Tag Archives: Jimmy Jam

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.

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Best Songs of 2010 (12-7)

Almost to the home stretch, folks. Twelve through 7 after the jump.

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Peep Rahsaan and Lalah in the Studio

I’m definitely one of those fans who would like to be a fly in the wall when one of my favorite artists is recording. Like – what would it have been like to have been in the room when Jan, Jam and Lewis came up with That’s The Way Love Goes? And did erebody involved know that Meth and Mary would record a classic when they were in the studio? Could they tell? And I wonder if Jay really never writes anything down and if ‘Pac actually recorded a billion tracks per session. We don’t really know, but part of the fun of listening to your favorite artist’s work is wondering how in the hell they came up with it.

In this video, we get a small peak into Rahsaan Patterson and Lalah Hathaway working on a song called “6 in the Morning.” The banter between them is fun and light, but I’m intrigued by the working dynamic that is hinted at here. Specifically, we see a bit of Rah as producer and get to watch how he guides Lah’s vocal. Vocalists like Rah and Lah are peerless so a peak into the process – even one as small as this – is revelatory.

Dope. Enjoy.

Why Janet Jackson’s ‘Discipline’ Sucks

Few people are going to say Janet Jackson’s new album, Discipline, is the unmitigated disaster it is. At least not for the right reasons, or rather, the reasons that go beyond America’s love of destroying an icon, love of beating up on women artists (black ones especially), or pop music fatigue. None of these are the real reasons that the album is garbage.

Check out this discussion about why I loathe it. For context, this convo took place after I’d listened to the album about 5 times in a row. You’ll see me struggling with how much I hate this album, because janet is so important to me as an artist. I don’t want to hate it, but a thinking human being can’t possibly like this album beyond just the superficial “danceable” nature of it. Think even a little and you realize there isn’t anything there.

Thoughts welcome, always

D (2/27/2008 10:51:38 AM): so..
D (2/27/2008 10:51:41 AM): hating the janet?

Tyler (2/27/2008 10:51:53 AM): yea
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:01 AM): it’s good in that sounds like the sound of the producer kind of way
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:04 AM): which is good for most
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:06 AM): terrible for me
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:14 AM): she didn’t write a single fucking thing
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:18 AM): she’s nearly dead to me
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:26 AM): i don’t need to hear a fuckin Ne-Yo album
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:33 AM): i already got his damn album
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:35 AM): ugh….
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:40 AM): but i’m in the minority
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:52:46 AM): because Americans are nothing but sheep
D (2/27/2008 10:52:56 AM): well, I’ve never listened to NeYo’s album
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:53:44 AM): it’s good
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:53:51 AM): in that derivative way
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:53:55 AM): but the point is that
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:54:02 AM): there are few truly good songwriters out there
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:54:08 AM): who don’t have a definable sound
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:54:16 AM): even Babyface is instantly recognizable
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:54:23 AM): so what you get is not a Janet album
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:54:38 AM): so much as the album that Janet-philic producers want her to make
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:02 AM): it’s like Janet doing Michael and Janet by way of Ne-Yo
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:14 AM): it’s artistic cannabilism once removed
D (2/27/2008 10:55:22 AM): damn
D (2/27/2008 10:55:24 AM): okay

Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:27 AM): it’s true
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:32 AM): it may be listenable
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:33 AM): and fun
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:36 AM): and easy to dance to
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:42 AM): and crassly and simply melodic
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:55:46 AM): but it’s still not Janet
D (2/27/2008 10:56:14 AM): does that janet even exist anymore?
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:17 AM): perhaps not
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:22 AM): doesn’t mean i can’t long for it
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:32 AM): i had just assumed that she’d co-write with these new folks
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:39 AM): not just take their shit wholesale
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:45 AM): Rodney is a decent producer
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:49 AM): but he’s just not good enough
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:56:55 AM): janet needs melody
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:07 AM): she doesn’t have enough heft in her voice to carry songs without strong melodic structure
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:18 AM): it’s the central problem with most pop singers
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:28 AM): Ne-Yo helps
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:37 AM): but it’s like Ne-Yo doing what he thinks Janet is
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:45 AM): as opposed to Janet having real input
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:57:48 AM): co-writing
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:06 AM): it’s why she never got buried in Jimmy and Terry’s production
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:10 AM): those melodies were hers
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:14 AM): those lyrics were hers
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:23 AM): and increasingly, the arrangements were hers
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:27 AM): now …
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:31 AM): but yea…it’s listenable
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:58:34 AM): which is enough for most
D (2/27/2008 10:59:14 AM): well, personally I blame L.A> Reid.
D (2/27/2008 10:59:24 AM): He took the Clive approach and told her we need numbers
D (2/27/2008 10:59:29 AM): work with these people
D (2/27/2008 10:59:32 AM): sell some units

Tyler (2/27/2008 10:59:40 AM): yea…
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:59:47 AM): i definitely think he’s part of the problem
Tyler (2/27/2008 10:59:54 AM): but her own Jackson desperation helps
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:07 AM): feeling like she needs to keep up with lightweights that are copying her is horrible
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:13 AM): this is Janet’s Invincible
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:23 AM): she shoulda known when Rodney fucked up that album
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:40 AM): Mariah Carey’s resurrection is different
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:46 AM): when you have an instrument as perfect as hers
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:51 AM): nevermind her inability to use it
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:00:54 AM): you can mask bad songwriting
D (2/27/2008 11:00:55 AM): lol
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:01:08 AM): and the corporate aspect of her career
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:01:13 AM): Janet doesn’t have that luxury
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:01:34 AM): Janet is 1 millions times more expressive and deep and intresting an artist
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:01:45 AM): but she knows her limitations
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:05 AM): Mariah has few because folks adore her for something she was given, not something she worked at
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:13 AM): LA should have known better
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:20 AM): but he’s become so corporate…
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:36 AM): there are probably some trendy producers who could have done interesting things with Janet
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:41 AM): Mike City would have been nice
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:02:59 AM): but the immediately go for the usual suspects
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:03:13 AM): the emancipation of mimi
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:03:29 AM): will be the template to ruin iconic women of color for at least another 5 years
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:03:51 AM): surprising everyone but me
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:04:10 AM): because that album was warmed over shit with a brilliant marketing campaign
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:04:16 AM): and Janet is getting the same thing
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:04:25 AM): that said…LOVING the Erykah album
D (2/27/2008 11:04:52 AM): lol
D (2/27/2008 11:04:54 AM): okay
D (2/27/2008 11:04:55 AM): i
D (2/27/2008 11:04:58 AM): yeah

Tyler (2/27/2008 11:05:28 AM): it’s okay
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:05:33 AM): no one ever agrees with me
D (2/27/2008 11:05:35 AM): http://www.edgenewyork.com/index.php?ch=entertainment&sc=music&sc2=news&sc3=c…
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:05:38 AM): enjoyment is paramount for most
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:05:39 AM): it’s not for me
D (2/27/2008 11:05:39 AM): someone does
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:01 AM): perhaps
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:05 AM): it’s not so imporant to me
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:08 AM): i know i’m right
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:21 AM): that doesn’t erase that it’s well made
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:24 AM): and listenable
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:26 AM): and trendy
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:06:29 AM): and that’s enough for most folks
D (2/27/2008 11:07:39 AM): i agree with a lot of it. I think I just think people gave her more credit than she may have deserved. yes she created some fantastic music, but we’re not sure how much of it was her and how much was Jam and Lewis. And it seems that by not working with them – it makes her look like the puppet most people assume pop stars are.
D (2/27/2008 11:08:03 AM): and while it is a good listen, I don’t think I’ll remember any of it once the last song is over
D (2/27/2008 11:08:31 AM): there isn’t much personality in the mix
D (2/27/2008 11:08:34 AM): just beats and moans
D (2/27/2008 11:08:39 AM): and I’m too old for that

Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:24 AM): i think it’s easy to say that
Tyler (2/27/20
08 11:09:31 AM): she’s no John Lennon
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:39 AM): and this article is cynical enough to be almost insulting
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:40 AM): lol
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:48 AM): it’s not about wanting the same exact thing from Janet
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:53 AM): just the same level of nuance
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:09:55 AM): i’m cool with sex
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:03 AM): just give it to me in a way that sounds organic
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:04 AM): that’s all
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:11 AM): Twenty foreplay
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:12 AM): not moist
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:18 AM): it’s not about subject
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:21 AM): so much as execution for me
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:10:33 AM): i love articles like this
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:11:35 AM): because they are clever corporate send-ups
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:11:44 AM): and also you gotta look at who writes them
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:11:53 AM): Clay Cane
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:11:53 AM): lol
D (2/27/2008 11:11:57 AM): right
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:04 AM): not that his point isn’t valid
D (2/27/2008 11:12:04 AM): it was one of many i read yesterday
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:05 AM): it is
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:10 AM): but it being fun
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:13 AM): and danceable
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:18 AM): just, for me, isn’t enough
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:51 AM): he makes a really good point about ageism though
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:12:56 AM): i’ve been wondering bout that too
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:09 AM): why is sex preferred from 16 year olds and not grown ass women
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:10 AM): lol
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:14 AM): so good for him on that point
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:21 AM): but yea…
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:30 AM): i think this is a 2.5 out of 5 star album for me
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:33 AM): i like the song 2nite
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:37 AM): and the missy collabo is nice
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:13:45 AM): What’s Ur Name is kinda hot too
D (2/27/2008 11:14:08 AM): I liked Curtains
D (2/27/2008 11:14:26 AM): and….Rollercoaster
D (2/27/2008 11:14:35 AM): i listened twice
D (2/27/2008 11:14:41 AM): but I was tired and had a headache

Tyler (2/27/2008 11:14:53 AM): lol
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:00 AM): the other thing about articles like Clay’s
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:09 AM): is that they misrepresent who Janet is and was
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:18 AM): she was never a “make you feel good” pop star
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:31 AM): the whole thing about Janet for Control through Velvet Rope
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:35 AM): was to expand what a pop star could be
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:47 AM): if you only liked her for 20 years for Escapade and Together Again
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:15:53 AM): then you never understood her to begin with
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:01 AM): ya know what i mean?
D (2/27/2008 11:16:09 AM): yup
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:15 AM): that’s what bothers me
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:19 AM): it’s the same thing with Madonna
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:25 AM): like when she put out the ballad album
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:42 AM): it’s like…let me remind y’all muthafuckas that i know melody better than most
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:16:53 AM): i just wish Jan and Mike were as self-aware
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:06 AM): Velvet Rope seems more and more like a moment in time
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:12 AM): not the turning point i’d hoped it’d be
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:13 AM): and that’s okay
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:21 AM): i guess…
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:23 AM): just sad
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:17:59 AM): people like Discipline
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:18:13 AM): because it comfortably sits within their understanding and desire for what “pop” music is
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:21:00 AM): but enough of that
Tyler (2/27/2008 11:21:03 AM): i’m losin ya