Archive for the Music Category

Erykah Badu gets naked in her Window Seat

Posted in Music with tags , , , on April 1, 2010 by klysha

The web was abuzz all week about my favorite artist’s new Window Seat video in all its butt nekid glory. Reactions ranged from critiques of her choice to use nudity to prove a point,  to marveling over the deepness of her social commentary juxtaposed against the ampleness of her behind.

The legality of shedding your clothes in the streets of Texas aside, I for one don’t understand why someone shedding their clothes publicly is such a big deal. Every one of us does this pretty much every day in our bathrooms (hopefully), and in some countries bathing is done publicly. We’re all born naked for crying out loud. But in a country where the fallout from Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate continues to plague Superbowl half time shows six years later, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  Americans are such prudes.

Ms. Badu’s public striptease looked so liberating that I might actually be a little jealous of her because she managed to get away with public nudity and managed to find a way to get naked in a video without coming across like a ho.  I’d strip naked  and run through the streets right now if it weren’t for a) my fear of mortifying my ultra prudish mom, b) my fear of going to jail and losing my good job c) my fear of the crazy dude who might misinterpret my nakedness as an invitation to snatch me up and take me to a dank basement to perform unmentionable acts on my vulnerable naked self.

While the video did feature a thought provoking social commentary on group think, the controversial striptease was clearly a ploy to sell records and I’m not mad at her at all for doing it. That’s her livelihood and as long as she’s making dope music while pulling off stunts like that I will forever be a fan.

I hope Erykah accomplishes her primary goal of selling as many CDs as possible but I’d also like to applaud her for accomplishing the following things:

1) introducing at least a few black folks to the term group think…anything that contributes to the expansion of the vocabularies of my people is a win in my book.

2) providing a diversion in my Twitter time line from the tweets about the antics of Kat Stacks

3) getting us skinny girls a few extra looks by displaying what a skinny chicks body might look like after three babies*

*Okay I’m really hoping her video accomplishes this

Maybe we do need another love song

Posted in Music, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2010 by klysha

There’s been an inordinate amount of talk lately (including on this very blog) about the dismal marriage rates and future marriage outlook for black women as well as the related breakdown of the black family.  A number of theories have been proposed about why this is occurring that I won’t bother to rehash here. But one simple theory seems to have been overlooked. While I was in the shower with old school songs playing in the background, in the time it took me to shower, wash my hair, rinse and repeat,  I devised a theory that there may just be a direct correlation between the rate of marriage in the black community and the number of songs about love at the top of the R&B charts.  This might sound a little flaky, but hear me out. 

I believe that it’s been established that music can have a profound impact on the psyches of those who listen to it. Thus all the hubbub over the years about the impact that violence and objectification of women may be having on children and teenagers.  But all the focus on what is being pumped into teens heads has diverted attention away from what isn’t being drilled into their heads. 

I did a highly unscientific analysis of the songs that topped the charts over the decades. If I had the energy I’d collect a statistically valid data set and develop some more accurate illustrative graphs and charts. But in lieu of that kind of time and dedication I’ve developed the rough sketch of what I think the numbers would pan out like below.

 

 

 

The decline in the number of love songs made may only be one of many contributing factors into the undeniable decline in marriage in the black community, (other possible contributing factors include but are not limited to slavery, global warming, trans fats, reality television, high fructose corn syrup, and Karinne Steffans), but I think this is a trend that shouldn’t be ignored. Of course this data (and I’m using the word data kinda loosely here) begs the question as to whether the music is a cause of or an effect of the breakdown in the quality and quantity of committed relationships. Afterall it’s hard to write a song about deep romantic love if you’ve never seen or experienced it. Or perhaps society’s appetite for songs touting the virtues of love has declined thus the artists are no longer compelled to make the songs. Clearly I haven’t put that much thought into my theory yet.  But perhaps someone with more time and better access to the Billboard top 100 lists through the years should do a more accurate analysis to see if there may be something we’re missing here.

It would take up too much space to post the lyrics of a sampling of songs from the 1960s through 2010 but it would be obvious if I did that the lyrics of the songs from the 60s to today would show a steady decline in references to romantic love, commitment, or how to show love to another person and a steady increase in references to randomly hooking up, getting it in, and creeping.

One could infer that if you grew up in the sixties, by the time you were in your twenties you had been fed a healthy dose of  messages about the virtues of romantic love and having a one and only. So much so, that you were practically programmed to seek this out for yourself as soon as possible.  Whereas if you grew up in the 80s or nineties it’s likely that your idea of an adequate courtship is a meal at the Waffle House after the club.  

Clearly my informal study only scratches the surface. To get more accurate information I’d have to look at not only chart topping songs, but all songs in heavy rotation. And I’d have to listen to the lyrics and the message and devise some type of criteria for what constitutes a message about romantic love. That’s way to much work for a blog post. However, if some entity is willing to pay me to do the research and compose an in-depth analysis I’m more than willing to oblige. Ahem….Yeah so the homework from todays post is for everyone to think back about how many songs they remember from their respective formative years about being in love….This does NOT  include  songs about making love, knocking boots or any derivative thereof. I don’t think there’s any shortage of that happening today.

I’ll miss you Michael

Posted in Music with tags on July 8, 2009 by klysha

thriller-michael-jacksonAs the whole world pauses to remember one of the greatest entertainers the world has ever known I sit over a week after finding out that he had passed still misty eyed, still in disbelief… I have been a Michael Jackson fan almost since birth and now he’s gone. It makes me so sad that it took Michael leaving this world for people to realize what a great gift he gave us all through his music. Never in my lifetime has an entertainer been able to make the whole world pause the way that Michael Jackson has. Everyone I know has a Michael Jackson story or special memory because his music has been a contributor to the soundtrack of the lives of two, three, maybe even four generations. Michael Jackson is the only musician that I know of that both my mother and I were huge fans of. She and I went to my very first concert together, the Jackson 5 Triumph tour in 1981. I wasn’t even 5 years old yet but I remember them singing Can You Feel It. That song still gives me chills to this day. I remember my whole family watching Michael Jackson on TV when I was a little girl and seeing my, then twenty something, mother screaming and crying like a those people you see on TV at a MJ concert. I’ve never seen her react that way to any other artist since…(and she will barely admit that she reacted that way then).

For the past 15 years or so, amist all the controversy, the world forgot just how wonderful MJs music was. I never stopped being a fan but I hadn’t dug in the crates and listened to just how broad his music collection was until after he died. Two days after he died I attended a Michael Jackson tribute party and I was just amazed at how many great songs he made that I had forgotten about. How many artists can you think of that you can throw an entire party playing nothing but their music and keep the party going for hours on end. I can’t name another artist that comes close.

To touch the whole world through not only your music but also your humanitarian deeds in only 50 years on earth is a feat that not too many can claim.  I hope that I can somehow in my life time touch just a small fraction of the people he touched in some way through something I do. I’m already 32 years old so it looks like I have a lot of catching up to do. I also pray that in watching one of the greatest pass away from this world a new generation will be inspired to not just be good at whatever they do but try be the best ever at what they do. And then follow that up by taking whatever gift they have and try to make the world better.  I know I am inspired.

Michael, if you can see us, know that even though we haven’t shown it in many years, so many of us love you and will always love you. I hope you’re up there teaching all the angels how to moonwalk.

Ghetto culture touches the world

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 15, 2009 by klysha
Makes music that's more popular than the Beetles?????

Makes music that's more popular than the Beetles?????

I was talking to my brother today and he quoted a statistic that was just unbelievable to me. He claimed that friend of his read that a song by Flo Rida was the most popular song in the world ever. Really ever? So your friend believes Flo Rida made a song that beat out Happy Birthday and everything ? Of course the researcher in me was not about to take a third hand statistic like that as fact without doing some verification.  As I expected the statistic that the guy reported was slightly off since he failed to put a very relevant qualifier in front. But the real statistics were still pretty amazing to me. Apparently the single “Low”  by Flo Rida was the best selling digitally downloaded song to date* with over 4.5 million downloads.  It held the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 longer than any other song in 2008. And get this… It went #1 on the charts in Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand, France, and Thailand. It was also in the top ten in several other countries. Ireland????

What I think of when I think of Irish girls dancing

What I think of when I think of Irish girls dancing

I wonder if Flo Rida had any idea he’d have the Irish Lassies and the girls down under getting low when he made that song. The success of stuff like this is a testament to the influence that urban culture has not just on America, but on the entire world.

On one hand I see where people who complain about the images of black culture that the rest of the world get exposed to are coming from. In far too many cases these are the only images of black American culture that some of these people have. But on the other hand it shows that young black kids have real power because the whole world watches to see what they like.  Maybe someone needs to figure out how  this power can be used for the good of the black community instead of complaining about it?

 I also think it’s hilarious how so many non-black people critisize  “ghetto culture” while their kids are posting videos of themselves on Youtube getting low low low low.

At any rate I get excited when someone unexpected has a global impact. We saw what happened with Soulja Boy and Crank Dat. Whether you love the song or hate it you have to give the kid credit for the global impact his song had. Even prisoners in the Phillipines were Cranking that Soulja Boy. I can’t wait to see what the next ghetto thing to go global will be.

Will we see videos’ of kids in the villages of India doing the Stanky Leg?
* Apparently this stat is based on U.S. sales or maybe songs made in the U.S. because the actual number 1 most downloaded song in the world is a song by a Japanese girl that had over 7 million downloads in Japan. If something is number one in an Asian country with all those people you may as well say it’s number one in the world. Even if the rest of the world has never heard of it.
 

All my single ladies!!

Posted in Music with tags , , on November 19, 2008 by klysha

What is it about that danged Beyonce song “Single Ladies (Put a ring on it)” that makes you think you’re a trained dancer! Or maybe that’s just me. Well me and all the gay dudes on Youtube. Every time I hear the song this urge to do the dance from the video comes over me. Then next thing I know I’m sweating like R Kelly at junior high school cheerleading camp from the workout. If this song stays as popular as it is I will never gain those 6 pounds I’ve been trying to gain. Here watch it and tell me it doesn’t make you want to get up and dance like an HBCU majorette.

The state of Hip Hop from the perspective of a non-hip hop head

Posted in Music with tags , , , , on July 30, 2008 by klysha

I am not a hip hop head. I like hip hop, and I have love for hip hop culture. But my appreciation can be equated to a platonic relationship, not the deep torrid love affair that real hip hop heads have for the music. I grew up in the hip hop generation so I feel like even though I’m not a true head, hip hop is as much a part of me as the kool aid with two cups of sugar from my childhood that probably still flows through my body today. I have little or no real memory of the time before hip hop and young black culture went hand in hand.

It’s because of this kinship that I have with hip hop that I am touched by the ongoing debate over whether hip hop is dead. For almost my entire life hip hop has been a defining part of life as a young black person in America so the idea of the genre and by extension the culture dying out leaves me wondering how young blacks will define themselves in the absence of hip hop.

I had a chance to go to a hip hop CPR session on Sunday also known as the Rock the Bells Concert. The

At the Rock the Bells Concert

At the Rock the Bells Concert

concert featured a roster of hip hop icons that went back like 20 years. I went because De La Soul was performing and I have loved De La Soul since I saw them live in Tallahassee at the Moon while I was in undergrad. I liked them before that, but that live show took our relationship to the next level. I went to that show at the Moon with my roommate who really could be described as a hip hop head. As a matter of fact I have to credit the majority of my early knowledge of “East Coast” hip hop to her. I am from Alabama where that brand of hip hop wasn’t big. I only knew of the groups through the airplay they got on shows like rap city and Yo MTV raps. I knew about southern bass music (which from my non hip hop purist perspective is a part of the hip hop culture). But I digress..so yeah I was at the Rock the Bells show and I had a good time. They played enough of my old favorites to keep my non hip hop headed self entertained. But I can have fun in just about any environment where you can dance so that may not be saying much. At any rate what I took from the show is that hip hop as we know it isn’t dead….on life support maybe but the art form is still very much alive. The only problem is the people who still appreciate hip hop in this form are an aging breed. One of the artists made a comment on stage where he welcomed everyone from 3 to 30 and my homegirl and I looked at each other like why did he cut it off at 30???? How old does he think most of these folk here are? Heck how old was he?

I notice that everyone complaining about the death of hip hop is in their late twenties and older which says something about the argument. Maybe people in this age range think it’s dead or dying because we are just too old to relate to whatever the heck it is that this next generation is doing. Maybe hip hop is just in an transitional state and what we hear coming through the airwaves today are just the wails from the growing pains as hip hop tries to get to it’s next evolution.

The arguments about Soulja Boy killing hip hop and the like are ridiculous to me. Maybe the people complaining are just too old to relate to Soulja Boy*. Sorta like our parents couldn’t relate to us back in the day. Think about how silly the stuff we used to do probably looked to them.

It's not his fault

It's not his fault

Speaking of stuff that has been accused of killing hip hop. I mentioned that I’m from the south so my definition of hip hop is a little broader than a purists might be. (I’m sure purists would castrate me for saying this….but fortunately for me I don’t have the proper equipment for them to remove). I think the south might have been at least partly responsible for keeping hip hop alive as long as it has been. No one on the east coast wants to give credit to the south, but where would hip hop be without artists like Outcast, Ludacris, heck even Lil Jon who kept it crunk when the east coast wasn’t putting anything out there really. And I’m gone hate myself in the morning for this but Lil Wayne is currently holding his own. (Note I haven’t liked Lil Wayne since the Hot Boys…back when he got no respect…but I felt like the music was more pure then….shoot me). My friends who were at the concert with me were all from the south and we had a discussion about how the show would have been if they included southern rappers or better yet if it was an all southern rap show. (Surprisingly…or maybe not so surprisingly the white guy sitting in front of us was extremely knowledgeable about southern rap and had a lot to contribute to this discussion) The only problem is the audience such a show would attract would probably prevent me from being able to go for fear the show would get shut down mid way through due to people getting a little too crunk. Anyway I’m not sure where I was going with all of this. I suppose this was really just an excuse for me to give some much deserved props to the Dirty South (who were so ungraciously excluded from the Rock the Bells roster) disguised as an analysis of the state of hip hop.

Anyway here are some more pictures from the show.

De La Soul

De La Soul

Method Man & Redman

Method Man & Redman

Redman

Redman

Nas

Nas

* For the record I think Soulja Boys little dance was pretty clever, but I don’t think he’s a real hip hop artist