For those of you who have had the pleasure of knowing me, you might agree that I’m not the most excitable person on the planet. When I caught wind of the fact that Chance the Rapper would be performing at P-Checks, however, I became exuberant. The air was filled with obscenities, my monotone voice achieved variable tonality and staying seated no longer became a viable option. Indeed, the hype was real.
Preliminary surveys of the general Duke population on the matter have allowed me to reasonably conclude that he is, in fact, “pretty good.” Further analysis indicates that students “have listened to him” and “are going to be there,” which indeed shows that students are, undoubtedly, giving Chance the chance he deserves.
But what does this tell me? Well, the correct answer is quite basic—absolutely nothing! To quote an established Duke professor during his many online video lectures, “I hope that question wasn’t too difficult!”
Since coming to Duke, I have found the music scene to be incredibly underwhelming, if not extremely disappointing. But please, my equally-opinionated readers, allow me a few lengthy paragraphs to defend my case.
I was never the most musically inclined in my earlier years, and, if anything, I would even consider myself a “late-bloomer” of sorts, with regard to the musical world. By the time high school rolled around, literally all but one of my extracurriculars involved music. I did like it, but it wasn’t at all my passion.
When I came to Duke, however, that all changed.
After some really incredible experiences first semester, I began to think that becoming a music major was the way to go. Just as soon as my passion came, however, all my momentum was gone. By the end of the semester, I found that my emails were left without replies, with the end result being my tacit removal from the Duke Jazz Ensemble, an inability to meet with an advisor to major in music and finding myself devoid of support for my musical inclinations. When you find yourself stranded on an island, there comes a time when you eventually have to seek refuge. Like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, I decided it was time to give something else a shot.
At this point, there was no turning back. I had already set sail and left all hopes of a music major behind me, only to be met with an endless sea of indecisiveness. To be clear, I was the epitome of undecided and enrolled myself in four completely unrelated classes—none of which involved music. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad. I have come a long way since then, and I only foresee it getting better from here on out. My biggest regret of all, though, is losing the passion I once had for music.
The thing is, Duke just doesn’t make me excited about music anymore. In addition, I feel like I don’t have very many outlets for my musical interests. Aside from the occasional student concert and my volunteering experiences, I have little reason to pick up and play. I want to be in a band, I want to continue songwriting and I want to perform, but I fear that my passion will not be met with the same excitement by anyone but myself.
Despite this, I haven’t been contributing much either. As I write this column, I should be supporting a friend at his Symphony Orchestra performance. Additionally, I have turned down concert opportunities time and again, both on campus and off campus, to fulfill my commitments. Yet, I must stress that every one of my concert experiences at Duke have been excellent. The music is always great, and the people are amazing, but I just wish those memories were more frequent. From this point onward, I hope that I will continue to contribute to the scene at Duke and make it the musical place I want it to be.
Bringing Chance to Duke is really incredible, and I hope to experience even more incredible performances in the future. But if LDOC and P-Checks are designed to foster a deeper music culture at Duke, perhaps we should give just as much enthusiasm to the other acts that perform on campus and build a stronger community in that sense. There are a lot more ways to accomplish this, but I personally think it’s something that has a lot of room for improvement. Unfortunately for us, the concert was cancelled, but hopefully we’ll get another chance!
Bryan Somaiah is a Trinity sophomore. His column runs every other Friday. Send Bryan a message on Twitter @BSomaiahChron.