[JPL] RESPONSE TO: jazzproglist Digest, Vol 8, Issue 102

Gregory L Fisher jazzviews at yahoo.com.au
Sun Apr 9 04:52:01 EDT 2006

In Response to  Message: 11

I think I'm in serious trouble, because I agree 100%!
All I can say is alleluia someone has said what I have been
thinking for sometime.

Congratulations to Kenny Drew Jnr for having the nerve to put it in writing.

And my 22 year old son informs me the only reason I don't like
modern music is because I'm I old. But at least I can whistle
the tunes of my teens- early 20s. The more adveturous of us can even whistle,
bebop heads and solos.  Can the same be said of current releases?

Well enough from this "Grumpy old man" 


Greg Fisher
Presenter and Producer
"Primetime Jazz"
"Jazz on the Terrace"
"Jazz til Dawn"
Radio Adelaide 101.5FM

Message: 11
Date: Sat, 8 Apr 2006 17:01:02 -0400
From: "philip booth" <philipbooth at tampabay.rr.com>
Subject: [JPL] Kenny Drew, Jr., on rap and other topics
To: "Jazz Programmers Mailing List" <jazzproglist at jazzweek.com>
Message-ID: <006501c65b4f$8f65df40$0201a8c0 at ownerfxr21q1hx>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="UTF-8"

What the **** Happened to Black Popular Music?
Posted: 2006-04-06

By Kenny Drew, Jr.

I've decided to add this section to my website as a vehicle to express 
my views on various topics, musical and otherwise, that have been on my 
mind lately. You may wonder why I'm talking about popular music in this 
first installment, since I am generally thought of as a “jazz” 
musician. However, anyone who knows me knows that my tastes in music are 
very eclectic (as are those of most jazz musicians, quiet as it's kept). 
In fact when I started my career as a professional musician, I was not 
playing jazz. I started out playing in R&B groups and Top-40 bands. We 
only played jazz if the club was almost empty! The 60s - 80s was such 
an incredible time for all styles of popular music, but for the sake of 
this discussion I will concentrate specifically on black music (or 
rhythm-and-blues, or funk, or whatever the hell you want to call it).

Recently, I've been listening to a lot of my favorite music from that 
time, and to be honest, I am disgusted and sickened at how far our music 
has declined in the quality of the music and its message. How the hell 
did we get from Motown to Death Row; from Earth Wind & Fire to 
Ludacris; from Luther Vandross to 50Cent?

I remember a time in our music when songs had great melodies and chord 
changes, you actually had to be able to sing or play an instument to 
become a musician, and Michael Jackson was black! It's a sad commentary 
on our culture and society when the biggest thing in popular music is an 
ex-crack dealer whose claim to fame is being shot nine times, and one 
of the greatest entertainers in the world was on trial for child 
molestation. If that's not a sign of the coming Apocalypse, I don't know what 
is! And if 50Cent was really shot nine times, why couldn't one of those 
bullets have hit a vital organ? Who the **** was shooting at him: 
Stevie Wonder? And as far as all these black rappers getting shot, how about 
a little equal opportunity violence here? Can't somebody pop a cap in 
Eminem's white ass?

Another issue in the decline of music today is the stupidity and 
negativity in the lyrics and the video images that accompany this so-called 
“music”. I recently discovered that there is now a form of rap 
called “coke rap”, in which the lyrics deal mainly with the sale, 
distribution and use of cocaine and crack. I find it offensive that any 
record company would try to make a profit from glorifying something that has 
decimated the black community the way that crack has. I hope that one 
day while 50Cent is lounging by the pool in his humongous mansion 
surrounded by beautiful groupies, he might consider how many lives were 
ruined by the poison he used to sell, and how many more lives will be 
potentially damaged by the musical poison he's selling now.

      “Another issue in the decline of music today is the stupidity 
and negativity in the lyrics and the video images that accompany this 
so-called 'music'.” 

There's a video by Ludacris that I've seen of a song called “Act a 
Fool”. All I can remember about the video is that there were a lot of 
shots of him and his boys running from the cops. Don't we have enough 
young black men running around acting like fools without some idiot 
rapper encouraging it?( But then again, Ludacris probably makes more money 
in one month than I'll make in my entire life as a jazz musician. So 
who's the idiot here? Maybe it's me!) Remember when the lyrics in our 
music spoke of love or the loss of love? Who can forget the uplifting 
messages of peace, hope and spirituality in the lyrics of Earth Wind & Fire? 
Or the social consciousness and protest messages in the lyrics of Gil 
Scott-Heron and Marvin Gaye? How the hell did we get from “Just to be 
Close to You Girl” to “Back That Ass Up Bitch”? How the hell did 
we get from “What's Goin' On” and “You Haven't Done Nothin' “ 
to “Me So Horny” and “My Hump”?

Last, but not least, it's time to address the musical quality of this 
bull----, or more accurately, the lack of it. Way back when, when I 
first started studying music I was told that music had to consist of three 
elements: melody, harmony and rhythm. Rap music (an oxymoron similar to 
“military intelligence “or “jumbo shrimp”) has basically 
discarded the first two elements and is left with nothing but rhythm.

Since only one element of music is present in most of this crap it 
doesn't even justify being called music. Our culture has been dumbed down 
to the point where your average dumb-ass American can't tell the 
difference between a truly great musician and somebody who's been studying 
their instrument for a week. Playing a musical instrument at a high level 
is no longer a well-respected skill in our society. (I'm not 100% sure 
that it ever really was.) In fact, to be honest, I think that most of 
the students in music schools today who are studying jazz and classical 
music are wasting their fucking time and their parents' money! (Boy, am 
I gonna get in trouble for saying this!) Why spend all that time 
mastering an instrument when you can just get a drum machine and a 
microphone, write some asinine lyrics about bitches, ho's and pimps and make a 
ton of money? Sometimes I wonder whether I'm wasting my time in this 
cesspool called the music industry. These days it seems like the only way 
to make any serious money in music is to produce some bullshit that 
doesn't even sound like music!

So what's the solution here? Damned if I know! But I did see an 
encouraging story on the news recently. A billboard advertising 50Cent's new 
movie was put up in a black neighborhood not far from a school. In the 
billboard 50Cent is seen with his heavily tatooed back to the camera 
with his arms outstretched in a crucifix-like pose with a microphone in 
one hand and a gun in the other. Understandably, the community was 
outraged. They held protests, got some media coverage, and eventually 
succeeded in getting the movie company to remove the billboard. I say that we 
use this as a model nationwide.

I propose a nationwide boycott of rap music; perhaps by picketing in 
front of record company offices and major record store chains. Anybody 
remember the “Disco Sucks” movement in the 70s? Maybe it's time for a 
“Rap Sucks” movement now. Who's with me here? (Actually, looking 
back on the disco era, that music sounds like Beethoven in comparison to 
the rap garbage that's poisoning our airwaves now!) Maybe we could have 
a big “Rap Sucks” rally somewhere. (As long as it doesn't escalate 
into a riot like the “Disco Sucks” one did.)

Discuss What the **** Happened to Black Popular Music? on the AAJ 
Bulletin Board.

Visit Kenny Drew on the web.

On Yahoo!7
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