I got a hypochondriac flow that get real ill, get nauseous to the beat, I spit sick at will.

What’s the Best Way to Make Music?

I’m rather opinionated about music. Folks know this.

And while all that frustration criticism comes through loud and clear when I write or tweet, I’m definitely not as good at communicating that I understand and respect how profoundly difficult making music really is.

I thought about this when I came across this Tyrese quote on Singersroom.com:

“Producers these days are lazy. Making tracks. Sending emails. I’m just saying. When you make music under the same roof, with the actual artist that you’re working with, everybody is praying together, eating together, laughing together. It’s a different kind of nuance that’s created around music.”  (emphasis mine)

I do think there’s something profoundly special about the music that can come from songwriters, producers and artists spending time together crafting music that the artist feels a close connection to because that artist has had some input into making it, but with that understanding comes a deeper understanding that I think critics of black music don’t articulate nearly enough: what Tyrese longs for is the exception in the music industry, not the rule, particularly with black popular music.

In other words, a lot of people aren’t afforded the luxury of getting into a room with the best songwriters and producers and creating something that they can feel has the personal touch because that’s not the kind of artist they are intended to be, whether they know it and acknowledge it or not. We should be honest about this fact.



Posted on February 13th, 2013 - Filed under Music,Uncategorized
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Race, Ethnicity, and ‘The Vampire Diaries’

In a fairly inoffensive, if silly, roundtable discussion post on AfterElton about The CW’s brilliant, The Vampire Diaries, this jumped out at me:

There’s yet to be much of a gay presence on the show. (Sorry folks, Caroline’s deceased Dad doesn’t cut it). Do you think a gay vamp making all sorts of snappy one-liners about the pretty boys in Mystic Falls would be a good thing?

Robyn Ross: I love that the show often blissfully ignores race, ethnicity, etc. because these kids have a lot more to worry about than those kinds of social issues. But sexual orientation (and sex in general) is such a huge part of the show that I think taking on a handsome gay vampire could add a lot to the mix. And let’s be honest, the banter between him and Damon would be priceless.

Because race and ethnicity are “social issues” one has to “worry about?” Wait…what?

Race and ethnicity should be central to creating character, particularly if you’re going to have a diverse cast, as The Vampire Diaries does. And so this is the one area of the show that drives me fucking crazy.

bonnie-bennett-profile

Bonnie, one of the all-powerful Bennett witches

I mean, this is a show that is set in Virginia, with frequent flashbacks to antebellum South and constant celebrations of antebellum Southern culture that conspicuously sidesteps the fact that that period was defined by American chattel slavery. This is a show that nearly always casts black actors to play witches but provides no mythological reason for this even though it’s clear that the producers are consciously deciding to always. every. single. time. cast a black actor as a witch.

Not even for the Bennett witches, who are central to the show’s mythology.

But here’s the thing? The vampire Katherine Pierce, who is also central to the show’s mythology played by lead actress Nina Dobrev, is Bulgarian because Dobrev is Bulgarian and speaks the language fluently.

The show’s producers are aware enough of Dobrev’s ethnicity to not only reference it in the show, but also make use of it (via Dobrev speaking the language in flashbacks), but there can be no indication in the show at all that the black actors are playing black characters with history, ethnicity and perspective.

In other words, race and ethnicity aren’t ignored, blissfully or otherwise. Just blackness.



Posted on February 3rd, 2013 - Filed under Television,Uncategorized
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Shouldn’t Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles Go to Television?

So Hollywood is developing a film version of Anne Rice's "Tale of the Body Thief."

Can we just admit that this is a bad idea? I mean, the film treatments of this series have been awful – Kirsten Dunst notwithstanding – without any real continuity, so it would just be better to reboot it.

And what better way to do that then to reboot it as a series in the vein of Game of Thrones on HBO? It's no accident that the best adaptation of an Anne Rice novel was the miniseries of Feast of All Saints that was done about a decade ago. Television gives so much more room to dig into Rice's dense prose.

Why has no one thought of this?



Posted on February 9th, 2012 - Filed under Uncategorized
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Latif – ‘One Kiss”

Latif returns after nearly a decade of false starts, mixtapes, and songwriting for other artists.

 

 

I like everything about this, even the black and white video. "One Kiss" has a very simple charm that we really don't hear from anyone other than Ne-Yo really. You almost forget that R&B singers used to sometimes seduce with a bit more restraint. Given some of the overly sexual nature of most of Latif's mixtape material, this is a nice change of pace for him.

Hopefully that will be enough will break Latif to a wider market. He deserves it. I always thought he was unjustly overlooked after his debut album, Love in the First, failed to kick start his career in 2003. It was a very strong album, stronger than most of the albums by the new jacks that followed in his wake.

He had that one joint on that album that I still play pretty regularly.

 



Posted on August 8th, 2011 - Filed under Uncategorized
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