Friday, May 22, 2009

Celebration of Real Musicians: "Explosive" by Bond

After enduring two decades of African-Americans (and others) lifting up "music artists" who can't play instruments, read music, or sing, it's refreshing to discover artists who are actually trained musicians. What a concept. I'm always excited to see people who are disciplined enough to hone their own craft instead of cannibalizing . . . err, "sampling" other people's work from 20-25 years ago.

A few years ago, I was listening to a local R&B radio station, and heard a supposedly new song that was vaguely familiar. After listening for a while, I realized that the "artist" had sampled the tail end of a DeBarge song from about 25 years ago. We've truly hit rock bottom. We've also backed ourselves into a corner with the "acting Black" madness. Other people have the common sense to adapt things from other cultures to serve their own purposes. For just one example, check out this video from Evia's blog that shows Korean church members happily "borrowing" from African-American styles of praise and worship music. http://www.blackfemaleinterracialmarriage.com/2009/05/living-well-not-around-the-dbrn-abc-terrorists.html

Anyway, Bond is a string quartet of classically trained musicians. After I heard this song, I felt like playing my flute after all these years! Those of you who have had some training might consider reaching for your musical instruments as well. Those of you who haven't had any training might consider taking lessons.

We desperately need a new arts movement!

10 comments:

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Ok but can we talk about the oversexualized images of these female pop-opera/new classical groups? Does everyone have to look like a fashion model ...or am I over-analyzing things?

Khadija said...

Faith,

No, you're not over-analyzing this. I'm annoyed by this element of the packaging of these musicians.

However...let's consider what I believe are some of the harsh realities involved in this:

(1) If these women didn't look like fashion models, many prospective audience members would say that the only reason why they took the time to become REAL musicians is because they're too unattractive to be pop divas.

This is an extremely ignorant but common reaction. The same way people presume that, in terms of women, smart = unattractive. In the music context, people assume that only unattractive women choose NOT to pursue the "no-talent required" path.

(2) The audience's tastes have become thoroughly corrupted after several decades of no-talent trash being lifted up. We've had about 25 years of an almost entire roster of "music artists" that can't play instruments, read music, or sing. This lack of talent has become normal to us. Because our tastes are corrupted, we tend to shun music products that require skill and discipline on the performers' part.

Since most audience members have developed unnatural reactions to music that requires the performers to have skill and discipline, such music has to be heavily marketed to them. Quality by itself is NOT sufficient to capture the attention of most modern audience members. In fact, modern AAs actively shun quality.

A friend told me a horror story of watching some Negro music awards show where audience members (including some Negro/colored celebrities) looked bored while Gladys Knight was singing; and only perked up when some no-talent, colored girl, heavily-produced, video diva (I can't remember which one) came on stage to "perform."

Sex sells. Sex sells the new classical videos long enough for the audience to hear the music along the way. It's like the tag line to the old Bill Cosby cartoon: "If you're not careful, you might learn something."

Without using sex to capture the audience's attention, many audience members will click off once they figure out that: (a) the song is instrumental; (b) has violin-, viola-, and cello-playing in it; and (c) probably lacks Beyonce-type dance steps.

Things have reached a point that anything of quality has to be heavily marketed and "slipped in." And so, we have the new classical musicians who can "pass" as fashion models.

After modern audience members have become more accustomed to hearing quality music products, then it will be possible to remove some of these artifical crutches used to present the music to them. Crutches such as only selecting female musicians who can "pass" as fashion models.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Khadija:

Without using sex to capture the audience's attention, many audience members will click off once they figure out that: (a) the song is instrumental; (b) has violin-, viola-, and cello-playing in it; and (c) probably lacks Beyonce-type dance steps.

My reply:

In my cynicism, I think modern day audiences have become so superficial that if the members of Bond chose the "talent over looks" approach, they would not even be capable of recognizing that the members of Bond are true musicians of talent.

The current standard, as you have noticed, is to presume that talent = looks, so without the looks, the presumption would be that these musicians lack talent.

CW said...

Khadija...I hardly ever turn on the radio anymore...And if so, it's gonna be the blues station in my car!

Recently I was scrolling through the stations and came across some urban music on the mainstream channels..The effects of listening to that music is probably equivalent to a seizure coming on...

Khadija said...

PioneerValleyWoman,

You said, "In my cynicism, I think modern day audiences have become so superficial that if the members of Bond chose the "talent over looks" approach, they would not even be capable of recognizing that the members of Bond are true musicians of talent."

RESPONSE: Exactly. This is absolutely insane. I can't get over the fact that most modern Negro "music artists" CANNOT play instruments, read music, or sing! Isn't having at least ONE of these skills a basic requirement before you can call yourself a musician?

Now that I think about it, I see where this sort of crazy thinking about music came from: It originated from AAs making excuses for defending/supporting no-talent rappers. "Oh, they're too poor to take music lessons...they're too poor to buy instruments...That's why they 'had to' express their 'creativity' in other ways...blah, blah, blah..." So here's the progression:

(1) At the beginning of hip-hop, AAs had the sense to realize that what these rappers were doing was INFERIOR, so we made the "they're too poor to do any better" excuses on their behalf.

(2) As time went on, no-talent products such as hip-hop (screaming and cursing over recycled beats from other people's work) became normalized as actual "music" to us.

(3) AAs started defending and justifying the hip-hop trash as if hip-hop is synonymous with "Blackness." I watched over the years as AAs who knew better were intimidated into silence (myself included) about just how INFERIOR this rap crap is. At this point, it's practically forbidden to point out the lack of actual talent or skill involved in creating rap trash.

(4) As more time went on, this garbage is all that most of us know.

We need to cleanse ourselves of this no-talent trash. Our defense of no-talent trash is the underlying reason why AA music has stagnated for the past 25 years. AAs used to come up with an entire NEW style of music every decade or so. Not any more. Not since the hip-hop trash took over. We went from being a people who could sing a cappella on street corners to no-singing, no-instrument-playing bums who steal 25-year old beats and melodies. Hmmph.
_____________________

CW,

You said, "Recently I was scrolling through the stations and came across some urban music on the mainstream channels..The effects of listening to that music is probably equivalent to a seizure coming on..."

RESPONSE: {loud laughter} Yep. Probably a grand mal seizure.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Khadija:

I'm choosing to highlight Bond as examples of REAL artists because there is NO debate to be had about their skill and talent. In their case, the "personal taste" cover story/excuses don't apply. I'm not particularly a fan of classical music. But when I heard the level of playing on "Explosive," I had to "recognize"!

Khadija:

(1) At the beginning of hip-hop, AAs had the sense to realize that what these rappers were doing was INFERIOR, so we made the "they're too poor to do any better" excuses on their behalf.

(2) As time went on, no-talent products such as hip-hop (screaming and cursing over recycled beats from other people's work) became normalized as actual "music" to us.

(3) AAs started defending and justifying the hip-hop trash as if hip-hop is synonymous with "Blackness." I watched over the years as AAs who knew better were intimidated into silence (myself included) about just how INFERIOR this rap crap is. At this point, it's practically forbidden to point out the lack of actual talent or skill involved in creating rap trash.

(4) As more time went on, this garbage is all that most of us know.

My reply:

Thanks for offering an explanation of this phenomenon!

When I was coming up, the rap thing was just getting going, and I was such an iconoclast, nerdy kid, that I refused to be part of the pop culture my peers were into. I was listening to my parents' music and the oldies' stations.

I too recognized the stealing, but what bothered me the most was the discordant nature of the "music".

But don't forget too, that there were plenty of "my people," the blackademics in cultural studies/musicology who argued this had authentic roots in earlier African and African American traditions.

Rolling my eyes...perhaps in a very superficial sense, but not really!

But in associating all that blackness, real music truly got pushed aside, which is why those who listen to music that satisfies their eclectic tasts--jazz, blues, old school R & B, world music, classical and medieval, etc., can be accused of listening to "white" music.

Crazy, isn't it, as though there is something wrong with appreciating the skill, for example, of a musician who is also a musicologist with the talent not only to play music from a much earlier time, but who has a classically trained voice and language skills!

Khadija said...

PioneerValleyWoman,

You said, "When I was coming up, the rap thing was just getting going, and I was such an iconoclast, nerdy kid, that I refused to be part of the pop culture my peers were into. I was listening to my parents' music and the oldies' stations."-------------------------------------------

RESPONSE: I was a teenager at the start of the rap crap. The thing is that a LOT of us HATED that mess from the very beginning. I remember my boyfriend and his male friends grumbling "This stuff they're chanting about is really degrading...and people are shaking their rumps to this?" My female friends and I were also grumbling about that mess at the beginning.

We all allowed ourselves to be silenced by accusations that we were just being "bourgie" (which, of course, is a bad thing---the very life circumstances that our grandparents prayed we would enjoy is a bad thing) when we expressed our dislike of that rap mess.

You're correct that a number of Black academics have a lot to answer for in defending this trash. Some of them have also sabotaged the academic careers of Black college students by pretending that this mess is worthy of serious, college level study. NOT!

NOBODY respects courses in Rap Video Vixen 203 or Hip-Hop Violence 101. And they shouldn't respect that, because it's an utter waste of time. It's also a diversion from studying things that are of actual value. Things like, I don't know...maybe learning how to read music and play an instrument.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

likeoperametal said...

Came across this blog and I want to commment on what ActsofFaithBlog said: "Ok but can we talk about the oversexualized images of these female pop-opera/new classical groups? Does everyone have to look like a fashion model ...or am I over-analyzing things?"

There are a lot of bands that mix operatic singing with metal, After Forever, Epica, Nightwish, Amberian Dawn, Within Temptation, etc. that have been accused of having using female singers in leather pants and tight corsets in order to get attention on "the hotness of their singer" over the music. Many of these singers are classically trained singers and can actually sing! You do have some of these women who design their own costumes and who inspire girls to design and make things themselves.
This genre is hugely popular in South America where it has many black fans, and there are many African-American and black girls living in Europe who are huge fans of this genre and who are inspired to actually take opera lessons themselves or to design costumes, as I said previously.

Khadija said...

Likeoperametal,

Thanks for the info! I'll look up some of the groups you mentioned.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Nappy Mind said...

Hey Folks,

Please check out 25 year old bassist, singer, songwriter Esperanza Spalding. Her bio is very interesting and her music is beautiful.
http://www.esperanzaspalding.com/site.html?lang=en