On “Disco’s” Attempt To Kill Funk . . .

I have a problem any time an idea takes precedent over music.

It’s the same reason I don’t like Jazz.

Jazz is to Blues as Disco is to Funk.

Jazz and Disco are assassination attempts on a truly soulful aesthetic.

Who is it anyways that brands these terms and always tries to redefine Black music?

In a sense, all this terminology is a semantical issue, but there’s power in words.

What you call something can make all the difference in the world.

As Duke Ellington said, “there are only two kinds of music: the good kind and the other kind”.

However, I have a problem when otherwise funky music gets overshadowed by that “4 on the floor” beat on the kick drum and 2 and 4 on the snare.

Yeah, that’s cool for a tune or so, but it gets tired real quick.

“Saturday Night Fever” was an assassination attempt on Funk.

An assassination attempt on 50 years of recorded Black music and the development of a now proven timeless hybrid of commerce and art.

An assassination attempt on the barriers broken down by Black artists finally gaining the commercial and social acceptance they worked so hard to achieve.

Yes, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald were once popular Black artists, but their success was marred by the aftertaste left by the bitter pill of Jim Crow.

Funk is the music born of Black freedom and that Disco beat tried to enslave our syncopated asses.

That Disco beat was popular because you don’t have to feel the pulse or the backbeat.

It’s hammered into your head and spelled out for you.

It’s static and it ain’t funky.

Thank God for Michael Jackson coming along and delivering the one-two punch of “Off The Wall” and “Thriller” that brought Disco down to it’s knees.

Hmmm, I’m starting to wonder if the fire on that Pepsi commercial was really an “accident”.

Art Blakey once said that a band is only as good as it’s drummer, and when you relegate a drummer to playing that beat all night, the music can only go so far.

Yes, Disco music may keep you in a trance and on the dance floor all night, but I’d personally rather take a date to hear some funky music and make her wanna get off that floor, go home and fuck me all night!

Dig?

- Nicholas Payton

More On My Crusade Against The Extinction Of Black Music . . .

I found a very interesting article that was written a couple of years ago:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/15/AR2005121501728.html

This piece raises a great question.

One in which I feel we’ve made very little headway towards negotiating as a collective.

If we all have the same basic biological make-up, why then does racism divide us so?

How did this happen?

Who created it?

Of what benefit does it serve?

Will we ever rise above this when in essence we are all brothers and sisters?

I believe fear lies at the belly of it all.

I, too, suffer with this as evidenced by the piece I wrote the other day about Black music.

We all have an instinctual will to survive, not only physically, but culturally, spiritually, emotionally, etc . . . .

I fear one day that music (that is suppose to be), will cease to be funky, an aesthetic that I strongly associate with my Blackness.

That “Soul” music, if you will, will cease to be relevant.

“Blues” will be a thing of the past and “Swing” will no longer matter.

I fear one day that “Cool” will become cold.

I see us headed there and it’s very disconcerting to say the least.

The irony is that the racial divide amongst peoples is the very thing that created Soul, Swing, Blues, and Funk.

I believe it’s a beautiful story in the face of some very ugly things about human nature.

Some Whites may ask, “so, is this saying I’m a mutant?”.

I don’t believe this to be a racially exclusive thing.

I’m no scientist, but I’d be willing to put my head on a chopping block to guarantee I, too, am a mutant and I’m Black.

How do we know what we are just from the color on the outside?

Swing itself is a mutation from African rhythms, one in which I love and am very proud to be part of.

If I could choose to be 100% genetically pure and not funky, I would remain just as I am.

Here’s the rub: Swing is born of struggle.

The less of a struggle, perhaps the less the need for an artistic representation.

The story becomes obsolete.

A relic.

That said, this isn’t just about Swing and Black music, it’s about being human.

Remember the edict: you are what you eat?

Well, we spend so much time in front of the computer that we’re becoming soulless.

That’s a scary mutation if I’ve ever seen one!

As a romanticist, I’m a lover of things tactile.

I love touch, skin, pressing buttons, turning pages, etc….

Technology, in an effort to make things more expedient and use less space, is robbing us of the pleasures of being human.

It’s not a reality I am willing to accept and I believe it’s our job to impart that to the ones who aren’t hip.

We’re soon to create a generation of peoples who know not what it’s like to feel anything.

Scary.

I love what technology has to offer us, but I think a healthy marriage of analog and digital creates a more dynamic experience overall.

I myself must admit to spending time on facebook and blogging, but my efforts are merely trying to bring soul into an instrinsically soulless medium.

What’s happening here in New Orleans (my hometown) is a microcosm of what is happening in the world at large.

There is a strong contingency to uphold the status-quo.

Some people believe that by making the city progressive and forward thinking it will lose it’s character.

I vehemently disagree.

The birth of “the music commonly referred to as Jazz” is a result of forward motion.

Swing itself is forward motion.

The problem with society is that once we get something we feel is better, we throw out all the old shit which is a mistake.

I believe you cut out the bullshit and keep what’s good.

Now that’s positive genetic mutation!

- Nicholas Payton

On My Crusade Against The Extinction Of Black Music . . .

I hate to take it here, but I just have to.

I think those who can swing and make a decided effort not to do so, do it to make their music have more crossover appeal.

Anyone else who argues against swing, can’t, and does so because they’re envious of those who can.

Swing to me is anything that has the Black dance sensibility to it.

This happens not only in “the music widely known as jazz” but also in R&B and other musics of the Black aesthetic.

And when I say Black, I mean what has now been termed African-American.

Music that swings less is more popular.

Take a look at Billboard’s top jazz albums and see what the consensus is.

Very little Blackness to be found.

I don’t wish to speak ill of any of the folks on that poll, but most of that ain’t Black music.

Let’s be real, isn’t “the music widely known as jazz” Black music?

That’s not to say that White people can’t swing (or jump), but are we gonna argue where this came from?

I guarantee you most of the folks on that poll will say Black music has had a huge impact on their artistry.

Then why is my Nigga Trombone Shorty the only brotha up there?

Well, except for Fourplay which has a beautiful blend of two Brothas and two soulful White cats.

Same thing happens in Hip-Hop.

Marshal Mathers is the biggest selling Hip-Hop artist of all time.

He’s dope, but how does that happen?

To my knowledge, there has yet to be a Black cat who’s been the biggest selling Rock, Classical, or Country artist.

I hear even Hootie crossed over (which is rather funny).

I’m not knocking Darius Rucker, quite the contrary.

He tried to go “Urban” about 10 years ago and Black folks ain’t hardly show him no love.

The flip side to crossing over with Black folks is you rarely can return.

Right or wrong, they feel you’ve lost your roots.

Of all the musics unscathed by this, the only one that stands out is Gospel.

That said, most Gospel music just sounds like what used to be R&B, but that’s another argument for another post.

Black is just not fashionable any more.

Let’s face it, if Obama was two shades darker he wouldn’t have even been in the running.

The Michael Jackson phenomena was a milestone achievement for Black music.

Why?

Because he crossed over to Pop  with a Black sound.

Those days are long gone.

And as much success as he tasted, he passed away feeling very embittered about how racist the music industry is.

When a music is popular I believe it can be automatically assumed that it has been largely accepted by White people.

Otherwise, it is termed Underground since Blacks do not control the media or make up the majority of the record buying public.

Excuse me if I seem remiss by leaving out other ethnicities, but I want to focus on the extreme polarities for the sake of this discussion.

Besides, most other musics fall under the World Music category (which is bogus and unfair) including musics of other black-skinned people.

I’ve been quite aware of this for some time, but became acutely aware of it when I was on the Nonesuch label.

Take a look at their catalog.

Most of their music is either White or World.

Very little contributions from Black (American) musicians over there besides myself, Kenny Garrett, Don Byron, and Allen Toussaint.

Somehow someone over there believes that the more “earthy” the locale of the person the more validity their music has.

Same thing happens in Hip-Hop too.

That’s why 50 cent and Lil’ Wayne crossed over.

They’re viewed as real ghetto Niggas with “street cred”.

The genuine artifact.

Like modern day field recordings.

Who invented street cred anyways?

I dunno, but I tell you what, I never was hangin’ out with a group of Brothas and we talk about who has the most “street cred”.

Weezy and T.I. might get time on occasion for a weapons charge which helps their “street cred”, but I guarantee you neither one of them would purposefully move back to the ghetto to prove how hard they are.

They’re doing what they are because they wanted to get the fuck out of there!

The irony of it all is White people actually demonstrate more appreciation for Black music than Blacks.

Anyway, I think you get the point by now.

I hope you do, because I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about. Haha!

I want to be clear in stating that I am neither bigoted towards Whites nor do I hold a disambiguous disposition towards White music.

I am just heavily committed to see to it that Black music lives.

That’s all.

- Nicholas Payton