Upbringing and how it affects music taste

The mere exposure effect is defined as a psychological phenomenon where people develop preferences for things due to familiarity. The more you are exposed to a certain idea, item, or what have you, the more likely you are to like it. For me, this explains why I’ve been a fan of 112 my entire life. I can recall first hearing the group during my Kindergarten days when my dad would drive my brother and I to school. Their album Part III had just dropped and he would listen to it every day for a few weeks.

Naturally, I learned the lyrics to songs and would find my 5 year-old self singing the lyrics in class. Of course, lyrics to songs like “Peaches & Cream” were rather problematic for a kindergartener to be singing but I didn’t know any better. It eventually got the point where my father got tired of the album and would play other things. I would request 112’s album every single day and cry until he played it. This phenomenon would continue on with Get Rich or Die Tryin’ and random mixtapes we may or may not have gotten off bootleggers until I was old enough to have an iPod and control what I listened to. We’d also often watch BET’s 106 & Park and other shows together, singing along as music videos came and went.

My mother, a devout Christian, was more into playing Gospel music whenever in the car. I can recall the same phenomenon with Part III occurring with the Thankful album by Mary Mary. I learned the words to their hit “Shackles” and it resonated with me due to the hip hop elements within it. However, I did not find myself seeking out the album in the same way I did Part III as young Armon wasn’t connected to Christianity quite yet. Thus, I’d often get frustrated when my mother insisted on playing Gospel music.

It’s interesting too because I grew up in church, sang in choirs, performed in plays, and was constantly reminded of my responsibility to consistently practice Christianity. Perhaps my opposition was a result of Christianity feeling forced on me at the time. My parents also encouraged me to play instruments as playing an instrument is a great skill to have and teaches discipline. Having taken up piano, drums, the saxophone, and trombone I have a strong appreciation for live music as well as instrumental music.

My parents would oblige to my own personal desires as well, despite rarely playing them in the car. Albums I owned in my youth include The ABBA Generation by A*Teens, LFO by LFO, Celebrity by NSYNC, Beware of Dog by Lil Bow Wow, Doggy Bag by Lil Bow Wow, and Wanted by Bow Wow. I was clearly very influenced by artists Nickelodeon often had on their channel.

Now, at 21 years old, I find myself interested in various different genres and open to listen to anything someone suggests. Looking back, I can see that my diverse interests in music began early on. My father exposed me to Hip-Hop, my mother to  Gospel music, and Nickelodeon to Pop. I’m getting nostalgic writing this as I think back to fond memories of myself creating my own dance moves to various songs by the aforementioned artists, but I can definitely identify my up-bringing as being part of why I listen to what I listen to. 

For others, that may mean alternative rock, jazz, or dancehall. For some, music may not have been a part of their lives in any way whatsoever. I can think back to 6th grade when I transferred to a new school and we were doing an icebreaker. We went around the room saying what our favorite songs were and a classmate said the words “I don’t really like music.” It was strange to me but it’s quite possible his parents didn’t like music due to how they were brought up. They may not approve of the content of music today or they also simply may not have had access. Differences in upbringings typically generate different experiences, especially with regard to music.