Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Black Man Invented Music...and I Bet He's Turning Over in His Grave.

June is Black Music Month.

Proclaimed [ironically] during Bush's administration back in 2002, Black Music Month is meant to establish that Black Americans, more than any other race, have made the most innovative contributions to Music. The very notion of rhythm can be traced back to ancient tribal practices of the early people; largely Africans.

During the slavery period, music kept the slaves' spirits high above their current mistreatment. If you are knowledgable about the Negro Spirituals, though we may sing them today in memorandum, you'd know that most were actually code (I bet you remember that fact from an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, right?). Slave music was actually the foundation for what became known as "American Music": blues, jazz, and [yes] rock n' roll.

However, the invention of American Music was attributed to Whites once it was formulated, packaged, and sold to the consumers of mainstream. Though many Blacks were recognized [solely] for their talent in these genres, they were never given the props that was certaintly deserved.

Example: The supposed King of Rock n' Roll is none other than the late, great Elvis Pressley. However, he had a predecessor and pioneer: the grandaddy of rock n' roll, Chuck Berry. But when you think early Rock n' Roll, the mind automatically goes to Elvis.

Blacks continued to stir up their creative juices by breaking new ground, with the creation of three new genres of music:


Other sub-genres were created by combining genres: (Ex: Soul is combined gospel and R&B -- i.e. Ray Charles). Pop music (a lighter form of rock) even has a Black man as its top contributor: Michael Jackson -- and his 42,537,000 albums sold makes him the highest selling artist OF ALL TIME.

Blacks used to use music ONLY as a way to escape oppression. However, the current state of Black music is attempting to undo what has been accomplished since the late 1800's. I'll target Hip Hop music, specifically....Here are a few personal reasons why:

1. Sean "P. Diddy" Combs is currently one of the most savvy, highest paid music moguls in the music industry, but is secretly thought of as a JOKE.

2. In 2007, 50 Cent became the highest selling hip hop artist ever.

3. Hip Hop is referenced as being a "business".

4. The Source [Awards & the magazine] (They lost my complete respect when both the Roots & Juvenile got 4 mics in the same issue.)

5. B.E.T. (period)

6. People will illegally download Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, but will spend $5.99 a month on a "Stanky Leg" ringtone.

7. The formula for selling records is based on invisible gimmicks. (I.e. Swagga)

8. Rap artists, who claim to have great free-styling skills, having ghostwriters.

9. Too much sampling, which leads to an decrease of innovation.

10. My nephew can quote the lyrics of Soldja Boy, but couldn't tell you who Pharoahe Monch or Little Brother are.

I'm not naive. It's up to the people to make Black Music as productive as it once was.The cliche awards show speech holds true:
"I'd like to thank the fans, because without you, we wouldn't be here."

...Chuck Berry, Sam Cooke, and Ella Fitzgerald knew one thing for certain: Black music reflects the people. Our people. Somewhere along the line, we've forgotten that.

Thank you to those who've paved the way.

Happy Black Music Month

1 comment:

  1. this is just ridiculously on point...i couldnt even start with the kudos...just on point

    your blog is so refreshing to me..i just feel like im not alone and not crazy when i find solace in your thoughts