Re: Negative music.../ Positive Solutions

From: Steven Catanzaro (
Date: Thu May 30 2002 - 01:59:50 CEST

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    > I think what needs to happen to salvage popular music is the dismantling
    of the
    > corporate structure and/or capitalism as we know it, combined with the
    > reinvigoration of the education system with a special and passionate
    emphasis on
    > the arts (I'm thinking capoeira in gym class, and I'm not kidding), and
    i'm sure
    > some wealth redistribution and restructuring of the moral fabric such that
    > takes the back seat, wouldn't hurt, but file sharing, internet radio and
    > burnable CDs are a good start.

    You know, there's a lot of "blah-blah" going on about "positive" music vs.
    "negative" music, about the "cool" underground and the vapid "mainstream"
    but on closer examination, it all seems kind of silly to me.

    Case in point: Take a look at Macy Gray. When her first album was released,
    it was called the "Record of the Year" by none other than Straight No
    Chaser. They said it was so wierd it would either sell 20 copies or 20,000.

    Now, I love Macy, and I love SNC, and 20,000 would be a decent figure by
    underground standards. Fact is, it sold 6 million, and nothing about Macy
    can now be said to be "underground." Do you think her next album was
    reviewed in Straight No Chaser?

    What I see is a lot poesurs who won't be caught dead playing anything that
    the mainstream might actually "like" because that would insinuate that you
    too are part of the great unwashed mainstream. But I can name alot of
    artists who got too big for the underground, and in some cases, that was the
    underground's fault, not the artists.

    Look at MMW. When they were putzing around the country in a van, they were
    underground darlings. Now that they're on the cover of every jazz magazine,
    and everybody wants to know what kind of strings and drumskins they use,
    it's a different type of a thing. Not from the general public, who now
    enables them to sell out big shows, but from the "underground."

    Ditto Jill Scott. She's an "underground" artist? Mos Def is "underground?"
    The Roots "underground?"

    Those are hi-profile artists who sell millions of copies and make good music
    too. Do you think *they* want to see the "end of capitalism as we know it"
    and a proliferation of "file sharing, internet radio, and burnable CD's?"

    To cite another phrase made popular by the "ghetto fabulous" set; "stop
    playa hatin!"

    In fact, the kind of utopian sentiment cited above is precisely NOT the way
    to get your music heard. Yeah, you can cry "evil capitalism, bad Geo. Bush,
    horrible music companies, cruel world....." all you want. But I'll give you
    a better way;

    Go out and produce the hottest shows, the hottest club nites, you can, with
    the best graphics, the nicest venue, the hippest sound system, etc., that
    you can provide. Don't just give the people what you think they "need' but
    give them what they want as well. I mean, get serious; are you
    undergrounders saying that every track Roots Manuva ever made is better than
    every track Jay Zee ever made, on the basis that far fewer US citizens have
    heard of Roots Manuva? Can't you play both?!?

    (And as for capitalism being the root of all evil... I don't know for
    sure... but I have a hunch you might have more club nite options in an evil
    capitalist den like NYC or LA than, I dunno, Bejing, for instance?)

    In fact, read the SNC 4 Hero article from Winter; the "inverted snobbery"
    that attaches itself to artists like Massive Attack, Tricky, Bjork, and 4
    Hero. Listen to what Dego himself says. Do you think he wants to be
    "underground?" Or do you think he wants to take it to the streets and get
    larger and larger? Yes, the apparatus is in the way, and it frustrates him,
    but that's why we have to quit whining and create our own apparatus!

    As Duke Ellington, who was a great musician and a great capitalist once
    said, "When I was younger, an older singer told me don't forget to tip well,
    'cuz remember, we all work for tips."

    When people come out to your club nite, you're providing a service to them.
    Telling them to hold their nose and take the castor oil you've got for 'em
    is not the way to get them to dig your New Sector Movements trax...

    If people want to get preached to, I suspect they'll go to church. Give 'em
    a bit of this, and a bit of that, and quit knee-jerking with "Oh, this has
    to suck, cuz I saw them on the cover of Vibe..."

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