On Why Adele Won Over Beyoncé…

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I’m not here to white knight Beyoncé. Lord knows Kanye has had that job on lock for about a decade. I do, however, feel I need to lend my voice to this discussion.

I was going to keep my thoughts to myself on this issue, because I get tired of being That Guy. But I feel compelled to write about it because, as usual, if I don’t say it, it appears not to be said. On the other hand, I’m also tired of talking about White People’s Things like they owe it to us to be fair. No, they don’t, which is exactly why they created White People’s Things.

Unlike for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, I can’t find the exact demographics for the voters of the Recording Academy, but I’m willing to put my head on a chopping block to say that I’m sure it’s majority White and male. I’m sure the same applies to the executives and the staff. So when we look at who wins and why, the first thing we need to address is race.

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That said, according to the president of the Recording Academy, Neil Portnow, a White male, “I don’t think there’s a race problem at all. Remember, this is a peer-voted award. So when we say the Grammys, it’s not a corporate entity — it’s the 14,000 members of the academy. They have to qualify in order to be members, which means they have to have recorded and released music, and so they are sort of the experts and the highest level of professionals in the industry.”

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Again, another White person deciding when systemic racism issa problem. Sorry, you don’t get a vote. Of course you wouldn’t see a problem, because you are a part of the privileged class. Who decided you get to be president? Who controls the money? Who decides who performs? The Grammys are essentially an awards show for Black music, yet by the looks of the telecast, there’s very little Black representation. All American music is Black music. All American culture is Black culture. Everything else comes from somewhere else.

Bruno Mars, a talented Latino dude, who was featured more prominently than any other performer on the Grammys the other night, agrees:

“When you say ‘black music,’ understand that you are talking about rock, jazz, R&B, reggae, funk, doo-wop, hip-hop, and Motown. Black people created it all. Being Puerto Rican, even salsa music stems back to the Motherland [Africa]. So, in my world, black music means everything,” he said.

— Bruno Mars calls Adele ‘a diva’ with ‘all this attitude’ — 

“It’s what gives America its swag. I’m a child raised in the ‘90s. Pop music was heavily rooted in R&B from Whitney, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Boyz II Men, Aaliyah, TLC, Babyface, New Edition, Michael, and so much more. As kids this is what was playing on MTV and the radio. This is what we were dancing to at school functions and BBQs. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for these artists who inspired me. They have brought me so much joy and created the soundtrack to my life filled with memories that I’ll never forget,” he added.

“Most importantly, they were the superstars that set the bar for me and showed me what it takes to sing a song that can get the whole world dancing, or give a performance that people will talk about forever. Watching them made me feel like I had to be as great as they were in order to even stand a chance in this music business. You gotta sing as if Jodeci is performing after you and dance as if Bobby Brown is coming up next.”

On the flip side of the Latino perspective, we have the opinion of Carlos Santana who shockingly seems to agree with Portnow that race wasn’t a factor in Adele winning:

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I am really surprised that Carlos said this. This is the same cat who called the Grammys “racist” in 2011. Why can’t he see that it’s a factor here? What he said is so problematic for a multitude of reasons. I respect him as an O.G. in this game. He was even gracious enough to invite me to play with him onstage a couple times, but a statement like this from an artist with as much clout as he is reckless and damaging. It helps to justify the thinking of people like the president of NARAS that the Grammys doesn’t have a race problem.

First off, the notion that Adele won because she can “sing, sing” is way off base. By saying this makes it seem like every artist who wins Album of The Year, or any other Grammy for that matter, wins because they are a superior artist. Santana knows better than this. The Grammys, by and large, is a popularity contest tailored to White tastes. We don’t live in a meritocracy where the best always get what they deserve. To the contrary, we are living in a society where qualifications are a liability, and the more mediocre you are, the more likely you are to succeed. See the recent presidential election to corroborate that.

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And is Santana suggesting that Adele is that much better a singer than Beyoncé is why she won? So is that why Beck beat Beyoncé out for Album of the Year, too? Beyoncé is not an “Urban” artist. She is the world’s biggest Pop star, and has been for about 15 years. I know Adele is the current crowned queen of blue-eyed soul, but Beyoncé is authentically soulful. She’s lived the experiences that the Blues is all about. And though I often feel her material doesn’t always reflect it, she has an amazing voice. Celine Dion thinks so. Now Celine can sing, sing. Her instrument is flawless. She attended the Grammys the other night mostly to watch Bey. And watch Celine’s reaction from this concert in 2002 damn near every time Beyoncé opens her mouth.

It’s hard enough to get on stage flatfooted and sing. It doesn’t make it easier when you’re doing an intricate dance routine whilst performing. And to make it look effortless is the icing on the cake. To reduce Beyoncé to someone who is “very beautiful to look at” and “music to model a dress” is not only sexist, but falls in line with centuries of White men who have objectified Black women.

Even Adele doesn’t agree with Santana. Of Beyoncé she said:

“I can’t possibly accept this award. The Lemonade album was just so monumental, Beyoncé. It was so monumental and well thought-out and beautiful and soul-baring… we appreciate that. All of us artists here adore you. You are our light.”

She goes on to say backstage…

Beyoncé has been Adele’s icon her whole life. Perhaps that may have been a factor in Adele choking during her performance, I don’t know. I do know I’ve never seen that happen to Beyoncé. I’ve seen Beyoncé fall down the stairs because her heels were too high. I’ve seen her hair get caught in a fan. But I’ve never seen her choke like that. She does not stop. If you fuck up during a performance, keep going. It’s likely no one will notice. It’s called “professionalism.”

“My album of the year is Lemonade, so part of me did die inside as a Beyoncé fan — not going to lie. I was completely rooting for her, I voted for her. I felt it was her time to win. What the fuck does she have to do to win album of the year?”

-Adele

What does she have to do? I think Solange hit the nail on the head.

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#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

Brooklyn Academy of Music Threatens The Creator of #BAM

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So, I get this email today from Brooklyn Academy of Music legal team trying to shake me down from withdrawing my application to trademark #BAM: Black American Music. I’m shocked and appalled for several reasons.

According to the letter above, we presented #BAM at BAM two years ago. We were in talks for years before that trying to put that gig together until Danny Kapilian stepped in and made it happen so beautifully. Thanks, Danny. It was a joyous and momentous occasion outdoors at the MetroTech in Brooklyn. If you all had a problem with it, why didn’t you come after me then? You were full aware that I had been using it for years, only now you conveniently take issue with it.

You attempting to get me to abandon my mission to save Black music is antithetical to your edict as an arts administration. You are supposed to be assisting artists like myself and helping the community, not engaging in legal battles against them and trying to stand in the way of their progress. Kudos to your “diverse” executive staff, by the way…

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How does my trademark infringe on you? At no point in the five plus years of me using #BAM has anyone confused the Black American Music movement with your organization. We are in two entirely different lanes. Clearly your trademark legal staff doesn’t understand how this works. I don’t have to withdraw my application or prove its validity because you ask. I’ve already received the trademark. It is you who has the burden of proof that #BAM is infringing on your trademark, and that I’m interfering with your ability to make money, and that there’s confusion in the marketplace, which we know you had no issue with two years ago when you booked me to present #BAM for a gig.

Also, we’re in two different classifications:

#BAM 
Black American Music

Goods and Services Classification: IC 009.

US 021 023 026 036 038

G&S: Audio and video recordings featuring music and artistic performance.
BAM
(i.e. Brooklyn Academy of Music)
Goods and Services Classification: IC 041
US 100 101 107
G&S: Live performances by musical groups featuring orchestral, jazz, rock, and pop music; live dance performances; live operas, dramatic and musical stage plays; continuing entertainment exhibitions in the nature of film; providing facilities for art exhibitions. First use: 1972
While similar classifications, they’re not identical.
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Also, my trademark is #BAM: Black American Music attached to my logo. Our logos are not the same. Yours is three, simple, mediocre, white initials on top of a black background. How apropos!
This is my logo. No one has, nor would ever be likely to confuse the two.
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Here are The Polaroid Factors:
  • Strength of plaintiff’s mark
  • Degree of similarity between the two marks
  • the proximity of goods and services of the parties
  • the likelihood that the plaintiff will bridge the gap between the products
  • evidence of actual confusion
  • defendant’s intent in adopting the mark
  • the quality of the defendants products
  • sophistication of the relevant confusion

    The factors are to be balanced: no one factor is determinative.
There are 492 listings for “BAM” on the Patent and Trademark database. Why you coming after little ole me? You’re Goliath and I’m David. I will not be intimidated. And, again, my application has already been approved. I don’t have to withdraw my trademark because you send me an email beckoning me do so. How prejudiced and privileged of you to ask, but sorry, I don’t take requests. You have the burden of proof. You also have to convince three federal judges to substantiate your claim of confusion.
The ball’s in your court… #mfcomn
#BAM
-Nicholas Payton aka The Creator of #BAM

Textures

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Textures_CD_imageTEXTURES The new recording by Nicholas Payton | Available June 17, 2016 on Paytone Records™

All great art has a rhythm. Movement. A Pulse.

Painting, Music, Dance, Martial Arts, Architecture, Sports. They all have, at their core, a rhythmic undertow.

The strokes of a paint brush have a rhythm. They create patterns, lines, curves, shapes, forms, and ultimately a rhythmic flow. They create movement. Their movement create a feeling. Colors also create a rhythm. They make your eyes move from one component to another. They allow your mind to travel. To think. Ultimately a story is told. A feeling is created. A visual beat penetrates one’s mind and soul.

What happens when master artist Nicholas Payton is a part of the artistic process of painter Anastasia Pelias? Textures is born. As Nicholas told me, “They are off the cuff tracks done in real time with an artist who paints.”  Nicholas takes the strokes of Anastasia’s brush and mirrors them with a beat. The visual beat becomes an aural beat. A pulse. A movement. The colors become harmonies. The strokes become rhythmic shifts. The two become synonymous with each other.

As a listener, you find your own meaning. Every time you listen, a new layer of the story is unveiled. You start to get lost in the music. Have you ever just sat and watched the ocean? At first you see the sand, beach, and waves. Then, as your mind drifts, you start to see beyond the ocean.  You think about the depth of the ocean and its beauty. As the waves crash, one also begins to think of the past, present and future. No wave crashes the same place, or way, twice, yet each is perfect. Each has been here before, but returns in a whole new way.  It is brought to shore as it should. It flows perfectly, yet is never quite predictable. Each wave has its own direction, and its own identity. Textures does the same. You look out into the horizon and see where the sky meets the water. You begin to reflect on the beauty in the world. This is Textures. Movement of a rhythmic undertow (ocean/waves), with harmony and colors on top (the sky and world).

Textures is a master work of art. Created by a master artist. In this case Nicholas Payton uses an instrument he has yet to use on record. As he told me “I set up my keyboard and laptop and Anastasia has a blank canvas and we create a new work in real time.” Nicholas’ instrument here may appear to be a keyboard and laptop at first. But ultimately, his instrument is his mind and soul. Textures flows with perfect clarity, yet takes direction in ways one would not expect. The harmonies take shape in only the way Nicholas’ mind can.  The three basic elements of the mind — intellect, feeling, and will — are displayed as Nicholas searches from within, and let’s the music pour out of his body, and into our ears.  But once it hits our ears, we too, need to let it penetrate our hearts and soul, so that we can find ourselves. We can create our own work of art in our own mind.

Textures exudes compassion. It is radiating with boundless light and compassion. It makes you reflect within to find peace and love.

Begin to let the music enter your body. It is music to relax and think to, music to reflect on, and music to dance to.

Textures, like an any great art, is drenched with rhythm. It has movement. A Pulse. Listen, as I did, over and over again. Find new meaning each time you listen. Find your own rhythm.

All instruments performed by Nicholas Payton

Mixed by: Jehan Buhari and Tom Soares

Mastered by: Michael Fossenkemper

Artwork by: Anastasia Pelias

Cover by: Tom Seltzer, Seltzer Studios

Album Notes by: Alex Silverbook

Artwork for Textures — by Anastasia Pelias

Wassup, y’all:

As many of you know, each tune from my most recent release, “Textures” has a corresponding visual to go with it. So, here for the first time, I will present the collaboration in its entirety. Track numbers and titles will appear under the piece. Anastasia’s titles will be after the em dash…

Artwork by Anastasia Pelias:

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1.) Smooth — Do (what you do)

 

 

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2.) Sticky — Friday Afternoon, 4-7

 

 

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3.) Silky — Blue be Cool I & II

 

 

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4.) Fuzzy — Everything beautiful goes away

 

 

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5.) Hard — The Struggle Is Real

 

 

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6.) Wet — Reckless Daughter

 

 

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7.) Rough — Night and Day

 

 

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8.) Greasy — Not Mortal

 

 

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9b_Watusi (II)

9.) Soft — Watusi I & II

 

 

Both the artwork and the album are for sale.

http://anastasiapelias.com/paintings/

CD Baby

iTunes

“Ibbity, ibbity, ibbity… That’s all folks…”

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop

 

 

 

 

 

Selections from “Textures”

2_Friday afternoon, 4-7

I’m posting, as an offering, the healing power of music. This playlist is comprised of three of nine selections which will appear on an upcoming album of mine called “Textures.”

The genesis of this project was a collaboration with a visual artist from my hometown of New Orleans, Anastasia Pelias. We set up in her studio (her with a blank canvas, me with a laptop and a midi keyboard) and co-composed a new work in real time.

Each session yielded a new work.

All instruments played by yours truly.

Mixed by Jehan Buhari and Tom Soares.

Mastered by Michael Fossenkemper.

#BAM

— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop