Photo by Jason MacDonaldAh, the hometown, a place immortalized in Bruce Springsteen songs, the mythical milieu where Thin Lizzy is always on the jukebox, the place where you will find yourself tonight, for Thanksgiving break, reuniting with old high school acquaintances. It’s good to be back—not only so you can spend quality time with your family or whatever but also so that you can impress upon all the people you used to know how much cooler you are now than you used to be.
While they may still remember you as the awkward loser who got hit in the face that one time in seventh grade kickball or the kid who used to enthusiastically wear gimmicky hats around school in a desperate plea for attention, now you are in fact a supremely cool kid who has gone off to college or moved to the big city and listens to all of the hippest Soundcloud streams. If you can just let these people know that you are cool and plugged in and know what’s going on in the cosmopolitan world of culture maybe they will look upon you with new eyes or even want to make out with you.But back home, they still haven’t heard of iLoveMakonnen, and FKA Twigs is just Robert Pattinson’s girlfriend, which means that the cool music taste you’ve cultivated isn’t going to get you far. You’ve got work to do if you want to outshine Mike B., the guy with the big truck who just jumped over that bonfire. Fortunately, it’s not impossible. Here’s what to do:
While it may seem like everybody in the world is a huge DeJ Loaf fan because the people you follow on Twitter are talking about her, the reality is that your high school friends are probably just finding out about, like, Migos. They are not up on the discussions about what Nicki Minaj means for feminism, but they probably heard the song she did that samples “Baby Got Back.” They know about Pharrell’s big hat. Maybe, like you, they’re vaguely aware there’s a new Foo Fighters album.
Find common ground
Obviously you don’t want to get stuck discussing Pharrell’s big hat and how big it is (see, the thing is that it is a big hat), but you won’t be discussing anything if you come out the gate talking about D.R.A.M. You have to win them over. Be obvious. They know Drake; iLoveMakonnen is the guy Drake did a song with. They know Iggy Azalea; MØ sings the hook on an Iggy Azalea song. Your friends probably want something cooler than Iggy Azalea, but Iggy is what they know. Introduce them to MØ and suddenly you look like a genius, even though it seems like an incredibly obvious connection to you, the person of superior music taste. Yet this is how the war on your old image is won. Don’t get ambitious or you’ll just seem snobby. The coolest thing you can do is to make them feel cool too for being somehow in on whatever it is.
Remember that anything far away can sound cool
Photo by @puretapwaterOkay, sure, you actually spent your first semester at UC Berkeley sleeping through classes and hugging the toilet on a couple Saturday nights just like they did here, but you did it in THE BAY AREA BABY! Maybe you saw a rapper perform on campus or ran into Lil B on the street or went to a Ty Segall show. Maybe not. But perception is reality, and just the fact that you were somewhere else makes it cool. You can literally just say “I’m right around the corner from E-40, the guy who’s on that Big Sean song” (remember, be obvious), and people will be impressed by how worldly you are.
If you live in New York, you can say you go to a lot of concerts, and your old classmates’ imaginations will fill in images of Strokes shows and Jay Z rapping at Madison Square Garden, even though the only “concert” you went to was your roommate’s open mic at a coffee shop. Whatever you do, don’t say too much. The key here is to let them imagine what a big deal you are by dangling cool words like “art” and “fashion” and “guest list” (don’t worry, you don’t have to have been on the guest list) in front of them.
Introduce new music by saying that you DJ
Screenshot via WorldStarHipHopIf you just tell your high school friends that you’re really into the new Rae Sremmurd song, they’ll probably ask you who Rae Sremmurd is. But if you tell them that you played the Rae Sremmurd song while you were DJing a party and the whole room went crazy, not only will you be offering the proof that helps them pay attention, you’ll be subtly hinting at the fact that you are cool enough to throw parties. And that you are cool enough to make said parties crazy. It doesn’t matter that what you really mean is you and your five suitemates all did rap hands for two minutes in between games of beer pong. Say it with me again: Perception is reality. That said, don't call yourself a DJ because that's lame. Just mention that it's something you do, like you're a bored aristocrat.
Talk about new music by namedropping your cool new friends
Photo by Pete Sholley
Maybe you don’t feel comfortable discussing your budding DJ career because it sounds just a little too far-fetched, and you’d hate for your lie to get exposed right as you’re about to make a move on your latent high school crush. In that case, now is a great time to talk about music that you found out about from your cool new big city friends. Your co-sign of Arca is one thing, but when people find out that you’re into this crazy new electronic artist because your friend who used to date Robert DeNiro’s niece put you onto it, they’ll look at you with newfound respect and take your recommendation seriously. If you can look your friends in the eye and tell them about the time your roommate from LA went to a Ty Dolla $ign concert, they’ll know they’re getting these suggestions straight from the source.
Don’t talk about Kanye
Photo by Michael James MurrayYes, he is the best, but there is a 1000 percent chance that your high school acquaintance—or worse, the guy standing near them who you wanted to avoid—will try to explain to you that Kanye West has a big ego and that Kim Kardashian is bad for America, and while they are wrong and deserve to be swiftly corrected, I promise that this house party is not the place for it.
Don’t be too cool to dance
Unfortunately, while you were off scanning Tumblr for the coolest new Jersey Club remixes of second-tier trap producers, your friends were listening to songs like “All About That Bass” and “Black Widow” on the radio, and now here you are in the bar, the only person who doesn’t know the words. This is the critical moment that can shoot all your credibility in one fel swoop—where you distinguish yourself as the music snob who doesn’t know shit about music anyone cares about (uncool), as the same loser you were in high school who took some imagined high road against dancing (deeply uncool), or, hopefully, as the chill, worldly, fun-loving new you who’s magnanimous enough to bring some of your hip, big-city vibes to this sleepy town and go crazy on the dancefloor (turn up!). Be the third, and fucking dance.Kyle Kramer is a huge fucking loser in his hometown. Follow him on Twitter.