Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Betty Davis

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

There’s a documentary out this year about her.

Betty’s music has been on regular rotation in my life since the early 2000.

I have the hardest time to swallow the fact that Miles Davis abused her. She transformed him, Miles, one of the most important musician ever. She introduced him to Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone music. He beat her up.

The music industry beat her up closed the door on her. Too carefree. Not pop enough. Whatever.

Her music is good. Sometimes absolutely great. Her presence on stage looks like you needed a whole fire department next to the building, ready to hose it down.

Her artistic and production choices were on point. She and her collaborators really had her sound. Big Ass Drums. Growling Bass. Dynamic. I’ll always imagine what she could have done later on.

She truly doesn’t give a fuck. She didn’t disappear to be found. No one really knew anything about her life for decades. Now older, she is ready to tell her story.

If you read this Betty, I love you. You’re the best. You’re the inspiration for many, many things and people. Thank you.

I am Charlie Wilson

Sunday, March 11th, 2018

I had always wondered why the GAP Band was in this weird zone, universally praised and known while being completely obscure and different.

I had always wondered why so many of those grooves and amazing anthems sounded so similar.

All the answers are in his book. I read it months ago and it still makes me sad. They got robbed. They got pissed. Brotherhood might not be what you think it is.

The GAP (standing for Greenwood, Archer and Pine, where the Tulsa riots happened) Band is huge. Charlie’s voice’s enthusiasm is unmatchable. I feel him when he talks about learning music and how he was fascinated by harmony while teachers were telling him to focus on melody. I had the same shit happening to me when I learned piano. Stacked notes over sequences of notes any day, I don’t care.

I’m glad you’re at peace now man. Thank you for the absolute bangers you guys created and thank you for writing it all down, uncle Charlie.

On that music and Mars thing

Saturday, March 10th, 2018


I mean, yeah. He’s one of the best-selling artist of all times already. It’s not just that he’s known. He’s making mad money and started by impersonating Elvis, the dude who stole black people’s moves and music. Patterns.

That’s how music business works. Music sells primarily to white people, in a much bigger volume to white people. Since about the 40s so it’s been a while.

For this reason, artists need to cater to that market. And there’s nothing better to cater than to look alike, especially since videos are how the word spreads out (and the reason why I don’t like them: music is about listening, fuck watching).

It’s no coincidence if Rihanna and Beyoncé are not dark skin women. That Drake is very white. The Wknd. That Bruno is even whiter. There is an absurd amount of talented black artists who were/are too black for TV. It all started to really hurts with the rise of MTV almost 40 years ago.

So many originators of black music –that is being used in various ways in ALL pop music- have never been heard or seen. I dig them online, listen to their music, find their pictures and love them. Music will always be more important than faces.

I think that’s the core argument: most black artists were making their own shit, creating their lanes. Trying things out. On the last Prince’s album he toys with house music and dubstep, but it’s still a Prince song with his guitar licks and ways of arranging horns and keyboards. MJ’s Bad album is fucking unique in so many ways. You can recognize a GAP Band groove from miles away.

Bruno copy/paste shit and says shout out to the OGs. It’s a different vibe. But yeah the song 24 Magic slaps and it’s annoying. It itches.

The worst part is that this entire appropriation phenomenon makes black people hate their black skin when their black skin is perfectly fine. Black skin is a symbol of creating timeless music genres and songs. Be proud of it.

In The Summertime

Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Produced, recorded, performed, mixed and mastered by Harold in Los Angeles on an AMD A10 computer.


Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

Man, awards don’t matter. But you deserved one.

I listened to your album a lot last summer writing my book. I think it was better than other rap albums, different. Also you rap and produced the music so that makes it immediately richer in my mind. Even though I’m mad you botched the 911 beat on purpose, I like it. I like the risks. I also appreciate the fact that each track loops properly on its own. Attention to detail. Obviously, Garden Shed and See You Again are big songs.

“I’m the loneliest man alive, so I keep on dancing to throw ‘em off”  For real though.

One more thing: stop obsessing about cars so much bruh. Get into architecture, passive systems and interior design. Or game development, if you’re crazy enough.

Prince The Machine

Friday, September 22nd, 2017

Prince inside the music and the masks

“and I don’t need to hear that anymore.” I’m screaming. This book, Prince, Inside the Music and the Masks was a great read. It focuses on the creative endeavor and business side of his life which was basically his entire life or so.

Prince’s parents, with six kids and a father dreaming of making it big in music, were struggling. They divorced, his dad left the piano behind, Prince started playing it. The rest is history.

His relationship with Warner starts almost immediately. He is poor and receives his first advance, $80,000, from them after they heard his prowess in the studio. Then he has to give the label seven albums. But producing creative outputs is not like producing furniture or food. He was sometimes right on point –Purple Rain- and sometimes way off –rapping- and it’s fascinating reading about him conquering the world, losing influence, battling with the music industry practices, being thirsty as fuck –his duo with Beyoncé at the Grammys- while he was destroying every single stage on earth on monstrous tours (his last one made close to $100M). So many of his songs sound much, much better live.

He was constantly looking for new ways to sell his shit. He pioneered many business models. His songwriting might have gone down –just kinda lazy I’d say– but he was sharp as hell on the contract/payment end. I’m really sad to not know what he would have been doing right now. I am pretty sure he would have started a social network/streaming service. During the 2000s, he was around but he was mostly just making more money than ever. For what? What would he have done with it? Building a new label with only women artists? Just burn bills in a giant fire pit during one of his show with a new song called Money Flames? Would he have released a dozen jazz albums now that he was getting older? Would he release them only on DVD Audio with discrete surround sound?

We’ll never know.

What’s wrong with you DJs

Monday, September 4th, 2017

It has become so stupid.

DJs these days “spin” 30 seconds of some stuff, add a fucking air horn, spin another 30 seconds of something, repeat a hook over and over, completely changes the genre of music after half a hour. What the fuck is this?

We had a block party on my block yesterday and I wanted to get on stage and cancel the entire shit.

It’s like DJs have become incapable to make people enjoy the music, the vibe, to make them slow dance. It’s about them doing something on the mixer, like pressing buttons and reading waveforms on a laptop is a big skill. The more you like and know the music, the more infuriating it feels like.

“Oh now that’s my JAM” well enjoy real quick girl because that’s going to be over in 3, 2, 1…

I don’t get it. Is it a copyright/broadcast issue? DJs have to pay fees to if they play 75% of the song so they only play 20% of it? I’m still mad.

And what is this weak ass selection? You want to represent the West Coast there are so many anthems, not just Dre and Eazy E. Like, ugh.

Jay 4:44

Monday, July 17th, 2017

This is a very good article on Jay Z and his last album. Political and smart, yet ignorant. This line made me shake my head for sure: “Credit. You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.”

You mean they were free to capitalize and invest unlike black folks? Jay, you know about discriminatory practices of those times when black people could have done it, right? You probably heard of the Federal Housing Administration who from 1934 to 1968 explicitly refused to back loans to black people, haven’t you?

There are a lot of articles about that and you are pulling a Cosby on us. You probably have heard of Black Wall Street and how it got decimated, then rebuilt a bit to finally get a highway to settle it all down, to mute it in concrete blocks. Just like the 10 freeway was built in the middle of a thriving black business area along Washington Blvd in Los Angeles, cutting off communities. Those could have leveraged an unimaginable amount of great things and great people. Credit gone.

So….OK, Jay.

The case of SoundCloud

Friday, July 14th, 2017

SC had everything. But it lost its mind, then money and now the service will die. Let’s face it, it died a while ago.

There’s something that just doesn’t add up: startups need a return on investment immediately while music is a very, very long term game. SC didn’t execute well even though timing was perfect. For its successors, here’s a few points:

– Don’t make it about streaming

Bandcamp has been fantastic about this. Don’t make it about consuming music like switching channels on a TV or running water at the faucet. Make it like it’s better to download and listen, because it is. Buy an album, download it and listen to it. In the beginning I had way more downloads on SC than streams. It changed so rapidly –like within a month, everyone switched to streaming- that I always was suspicious about it. Streaming sucks, listening on phone speakers suck, don’t do that. People will stream, no need to push them.

– Don’t invite major artists and/or labels

They take all the oxygen of artists like us who pay for your service. And those invite major labels to put pressure on you. That might make you feel good, make you feel legit but it’s not good at all in the end.

– Don’t do anything social

All the social tools destroyed SC. People immediately abuse those tools to spam every channel they can and discovery goes down. Just make it about music and big cover art. Sharing is done everywhere else with a link. Be the audio backbone of the future and stay this way.

– Don’t do meaningless stats

Advanced statistics are bad. They are a rabbit hole and unhealthy. How many times someone listened to my song doesn’t matter, what matters is if that listener stays around, spreads the word and buys my shit. That’s all that matters.

– Have the best embed player of all time

Make it ultra fast. The web sucks, FB sucks, Twitter sucks. They all have so many scripts and bullshit stuff going on, the embed player needs to load at the speed of light. No need for fancy waveform or spectrogram no one cares about that. Copy Bandcamp’s and add a volume slider, you’ll thank me later. and are alternative worth exploring. RIP SoundCloud.

Listening to music

Wednesday, May 31st, 2017

It’s difficult to measure exactly how better audio people become at listening to music. In my case, it started with bass. Before playing bass in a band, I didn’t care so much about instruments I had my preferences and knew some of them I guess but didn’t care so much. Now I’m playing the 4-strings bottom so I’m more into that. It took over my life.

The first step was to watch music videos but the 80s sucked at that because you would have people fake playing instruments that have nothing to do with the music. It was confusing as hell. They didn’t even plug instruments in! In the 90s with the resurrection of rock and guitars, it was much better. I was spotting the longer neck, and big strings and looking at what bass players would do.

These days I can hear a clap, the reverb behind it and tell you if it’s Dayton or Kashif. It means I can recognize an artist with no melody or harmony information, just on a mere 900ms of percussive sound. It’s kind of nuts how much you can train your ear. I loved it when I started to be able to recognize styles of production. I remember being like I KNEW IT when I heard the Ross Robinson-produced Limp Biskit’s first LP. I knew that sound.

Sound is a mix of specific brands of instruments, specific effects, composition skills and mixing techniques… And they all influence each other constantly. It’s hard to pinpoint but your ears know, they will sense it. Knowledge obviously plays a huge part. Once you play some Stratocaster and Les Paul guitars, you know and understand. Once you know that FM rhodes sound, or that 808 hit hat, you know. And once you listen to Nile Rodgers Pharrell or Thom Bell for a while, you know too. It takes years, decades. So many parameters to memorize and remember.

As often with everything people are either too much into the detail “I think he uses this keyboard but the thing is busted so it sounds different” or don’t know nothing about musical instruments or the basics of low and high frequencies. Sigh.

Music is organized and satisfying noises layered in a convenient package and I love it so much.