Where you listen to new music helps shape your perception of it

The album listening experience has always been a favorite pastime of mine. From project announcements to new singles and promos, an album release feels like opening a new Christmas present. Its even better when the artist drops new flame.

The Twitter listening sessions for me are always priceless. In the process of coming together like one big ass happy black family, we get to analyze how each of us feel about a project through GIFs and other reactions.. It makes the listening session that much more fun and hilarious.

Once the hype subsides (par for the course since the music is fresh out the box like Krispy Kreme donuts when the hot sign is lit), the music becomes the soundtrack to our lives. We take it with us everywhere from the house to the gym, to and from work, when we’re hanging out with the homies or when trying to make a lasting impression with the opposite sex. Some music stays in rotation while others get pushed back deep into the iTunes library.

Usually an avid music listener will know automatically off the first 1-2 listens whether or not there's replay value (and whether or not we want to admit it). But sometimes we come across those projects that take some time to warm up to, whether it's a new sound from your favorite artist or a new artist you're being introduced to. There’s some records that you can get with but you’re not entirely sure if you’re just trying to forcing yourself to like it or its genuine. But  suddenly while your out and about your opinion on a song or project starts to shift. In the beginning you were like, “Eh, it’s alright,” but then all of a sudden now  you’re saying “Damn this shit is more fire than I thought."

The surroundings you're in while listening to music plays a vital role in how you perceive it. Most music listeners have figured that out. If you haven't, pay attention to the music’s vibe and see where its taking you, then examine the scene around you and see if those same vibes mesh. Some songs or albums may not fit the aesthetics of certain locations while listening, which could hurt how you perceive that project. Listening to albums like Huncho Jack or Starboy feel much different in Chicago but than in Los Angeles.

I remember this past summer I went to a listening party in Atlanta for 21 Savage's Issa. The speakers were booming, the drinks were flowing, the ladies were there and the vibe was lit. I was rocking with Issa and felt like 21 was about to surpass Savage Mode with this.

Then the album finally came out and i was replaying it, but it didn't hit me the same way it did in the club that night. There were still a few songs that made it in rotation, but for the most part Issa was a disappointment for me. It sounded repetitive and it got boring to me. The change in environment helped to put some perspective on the album.

This can also play a role for regional albums as well: albums that sound 10 times better when you’re playing it in that said region. West Coast hip-hop for me is a huge example of this because there’s so many amazing west coast albums that I’ve heard I feel would sound so much better when you’re actually out in the West Coast.  When you throw any albums whether Doggystyle, The Chronic, Good Kid, mAAd City, My Krazy Life, etc. you can close your eyes and visualize Los Angeles in a beautiful sunny day.  Some albums (whether west coast made or not) were simply made to be played on the west coast.

It’s funny thinking about all of this because our parents used to always used to tell us to pay attention to our surroundings. It's funny how life works.

Kevin Winter, Getty Images

Kevin Winter, Getty Images