Thursday, June 11, 2009

Jay Z, Dyson and Me


Jim Jones on Jay Z @ 1:18 seconds

I was on Twitter last week when the New Jay Z song,
Death of
Autotune broke. But peep, I didn't listen
to it until Sunday.

When I heard it I was floored. I couldn't place the horns.
It sounded like the horns from Jennifer Lopez's Get Right.
You see, as I child I played
the clarinet . Yes, pre-Crack, Oakland
Public Schools had band classes. So,
I learned how
to hear the difference between a clarinet,
flute, trumpet tenor and
alto saxophone. My ear is mean. I had to learn to distinguish the
sounds and read music in order to play in band recitals.

I am also a huge Resurrection fan
and have been curious
as to what has happened to No ID.
Voila! Here he is on a Jay Z

So, listening to that Jay song, I was like word?
Yet. I was
underwhelmed by it. I didn't feel like he said anything.

The beat was nasty. But I wanted more.

Birkhold, of course, disagreed and loved the song. He couldn't see
I liked the beat but not the song in its entirety. I said,
"Well, with a beat like that, I wanted something sincere like Dear
Summer, from Jay, I mean when
was the last time you heard a live
horn on a track outside of The Roots
and Kanye?"

He responded saying, "Well, I have stopped expecting anything
a rap song, so if I hear a banging track or a hot 16, I just
it for what it is. I stopped believing in hip hop's
political potential
a long time ago."

I was stuck. Because that was the disconnect. I had
expectations that
he no longer had.

Previously, I had mentioned to him how writing about the white
consumption of Black death in hip hop was
both tiring and necessary.

I told him that Dyson has a new book out and he said that
if Dyson would just critique hip hop's money
over bitches ethos or its
awful gender politics once, publicly and
clearly, it would change the terrain of our work.

His rationale is that when folks who have larger platform's
offer up any kind of resistance to the dominant narrative,

it makes it easier for those who are grass roots
to make
. Dyson would be the
appetizer and the folks who do
work on gender and social justice could
be the main course.

I thought of this when I saw Jim Jones saying that Jay was
trying to knock
his hustle by dissing autotune in the above video.

Peep if I say something about auto tune, its one thing, if Jay Z
does, it's a whole other ball game.

It reminded me of how when folks who have
larger platforms
offer resistance, it can force their peers and the people who
follow them to
think about resistance as well, or at least to question where they
stand in relation to the narrative that is being resisted.

I was speaking with K1NG regarding my most recent post,
and it became clear to me that it is hard to admit that hip hop
certainly does some good however it does an incredible amount of
harm, specifically around gender and race, as well.

k1ng:I think hip hop is one of the biggest cultural bridges
there has EVER been in America
9:38 PMIf it wasn't for hip hop i'm sure i wouldn't be as open
minded as i am today
me: thats cool
9:39 PM k1ng: Unfortunately with all the good it's done, it's done
alot of bad for the upperclass view of inner city
african americans
In all honesty
me: you think
k1ng: What they see on the TV is what they believe
me: you feel me
k1ng: i've been around them
me: ME TOO
hence the name, model minority

Hip hop has always been been a little ignorant, and that's cool.
The issue is the lack of diversity.

The most challenging aspect around addressing the racism
in hip hop imagery is sheer unwillingness for folks who listen to the

music to admit the role that race plays in choosing which images should
be marketed. The above conversation shows that folks are willing to do
it, it is just a hard thing to accept. That being said, I was reading
about the new Black Disney Princess and was amazed at how
language used to describe the princess, is the same language
that can be used to describe Hip Hop.
At The Root
Truth is, Disney has to appeal to everyone. They're not promoting this animated comedic feature as a straight-to-video package; they're expecting to make some numbers at the box office. Now unless it's a Tyler Perry event, black-on-traditionally black romance doesn't break records at the box office. You've got to throw a white or "near-white" somebody in there to guarantee race-wide appeal a.k.a financial return. Hey, even Tyler Perry casts lighter-skinned brothers in his box office successes and I don't hear anyone throwing daggers at that possible arrested development.
I found it incredible that Adkins could admit how race plays
a role in casting and marketing of Disney characters, yet
many of us in the hip hop generation, are unwilling to admit
the conscious marketing of racist images in hip hop.

I know some of you may think, they ain't racist, they just
speaking their truth. However, the images are racist because in the
music Black men are ONLY killing each other. For that matter
in reality, Black men are only killing each other. In the book Bad
Faith and Anti-Black Racism, Louis R. Gordon provides the analytical
framework for understanding Black Anti Black Racism.

According to Wikipedia,
Racism, Gordon argues, requires the rejection of another human being’s humanity. Since the other human being is a human being, such a rejection is a contradiction of reality. A racist must, then, deny reality, and since communication is possible between a racist and the people who are the object of racial hatred, then social reality is also what is denied in racist assertions. A racist, then, attempts to avoid social reality.
In the end, its interesting to watch folks go on the defensive regarding
autotune. Jay Z and I are not necessarily on the same page
regarding a critique of hip hop, in fact we may be on two different books
on the same bookshelf. But, the fact that he has said this makes me think
that there is hope for someone else to use their platform to address the
intrinsic racist imagery in hip hop's Bitch/Gangsta/Ho trinity.

Who benefits, psychologically and financially from the selling
of these images?

What did you think when you heard the Death of Auto Tune?

How did Hip Hop go from being fun to selling black death?

The irony of Jay's knocking Jim Jones's hustle is not lost on me.


neo said...

Last time a song had live horns on a mainstream record funny enough was 'Roc Boys' by Jay.

If Jim Jones claims that autotune is his hustle, he lost imo.

When I heard DOA I was excited about new Jay but on closer reflection Jay pretty much said its cool for my lil buddies (wayne, ye, tpain) to use it but not the rest of youse. LOL @ him saying Kanye made GREAT MELODIES with autotune. I doubt he really believed that.

When labels saw that they could profit off it, they went head on, full-throttle. I honestly think if my brand of hip hop sold it would be a diff landscape. But at this pt I dunno if I can only blame labels, the ppl have the power now to decide for themselves what images they want to see and hear.

MV said...

"What did you think when you hear the Death of Auto Tune?"

the funny thing is...i thought of that clarinet. its fresh, its different. me likes.

M.Z. said...

My thought when I first heard was damn that clarinet sounds mean as hell... no lie. I wish we had played stuff like this beat in Jazz band.

vincentlopez said...

Who benefits?

Start with every major corporation somehow involved in exploiting the music. Vivendi Universal, Clear Channel, Nike, Coca-Cola, etc. All of those mega-rich folks know exactly what they are doing.

M.Dot. said...

Hey Fellas.

Thank you for your comments.


How did you know it was a clarinet?

Yeah...Birkhold has some ideas on how the music affirms a psychological wage. On some, "if they are killing each other, I don't have to worry about them taking my job, my lady, my house."

M.Z. said...

Oakland wasn't the only school district w/ a band girl. I played alto & tenor sax. Shouldn't have stopped playing, but I was a smart ass who didn't think I should have to practice music that was too easy. The high school teacher disagreed. So I quit in defiance.

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