In the midst of pumpkin flavored beer and fried oreos, I found myself rocking out to Boyz II Men classics at Innsbrook. Now I know if you're about a decade older than me (or my aunt), I know you're probably wondering why I was at a Boyz II Men show, but I mean honestly, who can pass up this opportunity. I almost never miss a chance to see an artist I like anywhere in Richmond.
I know I'm young, but people forget that I grew up in the 90s so yes, I remember listening to Boyz II Men songs in my living room with my mom and I probably even serenaded her at one point to the tune of "Mama" for Mother's Day. I'm sure all of us have done this at one point, don't lie.
My favorite part of the show, aside from seeing them dance in synch to their songs (they still got it!) was when Shawn Stockman and Nathan Morris took a break to play guitars while the rest of the Boyz covered songs. My all time favorite cover song was Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit", one of the most iconic rock songs ever, and also "Thinking Out Loud" by Ed Sheeran. Did you know that it basically uses the same beat as "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gay? I didn't. Either way, it's always nice to hear one of your favorite songs covered by an artist of a different genre, it changes the way the song is heard and it's refreshing.
I love seeing black people play guitars because guitar playing has been seen as such a white person thing. I know it's weird to think of it that way, but I'm sure you don't really pay attention to it. I always knew that rock and roll was inspired by blues which was inspired by gospel music by the black church, but almost my entire life, the only black guitar player I had ever known was Jimi Hendrix. Hell, I didn't even know Slash from Guns n' Roses was half black until I was 21.
The real kicker that fucked me up was finding out that Rosetta Tharpe, a black woman, practically invented rock music. She is known as the "Godmother of Rock and Roll" and yet you practically never hear her name, much less see black women in rock and roll as much as you see white dudes. Even black guys are on the come up in popular rock bands. I've always loved rock music and was often called "white" when I was in elementary and high school because of it, so you can imagine the anger I felt when I found out about Rosetta Tharpe. She was probably rolling in her grave. May she rest in peace.
Seeing people like Shawn and Nathan of Boyz II Men playing guitar onstage and branching out of their music genre to learn more about their art was really inspiring to me. Not only does it show more depth to their public persona, but it also redefines the stereotype of only white people playing the guitar. I'm all about representation of people of color in the media doing non-stereotypical things in defiance to society norms. As I'm still basking in the fun that I had at the show, being drunk in the crowd with my friends, doing donuts in an empty parking lot and ordering a lot of unnecessary food at a gas station, I'm hoping that Shawn and Nathan become masters at the art of guitar playing and inspire more people at their shows around the country and the world. Here's to Boyz II Men becoming a new rock band. I'm sure hoping so.