#BAM For Dummies . . .

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Many folks have asked and continue to ask what is #BAM. Most simply, #BAM is just an acronymic hashtag for Black American Music. For those who don’t know what a hashtag is: A hashtag “#” is a label on Twitter to make searching under a title or grouping subjects easier, but it’s obviously been adopted in the popular lexicon to give emphasis to a word or phrase and as a sign of unity. What exactly is Black American Music, you might ask? I can see how many are confused and perhaps feel excluded from the proposal of Black American Music. Please allow me to explain…

A Little Backstory:

On November 27th, I made a blog entry that was culled from a series of tweets (posts on Twitter) that was subsequently titled “On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore.” Unbeknownst to me, this precipitated a firestorm of events to take place, including–but not limited to—a series of heated exchanges between artists, musicians, promoters, writers, industry folk and fans alike. Some arguments were more respectful than others, but always impassioned, nonetheless.

If nothing else, it exposed many latent issues that lurk just beneath the surface of Black culture as it relates to mainstream America and Eurocentric ideology overall.

What’s In A Label?

Labels are important. Labels do matter. It’s when we pretend they don’t that it becomes OK to call a 9-year-old girl the “C” word. Nothing is intrinsically wrong with labels. It’s when labels are misappropriated and used as tools of tyranny that it becomes problematic. Labels are words and words have energy.

Words are currency. Action is gold.

- Nicholas Payton 2/27/13

Oppressive Jargon

It is in coded language that we find forces that serve to sustain the status-quo. One must be smart enough to see the subtle ways in which we say things that affect our ability to break free from certain negative thought patterns. Language is powerful. It can create spells and it can break them. Religion and government are primarily constructed around words.

Words have the power to free one’s soul, but independence is more than being free. It’s using your freedom to provide a platform by which like-minded souls can free themselves.

- Nicholas Payton 2/27/13

Independence is not an individual cause. It is a societal shift. A movement.

What’s Wrong With Jazz?

It’s more than just a name change. It’s about Black people not being properly recognized and respected in mainstream culture. Ending slavery and Jim Crow was/is not enough. Marginalization of Blacks has been the theme for centuries. It started with Blacks being written out of the history of the civilization of this world.

“The ancient Egyptians were Negroes. The moral fruit of their civilization is to be counted among the assets of the Black world. Instead of presenting itself to history as an insolvent debtor, that Black world is the very initiator of the “western” civilization flaunted before our eyes today. Pythagorean mathematics, the theory of the four elements of Thales of Miletus, Epicurean materialism, Platonic idealism, Judaism, Islam, and modern science are rooted in Egyptian cosmogony and science. One needs only to meditate on Osiris, the redeemer-god, who sacrifices himself, dies, and is resurrected to save mankind, a figure essentially identifiable with Christ.”

- Cheikh Anta Diop

The Black American Music Movement is about setting straight what has been knocked out of alignment by mislabeling and marketing strategies.

I’m Not Black, Where Do I Fit In Black American Music?

You should feel no more disconnected from Black American music than non-Cubans feel about playing Cuban music or non-Brazilians about Brazilian music. The term Black American Music just acknowledges the culture from which it sprung forth. You don’t have to be Black to appreciate and play it anymore than you have to be Chinese to cook and eat noodles.

For Those Who are Black and/or Jazz Lovers . . .

The Black American Music Movement doesn’t seek to take Jazz away from you. It’s your choice. There are certainly artists and musics that deserve the JAZZ title, but there is a growing number of artists who wish to shake the stigma of cultural colonialism.

“By and large, jazz always has been like the kind of man you wouldn’t want your daughter to associate with. The word ‘jazz’ has been part of the problem. In the 1920s I used to try to convince Fletcher Henderson that we ought to call what we were doing ‘Negromusic.’ But it’s too late for that now. This music has become so integrated you can’t tell one part from the other so far as color is concerned.”

- Duke Ellington

There has always been a contingency of artists who pushed for Black music. It’s not too late, Duke, we are now in a position to actually do something about it.

This is free. This is not Kickstarter.

No money required.

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

An Appeal To Black America . . .

The media constantly bombards us with negative stereotypes of Black Americans—meanwhile—there are many Black Americans doing and saying things to advance the race everyday, yet you hardly hear about that at all.

We live in a culture that is transfixed and mesmerized with material gain and celebrity. Instead of striving to be citizens who can change the climate of these turbulent times, we seek to be idols of worship. We’ve been ignored for so long, we’re satisfied with just being heard—regardless of the message.

Rock and Roll is the new Black paradigm. Now typically when you think Rock, you think of White American culture, what many folks don’t know is that Black people created Rock and Roll. New Orleanian drummer, Earl Palmer, is credited with popularizing the strong backbeat in R&B—which  is the foundation of rock music. He took an element that was typically used for the out chorus (ending) in traditional New Orleans music and featured it prominently throughout the song. A new genre was born.

MarmalardeIt has become popular for Blacks to glorify this very distorted idea mainstream America sells back to the African-American community. Pre-Civil Rights Black entertainment had a different vibration back then. The idea of The Affable Coon is what was celebrated. Black men were relegated to buffoonery and women were reduced to Mammies if they were to be successful in the industry. Post-Blaxploitation gave rise to a different type of Negro—The Gangsta or the Black Bitch. This type of ominous depiction of Blacks was not tolerated before integration. Black men were oft emasculated as the imagery of a strong Black man was typically too threatening for the mainstream.

Even Black children had to subscribe to this. The first 2 kids to play “Buckwheat” in Our Gang (The Little Rascals) were casted as female pickaninnies (Carlena Beard and Willie Mae Taylor). Even though the most popular Buckwheat (Willie “Billie” Thomas) was a boy, they initially still made him dress as a girl. buckwheat

At one time Pop culture would only accept Blacks happily finding thrills on Blueberry Hill, now Universal Records is releasing albums with Blacks talking about beating pussy like Emmett Till.

(Google for full story, if not familiar.)

Emmett Till is the 14-year-old child who was brutally beaten to death in 1955 by a couple of White men for allegedly whistling at a White woman.

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How soon we forget our plight that now it’s commercially and socially acceptable for us to besmirch our legacy for a few pieces of silver. The Gangsta or The Black Bitch is allowed to channel their rage—at will—as a spectacle for all the world to see.

Yesterday’s tomming is today’s blinging. We too busy ballin’ and poppin’ bottles to elevate mindsets.

- Nicholas Payton (February 13, 2013)

The desire to be a star now supersedes any moral responsibility we show towards a violently murdered child and his remaining family. While there is good to be found in almost any circumstance, I’m afraid this won’t inspire any youth not knowledgeable about Emmett Till or why making his beating analogous to having sex with a woman is offensive to do anything but repeat or try to top this outrageousness. While the Non-Minority (the new White) corporate structure is behind funding such garbage, at this point, Black America is primarily to blame.

Black Americans have far more opportunities now than we used to, but for the most part, use them for entirely the wrong reasons. When we do have our own TV shows, record labels and radio stations, we tend to only perpetuate the violence and ignorance.

The shackles of slavery have long come off, but we have yet to shake the vestiges of servitude.

- Nicholas Payton (February 13, 2013)

Today, select members of the Black American community have enough money, power, influence and intelligence to really change the paradigm, but most are too caught up in the system and their own personal fame to reflect on where they came from.

This is what post-racial America looks like. Not only is it OK to pretend not to be Black in a country which never lets you forget, but you can actually desensitize yourself to the point that you no longer have a historical conscience.

The river of blood that washes the streets of our nation, flows mostly from the bodies of our Black children. 

- Harry Belafonte (February 1, 2013)

Black America doesn’t want its own houses. We want to be up in Massa’s house. We only see ourselves through the lens of  colonialism. We collectively have yet to figure out who we are outside of Non-Majority supremacy.

Black America only feels valid or successful if Massa pats us on the head and tells us we done good. We measure our success by the same system that was designed to oppress and divide us.

Black America has been kept away from a piece of the pie for so long that all it takes is a corner of the crust to catapult us into a state of oppressive amnesia.

- Nicholas Payton (February 13, 2013)

So, now that we have a lot more free time on our hands in an era where we stay attached to devices that allow us to fetishize our fame online via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, please take a few moments to think about what it is to be a Black American apart from the relationship to the ruling class.

Happy Black Histronics Month, y’all!

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

On Dr. Donaldson Byrd . . .

I was really hoping it wasn’t true, but I guess it is. I am filled with gratitude for all you have given the world.

I will cherish all the time and info you were gracious enough to share with me and I’m renewing my commitment to preserving the legacy of Black American music you worked so tirelessly to uphold.

Fly, Byrd, Fly…

 

#BAM

- Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop