Monday, December 27, 2010

Click-It Concert Tribute: Teena Marie

After a long semester in school, I am returning to my blog. However, I am returning for a sad reason: to pay tribute to the soulful Teen Marie, aka "Lady T" and the "Ivory Queen of Soul," who passed away on Sunday, December 26, at the young age of 54. Here are my favorite songs from Ms. Marie. Rest in Peace.


Fire and Desire with Rick James

Ooo La La La

Out On a Limb

Aladdin's Lamp

It Must Be Magic

Yes Indeed

I'm a Sucker For Your Love w/ Rick James

Square Biz

Behind the Groove

Portuguese Love

Casanova Brown

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Earworm: Cee-lo's F*ck You!

Damn Cee-lo for creating such a catchy song that requires me to say F*ck You! 16 times! I have had this song stuck in my head since last week and already have all the lyrics memorized! Cee-lo never ceases to make me love him (oh, Geminis)!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Click-It Concert Tribute: Abbey Lincoln

On August 14th, 2010, we lost another one of the greats, Abbey Lincoln (original name was Anna Marie Wooldridge and later Aminata Moseka). I found out about Ms. Lincoln last year while looking for famous people born in August (her birthdate is one day before mine). Literally, I just stumbled upon her and decided to give her a listen. The first songs I heard from her was from her collaboration with Max Roach 5 on the Freedom Now Suite and I instantly fell in love with her. Besides her music career, when I found out about her as a songwriter, as an actress and as an activist, I was so much more impressed with her. She was a true freedom fighter for black people all over the world and as several people have said that is what made her dangerous (even to the point she exiled herself from the US for a few years for her political beliefs). I am saddened by the thought that I will never see Abbey Lincoln in person, but I am happy that we have her music and life story still with us. Here's a quote from Abbey that speaks to me about the importance of art:

”How can you have a career and never say anything? To experience it all and not say a word, you're supposed to stand up and speak your mind in the music. Some people like to hear some reality. I'm not trying to save or fix the world. I'm just singing about my experiences. My songs are observations.”

People in Me

Freedom Day

Freedom Now Suite: Driva-Man & Tears for Johannessburg/Prayer & Peace/All Africa/Freedom Day

When I'm Called Home



And It's Suppose to Be Love

Spread the Word (From The Girl Can't Help It)

You Came a Long Way from St. Louis

Throw It Away

"You Can Never Lose a Thing If It Belongs to You"

RIP Abbey

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Art of Music: Where Music and Art Collide

This special post will combine art from Dawn Okoro and some of my favorite songs that I think the art goes with:

Some Information on Dawn from her website:

Dawn Okoro's work is informed by the composition techniques used in fashion photography. Using oil, acrylic and pencil, she incorporates photography, collage, and ideas from popular culture. Her artwork embodies space, movement, pattern, design, texture, and color; as well as lived experiences and self-reflexivity. Self-reflexivity is a process by which she critically examines the experiences (exterior and interior) that shape her everyday life and those that surround her.

Dawn Okoro holds a Bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a Juris Doctor from Texas Southern University. Her work has been exhibited at RFA Gallery in Harlem, Texas Southern University Museum, Rice University, and the Texas Biennial.

1) Shine

Dead Prez - The Beauty Within

2) Get Up

Mary Mary - Get Up

3) Fearless

Tarrus Riley- She's Royal

4) Frame

Stevie Wonder - You Are the Sunshine of My Life

5) Blue Necklace

2Face Idibia- My African Queen

6) Desert Dress

Richie Spice - Brown Skin

7) Is That A Real Gucci Bag?

Erykah Badu- Bag Lady

8) Breathe Easy

The Commodores- Easy

9) Careen

Shorty Long- Devil With a Blue Dress

10) Prop

Joi- Lick

To view more artwork from this beautiful artist:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

NewBlackMan: The Radical Soul of Curtis Mayfield

Via Mark Anthony Neal's NewBlackMan

National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta Celebrates the 'Radical Soul' of Curtis Mayfield

Quiet Legend: The Radical Soul of Curtis Mayfield
by Stephane Dunn

This ain't no time for segregatin' (we people who are darker than blue)
I'm talking 'bout brown and yellow two
High yellow girl, can't you tell
You're just the surface of our dark deep well

Some musicians – not many – just have it - a timelessness that means whenever you hear their music you are moved to sing along or rock or in the case of Chicago native Curtis Mayfield, to go to church and say uh huh, alright now. He was a soft-spoken gentleman with an instantly recognizable vocal sound – at once soulful and mellow but tinged with that gut-wrenching emotion definitive of black gospel music. This wasn’t surprising since Mayfield was a church boy who taught himself the guitar and dropped out of school and turned professional musician at the very young age of fifteen.

Pianist Dr. Guthrie Ramsey, a professor of music at the University of Pennsylvania, says Mayfield’s “unforced, persuasive falsetto” offered a “dose of gospel-blues.” Mayfield proved to be an old soul and ahead of his generation. By the time his group The Impressions reached soul music fame with such albums as It’s All Right (1963) and the hit Keep On Pushin 1964, Mayfield had come to define the group’s sound, writing and producing many of their songs. While Mayfield is a name that any soul music lover or American music aficionado will know, he remains a sort of quiet legend and this despite the sampling of his music and tributes, both compilations of his music and concerts.

The most recent tribute by Atlanta’s National Black Arts Festival saluted Mayfield in song with legendary O’ Jay Eddie Levert, Joi, Dion Farris, Van Hunt and at night’s end, the Impressions leading the crowd in “Movin’ on Up.” It was particularly apropos that on the heels of Black Music Month, the 2010 festival chose to highlight Mayfield’s music both because of the sheer velocity of his work as well as his consistent musical investment in social introspection that unabashedly spoke to the black American experience in the 60’s and early-70’s. While Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album, What’s Goin’ On and the single by the same name are deservedly designated one of the top best of twentieth century pop music and revisited during times when the national consciousness is shaken (September 11th, the Hurricane Katrina aftermath), the socially radical musical genius of Curtis Mayfield is not referenced nearly enough . Perhaps this is in part because there is no singular song that sort of stands as his iconic socio-political critique – there was a whole catalog of such songs in the Mayfield repertoire. “People Get Ready”; “Keep On Pushin’’; We’re a Winner”, “This Is My Country” and “Choice of Colors” are just a few.

Several months before Gaye dropped his What’s Goin’ On (1971), Curtis Mayfield released his solo debut album, CURTIS in September of 1970 . Mayfield interrogated racial oppression, challenged the status quo, and inspired the young with a number of powerfully poetic songs - “Miss Black America,” “Moving on Up; “Don’t Worry if There’s a Hell Below We’re All Gonna Go” and “We People Who Are Darker Than Blue” – which Peter Burns describes as on “par” with Billie Holiday’s “strange Fruit.” Even before this solo point in his career, Mayfield had already built an extraordinary cache of politicized music with Impressions albums like People Get Ready (1965) and We’re A Winner (1967). Taken together, the Mayfield songbook is a powerful narrative record of the struggles for black liberation in the 60s to early 70s. CURTIS reached the top of the charts where it was unseated by Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On.

Mayfield’s movie soundtrack work further demonstrated his socially insightful voice and emphasized that part of his lyrical genius was his ability to capture the beauty, pleasures, and pain of black ghetto life. For Claudine (1974), starring James Earl Jones and Diahann Carroll as a struggling single mother raising six children in Harlem, he penned such critically sharp tracks as “Mr. Welfare Man.” Despite its controversial cultural legacy, the music for the drug themed Superfly, Mayfield’s most enduring soundtrack score, was more than a narrative accompaniment. It humanized and dramatized one of the most serious problems plaguing the black urban community with the memorable “Pusherman” and “Freddy’s Dead.” Like Superfly, The Bill Cosby and Sydney Poitier film, Let’s Do It Again (1974), continued to showcase Mayfield’s genius with creating sultry, magnetic songs like the hit title track. He offered up more of this in Sparkle, a 1977 movie starring Irene Cara, which included such sexy, alluring singles as the much performed “Giving Him Something He Can Feel.” He teamed up with the reigning Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin to do the re-cut version of the Sparkle soundtrack; it revitalized Franklin’s career and they went on to do her album Almighty Fire in 1978.

Mayfield’s collaborations with the likes of Franklin, Donnie Hathaway, and the Staple singers provide an impressive body of work on it’s on and is further distinguishable because much of it occurred on Mayfield’s successful Chicago based label, Curtom. The ownership Mayfield took over his work when the Impressions finished their ABC contract in 1968 further signals his radicalism. On the surface, it is perhaps easy to reach for familiar terms like “message music” to characterize Mayfield’s 1960s-70s body of work. Such a tag might obscure the profound thematic depth, lyrical genius, and musical artistry of Curtis Mayfield who could captivate us with achingly, beautiful songs [“The Makings of You”] or get us moving and flirting [Let’s Do It Again”] or call us to action [“People Get Ready.”] Dr. Ramsey notes that Mayfield’s “understated personality” countered “the massive influence his musicianship held over the music industry for years.”

In August 1990, a freak accident at an outdoor concert paralyzed Mayfield from the neck down. He recorded a little again from his bed as renewed interest and tributes to his work appeared in the ‘90s. In December 1999, the quiet legend passed away. Tributes have a greater use than just providing feel-good sing along evenings and technology assists mightily. Pop culture memory is notoriously short-lived; recovering the great ones who offer a compelling window into a historical period and high artistry is ongoing work. Curtis Mayfield offers one of the loudest, most deft nods to the marriage of musical profundity and thematic consciousness; in that his radical soul is timeless.


Stephane Dunn, Ph.D, MFA, is currently an Assistant Professor in the English Department at Morehouse College. She has also taught at Ohio State University. A scholarly and creative writer, she specializes in film, popular culture, literature and African American studies. She is the author of articles and commentaries and the book, Baad Bitches & Sassy Supermamas: Black Power Action Films (University of Illinois Press 2008). She can be reached at

Thursday, July 1, 2010

More Afropunk!

Via Bold As Love

"Here's some video from two CUNY Graduate Journalism students, and it incorporates a sense of the sights and sounds at the festival along with short interviews with a few folks attending. What's cool is that it underscores the fact that community is so important. That is, everyone needs a place where they don't feel like an outsider, if only so you and get your energy back up to go out and fight the good fight."

From NY Times

"It’s easy to point to icons like Jay-Z, Notorious B.I.G., Lil’ Kim and Busta Rhymes as Brooklyn’s finest, musically speaking. But the latest installment of the Afro-Punk festival, which bills itself as “the other black experience,” questions the idea that African-American culture and hip-hop have to go hand in hand.

With more than 20 bands, from Ninjasonik, to punk legends Bad Brains, to tween rockers The Bots, Afro-Punk explores the pocket of life where punk rock, hip-hop and urban culture collide — all in musically and ethnically diverse Brooklyn. This past weekend at Commodore Barry Park, inside the chain link fences on the hot and shadeless blacktop, people of all colors, shapes and styles converged and pushed the definition of Brooklyn music. From the cackles and rhythm of skateboards grinding on ramps built for the festival’s skating competition, to the beats of Belikos, the festival showed how creative and diverse this lesser-known Brooklyn sound, and the culture it fosters, can be."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Black Music Month Finale: My Summer Job

Did you see the movie Cadillac Records? You know the story about Leonard Chess (and Phil Chess, but he is barely mentioned in the movie) and the blues musicians, such as Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, and Chuck Berry, he worked with at his Chess Records label. Well, my summer job as a research assistant will be covering a topic that includes the Chess Brothers. This summer, I will be researching on Jewish middlemen and the Black musicians they worked with. See, from about the 1920s to the 1960s, most of the middleman in the music industry (managers, record label owners, promoters, venue operators, etc.) were Jewish. The professor, I am working with, Robert Cherry, who studies economics of discrimination, says about 95% were. Over the years, these middlemen have been criticized for exploiting black musicians and not paying them what they deserved. The objective of this project is to see to what extent is that true, since there is always two sides to every story. Here is the official description of the job:

From about 1925-1965 black-inspired music (jazz, blues, and early rock ‘n’ roll) moved from the periphery to the mainstream of American popular culture. While it was dominantly performed by black artists, virtually all of the record company owners, business agents, and major venue operators were Jewish. This project looks at the role that these Jewish middlemen played and to what extent claims of exploitation are justified. The student will examine jazz archives in the New York City area, particularly music magazines articles and the black press to get a better understanding of how these middlemen were perceived during that time period. We will meet weekly to evaluate progress and decisions on what sources to utilize.

While I will officially start researching next week, at places like the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Studies and starting off with the Jazz era of the 1920s to the early 1940s, Professor Cherry has given me some of his research that he has found already. Here is a brief overview of that:

* Two groups of Jewish middlemen: those who were genuine Jazz fans, such as Milt Gabler (Commodore), Jerry Wexler (Atlantic) and Bobby Weinstock (Prestige), and those who had little interest in black music, but entrepreneurial skills led them to believe it would make them profits, such as Frank Schiffman (Apollo theatre and other Harlem venues), Herman Lubinksy (Savoy Records), Leonard Chess (Chess Records) and Syd Nathan (King Records).

*Relationships between Jewish middlemen and black musicians is a complicated one. Many of the black musicians would not have received much exposure without them because during those times white businessmen were not willing to work with black businessmen in general. Also, Jewish people were in a weird position because they were discriminated against (ex. with KKK) and did have high positions in a lot of social organizations (ex. NAACP), but their white skin allowed for them to maneuver easier in society. White businessmen were willing to work with Jewish people and many Jewish people own stores and other businesses in black areas like Harlem. Also, to many Christians, Jazz was considered to be base. So, black people had very little choice but to work with Jewish middlemen, even the bad ones.

*However, since many record labels were competing, successful artists could move among the record companies, such as with Little Esther Mae Jones.

* In the 1930s, many record labels were independents and had a high risk of failure, which made paying artists less easier to do since they wanted to make profits and they needed to make money off of successful artists to pay for the cost of failures (recording sessions, advances, unsold records).

* Distributors also made it extra hard for record companies to make a profit; many companies shutdown because they could not keep up with the costs.

*One of the most criticized record owners was Herman Lubinsky of Savoy Records. He started off selling electronics and later began selling records out of his store. The label recorded some of the first bebop Jazz albums, like ones for Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Dexter Gordon and later other artists like Varetta Dillard, Big Maybelle and Nappy Brown. He also included avant-garde Jazz and gospel in the following years. Lubinksy actually disdained black music and was unwilling to understand it at all in addition to being a cheap individual.

*Another interesting fact is that several of the first Jazz bands were led by Jewish musicians, most notably, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. Only until around 1940s did black bandleaders, like Duke Ellington and Count Basie come to the forefront more.

*Also, most of the songwriters were Jewish, which creates a problems when people criticize that black musicians did not get copyright royalties. Well, many, especially popular Jazz musicians, did not writer their own songs or did not write them completely by themselves.

* There were managers and record owners who did try to help black musicians in society outside of business. Count Basie's manager Norman Granz. Granz found the record label Verve in addition to starting many Jazz festivals and Jazz at the Philharmonic. He helped Ella Fitzgerald become more popular by introducing her to the Cole Porter Songbook. Oscar Peterson said that Granz stood up for many black musicians in the segregated South even when policemen were pointing guns at him. He also demanded equal pay and accommodation for black and white artists. Also, he promoted the first mixed raced concerts in the Deep South.

* Many critics say that Jewish middlemen commercialized black music so much that it lost its authentic sound. For example, Irving Mills and Duke Ellington, and Joe Glaser and Louis Armstrong have been labeled with this criticism. Several critics also see it as part of the paternalistic relationship between owners and artists. This may be true, but that has always been the case with popular music in order to appeal to the masses, unfortunately.

More research is coming and I will give weekly update on what I find.... STAY TUNED!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Black Music Month #24: Afropunk!!!! Part 2!!!!

Here is my recap of Sunday's performances:

1) Galaxy of Tar: Oops, I came too late and missed their performance, but I bought theird CD for a $1 (great bargain), maybe I'll review it later.

Find more videos like this on AFRO-PUNK

2) Bad Rabbits: Did I mention I love these guys and I made it time to see them! Woohoo! Let me tell you that Dua can SANG, not sing, but SANG!!!!! Just as The 54, why aren't these guys more commercially successful; I could dance all day to them!

3) Martin Luther: This man is SEXY (sorry, I had to mention it) and he is the epitome of a rock star continuing in the line of Little Richard, Jimi Hendrix, Prince and Lenny Kravitz, as well as very conscious. Moreover, he has a band made up of mostly females (on drums, lead guitar and keyboard), how incredible is that!

4) J'Davey: I am still on the fence with this duo. I can bob my head to the beats, but Jack Davey's voice still irks me. Sometimes it works, as on the songs, "Slooow" and "Get Together," but then other times she sounds like a squeaky little girl. I guess it just takes getting use to, I will eventually.

5) 24-7 Spyz: Soul and Heavy Metal together sounds crazy, but for this group, who has been together over twenty years, it works! It worked so much that I bought their CD and DVD, resulting in a free T-shirt for me (did I mention that I love free stuff!)

Don't Break My Heart

6) Cubic Zirconia: Seeing the lead singer, Tiombe Lockhart, in lace and hearing songs like "Hoes Come Out At Night," she reminded me of a mix between Lil' Kim and Betty Davis and add in a African club dancer...take from that what you will...


7) K-OS: Think Will.I.Am mixed with the comments I made about P.O.S., and you got him!

Sunday Morning

8) The Cool Kids: What can I say, as their name implies they were cool, especially Mikey Rocks with his nerdy glasses. Plus Kid Cudi came out as a surprise guest....maybe I was waiting for this next guy...

I'm Mikey

9) MOS DEF!!! What a way to end a jam-packed good music festival! He had me in love with his skullcap, nerdy suspenders and red microphone; he just looked like a beautiful nerd! Like my friend said, "I feel as if I am in church." Yep, we were in the church of Mos Def and us his faithful followers. He had us dancing, swaying, laughing and much more! Just watch the awesomeness below:

Honorable Mention: Supernatural

He was not an official performer, but this rapper had my attention with his quick-witted freestyles from both days. Not only could he make up rhymes on the spot based on what people had in their hand (he even did one about a tampon), but he could also impersonate other rappers, like Biggie, Slick Rick and Busta Rhymes. Definitely check him out:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Black Music Month #23: Afro-punk!!!!!!

Last weekend, I attended Afropunk for the first time and all I have to say is .....DAMN!!!!!! Ok, I actually have more to say than that, but it was so amazing that this is my initial reaction. I regret forgetting to bring my camera, because there were so many camera worthy moments (oh well, there is youtube and other people who took pictures, haha). Besides the death-defying stunts of the skateboarders and bikers, here are some of the highlights of the weekend for me:


1) Belikos: I swear that Aaron Orr's style, one of the lead vocalists, reminded me of Larry Dodson from the Bar-Kays. Two things about this rock/hip-hop band that caught my attention: their rendintion of Jay-Z's "I Just Wanna Love You (Give It to Me)" and they were the only band to give out free CDs (hey, I like free stuff! haha)

2) God Forbid and Cipher: Generally, I do not like Hardcore/Thrash/Death metal as much as other rock genres, but for some reason, these two groups sounded so much better live. Also, finding out about the lead singer of Cipher's, Moe Mitchell, background (he graduated from Howard and was the president of Ubiquity) and meaning of his lyrics, I am much more interested now.

God Forbid

Find more videos like this on AFRO-PUNK

Privilege by Cipher

3) P.O.S. - What more can I say - He can rap and sing, he is both Hip-hop and Rock, he has lyrics that makes you think- I'm done!

4) Game Rebellion: Having their own personal performance at the Truth truck, these guys were the first band to actually a mash pit started as well as Netic's getting on top of the truck and short-circuiting a microphone, you can guess what kind of performance that was!

5) NinjaSonik: Sorry, no comment.....actually one: I found them irritating....(no videos will be found here of them)

6) The Bots: What the hell??!!! These boys are not even in high school yet (the younger brother on drums looks like he is ten), and are rocking way more than some people twice or three times their age. Another addition to my jealousy of child prodigies, LOL.

I Like Your Style

7) The 54: Besides the lead singer's cuteness (sorry I had to mention it and don't tell him I said that), this Atlanta band is on par with most of the commercial rock bands out there, so why are they not more famous? Just asking.

8) Bad Brains: These guys have been performing over 30 years and are still F***ing awesome! Even though H.R. had a rag over his head (probably because it was hot as hell), I felt the love. How can you go wrong with a band that mixes Reggae and Heavy metal!

Jah Love

From 1980 performance

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Black Music Month #22: Black Culture in Sri Lanka

From Vimeo:

Historians say that the Kaffirs (this is what they call themselves) of Sri Lanka started arriving from the eastern shores of Africa in the 1500s with the Portuguese, and later in more waves with the different colonizers of Sri Lanka.

'Kaffir culture' is a video portrait of one such community of Kaffirs and the struggle to keep their culture (especially the music and language) alive in the face of falling numbers.

kaffir culture from Kannan Arunasalam on Vimeo.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Black Music Month #21: "Listen Up!" Young Women's Voices in Hip-Hop

"Listen Up!" Young Women's Voices in Hip-Hop - A Summer Arts Program in DC



About "Listen Up!" The young woman's voice in Hip-Hop

This summer, we will create original hip-hop theatre driven by the interests of the young women and girls in the program. Our work will take place inside a supportive and nurturing environment that challenges them to become self-actualized. Participants will have the opportunity and produce all aspects of their own show while learning about the elements of hip-hop and West African drumming.

* Explore hip-hop's elements of Fashion, Breaking, Beatboxing, Rhyme/Rap and Knowledge of Culture & Self
* Investigate the roles of young women in hip-hop
* Learn performance techniques and ensemble creation
* Learn West African drumming, dancing and rhythms and how they have influenced hip-hop music and culture
* Create and perform an original play

Project location: Washington, DC

The Young Women’s Drumming Empowerment Project strives to create a safe space for young women to build community, and to fearlessly express their authentic selves through drumming, spoken word poetry, song, movement and performance.

About The Saartjie Project
The Saartjie Project (pronounced Sar-key) is a black women artist collective producing and developing theatre through collaborative processes. We are committed to working together consistently to develop a distinctive body of work and practices reflective of who we are.

    Black Music Month #20: Charles Mingus 1968

    Charles Mingus, Jr. was an American Jazz musician, composer, bandleader and social activist. Not only was he a virtuosic double bass player, he was a great pianist, cellist, and trombone player. His influence, besides Jazz, was Gospel music that he heard in church. In his early career, Mingus performed with Louis Armstrong, Kid Ory and Lionel Hampton, and later on, he collaborated with Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Art Tatum and Duke Ellington. In the 1950s, he formed his own pusblishing and recording companies as well as the "Jazz Workshop," for young composers to have their works performed in concert and on recordings. Throughout his career, he recorded over a hundred albums, recorded over three hundred scores and toured throughout Europe, Japan, Canada, South America and the United States. Charles was at the forefront of avant-garde Jazz, hard bop and other Jazz forms. Mingus received several honors in his later life, such as ballets that were choreographed to his music, including Alvin Ailey's "Mingus Dances," and grants from the National Endowment of the Arts that allowed him to be cataloged and put in the New York Public Library archives.

    This is a short film, directed by Thomas Reichman, about Mingus and his five-year old daughter awaiting eviction from their studio in New York City. It is a telling documentary on how America can even treat some of its best talents as crap on the bottom of their shoe. It is sad.

    Mingus: Charlie Mingus 1968 from Bartley Powers on Vimeo.

    Friday, June 25, 2010

    Black Music Month #19 Part 2: King of Pop Tribute

    It has been a year since Michael Jackson left us and it still feels surreal. I still cannot believe he is gone and I still "can never say goodbye." Watching Michael Jackson: Our Icon on Centric and the number of other tributes going on today reminded that whatever personal problems Michael had as a human, he still showed love for humanity and even, in relation to Black Music Month, his blackness and African roots. So, my tribute to him today will reflect that:

    They Don't Really Care About Us

    Wanna Be Starting Something

    Do You Remember the Time

    Black or White

    You Can't Win (From the Wiz)

    We Still Miss You Michael!

    Black Music Month #19: Hip Hop Is More Than You Think It Is

    Via The Marriage of a Dead Blog SING!

    Me: To all the people who think Hip Hop is not a legitimate art form, not a part of history or treat Hip Hop like it is a monolithic entity (side-eyes Thomas Chatterton Williams), here is your response:

    A friend of mine, who is a fellow music junkie, occasionally gives me heads up on weird shit he finds he thinks I might like to sample. He told me about this track the other night and I’ve only just gotten around to checking it out now. It’s pretty fucking awesome, no?
    Anyway, whilst digging the fuck out of this track, I was browsing through the comments on Youtube, and came across one that enraged me.
    “rap comes from this song yeaaaag”
    Recently, when Banksy started pissing about in America, someone here linked to an article which quoted an unnamed art historian as saying graffiti was the greatest urban cultural movement “since Punk”.
    Let’s just get one thing straight right here. What we understand as Hip Hop today began in the early 70’s. It grew up at the same time, if not before, Punk. Graffiti existed as a movement before Hip Hop became a defined, integrated culture. In reality, Punk is the most influential movement since Graffiti.
    This is something that needs to stop. Just because White people didn’t hear about Hip Hop until the 80’s doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. White people need to stop looking down on Hip Hop. Just because it’s made by Black people doesn’t mean it’s anything less than mind blowingly innovative. I’m not joking here, or trying to get mad props by showing how”down with the black kids” I am, it is genuinely one of the most ground breaking genres of all time.
    I don’t mean it in a political sense, though that is most certainly true (seriously, go read Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop by Jeff Chang if you want to see how Hip Hop evolved as a responce to White Oppression). But right now, I want to simply talk about it as a musical form.
    Many people toyed with the idea of sampling before Hip Hop. The idea was first properly realised by Musique Concrete in the late 40’s. The bassline from the Doctor Who theme tune (universally acclaimed as one of the most influential pieces of electronic music ever) was made up of resampled recordings of an elastic band on a matchbox. Miles Davis made heavy use of looping and sampling for On The Corner. Steve Reich messed about with it for Come Out and It’s Gonna Rain.
    But Hip Hop was the first time that it was treated as a normal concept. There was no chin stroking over intellectualism involved, just a bunch of people sitting around and going “hey, these 10 seconds are the best part of this song, let’s make it the whole song”. They didn’t have a studio filled with complicated equipment, they didn’t have a fancy college education grounding them in the tennents of music. Let’s be honest, they probably knew fuck all about French Advent Garde musicians, British Childrens TV shows or New York Hipsters. They literally just had 2 turntables and an ear for a decent hook. That was it. They took the most basic piece of equipment you could find - your average home stereo - and turned it into an instrument, THEN THEY ELEVATED IT TO AN ART FORM!
    Seriously, I’m not entirely sure I can explain how ground breaking the concept of Hip Hop is to you. It’s just such a revolutionary idea it’s almost impossible to grasp. The entire history of human music was turned entirely on it’s head, just because a roomful of people in the Bronx wanted to dance.

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Black Music Month #18: : The Spark Episode: The Power Of Music

    Via Black Voices: Amanda Diva's show, "The Spark"

    Here are episodes 12 and 13, which are in tribute to Black music Month:

    The Power of Black Music to Unite for Different Issues

    Nneka Interview

    Alternative Black Music

    Jay Electronica

    Wednesday, June 23, 2010

    Black Music Month #17: YahZarah

    Via Soul Sessions at Centric TV

    If you thought you knew YahZarah (née Dana Williams), think again. The Foreign Exchange singer is out to introduce her true self to the world with the her newest album The Ballad of Purple St. James.

    The Ballad of Purple St. James available NOW

    Soul Sessions//YahZarah St. James from Centric TV on Vimeo.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    Black Music Month #16: Betty Davis

    And no I am not talking about the actress...This Betty Davis preceded acts like Prince, Grace Jones, Madonna, Erykah Badu, Kelis, Rhianna, and Lady Gaga, but few know about her. Influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, this funk, rock and soul singer was definitely ahead of her time because of her open sexual attitude, so much so, that the music industry did not know what to do with her (let's face it, they still wouldn't know what to do with her). The former model, who was once married to Miles Davis (she was originally Betty Mabry), this spitfire (she is a leo like me) released three albums, Betty Davis, They Say I'm Different and Nasty Gal, in the 1970s and a fourth album, Is It Love or Desire, was released in 2009. She even had an influence on Miles and his album, Bitches Brew, starting the era of Jazz Fusion. Although, her career only lasted from 1970 to 1980, she had little commercial successes and she declared that she would never perform again (yes, she was that disgusted by the music industry), her style has remained with many. Now living a private life in Pittsburgh, I am wishing she would make a comeback.

    Betty Davis-If I'm In Luck I Might Get Picked Up

    Nasty Gal

    They Say I'm Different

    Anti-Love Song


    Don't Call Her No Tramp

    Podcast Interview from The Sound of Young America (First Interview in 30 Years)

    The Sound of Young America

    Article on Betty Davis:

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Black Music Month #15: RIP Garry Shider

    On June 16, 2010, we lost another great musician. Garry Shider, the guitarist for the band, Parliament Funkadelic, passed away at the age of 56 from cancer. Besides his guitar skills, Shider was know for his outrageous outfits, such as wearing a diaper on stage ("The Diaper Man" was his nickname). Shider was sick for a while, suffering from both lung cancer and brain cancer, and just last week succumbed to them. His vocals and guitar were major contributions to such songs as "One Nation Under a Groove" and "Cosmic Slop." ALso, he co-wrote many of the group's most notable songs. You will be missed, Garry, Rest in Funk.

    One Nation Under a Groove

    Cosmic Slop

    Sexy Ways

    Getting to Know You


    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Black Music Month #14: Click-It Concert -The Organic Soul Part 3

    Continued from yesterday's post:

    Public Enemy-Don't Believe The Hype

    Eric B. & Rakim - Don't Sweat The Technique

    Tupac - All Eyez On Me

    Funkadelic - Lunchmeataphobia (Think! It Ain't Illegal Yet!)

    Public Enemy-Miuzi Weighs A Ton

    Jerry Butler & Brenda Lee Eager - Ain't Understanding Mellow

    Cee Lo Green - I Am Selling Soul

    Talib Kweli & Hi Tek - Love Language

    Pete Rock & C. L. Smooth - They Reminisce Over You

    A Tribe Called Quest - Check the Rhime

    Outkast - Return of the G

    Ray Charles - Compared To What


    Erykah Badu - Apple Tree

    Jay-Z - Moment of Clarity

    Parliament Funkadelic-(Not Just) Knee Deep

    Soul II Soul - Get A Life

    Grace Jones - Slave To The Rhythm

    Talib Kweli- Beautiful Struggle

    Prince - Pop Life

    Hope you enjoyed the 3 day Click-It Concert!