[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"
Presenter and Producer
"Jazz on the Terrace"
"Jazz til Dawn"
Radio Adelaide 101.5FM
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>
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What the **** Happened to Black Popular Music?
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 âjazzâ
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
âmusicâ. I recently discovered that there is now a form of rap
called âcoke rapâ, 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.
âAnother issue in the decline of music today is the stupidity
and negativity in the lyrics and the video images that accompany this
There's a video by Ludacris that I've seen of a song called âAct a
Foolâ. 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 âJust to be
Close to You Girlâ to âBack That Ass Up Bitchâ? How the hell did
we get from âWhat's Goin' Onâ and âYou Haven't Done Nothin' â
to âMe So Hornyâ and âMy Humpâ?
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
âmilitary intelligence âor âjumbo shrimpâ) 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 âDisco Sucksâ movement in the 70s? Maybe it's time for a
âRap Sucksâ 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 âRap Sucksâ rally somewhere. (As long as it doesn't escalate
into a riot like the âDisco Sucksâ one did.)
Discuss What the **** Happened to Black Popular Music? on the AAJ
Visit Kenny Drew on the web.
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