
In the Bay Area, it’s hard not to escape the genre of rap music. For me, I began to hear it as early as middle school during one of the many awkward school dances. I distinctly remember my middle school playing Gas Pedal by Sage the Gemini and my friends going crazy over it. Rap music reminds me of home: it reminds me of drives with my friends to get food and small road trips that, even with a GPS, my friends and I would still get lost.
However, when I was at home during shelter-in-place, rap music wasn’t hitting like it used to. It reminded me of the happy times pre-quarantine and while it’s fun to reminisce, I was longing to listen to something that allowed me to think and self-reflect without any distractions.
In that time I was by myself with my family and I slowly found myself branching out into different music genres, more specifically: classical music.
My journey into classical music started when I was endlessly scrolling on TikTok and one of the users used Claude Debussy’s Clare de Lune. From there I went down a rabbit hole of different composers.
The pandemic has helped me discover that underneath my cool 20-year old persona, deep down, I’m an old woman ready to retire.
However, I wasn’t the only person who saw their music taste change during quarantine. Brian Keokot, a fourth-year electrical engineer major, who was listening to rap and EDM before the pandemic, has transitioned to listening to more city pop, thus drifting away from rap music.
“ [My music taste] mostly changed as a lot of rap artists that I follow have not released new music and maybe a bit of burnout from listening to rap since freshman year. I also like to explore new music, as that was one of my new year’s resolutions is to push myself [to] listen to new genres,” said Keokot.
Umer Irshad, a second-year Aerospace engineering major was listening to a lot of soul and rock and roll, but since the pandemic, he began to explore hip hop.
“Once quarantine started I really started to dive deep into it, especially more underground artists. [Since] I had more time … I got into producing music on my own, so I was able to draw some inspiration from what I was listening to,” said Irshad.
For many people, the music that we listen to, whether intentionally or not, has the ability to convey what we really are feeling.
“Tracks like Mirror or Something Comforting by Porter Robinson makes me feel comforted during these times,” said Keokot. “Some City Pop songs remind me of better times before the pandemic or times that I wish I were in.”
For me, the transition into classical music has given me a sense of clarity and serenity.
When listening to it I don’t have to focus on anything but the sound of the instruments playing together. It’s truly powerful how classical music can have no words, but still make you feel a range of emotions depending on which instruments are being utilized. By branching out, and going out of my comfort zone to explore different music genres I’ve been able to discover more things about myself.