“I’m a fucking fraud.”
These were the opening lyrics to the song that I had promised myself to make by the end of 2019. Using Hobo Johnson’s “All in my Head” as a sample, the plan was to create a full-fledged rap/spoken word track that explored the theme of ‘self-scrutiny’.
Inspired by my own doubts on the validity of my writing, I had hoped to explore the guilt that rears itself every time I examine music, a medium that I had no prior technical knowledge in when I began Turntable Thoughts.
However, the song isn’t coming. My mounting insecurities about its quality and reservations about my ability to convey my feelings accurately musically blocks me from being proud of it enough to release it.
Instead, I wrote an article about it.
It’s been more than a year since I started the blog. There’s been a lot of ups, like the occasional anonymous words of encouragement every now and then; and lows, such as the similarly anonymous character attacks I had to endure from people that disagree with me.
Still, external provocations did little to deter me. I was confident enough in my own writing and opinions that I could easily overlook petty insults.
Yet, it was my own criticisms of myself that I’ve always struggled with.
“By giving us the opinions of the uneducated, journalism keeps us in touch with the ignorance of the community.”Oscar Wilde
Turntable Thoughts was born out of my love for music. I was enamored with how versatile the medium could be and even more fascinated with the culture behind it.
My first ever article about Kanye West’s 8th studio album is a flawed piece that examined his straining relationship with the hip-hop community. It lacks depth and barely provides any engaging discourse, but it was a baby step towards my ideal content.
Not long after, I began to dabble in reviews.
“Criticism isn’t just talking about the music; it’s also talking about the context and environment in which the music is created and consumed.“Jeremy Larson for Columbia Journalism Review
Research on an album’s conception along with its themes and lyrical content is all in a day’s work; anyone can do it. However, when it came to musical assessment, my limitations reared their ugly heads.
Dissecting an artist’s work scares me to no end, due to the fact that I’m always haunted by the suspicions that my intentions never truly originate from a place of reliable objectivity.
I was never educated in music theory, nor have I been exposed to the traditionalist way of music criticism. All I ever relied on were my pair of ears and an unhealthy obsession with Anthony Fantano reviews.
More often than not, many of my reviews ended up being opportunities for me to work on my vocabulary. I challenged myself on the different ways to describe pieces of music.
I lost sight of what reviews were for. Instead, the blog became an avenue to fulfill my perverse need of ‘flexing’ my language proficiency, while not giving the artists and their work the respect they deserve.
I know next to nothing about music production. There isn’t a lick of musical theory understanding within me and based on my recent infernal struggle to craft a song, there isn’t much musical sense inside either.
Of course, I know practice makes perfect which I severely lack. But it doesn’t change the fact that Turntable Thoughts has existed for a while now, which is more than enough time for to have at least picked up some musical competence.
The insecurities I have stemmed from the influences in my life. From the many budding musicians that I know of, to the extensive list of journalists that I follow online who are armed with years of experience and knowledge under their belt; inferiority surged within me and I wanted to prove to myself that I can attempt stand on equal footing.
“I have a tendency to try and speak things into existence”
Using a song as a means to escape my own criticisms was an ironic one. Through the act of making music, I hoped that a decently made final product could instill some credibility in me.
I was looking for an escape from my sheer lack of understanding and awareness, so I attempted to half-ass my way out by thinking that I could pump out a song as a complete beginner within a month. Maybe then I could be seen as a ‘legit’ music journalist.
Of course, there’s probably numerous examples of artists that made their first song in under a day. Regrettably I ended up resigning to the notion that I wasn’t one of those people before I could I even try.
“I build room for complacency”
So why have I chosen to write this article? What does a man who ran away from one of his final goals of the decade have to say about his failure?
I had almost chosen to give up Turntable Thoughts altogether. If I can’t muster up the incentive to learn about music, why do I even bother to write about it in the first place?
Then I realised that it’s because it’s my own method of contributing to the culture and medium as a whole.
Being able to spark discourse among readers on topics that are often marginalised induces a sense of fulfillment in me, one that’s proud of my writing’s ability to provoke or instigate.
And that fulfillment is the drive that pushes me to write. A drive that lends me the strength that compels me to learn and appreciate the medium and topics I involve myself in.
Not only do I educate myself, I also yearn for the possibility of a reader taking away a piece of information that they can sit with and eventually ponder upon.
I love it when people comment on my work. I love it when you provide me with genuine criticism. I love it when you make fun of my atrocious hot takes. I love it when you take my opinions with a grain of salt.
I love the fact that I’m blessed with the opportunity to write for you on topics that inspire me.