Tuesday, September 7, 2010

West Coast Rap and Western Civilization Epic

At times I find myself making connections that seemingly make no sense.  I'll hear something or see something and it will remind me of something that seems to exist in an entirely different realm.  I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing.  It's mostly a confusing thing during conversation when I bring up what appears to be a non sequitur but I swear there was a connection in my head.

Not long ago I was listening to some of the number 1 hits from 1995, thanks to the Children of the 90s blog.  Among the choice selections here is "California Love" by Dr. Dre and Tupac.  Now I am not a fan of rap, however Tupac holds a special place in my heart.  Many an afternoon in high school was spent sitting in my friend's basement playing Golden Eye and listening to the All Eyez On Me album. (Ah, the suburbs.)  I won't say I'm a fan of Tupac; it's more of a Stockholm Syndrome but with music because I had to listen to it so often. 

Anyway, I'm listening to "California Love" and I get to the end of the song where they are just naming different cities in California ("Inglewood always up to no good"). I'm not from California so it did nothing for me personally, but I imagine people getting excited when they hear their hometown.  This is where that odd connection comes in: right after I thought about how I didn't really care about the cities listed but someone must I thought of The Iliad.  There's a long scene in The Iliad where Homer just names all of these different Greek city-states.  (I'm not going to include examples because 1) I'm lazy and 2) I don't have the book in front of me and an internet search is taking more than 4 seconds to get me what I want so I quit.  Tenacity is clearly not a trait of mine.)  When I last read The Iliad in college I remember the professor explaining this long, boring and essentially narratively-pointless part of the story as being a matter of pride for people listening to the tale.  Just as those imaginary club goers in my head get excited when they hear their town called out in "California Love" so did those ancient Greeks get rowdy when their hometown is mentioned.  (I hope you're now picturing ancient Greeks in a modern club because I am.)  

I suppose even without a direct or even conscious connection, The Iliad is still managing to influence modern works.  Or else I just see connections where none exist.  But if you'd like to play 6 degrees of The Iliad with something else as random as west coast rap, please include it in the comments!