Skip to main content

Something I cannot wrap my mind around: why is it that we're so quick to say this or that will make you swear off hip hop ... but say nothing at all in protest of things like smooth jazz?

Now ... I know many of us like this music. So I won't condemn it wholesale. Much of it is nice. Pleasant even. But that is precisely the issue I have with it. A musical form that was once innovative, daring, and pushed artistic boundaries has been commodified and turned into a mild sedative for the black (and other) middle class.

Ultimately, as a fan of bebop and post-bop music, I find that every bit as unsettling as much of what goes under the name of hip hop today.

Instead of being so quick to abandon our artistic creations (jazz, hip hop, or otherwise) because something offends us ...

shouldn't we rather wage a fiercer battle to reclaim these artforms as vital expressions of our sensibility?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "I have not always been right, but I have always been sincere." ~ W.E.B. Du Bois ~~~~~~~~~~~
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Honest Brother ...

Let me start this off by saying that I'm really not sure what it is you're asking/saying here, so I'm not sure that this answer really relates to your question! Smile

But for me in comparing the two, I have never heard a Smooth Jazz recording that talked about my Momma, called me a b***ch or a ho or degraded me in the same way, glorified killing my brother, or tried to convince me that life would be better in the streets than in a home! Eek

Artistry is something that I think should have a positive delivery. Your pictures, for instance, is artistry. If the worst smooth jazz does is make one feel "pleasant" I'll take that anyday over subjecting myself to violence, criminal activity, degredation, and a negative portrayal of me and my people as a whole.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
Honest Brother ...

Artistry is something that I think should have a positive delivery. Your pictures, for instance, is artistry. If the worst smooth jazz does is make one feel "pleasant" I'll take that anyday over subjecting myself to violence, criminal activity, degredation, and a negative portrayal of me and my people as a whole.


Hey ER,

I understand what you're saying, but whether something can be deemed positive or otherwise is relative and thus, up to the interpretation of the person. I think what HoBro is saying is that we need to defend any artistic form as our personal right to express it, as it is an extension of our culture.
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
But for me in comparing the two, I have never heard a Smooth Jazz recording that talked about my Momma, called me a b***ch or a ho or degraded me in the same way, glorified killing my brother, or tried to convince me that life would be better in the streets than in a home! Eek

Artistry is something that I think should have a positive delivery. Your pictures, for instance, is artistry. If the worst smooth jazz does is make one feel "pleasant" I'll take that anyday over subjecting myself to violence, criminal activity, degredation, and a negative portrayal of me and my people as a whole.


Not every hip hop record talks about kiiling your brother. There are great 'rappers out there who are 'positive'.

ER, if you buy one rap record in your life, I think you should get Black Star by Mos Def and Talib Kweli.

And it's a matter of degrees. In terms of degrees of artistry Kenny G is to John Coltrane what Vanilla Ice is to Rakim.

Even though it's 'pleasant' I think Smooth Jazz represents a creative low point in Jazz. Just as I believe "Crunk" represents a creative low point in Hip Hop.
Okay, I'll answer you both at the same time! Big Grin

Thanks for the explanation, Tre! For some reason, I'm still understanding you better than I am HB. Smile

An HB ... if I ever do by a rap record, I will take your advice and by that one!

I'll tell you, both ... I am probably as anti-rap as anyboby can or will ever be. And I'm stubborn ... and I know that's not a good combination! Big Grin I love music ... it is part of my soul. And I was lucky enough to be raised in a time when basically all music was good ... and even more importantly, real!!

So, I'm no expert on Hip Hop music ... but, even that which is to be considered "positive" I have to put up with excessively foul language to get the point of it. I used to think I would hurl just at the sound of Tupac's name ... but in the interest of fairness, one day my nephews made me sit down and listen to him (because they were forced to listen to my old school Big Grin) And I had to say, yeah, he does make some good sense! Eek And I actually like what he's saying, but the way he says it will make me probably never listen to him!

I'm sure this is generational ... and it doesn't help that I'm old-fashioned even for my generation! lol My friends were calling me a "grannie" even before I graduted from high school. Big Grin But for me, because I know good music, I was raised on real entertainers with real voices who made real music with real instruments ... I will never give that up for what constitutes "music" or "entertainment" or "artistic creation" today.

Also, I do understand the Kenny G/Coltrane reference, and I agree with you there! Smile

And although I am the first person to buy a ticket to jump on the 'Black Power' bandwagon ... I can't condone what I think is bad just because it's Black. Like I wouldn't vote for a Black Republican/Conservative just to have one of us in office.

So, when it comes to something like Hip Hop, I can say if it makes you happy, then I'm happy for you! Smile Bit, if it's something I can't be proud of it, it makes it harder for me to support. sck
quote:
Originally posted by EbonyRose:
I'm sure this is generational ... and it doesn't help that I'm old-fashioned even for my generation! lol My friends were calling me a "grannie" even before I graduted from high school. Big Grin But for me, because I know good music, I was raised on real entertainers with real voices who made real music with real instruments ..



ER, don't make me start posting nasty lyrics to some old blues songs - ones even older than you are ... you know I'll do it too ... lol ... kiss
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

A musical form that was once innovative, daring, and pushed artistic boundaries has been commodified and turned into a mild sedative for the black (and other) middle class.


Black middle class??? I'd bet that smooth jazz indexes much higher for the white middle class than black.

quote:
Instead of being so quick to abandon our artistic creations (jazz, hip hop, or otherwise) because something offends us ...

shouldn't we rather wage a fiercer battle to reclaim these artforms as vital expressions of our sensibility?


But smooth jazz is to jazz like rock & roll is to blues. Should we be thinking about reclaiming something that was never ours - but a bastardization of something of ours?
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

A musical form that was once innovative, daring, and pushed artistic boundaries has been commodified and turned into a mild sedative for the black (and other) middle class.


Black middle class??? I'd bet that smooth jazz indexes much higher for the white middle class than black.



The audience for hip hop is also majority white. I'm not sure if the numbers conveys any useful info about the taste of the black middle class.


quote:

quote:
Instead of being so quick to abandon our artistic creations (jazz, hip hop, or otherwise) because something offends us ...

shouldn't we rather wage a fiercer battle to reclaim these artforms as vital expressions of our sensibility?


But smooth jazz is to jazz like rock & roll is to blues. Should we be thinking about reclaiming something that was never ours - but a bastardization of something of ours?



I could be wrong ... but my feeling is that smooth jazz is far more accepted among us than mainstream rock ever was. It might be a bastardization ... but it's one that we've apparently embraced.
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
quote:
Originally posted by MBM:
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:

A musical form that was once innovative, daring, and pushed artistic boundaries has been commodified and turned into a mild sedative for the black (and other) middle class.


Black middle class??? I'd bet that smooth jazz indexes much higher for the white middle class than black.



The audience for hip hop is also majority white. I'm not sure if the numbers conveys any useful info about the taste of the black middle class.


quote:

quote:
Instead of being so quick to abandon our artistic creations (jazz, hip hop, or otherwise) because something offends us ...

shouldn't we rather wage a fiercer battle to reclaim these artforms as vital expressions of our sensibility?


But smooth jazz is to jazz like rock & roll is to blues. Should we be thinking about reclaiming something that was never ours - but a bastardization of something of ours?



I could be wrong ... but my feeling is that smooth jazz is far more accepted among us than mainstream rock ever was. It might be a bastardization ... but it's one that we've apparently embraced.


The "majority" of hip hop buyers may be white, but hip hop is the overwhelming music force in the black community under a certain age. Smooth jazz is nowhere near as disproportionately embraced by blacks as hip hop is. Smooth jazz radio station listeners are overwhelmingly white; that is not the case with hip hop stations.

But that doesn't mean I disagree with HB's point. Smooth jazz is a terrible bastardization of jazz. It seems to have been created solely as product for "mellow," background radio stations. They have taken jazz and removed its innards, its soul.

I was looking for a CD that featured this song called "19" by Paul hardcastle -- an electronic dance record from the 80s that featured spoken recorded commentary about Vietnam veterans and their suffering. I found this Paul Hardcastle compilation CD that featured it, so I bought it. But the songs were all "smooth jazz" re-recordings. Since that song first came out, Paul hardcastle had become a major smooth jazz staple, so now he was re-recordign his old songs in that vein. The new "19" was just gruesome. It sounded like you could picture Vietnam veterans with PTSD at a dinner party at some hotel in Vegas, sipping champagne and tasting hors d'oeuvres. It sounded like it was fun to be "exposed to hostile fire almost every day." <-- [One of the lyrics in the song]

My problem with this soulless, assembly-line garbage is that it is what most people think of when they think "jazz." But it's really not even music, IMHO, because it sounds like every note in a given song is designed and then voted on in a board room rather than written and created in a studio. I'm with HonestBrother. RESIST!!!
ER, if you like real music, with real instruments, then you should check out The Roots... they are a hip hop band and they play real instruments... I would recommend starting with their earlier albums...

"Smooth jazz" is not jazz... it's pop with a saxophone...

The best description of jazz that I ever heard was this: "... it's a conversation between instruments, you never know exactly where it's going and it's never the same thing twice..." I don't recall the name of the artist that said it, but I thought it was a great quote...

na na n-n-n-na nineteen... great song from back in the day... MBM, you know you should ask me first for a copy of any song that you might want from that era... As soon as I get my sound system set back up I can burn you a copy... of the original version...
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by AudioGuy:
na na n-n-n-na nineteen... great song from back in the day... MBM, you know you should ask me first for a copy of any song that you might want from that era... As soon as I get my sound system set back up I can burn you a copy... of the original version...


Thanks, AG!!! rock

And we can both be thankful for that icon, or I WOULD have put up one of the hug or kiss ones. ek That was my joint back in the day...
quote:
Originally posted by AudioGuy:
ER, if you like real music, with real instruments, then you should check out The Roots... they are a hip hop band and they play real instruments... I would recommend starting with their earlier albums...


Well, I finally put my Napster subscription to some use and sampled some of the music you guys have suggested. Smile I'm not sure which of the songs by The Roots I'm should be listening to, but so far I don't think it's any of the ones that I did!! Eek Yes, their music is nice ... but I don't have a "vocal mute" on my computer! Smile

I do like those Brand New Heavies!! I didn't know they made a song other than Never Stop (which I bought twice because I wore it out the first time!) More of their music will be added to my library! tfro

And HB, I couldn't find a recording of that Black Star by Mos Def or Talib Kweli you mentioned. Confused Are you sure somebody like me is supposed to listen to it?? Big Grin Perhaps a niece or nephew has a copy of it ... I will ask around!
Astronomy (8th Light)

Black Star


[Mos Def]
Against the canvas of the night
Appears a curious celestial phenomena
called Black Star, but what is it?
[Talib Kweli]
Black people unite and let's all get down
We got to have what? We got to have that love
[Mos Def]
What is the Black Star?
Is it the cat with the black shades, the black car?
Is it shinin' from very far, to where you are?
It is commonplace and different
Intimate and distant
Fresher than an infant
[Talib Kweli]
Black, my family thick, like they're striped molasses
Star, on the rise, in the eyes of the masses
Black is the color of my true love's hair
Star's are bright, shining, hot balls of air

[Mos Def]
Black like my baby girl's stare
Black like the veil that the muslimina wear
Black like the planet that they fear, why they scared?
Black like the slave ship that later brought us here
Black like the cheeks that are roadways for tears
that leave black faces well traveled with years
Black like assassin crosshairs
Blacker than my granddaddy armchair
He never really got no time to chill there
Cause this life is warfare, warfare

[Talib Kweli]
Deep on the front lines, and blacks is all there
Black like the perception of who, on welfare
Black like faces at the bottom of the well
I've been there before
To bring the light and heat it up like "la cocina"
Make without imagine happen but maybe I'm just a dreamer
I love rockin tracks like John Coltrane love Naima

[M] Like the student love the teacher
[T] Like the prophet love Khadeja
[M] Like I love my baby features
[A] Like the creator love all creatures

[Talib Kweli]
Who acknowledge truth and peace seekers
We on point like heat seekers
Targettin the black marketing strategists
Run up on em with the heaters
Everybody followin with no leaders
Feelin like we killin ourselves
because I know they can't defeat us
It don't stop til we complete this, keep this fly
There's so much to life when you just stay Black and God
[Mos Def]
Blacker than the nighttime sky of Bed-Stuy in July
Blacker than the seed in the blackberry pie
Blacker than the middle of my eye
Black like feh-lah man cry
Some man wan ask "Who am I?"
I simply reply, "The U.N.I.V.E.R.S.A.L. Magnetic"
Work to respect the angelic, climb the mountaintop
and tell it til the valley's enveloped
You're full of big chat but you nah know me
I'm dark like the side of the moon you don't see
when the moon shine newly

[M] You know who else is a Black Star? (Who?) Me
[T] You know who else is a Black Star? (Who?) Me
[A] You know who else is a Black Star, who we? (And we)
[A] be shinin and shinin, when we rhymin and rhymin
We be shinin and shinin, when we rhymin and rhymin

[Mos Def]
Now everybody hop on the one, the sounds of the two
It's the third eye vision, five side dimension
The 8th Light, is gonna shine bright tonight
It's the third eye vision, five side dimension

[T] You know the light
[M] Go from the dark
[T] The other way is ass-backwards
[M] It's absurd
[T] Make you wanna crow like a blackbird
[M] That's right
[T] You livin from your first day to your last night
[T] Sometimes you show your ass like
[M] Lint on your clothes
[T] When you froze in
[A] THE BLACK LIGHT
[M] Dead that
[T] Before you get your head wrapped
[M] Like Badu
[T] We see through your voodoo
[T] Just like Eve's Bayou, you dealin with that black magic
[M] Try to civilize you
[T] Not walk on by you
[M] Like civil-(lies do get you black listed) it'll
[T] Be unlucky for you like a black cat
[M] A panther
[T] Revolution is the answer
[M] That's what we need
[T] Greed plague my people like the cancer
[M] True indeed

[Mos Def]
Now black people unite, and let's ALL GET DOWN
Now everybody hop on the one, the sounds of the two
It's the third eye vision, five side dimension
The 8th Light, is gonna shine bright tonight
Everybody hop on the one, the sounds of the two
It's the third eye vision, five side dimension
The 8th Light, is gonna shine bright tonight
It's the third eye vision, five side dimension
Equalin up to eight, light shine bright
Last edited {1}
quote:
Originally posted by HonestBrother:
ER, personally, I would not have recommended The Roots to you. Although I'm a fan of theirs, I think that Black Thought (the vocalist) is an acquired taste. Especially to one not already a fan of hip hop.

Black Star, on the other hand, is far more obviously "conscious", "pro-black", and "poetic" ... also a lot less vulgar.

Check out the Amazon Reviews:

http://www.amazon.com/Black-Star/dp/B000067CLT



I'm including some lyrics to my favorite tracks ...
Thieves In The Night

Black Star


[Talib Kweli]
Yo Dee (What?)
Come on (Yeah..)
What? What? Come on
(Yeah)

"Give me the fortune, keep the fame," said my man Louis
I agreed, know what he mean because we live the truest lie
I asked him why we follow the law of the bluest eye
He looked at me, he thought about it
Was like, "I'm clueless, why?"
The question was rhetorical, the answer is horrible
Our morals are out of place and got our lives full of sorrow
And so tomorrow comin later than usual
Waitin' on someone to pity us
While we findin beauty in the hideous
They say money's the root of all evil but I can't tell
YouknowhatImean, pesos, francs, yens, cowrie shells, dollar bills
Or is it the mindstate that's ill?
Creating crime rates to fill the new prisons they build
Over money and religion there's more blood to spill
The wounds of slaves in cotton fields that never heal
What's the deal?
A lot of cats who buy records are straight broke
But my language universal they be recitin my quotes
While R&B singers hit bad notes, we rock the boat
of thought, that my man Louis' statements just provoked
Caught up, in conversations of our personal worth
Brought up, through endangered species status on the planet Earth
Survival tactics means, bustin gats to prove you hard
Your firearms are too short to box with God
Without faith, all of that is illusionary
Raise my son, no vindication of manhood necessary

[M.D.] Not strong
[T.K.] Only aggressive
[M.D.] Not free
[T.K.] We only licensed
[M.D.] Not compassioniate, only polite
[T.K.] Now who the nicest?
[M.D.] Not good but well behaved
[T.K.] Chasin after death
so we can call ourselves brave?
[M.D.] Still livin like mental slaves
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice

[Mos Def]
Yo, I'm sure that everbody out listenin agree
That everything you see ain't really how it be
A lot of jokers out runnin in place, chasin the style
Be a lot goin on beneath the empty smile
Most cats in my area be lovin the hysteria
Synthesized surface conceals the interior
America, land of opportunity, mirages and camoflauges
More than usually -- speakin loudly, sayin nothin
You confusin me, you losin me
Your game is twisted, want me enlisted -- in your usary
Foolishly, most men join the ranks cluelessly
Buffoonishly accept the deception, believe the perception
Reflection rarely seen across the surface of the lookin glass
Walkin the street, wonderin who they be lookin past
Lookin gassed with them imported designer shades on
Stars shine bright, but the light -- rarely stays on
Same song, just remixed, different arrangement
Put you on a yacht but they won't call it a slaveship
Strangeness, you don't control this, you barely hold this
Screamin brand new, when they just sanitized the old shit
Suppose it's, just another clever Jedi mind trick
That they been runnin across stars through all the time with
I find it's distressin, there's never no in-between
We either niggaz or Kings
We either bitches or Queens
The deadly ritual seems immersed, in the perverse
Full of short attention spans, short tempers, and short skirts
Long barrel automatics released in short bursts
The length of black life is treated with short worth
Get yours first, them other niggaz secondary
That type of illin that be fillin up the cemetary
This life is temporary but the soul is eternal
Separate the real from the lie, let me learn you
Not strong, only aggressive, cause the power ain't directed
That's why, we are subjected to the will of the oppressive
Not free, we only licensed
Not live, we just excitin
Cause the captors.. own the masters.. to what we writin
Not compassionate, only polite, we well trained
Our sincerity's rehearsed in stage, it's just a game
Not good, but well behaved cause the ca-me-ra survey
most of the things that we think, do, or say
We chasin after death just to call ourselves brave
But everyday, next man meet with the grave
I give a damn if any fan recall my legacy
I'm tryin to live life in the sight of God's memory
Like that y'all

[Mos Def]
A lot of people don't understand the true criteria of things
Can't just accept the appearance
Have to get the true essence

[Talib Kweli]
They ain't lookin around

[M.D.] Not strong
[T.K.] Only aggressive
[M.D.] Not free
[T.K.] We only licensed
[M.D.] Not compassioniate, only polite
[T.K.] Now who the nicest?
[M.D.] Not good but well behaved
[T.K.] Chasin after death
so we can call ourselves brave?
[M.D.] Still livin like mental slaves
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice
[both] Hidin like thieves in the night from life
Illusions of oasis makin you look twice

[Mos Def (singing)]
Stop hidin, stop hidin, stop hidin yo' face
Stop hidin, stop hidin, cause ain't no hidin place
* repeat 2X*

(Ad libs to fade)

Add Reply

Post
×
×
×
×
Link copied to your clipboard.
×