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.
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.
- Nicholas Payton