Archive for creativity

Will Classic “Black” Radio Exist in 15 Years??

Posted in Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 21, 2010 by djvinceadams

TO ACCESS PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES USE THE LINKS AT THE TOP OR CLICK “THE BLOGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE” TITLE TO ACCESS THE HOME PAGE…

Close your eyes, take a second and think back to Black Radio in 1995. On one station that plays current Urban hits (we’ll call this station “Station New Music”) you hear Jodeci, Snoop Dogg, LL Cool J, Mary J. Blige and some Janet Jackson and Mariah Carey thrown in for good measure. A little further down the dial you have your typical “V103 – Urban Contemporary” station (we’ll call this “Station Dusties”) where you hear some current Luther, Whitney, along with some classic Stevie, Marvin and Aretha (notice, no last names needed.) Before you get too comfortable, open your eyes and figuratively turn on those same stations today.

In 2010 if you turn to “Station New Music”, not only is the selection more narrow than its ever been (in regard to variety), its nearly impossible to imagine how a lot of today’s music would be played on “Station Dusties” 15 years from now in 2025.

Can you imagine what “Station Dusties” will sound like in 2025? Will the 9am – 9pm be filled with this past decades hits like “Laffy Taffy”, “Hot in Herre” and Ciara’s “Goodies”? Will the slow jam/“quiet storm” after 9pm section be filled with radio anthems like “I’m in Love With A Stripper”, “Shawty is a 10” and “Birthday Sex??” Think about it, what songs from 2000 – 2010 will be considered a classic or “an oldie, but goodie” in 2025.

I ask these questions because as much as today’s music is about what’s hot or relevant in this social/news cycle, it has really moved away from being crafted music to simply being manufactured “microwave hot” songs. As a DJ, I talk to people about their views on music. One conversation not long ago with a Sprint representative (while I was in the Sprint Store) was that in her opinion people don’t care about whether music is “good” or not, they just want to have fun. She continued to say “think about it, whatever could be done musically has already been done. There’s nothing new left to do, so what are people left with.” I didn’t debate her position, but my initial thought is that if we as humans really believed there was nothing new left to do we would still be living in caves, playing with 2 sticks to get fire while wearing bear skin.

However, I do believe that she has a point. Not that I believe that there’s no new ground to break, but I do believe that many artists are more caught up in “what’s hot” than in breaking new ground (personal note – I don’t consider Auto-tune songs breaking new ground.)

My main purpose for writing this is that it really wouldn’t matter if all of the song writers, singers, rappers and DJ’s got together and said “we’re only going to give people quality music”, that wouldn’t change things in the least. There are still independent artist and some major artists who produce quality and potentially timeless music. Some people say that it’s all about exposure & marketing, but I don’t totally agree with that either. I believe that it’s the old “supply and demand” formula. Simply put, the people that listen to radio stations and consume music are the one’s that are ultimately responsible for what gets played and what doesn’t.

To me, the solution to this is similar to the solution that I’ve stated in previous blog entries about the state of music. We as individuals must demand more from our own music likes and dislikes and set our own personal bar for what does and doesn’t get played or purchased by us. In the event that we don’t change our personal standard for what’s considered good music, we are not only killing the future of Classic Soul radio, but future generations won’t have a measuring stick as to determine what a good standard for quality music really is.

Its up to us as consumers to not just “live for the day” as it relates to music, but we also must make sure that we conserve the institution that great African-American artist set for us in the 1900’s. Who will be the Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, James Brown, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, The Temptations, et al of the 21st Century? So, next time you’re blasting  “Daddy’s Home” by Usher, “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy or “Massive Attack” by Nicki Minaj give some thought to the future of Black Radio. Oh yeah, think about progressing “Black music” for the next generation wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

The same way that planting a tree preserves the forest or using less plastic preserves the ecology, the choices that we make in music today will either destroy or cultivate Black music radio/culture moving forward. Much love, take care of one another and remember – “we all we got”…VA

Oh yeah, R.I.P. Guru from Gang Starr – a true lyricist. Check out a blog about him and his passing from national tastemaker and blogger Audarshia Townsend… http://312diningdiva.blogspot.com/2010/04/deejays-reflect-on-rap-icon-gurus.html

Related Information:

“From Nancy Pelosi: Death to Music Radio?”

http://www.wgnsradio.com/from-nancy-pelosi-death-to-music-radio/15513/

Bamboozled – Why Is It Cool To Be Dumb in 2009?

Posted in Life Lessons, Music Industry with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 22, 2009 by djvinceadams

TO ACCESS PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES USE THE LINKS AT THE TOP OR CLICK “THE BLOGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE” TITLE TO ACCESS THE HOME PAGE…

Bamboozled Cropped

I often times post questions on my status-line in my Facebook account.  One of my recent questions was about movies and the answers brought me to think about how the landscape of Black movies is totally different in 2009 than it was in 1999.  That thought quickly lead me to reflect on the email that I recently read from Andreas Hale who was relieved of his duties as the Executive Editor of Music for Black Entertainment Television (BET.)  In the email Hale expresses the resistance that he was met with by BET Executives in bringing about a “positive” change within the programming of the station.  These thoughts then lead me to revisit thoughts that I frequently have regarding the lack of creativity and skill that is attacking Black music today.

In 2000 Spike Lee released a movie “Bamboozled” which was a satire about the effects of essentially turning Black entertainment into a literal “coon show.”  Although the movie was met with mixed reviews, in my opinion the movie has been prophetic when we look at the state of where Black mainstream media/entertainment is today.  A good friend of mine, Andrea, has expressed that “instead of art imitating life, life starts to imitate art and they [some individuals in the African-American community] believe that whatever these ‘artists’ talk about is real and try to live those things.”

I have a question for everybody 21 years old and older.  Regardless of how much you do or don’t like the current state of Black entertainment, do you feel that Black radio, Black television and Black movies were more provocative, mentally-engaging and intelligent 15-20 years ago and are we at an all-time low when it comes to Black entertainment? I think that it’s fair to guess that I am of the opinion that we are at an all-time low when it comes to the level of creativity and quality of Black entertainment.

I could get into the financial aspects of how the record labels and tv/movie executives only put money behind projects that they feel will produce revenue, but that’s a given at this time.  Additionally, I could say that there is a type of systematic racism that is taking place by “the powers that be”, but I feel that would be absolving the listening/watching/buying public from the role that they play in the caliber of entertainment that is being produced today.

The bottom-line is that it would appear that media outlets (tv networks, record labels, etc.) are developing and marketing media for the “lowest common intellect denominator” among African-Americans.  Of course there has always been “mindless entertainment” throughout the history of media, but the difference today is that “mindless” is now the new mainstream where it used to be more underground.  “Mindless” is the new rule where it used to be the exception.

I think that somewhere along the timeline that parents and adults forgot that entertainment is at times mindless fun, but at other times it is art.  There was a time that there was a fair balance of entertainment that inspired creativity on a higher level, inspired thought on a higher level and added a sense of “beautiful escape” from the world that we’re living in.  The caliber of entertainment today is so marginal, so beyond mediocre, at times so horrible that it doesn’t inspire it actually relegates the viewer or listener to a lower level of being.

The reason that I single out parents and adults is that there should be a certain level of maturity in this group of people that work out of a conscious position to expose themselves and their children to more than what the media executives are offering.  There was a time that if you wanted to let the TV/radio/movies raise your child that there were some options (does anyone remember “Teen Summit” on BET) that attracted younger minds and discussed/approached issues that inspired greater esteem and elevated the viewers’/listeners’ thought as it related to handling life from a more mature perspective.

I really don’t think that people in general realize what effect this “entertainment environment” has on young children.  Actually there are many people that are 20+ that don’t understand that much of their “socially accepted behavior” comes from the influences of the movies, music and television that they are watching.  Again, it would be very easy to point the finger at “The Real Housewives of Atlanta”, Tyler Perry’s tv shows and movies and recording artists like Gucci Mane and Soulja Boy (who make music of no socially redeeming value) and say that they are THE REASON that everything is the way that is today.  Once again, that in my eyes would be absolving US of the role that we play.

I think that through the history of time there has been controversial music and entertainment that created a stir.  I can remember DJing in college playing Luke records and other music from Florida that was 50 times more lewd and outrageous than the music that I play today in the clubs.  However, I think that there is a huge difference today in the people that attended the parties that I DJ’ed in college 20 years ago and the parties that I DJ in the clubs now in 2009.  It appears to me that the party-goer of 1989 had interest and likes beyond “party music” which allowed them to go out and have a good time and leave the party behind.  The party-goer of 2009 in many instance look to imitate the lifestyle of the music/musicians and the music itself and many of them practically identify and live within the vein of party music virtually 24/7.

That’s not to say that 20 years ago there weren’t fads and things that people did outside of the club that were representative of club life.  There were “high-top” fades like Big Daddy Kane or Kid from Kid ‘N Play.  There were gold ropes like LL Cool J and Rakim.  As much as people were trying to look like a rapper or party like a “rock star”, they weren’t looking to emulate that in their actual lives.  Although there were people who did, again, they were the exception, not the rule.

Of course it’s easy for me to sound like I’m casting aspersions on the party-goer of today or the people that are fans of today’s “pop culture”, that is not what I’m looking to do at all.  My only point in this submission is to identify that there is a growing “pop culture” in the music, TV and movies today that is very dumbed down, unintelligent, if not “coon-like” that is becoming a way of life not only for the reality TV stars, rappers, “wanna-be” singers and the less than engaging movies that are being created, but for the people that are entertained by this media.  In many communities and social circles it has literally become cool to not care about one another, to not have a positive presentation of yourself by appearance or by the way you speak and it is cool to “not care” about much of anything.   Without creating a balance in the things that are being presented as entertainment, we will have a more difficult time restoring entertainment (and our communities) to a place that moves us to higher states of creativity, intelligence and consciousness.

As much as the TV, movies, music on the radio or even the music that the DJ plays at the club contributes to this – morality, virtue and ideals start in the home and its my opinion that we in our everyday lives need to be each others heroes and role models.  I think that the continued domination of mindless music, sex/drug music and less than intelligent TV/movies will continue to be that way until WE as individuals begin to want and gravitate to entertainment that is more in the “art/creativity/intelligent” category than programming that is a perpetual “guilty pleasure” with no intelligent or redeeming value.

That does not mean that I am taking a shot at an entire group of people or an entire time period.  I’m very proud of my frat brothers from Rainforest Films that produce high quality movies such as “Stomp the Yard” and “This Christmas.”  I applaud artists like John Legend and Alicia Keys for always bringing a positive, showing class and a talented presence in their music and on television.  I am stating that there used to be a balance of positive imagery and “guilty pleasure” imagery and I am of the opinion that balance is broken.  Just as important, I feel that the people who do not try to imitate this lifestyle, who see these “Stank Leg-isms” as pretty meaningless are themselves turning a blind eye to the disparity that exists in today’s music.  Understanding and consciousness are the things that will help re-establish the balance in Black “pop culture.”

In the past there was a balance: for every “N.W.A.” there was a “Public Enemy”, for every “Ice-T” there was a “Heavy D”, for every “Geto Boys” there was “A Tribe Called Quest”, for every “Friday” movie there was a “X” or “Do The Right Thing” and I can’t count the numerous TV shows including “A Different World”, “Living Single”, “NY Undercover”, “Roc”, “Soul Food” and “227” that were entertaining, good for the family and produced in a way that didn’t consistently have buffoon-characters “jive talking” ever episode.  I’m not calling for an elimination of anything from today, just restoring the balance that used to exist.

As I’ve said in other writings, if you have cousins, nephews, nieces, students or children continue to be a positive influence for them by not only being an example of how to live a balanced life, but also expose them to quality/intelligent/creative entertainment (from the past and present) that lets them know that there is a difference and that allows them to become an agent for change in the caliber of entertainment that’s being offered.  I know that for me personally, as a DJ, that I will play classic feel good music in the middle of a party to show people that there was a time music held a different feel and was made in a way that can stand the test of time.

I think that what’s happening right now in the first decade of the 21st century with Black entertainment is simply a phase.  I think that things go in cycles and that there will be a better day soon when we see more of a balance in “pop culture” that represents a higher standard of living and deeper grade of thinking.  For now the true change must be ignited from the inside (the people) to the outside (the media.)  It can definitely be agreed that companies have a large influence on how people think, but we can’t be so lazy that we just throw our hands in the air and say “there’s nothing we can do about it.”  It is possible for all of us to be agents for change and if we took a fraction of the awareness, the gumption and the initiative that our ancestors did to erect change then we would begin to turn the tide in a better direction.

As an answer to “Why is it cool to be dumb in 2009?”, I think that it has become a social norm in many African-American communities to live down to the example that’s being presented in much of our entertainment.  Moving to a better, more elevated way of thinking starts with everyone in their everyday life looking to affect change positively for not only themselves, but for the peers and younger people that they may influence.  Not only is it cool to be “dumb,” but it has become cool to not care.

Let’s make a change to care and display a positive alternative for people that allows us to continue to advance as a people and not take the years of social progress from the 1860’s, to the 1960’s, to the election of an African-American President and essentially relegate ourselves to a place where we are essentially out of control.  Originally the control was taken from us, this time we are consciously giving it away and that in essence is “dumb.”  Don’t be Bamboozled, we have a lot of power, let’s put it to good use.

Much love and take care of one another – “we all we got”…VA

Additional Info:

Andreas Hale Letter Re: Conditions at BET: http://www.bvblackspin.com/2009/09/08/bet-ex-employee-e-mail/

Top 25: Black TV Shows of All-time (ranked by Ebony Magazine 2007)

http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1077/is_12_62/ai_n27391446/?tag=content;col1

Can We Remember How To Imagine??

Posted in Life Lessons with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by djvinceadams

TO ACCESS PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES USE THE LINKS AT THE TOP OR CLICK “THE BLOGS IN THE KEY OF LIFE” TITLE TO ACCESS THE HOME PAGE…

Aladdin lamp

Well, I’m back and at it again.  I decided to take a little break after the relationship blogs to let all of that information settle in.  I want to thank everybody for taking the time to check them out and I really had no idea that the blogs would go beyond 6,000 views in just a couple of weeks.  I’ve received some questions from people asking me when is the next “relationship blog” coming and it may be a few weeks or maybe months.  I’ve definitely got a lot on my mind and relationships as a topic is only one thread of thought for me.

So, moving forward with what’s next I’m now on the thought of building a better future.  I have 2 aspects of a better future I’d like to share, one is the perspective of building a better community/culture and the second, building a better “you” (or me in my case.)

A gentleman by the name of George Zalucki is a life coach and motivational speaker.  To paraphrase Mr. Zalucki, he said that “imagination is the closest thing that we possess as humans that allows us to tap into the God that is in all of us.”  That’s a pretty powerful statement when you look at the fact that everything that has ever been formed was at one time a thought before it was a physical outcome or a tangible item.  It’s very similar to Napoleon Hill’s words that “Whatever The Mind of Man Can Conceive, It Can Achieve” taken from his book “Think and Grow Rich.”

I personally think that when we look at the progression of technology and advances in “lifestyle” we can say that there have been many improvements made in American civilization.  I think that there is a degradation that is also taking place at the same time.  Being a DJ, I am constantly surrounded by music in one form or another.  Also, I am surrounded by people that have opinions about music.  It is my opinion and only my opinion that the quality of music and the standards of music desired by the mainstream music listener have been reduced to an all-time low in 2009.

At first glance it may seem that I’m talking about a lot of different things, but I’d like to bring them together.  I believe that we as Americans are some of the laziest thinkers in the world.  I also think that technology has made so many things readily accessible and has “painted the picture” of what we could think so vividly, that people have come to the point that they don’t imagine anymore – they don’t think for themselves.  Of course this is a widespread generalization and it couldn’t nearly apply to everyone.  I do feel that the number of people who read for pleasure, is probably at an all-time low.  I think that the patience that we have for and with one another is at an all-time low.  To put it succinctly, we have become a “microwave” society that needs and wants everything immediately.  However, we don’t put much thought into life beyond just “wanting things.”

Simply put, if we’re not using our imagination – we’re actually moving further and further away as individuals and as a society from being the most and the best that we can be.  When I say imagination, some people may think of that as “goal setting” and although that is a part of it, I do think that we “as a people” are quite comfortable with “wanting things.”  The imaginations of most people these days seem to stop short at what we can have.  What about what we can do, who we can ultimately be??  I think that we have stopped dreaming, stopped imagining as a people and we have become very preoccupied with wanting and having.

This could be caused by a number of things – upbringing, influences, environment, etc.  Regardless of the source of the stagnation, we can do something about elevating and moving to a better place.  I think that we all owe it to our parents, our friends/families and communities to become the best and most that we can become.  It’s not fair to those who need us to be our best to settle for less than who we can ultimately become.  Of course that’s relative to everybody, some people are leaders and some will never lead.  However, those who don’t lead have just as important a job as the leaders – it takes a village to raise a child and it takes us on a “conscious” level to understand that we all are villagers – we need one another.

So, what can be done about a stagnant society or about the lack of consciousness within many of us?  I think that the first thing we can do is to understand what it is that we let in our “space.”  That can be people, music, entertainment or anything that influences who we are or what we do.  If you find that the music on the radio is monotonous and annoying, turn off the radio.  When it comes to TV, sure it’s cool to have a guilty pleasure in reality TV, but what about creating your own reality by taking some of that time back.  I think that music listeners, movie watchers and tv viewers have increasingly accepted far less in quality without questioning it, as opposed to knowing that they deserve a better offering.  Listeners/viewers deserve better, however in many cases far less time is being spent creating value around what standards their lives should be held to.

Instead of spending time watching/listening/viewing others, spend that same time to sit with yourself, quietly and think about where you want to go in your life.  I think that more and more people are spending time looking at their current position in life and not spending time just thinking, imagining where they can be (as opposed to where they are.)  When we look at some of the great thinkers of the last 40 years including Dr. King, President Obama and Oprah Winfrey – I think that it can be said that they “had a dream” (pun intended.)  My point is that the chances of you getting where you want to go in life increase exponentially when you put conscious effort – just 15 minutes a day directing your mind to where it is that you would like to go with your life, who you want to be, what you want to do.  Not only can you get more, but the “things” that appealed to you can become less significant or even totally lose their appeal based on your having a higher standard of where you see yourself moving in your life.

Your imagination can serve as your life’s compass.  That’s a great thing and a scary one for some at the same time.  The good news is that if you take time to direct your thoughts in a positive and progressive fashion you have a great chance to advance to whatever heights you seek.  The “not so good” news is that for those who don’t take the time to direct their thoughts – there’s enough garbage out here to drive them to a less than desirable destination.  The worse part is that they often times won’t take responsibility for being the architect of that dead end destination by not using their energies to chart a better course as opposed to the one that they’re on.

I think that the great thing about Soul music from the 50’s – 90’s is that it was filled with imagery and imagination.  Additionally, Hip Hop music from the 80’s – 1999 was peppered with texture, creativity and “I could have never thought to say that” lyricism.  Where is the next Spike Lee, Russell Simmons or Susan Taylor (creator of Essence Magazine?)  There used to be so many discussions surrounding Terri McMillan and other fiction authors just 15 years ago.  It’s not to say that we don’t have visionaries in 2009, but it could be said that there are so many people trying to fit “in the box”, that “out of the box” thinking is more the exception than the rule these days.

I think that imagination will move us out of the copycat mentally of trying to sound like, look like and be like everybody else.  Furthermore, imagination will allow creativity and originality to take the forefront.  The person who becomes the creator of the “original material” will be inspired to be different and improve the quality of the products they deliver.  In turn, the receiving audience will expect to receive more than sub-standard products and will elevate the standards of the media (i.e. tv, film, music, etc.) companies to deliver quality instead of quantity.  This will force companies to go back to offering substance over style.  In the end this leads to a better community and environment overall with more progressive material and influences as opposed to stagnant or destructive material.

That speaks to the culture that we’re in, but what about you?  Ask yourself, who’s in my “inner circle” – what do they concern themselves with or “are we talking about anything that matters?”  What do you consider entertainment AND is it purely entertainment or more a lifestyle for you (aka “living the music video”)?  There are many books, articles and websites developed to encourage people to do more and be better with their God-given abilities.  I think that the simplest thing we can begin to do is to read more.  Reading sparks thought, it sparks imagination.  Some people say they don’t have time to read, but I’m sure that in many cases (not all) that there could be a time shift made to incorporate more reading and less of other forms of entertainment.

In the end, it boils down to vision – where do you see yourself.  Many people use different ways to stimulate positive thought within themselves.  Some people may meditate, some may use affirmations, some may pray.  All of these activities require some use of the imagination to move us from where we are to where we desire ourselves to be.  I’ve said it before in other blogs that people often times acquire what they think they want and find themselves unhappy once they get it.  This is partially due to spending a lot more time thinking about what they want as opposed to who they want to be.  There’s a big difference between “having” and “doing.”

It was revealed in Earl Nightingale’s 1956 audio recording “The Strangest Secret” that the commonality in all men is a secret that is revealed with these six words: “we become what we think about.”  So, ask yourself – what do you think about most?  By adjusting your environment along with having directed thoughts of who you want to be and what you want to do, you’re half way there.  If you find that you’re not where you want to be in life – tune out the outside world and tune into yourself.  Become the child you once were, connect to the little God inside of you – your imagination is only a thought away.  I hope you find it.  Your life, your family and your community’s survival depend on it…VA

For additional information on “The Strangest Secret” visit http://www.nightingale.com/AE_Article~i~22~article~StrangestSecret.aspx