The Parochialism of “Everything Except Rap and Country”

When I blogged some time ago about music literacy, I mentioned the tired trope “I like to everything except Rap and Country,” which seems to be a response given when someone wants to show a cosmopolitan or open musical taste. Plenty of pixels have been typed about the class and race issues associated with the phrase and I won’t rehash them here as I think that only tells a part of the story that the phrase frames.

There’s obviously a sort of parochialism associated with a viewpoint which would predispose people to prefer music associated with certain groups but that parochialism is limited by national lines–these are still genres of music found within the US. Which means that the “everything” is limited by a discourse universe which only implies music in the US. If we were to ask a follow up question to anyone who answers this, it wouldn’t take much to show how this is so.

Q: What kind of music do you like?

A: Everything except rap and country.

Q: Oh, so you listen to Luk Krung? Pon Pirome is probably my favorite artist.

A: …

I’ve always wanted to have a conversation go like this, though I learned long ago to stop asking the question in the first place. Which doesn’t stop people from asking me what I like, or what kind of music I play: a similar conversation ensues. With the hundreds of genres around the world, it’s easy to see that most people listen to, and most musicians perform in, a tiny subset of musical styles.

I grew up listening to, and singing Thai Luk Krung here in the US before feeling the urge to assimilate and eventually starting to enjoy Anglo-American Pop and Western Classical once I started playing the cello. But everytime I go to the Marathon Gas Station down the road, and hear the Sikhs who now own and operate it, I always encourage them to turn up their music, if only so more people can start including Bhangra in their everything. If only we could eliminate the exceptions, too.


Featured image above is from the EthnoCloud website:

EthnoCloud is a platform for collaboration and discovery. Our goal is to promote ethnically and culturally inspired music of all genres and all regions of the world.



  1. Since most of what I do lies outside the “Usual” bounds of the mainstream, I finally came up with a catchy reply that seems to alleviate tension: “I play Country music from other Countries, and Folk music from other Folks”. If they want more I start including Modern Dance, Live Theater, Studio work, etc. and they usually get bored and let it go… I never really listened to Rock music growing up, and Jazz is still a struggle for me to play (though I listened to my horn-player friends playing it, I never developed those specific skills growing up). It took till ~ my late 20’s to transition back to music after being a chemist, and then I got involved in a seminal group of friends that carried me into the “World” music scene in LA. 22 years of Balkan Camp and also playing Arabic/Turkish music in Sherefe have left me playing probably 80 % of my gigs in that general realm. I believe Heart, Beauty, Excellence and Grace can be found in any genre if the player has it deeply enough to translate!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sorry I missed this post, James–didn’t get the notification in my mailbox and the new wordpress dashboard format is no longer the default so the comment didn’t pop up there. But yeah–Country music from other countries, and Folk music from other Folks–great response!!


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