By Andrea Perez Johnson
Yesterday afternoon, I woke up from one of those after school naps that instinctively made me question the time of day and my whole perception of what time was. It was such a deep, meaningless, yet needed sleep that when I woke up, time disappeared, and all that laid there in bed with me was a very prevalent absence of arranged numbers guiding me through my day, getting me to night and then day again.
It got me thinking. We recently stepped into the 21st century, yet when you look at pop culture from the past 10 years, it seems as if we have been living in the past and somehow making it our future. We are collectively taking our favorite moments from each decade and putting them together to make albums and clothing. For example, “Flower Boy” by Tyler the Creator came out in 2017. Most people have heard that album. Collectively, people think this album is amazing, and I would agree. All together, the production, the features, the vocals, etc, they’re all very well done. Particularly the instrumentals, to me, stand out because of how he combines the present day hip hop sound with an older, jazzier sound. The chords he uses, the instruments featured, and the melodies that show up remind me of the general sound of 70’s jazz.
Just coming out of the 60’s, where people had already been crossing new boundaries with traditional musical instruments, people were mixing a lot of genres and playing around with electronic sounds. Jazz naturally changes every ten years, and during this specific time, the sound started changing into a more electric feel. Grover Washington Jr, Roy Ayers, and Bob James all have discographies that are good examples of this. Their music takes original jazz chords and melodies and adds synthesizers to add artificial yet ironically organic mixing noises. Tyler the Creator used this concept and made the whole project kind of have a vintage vibe to it where it felt like you had heard this before in another lifetime but it’s too foggy of a memory to actually remember.
Tyler the Creator not only does this with his music, but with the clothing he wears. His style also has a very vintage feel to it, but he mixes a lot of different decades, so sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint what specific time periods were the inspiration.
Tyler hasn’t been the only one doing this though, basically anyone who is interested in fashion is doing this as well. A lot of pieces from the past century are taking their second run through pop culture and are being worn by teens and adults. Scrunchies were a big one through the end of the 2010’s. Everyone had at least one. Now the one I see coming back in my sector of fashion interests are the low rise jeans. This one is definitely not a fan favorite because of how exclusive they are to their flattery, but they are going through a comeback, and who knows how long that resurgence will be. There are a lot of clothes reappearing into the 2020’s, and they’re all coming out so quickly that even fast fashion can’t keep up. I could honestly write a whole book about how much people are obsessed with bringing back the past. They’re even documenting the present with technology from the past, like through polaroid cameras and typewriters.
People are never happy with the present, and they’re constantly searching for and worrying about the future and using tools from the past to help them figure it out. In pop culture, where it will draw inspiration from next, I don’t know, but I do know that there are so many creatives out there, and especially today, in the age of technology where people have everything they would need to know in the palm of their hand, potential is definitely out there for the next big thing. So while we are waiting for that day, let’s enjoy the present and ignore time as if we just woke up from a deep mid-afternoon nap, and just live timelessly.