What is Black Music Part Deux: The Music

In the previous post of What is Black Music I discuss the issues of what is exactly black music and why the mainstream media pigeonholes black music as only R&B and Hip Hop. I also mention that in a follow-up post that I will present some artists that you should check out. I am going to highlight five artists to look out for. If you know of any other artists post them here in the comments with links.

The first artist is one of my current favorites, and it get a lot of airplay on my show, ‘The Rhythm Lab’. Her name is Santogold from New York. An amazing and diverse artist who is signed to Lizard King records (same label as The Killers). She has an album coming out soon. She has performed with MIA, and Spank Rock to name a few. Check out this article from The Fader.

Santogold

Santogold – Shove It feat. Spank Rock

Santogold – Creator

The next artist is actually a group by the name of Jai Alai Savant out of Chicago. The lead is Ralph Darden. He also has a DJ alias by the name of Major Taylor. Check out this blog post about them here.

Jai Alai Savant

Jai Alai Savant – Sugar Free

Jai Alai Savant on Chicago Public Radio

Jai Alai Savant – White on White Crime

The next is artist is Tama-kali. They were in the documentary AfroPunk directed by James Spooner.

From her Myspace:

A native Brooklynite, Tamar-kali started to cut her teeth on the NYC rock scene with infamous soulcore psychos Funkface circa 1993. Shortly thereafter, the all-boy post hardcore outfit Song of Seven was in danger of disbanding when original front man Israel left to record and perform with the legendary Bad Brains. Tamar-kali was enlisted to add another dimension to Song of Sevens sound. As the bands front woman, Tamar-kali established herself as a dominant force with a resonant voice. Eventually, her strength as a woman in a male dominated genre led to creative conflict and compelled her toward her own expression as a writer and vocalist. She took the occasional break from developing original material to lend her voice in support of such artists as Fishbone and Outkast. The start of 2005 found Tamar-kali heading up her own production company, releasing The Geechee Goddess Hardcore Warrior Soul EP on her upstart record label, and manning 3 solo projectsthe haunting Psychochamber Ensemble, the uncompromising Pseudoacoustic Siren Songs and the original 5-piece electric configuration.

Tamar-kali

Tamar-Kali – Boot

The next artist is a duo out of New York and their name is Kudu.

Kudu

‘Co-mingling the spirits of Missing Persons, Chaka Kahn, the White Stripes, and Tony Williams- Kudu makes music you want to hear over and over again.’—-Amaechi Uzoigwe (Pres. Definitive Jux Records)

Kudu connects the rawness and the realness that has bubbled up from the underground and makes way to a wider more varied representation of today’s youthful audience. Nomadic as they are, Kudu has no base but the U.S., but can be found mostly in NY, Atlanta, or L.A. Kudu is the brand new dynamic duo of Deantoni Parks and Sylvia G. who bring you a step further from electro by combining the essence of old school New Wave, song form, and modern beats and breaks. A real DYI group who write and produce everything they put out…even their own remixes. Kudu’s sound can be summed up as Urban new Wave or simply, Nu-Pop. Aside from the fresh musical ingredients – without one sour spot concerning image, talent, concept, lyric, or songwriting, – it’s about that energy, the excitement of being apart of something familiar but altogether new. Kudu appeals across the board beyond race, class,nationality, and age. Kudu has packed out all black Atlanta audiences to all white audiences in Boston. Just watch out when they are heard overseas! The formula for Kudu seems to be to take what’s hot, push it forward, and retain all the dark, beautiful, artistic simplicity.

Kudu – Black Betty

Kudu – Bar Star (video)

The final artist I am going to highlight is J*Davey (The self-proclaimed Black Eurythmics). I had a chance to open up for them a few months back in Minneapolis.

J*davey

With a diverse array of influences, eclectic twosome J*Davey — female vocalist Jack Davey (b. Brianna Cartwright) and producer Brook D’Leau — deliberately evade the narrow categories of what urban music should sound like, not to mention that they defy normal conventions of pop music. Drawing equally from neo-soul, new wave, funk, and hip-hop, their melting pot of electronic soul and dance have made music-goers try to classify them somewhere between neo-soulstress Erykah Badu and new wave punks Talking Heads. D’Leau and Davey established the duo in the summer after their high-school graduation in 1999. Born and raised in L.A., D’Leau, whose taste for new wave and funk greatly characterizes the group’s music, learned to produce tinkering with his father’s studio equipment during high school. Davey moved to Los Angeles from her hometown of St. Louis, MO, when she was eight. She had her fair share of industry woes with a failed stint in a girl group, but when she met D’Leau, the two had a chemistry that they couldn’t ignore. For several years, the self-proclaimed “black Eurythmics” worked the live circuit around the country, steadily building their reputation and a unique following. They made some substantial strides on the recording side of things, scoring music for television shows CSI: New York and Entourage.

They were supposed drop a new album this year on Warner records, but Warner shelved the project. They probably couldn’t figure how to market a black artist that didn’t fit the stereotype. Good job Warner records. This is why you are losing money and profits.

J*Davey – Division of Joy

J*Davey – Mr. Mister (video)

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Kanye is so so Daft

New video and song from Kayne West’s forthcoming album Graduation(notice the Akira reference). He uses Daft Punk’s sample from ‘Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger’. The ironic thing about this track is that on last year’s Europe MTV awards, Kanye West made a scene over losing video of the year to a french group by the name of Justice who is on a label started by Daft Punk’s Manager.

Another thing. I really believe that Daft Punk and Justice are one in the same. Have you ever seen them perform together. If they did, Daft Punk would be in costume so you would never know. Is also funny that Kanye track is being released about the same time Daft Punk’s movie is coming out and they are headlining Lollapalooza. Now that is marketing.


I still got respect for Kanye…

Daft Punk – Electroma

Don’t Blame Hip Hop Revisited: Video Edition

Russell Simmons

I wrote about the issue of how hip hop is the blame of our cultural and society problems a few posts ago. Also the post about the Saul William’s letter covered this issue as well. I also mention in a previous post about the first Hip Hop video blog. Well Jay Smooth who is responsible of Ill Doctrine posted a very unique take on the issue. Specifically, it was about how Russell Simmons misrepresented himself on Oprah’s Town hall and how Oprah approach it the wrong way. Quite interesting. Let me know what you think.

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StoryCorps: Griot (Telling your Story)

 Griot

In the previous post about the hip hop video blog, I mention a little about StoryCorps:Griot. This is a really cool project.

StoryCorps Griot is a one-year initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to collect interviews from at least 1,750 African Americans. From February 15, 2007, through February 28, 2008, the StoryCorps Griot Initiative will make stops of up to six weeks in nine locations across the nation, partnering with radio stations, historically black colleges and universities, and other cultural institutions and membership organizations, to record and distribute the stories of 1,750 African Americans. The StoryCorps Griot Initiative will place a special emphasis on the stories of World War II veterans and men and women involved in the Civil Rights struggle.

The StoryCorps Griot Initiative will help ensure that the voices, experiences, and life stories of African Americans will be preserved and presented with dignity. It will also build bonds between citizens and broadcast media by celebrating our shared humanity and collective identity.

Where will StoryCorps Griot visit?

Atlanta, GA   Feb 15–Mar 24, 2007
Newark, NJ   Mar 29–May 5, 2007
Detroit, MI   May 10–Jun 16, 2007
Chicago, IL   Jun 21–Jul 28, 2007
Oakland, CA   Aug 9–Sep 14, 2007

They also have blog for their journey. If you living in these cities, definitely stop by. They are scheduling more cities as well. Institutions and community-based organizations can collaborate with StoryCorps Griot in several ways by becoming Community Partners. They can host interviews at a site of their choosing and Facilitators will travel to them. They can bring community residents to the GriotBooth for scheduled interviews. They can also spread the word about StoryCorps Griot through information sessions and material distribution. For more information about becoming a StoryCorps Griot Community Partner, please contact Ruby Sheets, Outreach Coordinator for StoryCorps Griot, at rsheets@storycorps.net or 646-723-7025 ext. 61.

Individuals can conduct their own interviews with their storykit.

Hip Hop’s first Video Blog

Ill Doctrine

[I posted about this on my other blog at rhythmlabonline.com] I just found out about ill doctrine: the first hip hop video blog. The blog is created by Jay Smooth founder of hiphopmusic.com and who hosts a radio show on New York’s WBAI called Underground Railground. He also worked on this cool project called StoryCorps Griot(StoryCorps Griot is a one-year initiative, funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, to collect interviews from at least 1,750 African Americans.) It is pretty insightful and entertaining. Give him a look and show your support.

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Surface Humor

Surface

I don’t know how many know of Microsoft’s new product Surface.  If not, it is basically a coffee table computer.  I love computers and gadgets, but this seems a little bit extreme in a residence (I can see some cool commercial  uses). I saw this parody of Microsoft Surface and I thought it was kind of funny.

What is Black Music?

Fishbone

I came across this interview of Fishbone on NPR. Some of my friends know that I am big fan of Fishbone. The interview started to talk about the racism in the music industry. I found it quite interesting. Here is why. I am a black man who loves rock and punk as much as I do hip hop, and jazz. And in some ways I could relate to the what Angelo of Fishbone was saying. In this country, the mainstream population sees black music as really two things: Hip Hop and R&B and that is it. Yes Jazz and Blues are obiviously black music, but it is not played on the mainstream black music stations. As a culture we have created most of the music that came from America. Especially rock music which has its roots in blues. I remember when Rock & Roll started to permeate the mainstream back in the late 40s and early 50s, the white population called it devil music or n*gger music (Check out this article on the King of Rock & Roll by David Alston). Ironically 50 years later there are very few black artists in rock music and very few that are successful in the mainstream. Ask yourself this question. Would Living Color or Fishbone would have been more commercially successful if they were white? Would Red Hot Chili Peppers be as popular if they were black? If Amy Winehouse (who sounds like a black soul singer) was black would she be on the cover of Rolling Stone and be charging $50 tickets for her show?

Let us flip it around here especially when it comes to mainstream black radio. How come they don’t play Bad Brains, Fishbone, TV on the Radio, etc. They would probably would say that is not black music. Even Reggae with exception of few dancehall cuts here and there, does not get any kind of airplay on mainstream black radio. Why is that? I don’t know but I know the answer would be to complex too put in this blog. Why is it when I went to punk shows at 9:30 club in DC that I get funny looks, but when a white person goes to a hip hop show nothing. Not to mention the audience at most hip hop shows now are dominated by white people.

Why does England understand musical culture better than we do? (I am not saying don’t have race issues, they do). Look at there Radio. BBC 1xtra markets themselves as ‘The Best In New Black Music’ and by America’s standard that would be just Hip Hop and R&B. However, it is not. Just take a look at it programming schedule. They have new African music, Soca, Asian Street Beats, House Music, Drum & Bass, Reggae and Dancehall, Nu Gospel, Broken Beat, Underground Soul Music, and Hip Hop and R&B. No Rock, but that is better than the mainstream Black Radio in the states. Why is that?

I do not mean to be controversial, I just wanted to bring this topic to the surface. Let me know what you think. Do you agree or disagree. Below is an excerpt from the Fishbone Interview, plus video from the Afro-Punk movie. If you have not seen this, go see it. The next post I will highlight some artists worth checking out.

Excerpt from Fishbone Interview

AfroPunk Trailer

Interview with AfroPunk Director