I’m a Nigga, and maybe a dumb Nigga at that. Let’s just get that out of the way. That said, I refuse to capitulate to White standards of anything. Oscars, Grammys, politics — it’s all the same to me.

You see, Niggas’ problem is we buy in to this White Supremacy shit. I don’t allow someone’s whose main objective is to marginalize and oppress me to take precedent over what I know to be true as a Black man in America.

No President of the United States is going to free Black people, regardless of what color they are. We must do that ourselves. Our freedom is not in this country’s best interests, so don’t expect it to be handed to you from the State.

I can’t shed any tears over a show being cancelled because the host refuses to celebrate the very construct that serves to destroy them. I shed no tears because a film on a Black genius can’t get funded unless they distort said genius’ image through the lens of a fictitious White character. I shed no tears because the Oscars refuses to acknowledge Black excellence. Nor can I shed any tears because the Grammys continues to marginalize Black music — the very foundation of its existence. And because sometimes they get it right, doesn’t mean there’s any hope to be found there.

These institutions were created to perpetuate the myth that Black people are not good enough, and that White people are better than us. So don’t ever expect them to change their minds. No amount of boycotts will ever reverse that fundamental premise.

Black people don’t own MSNBC. We don’t own NARAS. And we don’t control SAG-AFTRA. That’s the bottom line. And until we erect and respect Black institutions in the same way we appear to respect these institutions that aren’t for us, we’ll never get further than we are.

What doesn’t help is we have ignorant people within our race who think by having the BET Awards we’re equally as racist. First off, no one Black can be racist against anyone else except someone Black. We can only serve White Supremacy, at best. They allow us a seat at the table only to persecute our own.

This is not a war of policy. This is a war of self-recognition. Do we know who the fuck we are? I don’t think we do, because if we did, we wouldn’t be trying to prove to anyone else that our lives matter. Black Americans get trolled daily by the media and we fall for it constantly — hook, line, and sinker.

I refuse to get caught up in the quagmire. You can’t play me without my permission. I can’t be bought and I don’t come with instructions.

Back in the day Louis Armstrong was told by an elder of his, Black Benny, “Always have a White Man (who like you) and can + will put his Hand on your shoulder and say — ‘This is My Nigger, and Can’t Nobody Harm Ya.’” Well, all due respect to Pops, but I refuse to abide by that edict. Even though it is as true today as it was when Black Benny told that to Satchmo some 100-odd-years ago. I refuse, which makes me a dumb Nigga. To my detriment, I will not allow myself to play that game. My theory is: kats like Pops did so I wouldn’t have to.


Photo via Chuck D

Louis bowed and scraped so Miles could turn his back.

I worked too hard to get off of the plantation to circle back now. You got cats out here doing Kickstarters to be on major record labels and giving their albums away for a pittance. I guess there’s a reason why they call the recordings, “masters.” Massa’s.

Black people need to understand their value and stop looking to White people to validate them with Oscars, Grammy, candidacies, record or movie deals. We must recognize who the fuck we were before we became Black or a part of anyone else’s race game.

Let White shit be what it is. Don’t get mad at how they choose to celebrate their heroes. Don’t hate their monuments. Let’s honor our ancestors and erect out own statues — not to compete with others’ — but to restore what was taken away from us time and time again. Remember: We built the first monuments or first shit that existed, ever.

And to all the moguls out there who build great Black businesses and sell them back into their opposing forces, you do more harm than good. You can only be but so rich. Strive to think about someone other than yourself for a change.


— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop


It’s Patti’s Pie


People going crazy online because they are saying that the dude who made the video that went viral which helped boost sales of Patti’s line of pies is entitled to compensation. If it were me, I’d cut dude a check, but Patti is in no way obligated to share in the profits of her business. Would it be thoughtful, kind and considerate? Absolutely. But she ain’t gotta do shit.

Unless I’m mistaken, this dude didn’t put up the money to make these pies. And I don’t think he’s her business partner. He went to Wally World and bought 5 pies. That don’t make you a shareholder. That makes you a consumer.

And everybody raggin’ on Patti, but nobody is dissin’ Wal-Mart’s ol’ oppressive-to-its-employees ass… They could pay, no problem.

If Patti’s pies wouldn’t have moved any units and sat on the shelf, would he have shared in the loss? No, therefore no one should expect that he shares in the profits. And, for me, it all comes down to that.

That said, I would give him some bread. Not because I had to, because I feel it would be the right thing to do if he helped me make some dough.

I’m not sure if James (the salesman) feels entitled to a slice of the pie, but if he wants to make some cake, he should do an album singing Patti Labelle covers. That would fly off the shelves!


— Nicholas Payton aka The Maharaja of #MFCOMN

CALLING ALL ARTISTS/LOVERS: First International #BAM Masterclass in New York City


CALLING ALL ARTISTS/LOVERS: I’m doing the first in a series of International ‪#‎BAM‬ Masterclasses where we sit and chat for a couple hours with an informal Q&A about art and culture.

For all those who have wanted a lesson with me, but was unable to afford my regular fee, I’m offering this class at the discounted price of $100 (cash only). No freebies, no exceptions. “The game is to be sold, not told.”

We will be meeting at Michiko Studios in New York City, this Saturday, October 17th, from 4 – 6pm.

This is not only for musicians, but all people with breath in their lungs and love in their hearts.

And before you complain about the price, you spend $100 on sneakers. What’s $100 to have your life changed?

Bring your musical instruments, just in case…

Share this with as many folks as possible.


— Nicholas Payton aka The President of PAYTONE Records

An Adversarial Katrinaversary and the Delusional Post-Diluvial New Orleans — a Manmade Disaster


It took a while, but I’m finally convinced. New Orleans will never be what it was. This 10-year Katrinaversary has forever sealed this city’s fate as a shell of an existence. It is destined to be a post-diluvial distortion of the values it once espoused. The Crescent City has successfully become a cable TV version of itself. By the way, what is Treme? We never called it that when I grew up there. To us, it was the 6th Ward.

We Rock, We Roll, That 6th Ward Got Control

I’m also tired of hearing how resilient New Orleans is. No, it is not. That just furthers this lie that somehow the traditions and the values of what made this city great are not on the verge of extinction, and they are. And let’s be honest, they were suffering well before August 29, 2005. We’ve become those “resilient” folks who exorcize away every tragedy with a second line or a pot of red beans.

“Ooh, baby… you fell and skinned your knee? Come on inside and let Maw Maw heat up some gumbo to help take your mind off the pain.”

We’ve become “those” people…

Strike Up The Band

FairviewThe Real New Orleans of old would never have a second line as a 10-year commemoration for a flood. Today marks the 50th “anniversary” of Betsy. I don’t see no second lines for that. I guess Betsy wasn’t as sexy of a hurricane as Katrina.

The Real New Orleans would boycott and/or picket this second line. This Katrinaversary is all media hype. It’s sick and twisted thinking. Disaster capitalism is alive and kickin’. A second line to honor the dead used to be a solemn occasion. It was respectful to the deceased and their families. The first line used to be the family. The second line was those who came to pay homage. They should call this Katrinaversary parade a third line in honor of all the carpetbaggers we’ve turned this city over to, thus making a caricaturization of this once sacred land.

There has always been a criminal and violent element here. There were always structural issues. I remember hearing that my mentor Danny Barker once said, “I’d rather be a lamppost in New York, than to live in New Orleans.” I heard he got a lot of shit for making that comment, but he made good on it by returning. In case you don’t know who Danny Barker is, if you’ve ever seen that video of Billie Holiday singing “Fine and Mellow,” he’s the cat on guitar.

Danny Barker gave me my first steady, sit-down trad gig. He was clear to tell me “We don’t call it ‘jazz.’ It’s Traditional New Orleans Music.” We played as a trio with Shannon Powell on drums at The Famous Door on Bourbon Street. I was 12-years-old. I remember the first day we played, the owner pulled Mr. Barker to the side and said “Hey, that kid is too young to be up there.” Mr. Barker had my back. He told the owner, “Here, we’ll just slap my fedora on his head and no one will notice.” Genius. I still wear a fedora on my head when I play, to this very day.

That’s the Real New Orleans — the passing down of the torch from master to student — the way King Oliver did for Louis Armstrong. It’s what Danny Barker did for New Orleans when he started the Fairview Baptist Church Brass Band. I subscribe to the theory that it was his solution to what he saw as a generation of younger people not hip to the brass band tradition. It also helped to take a lot of kids off of the streets so they wouldn’t get in trouble. Genius.

Well, those days are long gone. Now many of these brass bands can only play in one, or two keys, if you’re lucky. It’s not a put down, but our culture has devolved. It has ceased to be important to us. And let’s stop blaming Katrina like New Orleans was paradise before the flood.

See, I thought the flood would give us a clean slate. There’s a contingency in New Orleans that always believed that if this city became too forward-thinking it would lose its charm. That mindset kept New Orleans in a perpetual state of negative static pressure, which restricts flow. Since so much was lost as a result of the flood, I thought this was our shot. Well, that ship has sailed… Ironically enough, we’ve changed a lot by adopting all the wrong new things, while miraculously keeping all fuckedupdedness in tact. Genius. One plus is that per capita there are more bars serving craft spirits and beers than ever was.

Back-O’-Town Blues

And, for God’s sake, let’s stop calling it a “Katrina” anniversary, and “Katrina” this or that. Katrina had come and gone. What destroyed New Orleans were those levees. Some say they were compromised intentionally. I can’t say that for sure, though, I don’t put it past them. What I do know is it didn’t have to happen. The city was warned about those faulty structures for years. And even given that, the federal response to the disaster was abysmal. So, let’s be clear: God may have created Katrina, but God did not design those levees. And God travels at a speed much faster than George W. or Brownie, who did a “heck of a job.”

The future of this city is in the hands of the little ones now…

Letters Cover 052615-page-001



— Nicholas Payton aka The Savior of Archaic Pop