Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Drum solo

Wednesday, October 13th, 2021

Finally found it back. Akira Jimbo, Casiopea’s drummer having a blast.

He triggers electronic sounds on the black pads that you see on his drum set.

Yes, he keeps that cowbell groove with his left foot while making coffee and stuff. Yes at the end he quadruple kicks nonchalantly. His dexterity, precision and independence with his four limbs are pretty unbelievable.

George Clinton

Sunday, August 8th, 2021

Like Herbie Hancock and Emmett Till, George Clinton turned 80 this year.

It’s extremely difficult to assess how special this man is to black men, would they know it or not.

It’s hard to think about a freer brother than George. From cutting hair in New Jersey, to  driving back and forth to Detroit to record little things at Motown, to filling stadiums bigger than anyone on this planet at the time, to re-inventing himself in the 80s in a way that is still mind-blowing, to all the deals and backstabbing in show business that he had to deal with, it’s a miracle that he’s still here. Also of course, drugs.

It’s always jumping in my head that Prince and Maurice White were vegan and ultra clean in terms of lifestyle, and that it didn’t stop them from dying early. George has barely retired from touring (!!!), was still on stage before the pandemic, after all the crack he smoked for 30 years.

We will need to study his body thoroughly, we might find the key to limitless energy or some shit.

But obviously it’s on the music level that I kind of can’t with George and the dozens of musicians who were on the ship with him. Parliament Funkadelic albums are so insane, so good, so different, to this day. The mix of influences is still unmatched. P-Funk is where most western music since the 70s took its influence from. Definitely one of the fountain of inspiration.

Take claps for instance. P-Funk had the biggest claps on record. A young Roger Troutman, leader of a new band called Zapp, was extremely impressed by those thunderous claps. He practically vowed to himself to create even bigger ones.

Zapp claps are the biggest in music history. So big, that every single hip hop producer who needed some claps would automatically use a version of those, sampling them.

George managed a bunch of black hippies to record claps in the early 70s, and then for almost 5 decades the entire world bounced and nodded on his legacy. It’s amazing.

I’m still pretty bad at listening to lyrics but George is a beast at those too. I’m starting to get the references and play on words more and more, and it’s hilarious and often clever. Bow wow wow. Automatically iconic.

Speaking of iconic, the clothes! From Kiss to Lil Nas X, George and his friends influenced everyone and tore it UP:

This man, while lucky, could have given up a million times. He never did, just doing his thang until the end of whatever.

George Clinton, y’all.

June Gloom

Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

An ode to June gloom and LA. Every year in the morning at the end of spring and start of summer, the sky is grey and moody. It usually clears out after 11am to give up to the immense Californian blue sky.

There’s an early in the day longing for the eternal sun to come back. Anyway, it made me want to be vulnerable and to compose a short electronic poem to this city, my neighborhood. I might add the instrumental.

Stay safe, there’s a Delta going on.

Pissed at H.E.R. (I’m not)

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021

I really like this woman. Her voice, production choices, her writing skills, her musicianship, dope.

I love her Slide song, listening to it since last fall. She’s all  bluesy, poetic and stuff:

We should take a trip up to the moon
Get a room

Then YG comes up with:

I need a baecation
I need my bitch in an apron
Booty all out cookin’ bacon

This shit is infuriating to me. The lack of effort! The “crashing the dreamy vibe”. I hate it. Like, go for the sexual connotation but sprinkle some subtlety, goddamn. Let me try:

I need a baecation
You & I in da space station
We sure ain’t watching no Knicks
I’m eatin’ you bitin’ yo lip

I don’t know, something different that fits H.E.R. I’m available to ghostwrite if you need help y’all.

Sure, R&B is associated with Hip-Hop, Hip-Hop is dudes’ market and dudes’ market means Sexism Starter Kit (for fun!). It is the music industry. This is also why Chris Brown is on her album. Sigh.

Reflections

Tuesday, May 4th, 2021

Just a lil contemplative piano for you.

Sign O’

Thursday, April 1st, 2021

I don’t remember when the album came out. But I remember listening to the eponymous track.

It sounded so different. It sounded calm.

Every time I would wake up, 6:25am to catch the bus on time at 7:15am, the song was on the radio. Almost at the exact same time, right when I was opening my eyes, for a while.

Winter in Paris. Prince mutters things I don’t understand. And then the Stratocaster just slices through. Pure. Clean, like the cold and humid air outside. I’m still under the comforter and not ready to go brush my teeth. I enjoy his plaintive voice. I feel the spleen. I dig the funk. I’m excited by the production.

Incredibly timeless. It felt like it right then.

Sign o’ the times, mess with your mind.

Paul Jackson

Friday, March 19th, 2021

Has passed away. Damn.

He’s playing bass on everything Herbie Hancock created in the 70s, aka some of the greatest jazz funk ever produced. A wonderful bassist who didn’t like to play anything twice. Just constant improvisation or re-arranging the bass lines. Herbie talks about it in his autobiography, noticing that sometimes this was really annoying.

Nonetheless, rest in peace King.

Appropriation

Friday, March 12th, 2021

It’s a great article by Nelson George.

The core audience for most of hip-hop’s first thirty years, both white and black, were in deeply invested in an vision of “keepin’ it real” authenticity that valued a ghettocentric version of American life.

Very true. Which would make me uncomfortable with my white friends in France, so into KRS-ONE and Dr OCTAGON. The complete embrace of Black American Man’s Life lyrics seemed odd to me. True, I was into metal at that time but that’s the thing: I was into the sound, not the lifestyle or trying to be part to it. I was into the heaviness of those guitars and the fact that the more groove in the sound, the better, didn’t make me feel like appropriating. I felt doing my own thing rather than joining a culture. I felt like making up my own hybrid strain through a mix of genres.

In fact some of the most progressive forces in today’s hip-hop are more likely as influenced by Radiohead’s textures than the Bomb Squad’s block rocking beats.

Lyricism is really were things are lacking these days. Although, I really enjoy Kodak Black. He has some rather smart lines. Tyler has become so great at opening up and be who he is now.

Later Prince, Cameo and Jermaine Jackson were amongst the many black ‘80s acts to have hits by adapting the keyboard sounds, melodic ideas, and vocal arrangements of new wave bands. I guess that was all “appropriation” if you wanna make it a negative.

Well the thing is they appropriated a sound, not a genre of music. Early 80s were all about dramatically cut down production to have a very minimal, “cold” sound after the luscious 70s, right? It felt and feels more like an extension than appropriation to me. They built on top of that and created new music, 80s funk music with very distinct flavors. It is also a “going forward” type of appropriation.

The thing about Mars and Silk Sonic is that they sound like something else, and from the past. It feels a little bit more disingenuous.

But Bruno Mars is not stealing “our” music. He wasn’t a parody of R&B or new jack swing. In fact he was one of the only people with a mass audience keeping these styles alive. Putting out a record celebrating funk in 2015 or new jack swing in 2017 were as far from a commercial slam dunk as one could get. Black folks, both as creators and customers crave innovation, invention and the constant shock of the new. It’s why black music has moved like a tractor through the cow pasture otherwise known as American culture. The search for new sounds have driven everything from bebop to trap.

I loved that funk he put out there. I remember driving on the 101, volume up. The 24K Magic single was dope. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that I wished someone else was singing. Or that the music wasn’t so predictable. It lacked a little 2010s twist or something. I love 80s music, I can listen to it right now! And that’s where Mars didn’t search for new sounds, he looked for comfort and the labels said “there’s something to tap in here, that nostalgia from a generation and nostalgic envy from that other generation” and that was it. That’s fine. But that’s not innovation.

I heard Silk Sonic for the first time on the radio this morning, and I couldn’t tell from when it was, although .paak’s voice gave me away that this was new. Yet old. It makes the music enjoyable, but doesn’t “wow” you like the first time you hear Cameo’s She’s Strange, Rae Sremmurd’s No Type or King’s The Story (or their entire album). Those truly innovated. Those hit different.

What I’d like is a late 70sFUNK-late 00sTRAP music blend with a duet between a man and a woman, singing and rapping about our current debt life, without name dropping tech brands or celebrities, while being uplifting.

Now, that would be the future to me.

Daft

Sunday, February 28th, 2021

As a music producer who grew up with their music in France, I have a different relationship with Daft Punk than most.

I thought they were outstanding music geniuses. They’re more likely just good music producers. And that’s fine.

Their first album was super fresh and raw. Like, we had never really heard anything like this before in the way that it was special, unique, yet fitting those eclectic musical times in electronic music: big beat, house, jungle were raging out in Europe. They became the French Touch ambassadors and whatnot.

THEN comes their best work, Discovery. That thing was everything I wanted to make and still is: a full Digital Electro Funk album with anime visuals. I’m still jealous. This shit was absolutely so perfect.

But then as a music producer, I did my research.

I realized that what I thought was the result of them jamming and sampling themselves, like they had mostly done on their first album, wasn’t.

I was particularly blown away by Digital Love and Harder, Better’s samples in the background, thinking Daft Punk had played and recorded that music. They had not, it was a straight forward loop of a George Duke’s intro and Edwin Birdsong’s groove. I felt bamboozled so damn hard.

Their next album Human After All, without the funky sampling, is without question the least inspired. The best track samples Breakwater, an 80s funk band.

Their last album Random Access Memory is clearly the work of Nile Rodgers and other black music producers. And ever since, they haven’t done anything as peculiar and lovely as Discovery. They disbanded last week.

The 90s were truly about music

Thursday, February 11th, 2021

Someone posted this on social media and I had almost forgotten how black audio equipment was and how much I lusted on it. From top to bottom: radio, cassette tape, amp, equalizer (!), compact discs.

In the same day I saw this tweet:

SHIT. THIS IS SO TRUE. EVERYTHING WAS ABOUT MUSIC. It was so important. Always checking the rock/metal aisles at the store almost every day, hanging out. Make sure to rewind side A for the walk to the bus. Batteries? Check. Equalizer killing the mids and boosting treble and bass? Double check. Checking parents’ vinyls and toying with them? Yup. Reading liner notes, day dreaming about the recording process. Trying to dress like that mofo on the back of that album. What kind of snare is this???

Grunge. Britpop. G-Funk. Trip Hop. Drum & Bass. Alternative Everything. Acid House. Thrash Metal. It’s like so many genres were created, birthed in the 80s and blossomed into very tasty music in the 90s.

Nothing was really about videos and shows, yet. That was entertainment. Music was culture.