Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

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.

Table of Content

Friday, February 5th, 2021

It’s Bandcamp Friday! So go to har0ld.bandcamp.com to buy my stuff, if you want to.

Now, it should be bandcamp.com/[artist name] and it should be like this for everything: tumblr, substack or medium or whatever. You know I’m right.

A long time ago humans decided to represent content following a tree metaphor:

root
     L branch

This is really neat and functional! We’ve used this from books to computer file systems. It works really well!

Then web engineers were like “how about we do the opposite but it’s actually the same lol”

branch  
         L root

We’ve been confused and annoyed ever since.

This is why I “hate” programming and programmers. The will to complicate things for no reason besides “we can do it!” has gotten on my nerves, especially when I see how much it gatekeeps people away from technology. No one likes dealing with nonsense.

Go get some music on Bandcamp though!

Cyber Rock

Sunday, October 25th, 2020

Naturally I worked for far too long on this one.

I’m making a 3 track EP around a cyber theme and this is the first one to come out. Trying to get the two others out before the end of the year.

2020 indie funk rock in the house…

Stay hydrated, wash your hands, pick up your mask off the ground. Be well. Keep moving.

Robert Glasper, HER, Meshell

Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

I was trying to see if Meshell had turned her Insta back to public but it’s still private. So I clicked on the only link available on her page. I miss the stuff she shared. Books, artwork, quotes, music. I wish she had a Tumblr or a blog and had had one since forever.

Beautiful music. On repeat, of course.

If I was producing

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

If I was producing… is a 12 beat collection that I recently published. Check it out.

Beats are a special thing to create. As Prince said it, there’s joy in repetition. It’s particular to create something designed to loop. It’s a different challenge from composing a song. I love it.

This is a few years worth of beats I played with and couldn’t let go of. I decided to make a collection of them. And then, once they were finished earlier this week, I wondered who would spit on them. I also decided to make it a 50/50 men/women MCs because I wanted to. So yeah Bouncy is for Megan Thee Stallion. She’d tore that shit up with her deep, sexy ass voice. I think Kendrick’s screaming in the mic would make Brutally something brutaller. Crazy beat, I know. And so forth. Guru would’ve crushed it. I can’t even imagine Azelia Banks on Snakey. Pure madness.

You can also buy this little album and spit in your kitchen. Spit on the freeway. Spit during your workout. A few friends are already at it, what are you waiting for?

Peace,

PS: next tracks are some electrorock and some cyberfunk. Stay tuned.

KeepD

Saturday, May 2nd, 2020

I JUST INVENTED HARD SOUL FUNK

YOU CAN BUY IT TOO

KEEP PUSHING

Hit Men

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

Hit Men by Fredric Dannen is a wonderful and sobering read on the music industry from WWII to 1991.

It left me looking up at the sky. There are some nuggets about race relationships. Music is all about that, after all. After WWII, Black American music takes over the world: it’s selling like crazy in the country and it’s influencing absolutely everyone (wealthy white UK folks would import those black records –blues, R&B- and create bands like the Beatles, if you didn’t know).

“The separate designation of pop and R&B bears explaining. Pop in the record industry is an euphemism for white; R&B means black. Until 1949, Billboard listed music by black artists as “race” records, but then a staffer named Jerry Wexler coined the term rhythm and blues. This is about all that has changed (though the industry has found other euphemisms, including “soul” and “urban”). A rock record by a black act is automatically R&B –regardless of its sound–unless white radio plays it and white people buy it, at which point it is said to “cross over” to the pop charts. Since white record buyers outnumber blacks by a large margin, a crossover hit means a bigger payoff.”

The built-in discrimination! Wonderful. Because meanwhile in white culture R&B is considered the worst shit when at first, it was pinned just to stop using the term “race” records because that’s a bit offensive and not very marketable.

R&B was simply a marketing term and became the symbol of “bad” black music, for no reason at all. It is messed up.

Then there are the stories of artists getting screwed over:

“The seventies provided some classic horror stories from this scenario. When Teena Marie was signed to Motown in 1976 by founder Berry Gordy, she had no attorney at all. When she asked to take her contract home before signing it, she later testified, a Motown official admonished her: “Don’t you trust us?” Motown assigned as her manager the common-law wife of Berry Gordy’s brother. Result: two of her albums made an estimated $2 million for Motown, while the label paid her about $100 a week for six and a half years.”

Ruthless. George McCrae was owed $100K in royalties by the label and was ready to hurt the boss. The boss gave him a few thousand dollars cash and the keys to the Cadillac outside. The car was rented.

The entire industry has been based on screwing over people. Whatever it takes (many executives were war vets, basically soulless mfs). Payola is rampant and the labels basically control the top 40 radios by the mid 70s. And then, a very important thing happens: disco.

“The Network [people bribing radios] took root in 1978, the peak year of disco. It was no coincidence. Disco created the climate that made the Network possible. The dance music breathed new life into the Top 40 format, after a decade of strength in album-oriented radio. More important, the disco phenomenon was fueled by hype, by the mistaken belief that hits are bought, not born. Of course, you can buy a hit, but not profitably. It was going to take the record industry a long time to figure this out.”

Hype. This is all there is in music from then on. It’s all about artists that can create hype. Hype is dangerous: yes, when it works bam, 30 million copies of Saturday Night Fever sold. But that’s impossible to reproduce the next year and the year after. It’s unpredictable. And then video games happened:

“In 1980 the Atari unit grossed $513 million, almost twice as much as the year before, while sales for the records group increased to $806 million. And the Atari’s unit hadn’t even existed five years previous. Overnight success breeds shortsightedness, and Warner Communications began to believe that video games were a better business than records.”

They reverted back real quick after 1983 and the video game crash. Hype is dangerous.

Oh did I mention the strong links between the music industry and the mafia? Man there are some details in this book and now I understand that it’s not so weird that they found some narcotics ring going on at a famous music label back in 2011. In the book no one was ever convicted. The government tried, with the help of the FBI, but it never went anywhere. The music industry is very powerful.

So, if you think there’s actual demand for an artist, there’s none. It’s all marketing money. Is the artist bankable? Then yes, you’ll see that artist a lot.

If you think charts are a pretty accurate picture of the market, they are not. They are completely fabricated to fuel hype and advance marketing plots. And if they were that much gamed in the mid 70s, I can’t even imagine the mental gymnastics they’re doing to produce today’s charts. It’s all bogus.

If you think only good artists survive, well, it depends.

Sometimes it feels like the entire entertainment business only exists to funnel money for some future real estate firms which will steamroll the earth.

Music is dope though.

Disco

Friday, August 2nd, 2019

The Disco Sucks movement and its backlash were so toxic, people in the industry –people who were eating off of the record sales coming from dance music- were all afraid to be associated with anything disco, even the word on a small sign above a door. Something about that really enraged me. Until then I believed I was part of a wonderfully elite group who marched to their own beat. I had worked hard to get there. We were free. We all did what we wanted, said what we meant. We were the music business.

-Nile Rodgers in 1979, after selling millions of Chic records and realizing that that disco sucks thing was way more than a not very funny joke.

From his autobiography, that I recommend very much. Nicely written and candid. Amazing life.

It is some serious privilege to be able to disrespect something that allows you to live the life you live. It also shows a pretty serious lack of conviction and integrity to “ban” a certain kind of music, just because of its association with minorities.

The act of dancing has never ever been the same since those Disco Sucks days. It’s a loss.

The more I read about that moment in time, the less I get it, the more I understand.

Keep your music offline

Monday, March 25th, 2019

MySpace just lost 12 years worth of music. It’s quite unprecedented. It’s also scary and sad. There probably was some excellent stuff in those 50 million songs from 14 million artists.

I’ve always been on the fence with uploading my music to services. I am slowly getting back to sharing directly. I don’t trust any of the services we have out there. Even when paying. Even when they’re big.

MySpace used to be gigantic. It is now clear that those companies don’t care for a second about people’s creations.

Peter has a great comment:

This isn’t just about individual backups, but the larger question of how digital music is distributed archived in our society. And reflecting on this it’s actually pretty stunning to me how far *backwards* we’ve gone.

Just a few things to consider:

1. While P2P stuff like torrent and Napster may have been illegal, one thing about distributing music that way is that the content then exists more than one place. By comparison, corporate consolidation means we have very little real redundancy. With or without the blockchain business, *any* distributed scheme for content would work very differently.

2. This isn’t just about data reliability, either – it’s also about uptime. If we’re overly dependent on one provider, like Facebook, an outage or your government deciding to put up a firewall or that provider false flagging a copyright claim – any of those things can be utterly devastating, say, if you’re an independent artist/label trying to make a release date work.

3. There’s no library. When I got started, I was advised to register copyright for my scores to the US government, and eventually audio, too. That means the US Library of Congress archives those works and makes them available to researchers and so on. Not to mention, I grew up checking out tapes and CDs from the local library. Now this ‘cloud’ business means things are lost and inaccessible.

I could go on. Backups are important, but a backup isn’t a public archive, which is why the Internet Archive reference is relevant.

Creators are careless and consumers have no sense of legacy or continuation anymore. A pretty awful equation.

R-Kel

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Watched the whole thing.

I didn’t really want to because of the added drama (music and edits). It grosses me out but Twitter being so loud, I watched.

It’s a story about not listening. The music industry is well known for being abusive towards women.

It’s a story about corruption of the mind, and greed. People will do anything to get “the bag” (more like amenities and plane tickets) while they agree to give up their souls, their integrity and their bodies. Fans and fandom are terrible things, they will make you do things you wouldn’t do otherwise. Like believe that a trial for child pornography doesn’t mean anything or that a jury’s decision is the truth. And then you regret.

It’s not a new story. I always think about Marvin Gaye because he got a pass. He still was a piece of shit, who at 33 started to date a 17 year old foster girl that he abused and tortured for years. That story never really came out. She wrote a book about it. No one has ever tarnished Marvin’s legacy with this horrendous fact. I only heard about it very recently, in the past few years. It’s still a fact. He was “lucky” that it happened in the 70s and 80s and that of course, he died before today’s world.

Yes, in the society we’re living in money buys anything, anyone, all the time. The delusion that people will never trespass some principles like trust is naïve yet understandable. Thinking that a teenager is telling you the truth, for important matter, is not being responsible even though you think you are.

I’m amazed at what music can do. These black girls and women fans were not believing these black girls and women over there. Music brings so much to one’s self that we deny anything that goes against it. Music is sorcery.

Hopefully everyone in those stories can heal. Stop buying his music goddamn.