Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yes. Yes. And, yes.

Just read this most excellent piece from Jozen Cummings over at The Awl. I urge you to check it out, especially for this excerpt:

It's not so much that the term "hipster R&B" is inaccurate. I'm no hipster, but if The Weeknd and Frank Ocean are getting mad love from people who consider themselves hipsters, then I suppose hipsters can call it whatever makes them feel comfortable. But as non-hipsters like to say, let's keep it all the way real. Calling it "hipster R&B" is a nice way of saying it's R&B that white people like (black hipsters notwithstanding), and here's my problem with that: It's myopic, lazy, and it sounds to me like a form of musical segregation that's not entirely based on genre.

Here's a proposal—how about we call it "nappy-headed pop"? If that sounds even slightly politically incorrect or lazy, then you understand my frustrations with the term "hipster R&B." It's not with the term "hipster"; it's with any hipster or white critic labeling a black artist "an R&B artist" just because he or she sings a little.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Oh, and also:

All this automatic categorization of black artists who sing harkens back to the social roots of the R&B genre. Before R&B was even called R&B, the record industry and magazines like Billboard categorized it as "race music," shorthand for any black artists who sang with a backbeat behind them. For years, white artists who made similar music never had to worry about being designated as "race music" until 1958, when Billboard began using "R&B" instead. The switch made it possible for acts like the late, great Teena Marie and current artists like Robin Thicke to chart in the R&B category. Unfortunately, many critics still referred (and refer) to those artists with the term "blue-eyed soul," which is a nice way of saying they're white singers that black people like. Equally hackneyed is calling black singers who white people like "hipster R&B"—or, for that matter, "nappy-headed pop".

You Say Hipster R&B, I Say Nappy-Headed Pop. Either Way, It's Offensive.
[The Awl]

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Music Journalism Time Machine

Fourteen years ago yesterday, I was at Alexis Maule's house on the South Side of Chicago in her downstairs TV room, and MTV had the breaking news that Christopher Wallace, better known to us as The Notorious B.I.G., had been killed. This was only a handful of months after Tupac Shakur's murder, and two years after Selena's, and to date, those had been the only musicians whose deaths had shook my young self up. I remember the news about Biggie being the most shocking to me, however. Mostly because I had just started really listening to hip-hop seriously and Ready to Die in particular. Childhood me liked Pac alright, but not the way I liked Big. Not at all. As a 25 year-old, I could give you a concise and complex reasoning as to why I prefer him over Shakur, and some of those reasons would be lyrical prowess, cadence in his flow, overall production quality, growth as an artist over time (albeit short, for both) and contributions to the soundtrack of my life. But as a kid, who just knew she loved music that she loved, and had only the tiniest, babiest inkling of why, it was all about resonance. Not resonance as in, I understand, I too have Everyday Struggles, but more like, this music makes me feel something that I have never felt before. Simple and pure. Naturally, emotional response plays the largest part in my draw to any music to this day, as I believe it should for all, but when I was young, that was all there was. And that was all that mattered.

Anyways. Here's a fantastic piece from ego trip's "Chairman" Jeff(erson) Mao, written for The Source for their April 1997 issue. A few weeks after it hit the stands, Biggie was gone. Really great article. Makes me wish I had been born several years earlier.

The Notorious B.I.G. RIP: Final Source Magazine Interview []

Friday, March 4, 2011

Open Post: A Haiku I Made From Sade Lyrics

crown you with my heart
i can't give you more than that
it dives and it jumps