Identity is a prison you can never escape, but the way you redeem your past is not to run from it, but to try to understand it, and use it as a foundation to grow.
The Beach Boys. Rod Stewart. Garth Brooks. Marvin Gaye. DMX. Puff Daddy. Greenday. Lenny Kravitz. Madonna. New Kids on the Block. Michael Jackson. N’Sync. Tom Petty. Prince. Usher.
My childhood home was a homegrown stage of the battle of the bands. Four separate stereos existing in four separate rooms, only meters apart, projecting wildly different types of music, each vying for the loudest voice.
My father would lead the competition. Music was a constant for him. There was a soundtrack for everything- getting dressed, washing the dishes, or simply sitting in his garage observing the constant motion of his three children. My Dad is quiet, but his music was always loud. It’s upbeat happy vibrations inspired from the likes of Motown and The Beach Boys would flow out of my parent’s bedroom, filling the airspace of the hallway, lightening to mood of everyone in the house. Except for maybe my mother, who I’m certain was driven partially crazy by the volume.
My brother would tune in next. He would see my father’s lighthearted vibes and raise him with a bet of something equally loud, but opposingly heavy. Usually this sounded like 90’s era grunge, the likes of Nirvana, Bush X, or Our Lady Peace. Angry, aggressive, melancholy beats were his way to challenge my father’s lighthearted spirit with his middle child teenage frustration.
My sister would counter them both, finding a balance between pop inspired beats of Madonna, and the mellow folksy vibes of Tom Petty. it was as though she was trying to find a space in the crowded soundscape that no one was yet occupying.
And me. The baby. My sound was an eclectic mixed tape with influences from every stereo. A little bit of Motown, a sprinkle of pop, a spattering of alternative grunge, mixed with a large helping of the hip hop and boy band beats of my own choosing.
This simple battle of beats with my family maps so clearly who I became. A chameleon that could fit in to each room.
An open-minded sponge fed by many influences.
A mixed tape.
Ultimately, this would come to be both my blessing and my curse.