The culture of entitlement is as American as apple pie. And like almost everything of worth in America, apple pie came from somewhere else. Of course before pie came to America, the English, Dutch, Belgians, and Swedes had a tradition of baking pies, and likewise, they have a shared history of colonization. But we can’t even give ultimate credit for modern colonization to the aforementioned European countries. Portugal and Spain were the mother and father of colonization, and they had a tradition of pies called “empanadas.”
Bible — Buy Bull
On June 18, 1452, Pope Nicholas V published the bull Dum Diversas to give King Alfonso V the right to force any non-Christian people to serve in perpetual slavery. This document was followed three years later by another papal bull called the Romanus Pontifex, which gave dominion over all of Africa south of Cape Bojador to Alfonso, thus setting in motion the capture and colonization of Africans and opening the door for Christopher Columbus, whom some historians think was a pseudonym for Salvador Fernandes Zarco.
Fast forward to 1865, the date many believe to be when slavery was abolished in the United States. Only one thing: Slavery was never formally abolished.
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
—13th Amendment to the United States Constitution
This amendment was an extension of the ideas brought forth in the Dum Diversas, except now we see that “criminals” are substituted for “non-Christians.” But who determines what is a crime and who are the criminals? Statistically, Blacks and non-Blacks are incarcerated at a rate disproportionally higher than Whites. The penitentiaries are the new plantations.
They say the pen is mightier than the sword, and from a Western worldview, this is very true. We live in a world of words, and those words create thoughts and ideas. Texts such as the Holy Bible or the U.S. Constitution have historically been used as tools to justify some of the most vicious atrocities ever committed against humanity. Words are a primary tool of oppression. From changing the name of God, or renaming the natives’ land “America,” to calling Africans “Niggers,” the power of words has been one of the most effective means of enslavement known to man.
That said, words can also be used for good in the form of chanting, singing, prayer or praise.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Americans place a lot of stock in the legality or illegality of certain acts, but most laws are written by unrighteous men. Who are they to be the arbiters of justice? What may or may not be legal is shrouded in legalese, which gives those in authority loopholes to manipulate the system. Any act can be both legal or illegal depending on your resources and/or connections.
Just because something is legal, doesn’t make it right, and because something is illegal doesn’t make it wrong.
America is an imperialist state and it inherited this trait from its mother, Europe. In an imperialist empire, the object is to exert control and obtain dominion over others by force. European Classical music has strong ties to imperialism. During the height of European world domination, Classical music was the soundtrack. Many notable Classical works were commissioned either by the church or royalty — the pillars of colonization. Naturally the music would reflect those societal views. If we look at how the European Classical orchestra is set up, it is a body of musicians controlled by one conductor, much like the king of a monarchy. There’s little to no room for any dialogue amongst the players. They must conform to the concept of the conductor and/or the composer. Now there’s more room for interpretation for soloists or solo works, but even then the musician is typically bound by what is on the page.
Hegemony, Mony, Mony, Mony…
Patriarchal hegemony is a key factor in colonialism and imperialism. In order to control others, one must do so by force or domination, both typically being male-centric energy. This idea of male dominance is a mindset that has become the standard in modern society. Most ancient and native societies respected both male and female energies, as evidenced by the fact that many of them were matriarchies.
The fact that European Classical music is written down suggests male dominance, as men have a propensity towards stimulation through sight. Because the more feminine aspects of music — like feel, vibe, and intuition — can’t be written down, they tend to be undervalued. Things that can’t be seen are often disregarded as invalid through the Western/European lens. Whereas in African and other ancient musics, there is often no notation. The music is passed down from master to pupil by ear in the same way breast milk is fed to a child by its mother.
Because America is still a child of her European mother, she has adopted the same patriarchal hegemonic rules that govern European Classical music. This is reflected in U.S. copyright law. In order for a work to be created it must be written down or on a phonorecord of some sort. The writing down or recording of certain creative processes is not necessarily an idea embraced by ancient societies. In fact, many natives have been known to be afraid to have their pictures taken or their music recorded because they feared it would steal their soul.
Give It Up
Black music is an oral and aural tradition in that most of its fundamentals cannot be written down. All Black dance music is groove-based, which means the most essential components of Black music are not copyrightable by law. All Black American music is based in the Blues, which again, can’t be written down. It is in the realm of feel, and feel is a non-visual feminine energy. Blues, feel, vibe, and groove are not a part of the Western lexicon, which de facto says that according to American copyright law, Black music isn’t real music. It’s the same as the papal bull that declared Africans savages and not human.
What’s important about the recent verdict in the “Blurred Lines” case is that it’s a victory for Black thought. Coming off the heels of the judicial decisions in the cases of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner, it is a ray of hope that we may be approaching a return to ancient aesthetic values.
The things stolen from “Got To Give It Up” are not part of a genre or some ’70s style as the plaintiffs suggest. They are specific compositional elements that are distinctive to the tune. Anyone with ears can hear it. There are not a bunch of tunes that sound like it of any era. The masters don’t owe some producer anything because said producer pilfered their work and “introduced” the master to a younger audience. You’re not entitled to take an artist’s creation in the spirit of Hiphop, a papal bull, the Constitution, copyright law or anything else. Respect is due, props should be given, and if there’s money to be made, give up a piece of the pie.
Sheet music, shmeet music.
A Peace of the Pi
There is being inspired by someone and there is theft, and the line between the two is often blurry. The law is intentionally ambiguous and biased against creative, intuitive types. Copyright law does not work in favor of Black music. What many see as a dangerous precedent in the “Blurred Lines” case, I see as a chance for the ancestors and their heirs to get credit and compensation. The whole point of building an empire is to make a better life for those around you and those who come after you, particularly your children.
Black music is communal music and it’s about everyone contributing to the baking and sharing a slice of the pie. No one starves. Famine is a manmade construct. It’s the result of imperialism and robbing resources from a people and their land — domination through force. When music is used as a tool to promote a parasitic culture where it’s okay to leech off of another’s contribution without sharing the profits in return, it’s become an instrument of war, not love.
And though you may think of it as American, pie is a modern form of an ancient galette which can be found inscribed on the walls in the tomb of Ramses II, pharaoh of Egypt. The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is said by some to be based on the principles of pi. Pi is the value of dividing the circumference of a circle by its diameter. If you divide the perimeter of the Great Pyramid by its height, you will get very close to 2π.
The fundamental argument here is one that has been in the air since the development of the New World: linear versus circular thought. Lines are more suggestive of male energy, patriarchy and dualism, whereas circles are more feminine, inclusive, and social.
No matter which way you slice it, the circle always goes back to one.
— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop