Black music

What the fuck is happening.

How come Mint Condition is so low on the radar, a 20 year old classic R&B band like them? Only two albums in ten years for a big talent like Jaguar Wright? Maxwell made a come back last year but was missing for an entire decade. Last album for the Jazzyfatnastees, beautiful and warm voices, 2002.

And Sa-Ra! They were supposed to be the digital blender of black music, the next big thing; one title here, one remix there… An album out, never really heard about it…

Where is D’Angelo??? 12 years and still no new album (one is expected in 2012, but still not confirmed). What the hell Dr Dre is doing beside of selling headphones??? Van Hunt, hello???

I watched a documentary about women MCs which was saying that girls peaked mid 90s in the mainstream and then went back to something much more underground.

Wait. Isn’t it the case for a LOT of  post 80s black music?

So I can enjoy a 30 years old R&B band with members in their late 50s (<3 The Whispers), rocking like it’s Saturday night in 1982. I can be fed up to death with Justin Bieber the “pop R&B” kid with ONE album, but I can’t have artists from the 90s, strong, good artists from the late 90s early 00s with regular output, without searching like crazy? How is that black music, soul and blues pretty much only sold for the last decade with white artists? Justin Timberlake, Amy Winehouse, Adele. You think light skinned Beyonce and Rihanna are just a coincidence?

The good thing is that behind the curtains, black people are doing all the audio production. The Neptunes, Babyface, Timbaland, 9th Wonder you name it. But there’s a share of terrible stories like The Pharcyde’s producer, J-Swift. He’s the star of a documentary which sports the tagline: “From hip hop visionary to homeless in Hollywood.”  Hip-hop became the most universal music on this planet and one of its goldsmith is smoking crack in the streets of LA? Great.


One more chance

There’s a drug problem for sure but who in show business doesn’t do drugs. Paris Hilton is caught with cocaine and it’s almost like it’s funny (banned from Japan lol). Same with Mr. Sheen or Lindsay Lohan. and all these crazy ass UK rockers from the 60s. Still here! So drugs are not the main issue. Black people are just badly judged and stigmatized with them. Racism.

There’s a business problem, a huge one. Not that artists are searching to be successful and sell a lot of records, that never changed, it was already the case at the start of the music industry. What changed is that people are no longer buying music for their ears first, but for the image/attitude thanks to music videos and the rise of punk/hip-hop during the late 70s. Music has been popularly losing its sonic aspect, the beauty of it, the originality etc Music has been commercially about being louder, noisier, bragging more than the other since the 80s while before, you had some freaking experimental music like this band named Pink Floyd, one of the best selling band of ALL TIME (200 million albums sold) or how Led Zep did their two first albums in 69 with tracks on a 5 minutes average.

Black music is kind of guilty of not having seen what the 00s were going to do to music: revolutionize it.

It’s sad to see that Prince is the first major artist to release an entire album exclusively on the internet in 1997 and that it didn’t start anything in the black music community. I first believe in the internet liberating artists on Prince’s website, linking to another artist which was saying “Napster is making me richer, here are the numbers and how”. The file sharing phenomenon was putting the music business into light and showed how much it’s a hidden, filthy and nasty world.

It didn’t stop black music business to deal with majors and lawsuits and I-start-my-own-label shit and I wear more jewelry than Lord Pimp… So many stories of bands or talents disappearing for years because of copyrights, wrong credits and other “intellectual property” issues. It’s a long tradition, since the early days of recordings in the 30s and it’s like black people don’t learn anything, once again. Black people and technology, there’s something going on. Black people and internal fights, it’s insane (Zapp’s terrible tragedy).

Marketing kills black music, too. Hip-hop struggled to renew itself in the past decade and when a producer has The Sound, he’s likely to be all over the radio for every single artists, regardless of the music style. There’s no shortage of good producers and the most successful ones financially and creatively are all accomplished musicians. But today a fast, minimal beat with a stupid ass 4 notes melody is all the rage. There is so much marketing efficiency that nothing really sounds fresh, no matter what you do. Bringing all the current hot producers for your album doesn’t make it a masterpiece.

I don’t know. It feels like music business with so many black people owning this shit should create much more dream, emotions and things that bands I’m talking about at the start of this post were and can provide. We need this.

Leave a Reply