Rags-to-riches stories of hip-hop icons and Kurt Cobain’s homeless-under-a-bridge saga prove that the streets give cred. And cred matters. Watch Eminmen emasculate “Clarence” in 8-Mile: “You went to Cranbook – that’s a private school,” he taunts. I’m sure Pearl Jam snarled out similar jabs to prep school bands.
So, if cred matters so much, why is my ipod so damn preppy?
Where you’re from makes you. Springsteen couldn’t be an artist of the people from an ivory tower, munching on caviar and drinking Dom Pérignon. Spike Lee couldn’t direct from an ostrich-skin recliner while gently caressing his pet cheetah. Cred makes sense.
But the suburbs have stolen the spotlight from the streets. Stages now bend to the boat shoes of Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. The liberal arts degrees of MGMT and the biomedical engineering studies of Girl Talk give credence to a new landscape of music. Even Kanye readily admits he rocked his report cards, and we haven’t even mentioned his pink Polos.
Hell, Arcade Fire just won Album of the Year with a record actually called “The Suburbs”. You caught that, right?
The underlying truth is that cred doesn’t equate to being poor or sleeping under bridges. Cred is just our litmus of sincerity. Represent yourself as you are. Kanye and Ezra have never given a semblance of being more than themselves. And the kids in the suburbs – the ones plucking shiny new guitars and toying with Pro Tools – are taking notice that they can have cred, too.