When the People Cheer: How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

From: http://www.vulture.com/m/2014/04/questlove-on-how-hip-hop-failed-black-america.html

This is the first in a weekly series of six essays looking at hip-hop’s recent past, thinking about its distant past, and wondering about the possibility of a future.

There are three famous quotes that haunt me and guide me though my days. The first is from John Bradford, the 16th-century English reformer. In prison for inciting a mob, Bradford saw a parade of prisoners on their way to being executed and said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” (Actually, he said “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford,” but the switch to the pronoun makes it work for the rest of us.) The second comes from Albert Einstein, who disparagingly referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” And for the third, I go to Ice Cube, the chief lyricist of N.W.A., who delivered this manifesto in “Gangsta Gangsta” back in 1988: “Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.

Those three ideas may seem distant from one another, but if you set them up and draw lines between them, that’s triangulation. Bradford’s idea, of course, is about providence, about luck and gratitude: You only have your life because you don’t have someone else’s. At the simplest level, I think about that often. I could be where others are, and by extension, they could be where I am. You don’t want to be insensible to that. You don’t want to be an ingrate. (By the by, Bradford’s quote has come to be used to celebrate good fortune — when people say it, they’re comforting themselves with the fact that things could be worse — but in fact, his own good fortune lasted only a few years before he was burned at the stake.)

Einstein was talking about physics, of course, but to me, he’s talking about something closer to home — the way that other people affect you, the way that your life is entangled in theirs whether or not there’s a clear line of connection. Just because something is happening to a street kid in Seattle or a small-time outlaw in Pittsburgh doesn’t mean that it’s not also happening, in some sense, to you. Human civilization is founded on a social contract, but all too often that gets reduced to a kind of charity: Help those who are less fortunate, think of those who are different. But there’s a subtler form of contract, which is the connection between us all.

And then there’s Ice Cube, who seems to be talking about life’s basic appetites — what’s under the lid of the id — but is in fact proposing a world where that social contract is destroyed, where everyone aspires to improve themselves and only themselves, thoughts of others be damned. What kind of world does that create?

Those three ideas, Bradford’s and Einstein’s and Cube’s, define the three sides of a triangle, and I’m standing in it with pieces of each man: Bradford’s rueful contemplation, Einstein’s hair, Ice Cube’s desires. Can the three roads meet without being trivial? This essay, and the ones that follow it, will attempt to find out. I’m going to do things a little differently, with some madness in my method. I may not refer back to these three thinkers and these three thoughts, but they’re always there, hovering, as I think through what a generation of hip-hop has wrought. And I’m not going to handle the argument in a straight line. But don’t wonder too much when it wanders. I’ll get back on track.

I want to start with a statement: Hip-hop has taken over black music. At some level, this is a complex argument, with many outer rings, but it has a simple, indisputable core. Look at the music charts, or think of as many pop artists as you can, and see how many of the black ones aren’t part of hip-hop. There aren’t many hip-hop performers at the top of the charts lately: You have perennial winners like Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake, along with newcomers like Kendrick Lamar, and that’s about it. Among women, it’s a little bit more complicated, but only a little bit. The two biggest stars, Beyoncé and Rihanna, are considered pop (or is that pop-soul), but what does that mean anymore? In their case, it means that they’re offering a variation on hip-hop that’s reinforced by their associations with the genre’s biggest stars: Beyoncé with Jay Z, of course, and Rihanna with everyone from Drake to A$AP Rocky to Eminem.

It wasn’t always that way. Back in the late ’80s, when I graduated high school, you could count the number of black musical artists that weren’t in hip-hop on two hands — maybe. You had folksingers like Tracy Chapman, rock bands like Living Colour, pop acts like Lionel Richie, many kinds of soul singers — and that doesn’t even contend with megastars like Michael Jackson and Prince, who thwarted any easy categorization. Hip-hop was plenty present — in 1989 alone, you had De La Soul and the Geto Boys and EPMD and Boogie Down Productions and Ice-T and Queen Latifah — but it was just a piece of the pie. In the time since, hip-hop has made like the Exxon Valdez (another 1989 release): It spilled and spread.

So what if hip-hop, which was once a form of upstart black-folk music, came to dominate the modern world? Isn’t that a good thing? It seems strange for an artist working in the genre to be complaining, and maybe I’m not exactly complaining. Maybe I’m taking a measure of my good fortune. Maybe. Or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. Maybe domination isn’t quite a victory. Maybe everpresence isn’t quite a virtue.

Twenty years ago, when my father first heard about my hip-hop career, he was skeptical. He didn’t know where it was all headed. In his mind, a drummer had a real job, like working as music director for Anita Baker. But if I’m going to marvel at the way that hip-hop overcame his skepticism and became synonymous with our broader black American culture, I’m going to have to be clear with myself that marvel is probably the wrong word. Black culture, which has a long tradition of struggling against (and at the same time, working in close collaboration with) the dominant white culture, has rounded the corner of the 21st century with what looks in one sense like an unequivocal victory. Young America now embraces hip-hop as the signal pop-music genre of its time. So why does that victory feel strange: not exactly hollow, but a little haunted?

I have wondered about this for years, and worried about it for just as many years. It’s kept me up at night or kept me distracted during the day. And after looking far and wide, I keep coming back to the same answer, which is this: The reason is simple. The reason is plain. Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture (it was part of the larger tapestry, spooky-action style, but it pulled at the fabric) is now an integral part of the sullen dominant. Not to mention the obvious backlash conspiracy paranoia: Once all of black music is associated with hip-hop, then Those Who Wish to Squelch need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.

And that’s what it’s become: an entire cultural movement, packed into one hyphenated adjective. These days, nearly anything fashioned or put forth by black people gets referred to as “hip-hop,” even when the description is a poor or pointless fit. “Hip-hop fashion” makes a little sense, but even that is confusing: Does it refer to fashions popularized by hip-hop musicians, like my Lego heart pin, or to fashions that participate in the same vague cool that defines hip-hop music? Others make a whole lot of nonsense: “Hip-hop food”? “Hip-hop politics”? “Hip-hop intellectual”? And there’s even “hip-hop architecture.” What the hell is that? A house you build with a Hammer?

This doesn’t happen with other genres. There’s no folk-music food or New Wave fashion, once you get past food for thought and skinny ties. There’s no junkanoo architecture. The closest thing to a musical style that does double-duty as an overarching aesthetic is punk, and that doesn’t have the same strict racial coding. On the one hand, you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against? As it has become the field rather than the object, hip-hop has lost some of its pertinent sting. And then there’s the question of where hip-hop has arrived commercially, or how fast it’s departing. The music industry in general is sliding, and hip-hop is sliding maybe faster than that. The largest earners earn large, but not at the rate they once did. And everyone beneath that upper level is fading fast.

The other day, we ran into an old man who is also an old fan. He loves the Roots and what we do. Someone mentioned the changing nature of the pop-culture game, and it made him nostalgic for the soul music of his youth. “It’ll be back,” he said. “Things go in cycles.” But do they? If you really track the ways that music has changed over the past 200 years, the only thing that goes in cycles is old men talking about how things go in cycles. History is more interested in getting its nut off. There are patterns, of course, boom and bust and ways in which certain resources are exhausted. There are foundational truths that are stitched into the human DNA. But the art forms used to express those truths change without recurring. They go away and don’t come back. When hip-hop doesn’t occupy an interesting place on the pop-culture terrain, when it is much of the terrain and loses interest even in itself, then what?

Back to John Bradford for a moment: I’m lucky to be here. That goes without saying, but I’ll say it. Still, as the Roots round into our third decade, we shoulder a strange burden, which is that people expect us to be both meaningful and popular. We expect that. But those things don’t necessarily work together, especially in the hip-hop world of today. The winners, the top dogs, make art mostly about their own victories and the victory of their genre, but that triumphalist pose leaves little room for anything else. Meaninglessness takes hold because meaninglessness is addictive. People who want to challenge this theory point to Kendrick Lamar, and the way that his music, at least so far, has some sense of the social contract, some sense of character. But is he just the exception that proves the rule? Time will tell. Time is always telling. Time never stops telling.

When the People Cheer: How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

From: http://www.vulture.com/m/2014/04/questlove-on-how-hip-hop-failed-black-america.html

This is the first in a weekly series of six essays looking at hip-hop’s recent past, thinking about its distant past, and wondering about the possibility of a future.

There are three famous quotes that haunt me and guide me though my days. The first is from John Bradford, the 16th-century English reformer. In prison for inciting a mob, Bradford saw a parade of prisoners on their way to being executed and said, “There but for the grace of God go I.” (Actually, he said “There but for the grace of God goes John Bradford,” but the switch to the pronoun makes it work for the rest of us.) The second comes from Albert Einstein, who disparagingly referred to quantum entanglement as “spooky action at a distance.” And for the third, I go to Ice Cube, the chief lyricist of N.W.A., who delivered this manifesto in “Gangsta Gangsta” back in 1988: “Life ain’t nothing but bitches and money.

Those three ideas may seem distant from one another, but if you set them up and draw lines between them, that’s triangulation. Bradford’s idea, of course, is about providence, about luck and gratitude: You only have your life because you don’t have someone else’s. At the simplest level, I think about that often. I could be where others are, and by extension, they could be where I am. You don’t want to be insensible to that. You don’t want to be an ingrate. (By the by, Bradford’s quote has come to be used to celebrate good fortune — when people say it, they’re comforting themselves with the fact that things could be worse — but in fact, his own good fortune lasted only a few years before he was burned at the stake.)

Einstein was talking about physics, of course, but to me, he’s talking about something closer to home — the way that other people affect you, the way that your life is entangled in theirs whether or not there’s a clear line of connection. Just because something is happening to a street kid in Seattle or a small-time outlaw in Pittsburgh doesn’t mean that it’s not also happening, in some sense, to you. Human civilization is founded on a social contract, but all too often that gets reduced to a kind of charity: Help those who are less fortunate, think of those who are different. But there’s a subtler form of contract, which is the connection between us all.

And then there’s Ice Cube, who seems to be talking about life’s basic appetites — what’s under the lid of the id — but is in fact proposing a world where that social contract is destroyed, where everyone aspires to improve themselves and only themselves, thoughts of others be damned. What kind of world does that create?

Those three ideas, Bradford’s and Einstein’s and Cube’s, define the three sides of a triangle, and I’m standing in it with pieces of each man: Bradford’s rueful contemplation, Einstein’s hair, Ice Cube’s desires. Can the three roads meet without being trivial? This essay, and the ones that follow it, will attempt to find out. I’m going to do things a little differently, with some madness in my method. I may not refer back to these three thinkers and these three thoughts, but they’re always there, hovering, as I think through what a generation of hip-hop has wrought. And I’m not going to handle the argument in a straight line. But don’t wonder too much when it wanders. I’ll get back on track.

I want to start with a statement: Hip-hop has taken over black music. At some level, this is a complex argument, with many outer rings, but it has a simple, indisputable core. Look at the music charts, or think of as many pop artists as you can, and see how many of the black ones aren’t part of hip-hop. There aren’t many hip-hop performers at the top of the charts lately: You have perennial winners like Jay Z, Kanye West, and Drake, along with newcomers like Kendrick Lamar, and that’s about it. Among women, it’s a little bit more complicated, but only a little bit. The two biggest stars, Beyoncé and Rihanna, are considered pop (or is that pop-soul), but what does that mean anymore? In their case, it means that they’re offering a variation on hip-hop that’s reinforced by their associations with the genre’s biggest stars: Beyoncé with Jay Z, of course, and Rihanna with everyone from Drake to A$AP Rocky to Eminem.

It wasn’t always that way. Back in the late ’80s, when I graduated high school, you could count the number of black musical artists that weren’t in hip-hop on two hands — maybe. You had folksingers like Tracy Chapman, rock bands like Living Colour, pop acts like Lionel Richie, many kinds of soul singers — and that doesn’t even contend with megastars like Michael Jackson and Prince, who thwarted any easy categorization. Hip-hop was plenty present — in 1989 alone, you had De La Soul and the Geto Boys and EPMD and Boogie Down Productions and Ice-T and Queen Latifah — but it was just a piece of the pie. In the time since, hip-hop has made like the Exxon Valdez (another 1989 release): It spilled and spread.

So what if hip-hop, which was once a form of upstart black-folk music, came to dominate the modern world? Isn’t that a good thing? It seems strange for an artist working in the genre to be complaining, and maybe I’m not exactly complaining. Maybe I’m taking a measure of my good fortune. Maybe. Or maybe it’s a little more complicated than that. Maybe domination isn’t quite a victory. Maybe everpresence isn’t quite a virtue.

Twenty years ago, when my father first heard about my hip-hop career, he was skeptical. He didn’t know where it was all headed. In his mind, a drummer had a real job, like working as music director for Anita Baker. But if I’m going to marvel at the way that hip-hop overcame his skepticism and became synonymous with our broader black American culture, I’m going to have to be clear with myself that marvel is probably the wrong word. Black culture, which has a long tradition of struggling against (and at the same time, working in close collaboration with) the dominant white culture, has rounded the corner of the 21st century with what looks in one sense like an unequivocal victory. Young America now embraces hip-hop as the signal pop-music genre of its time. So why does that victory feel strange: not exactly hollow, but a little haunted?

I have wondered about this for years, and worried about it for just as many years. It’s kept me up at night or kept me distracted during the day. And after looking far and wide, I keep coming back to the same answer, which is this: The reason is simple. The reason is plain. Once hip-hop culture is ubiquitous, it is also invisible. Once it’s everywhere, it is nowhere. What once offered resistance to mainstream culture (it was part of the larger tapestry, spooky-action style, but it pulled at the fabric) is now an integral part of the sullen dominant. Not to mention the obvious backlash conspiracy paranoia: Once all of black music is associated with hip-hop, then Those Who Wish to Squelch need only squelch one genre to effectively silence an entire cultural movement.

And that’s what it’s become: an entire cultural movement, packed into one hyphenated adjective. These days, nearly anything fashioned or put forth by black people gets referred to as “hip-hop,” even when the description is a poor or pointless fit. “Hip-hop fashion” makes a little sense, but even that is confusing: Does it refer to fashions popularized by hip-hop musicians, like my Lego heart pin, or to fashions that participate in the same vague cool that defines hip-hop music? Others make a whole lot of nonsense: “Hip-hop food”? “Hip-hop politics”? “Hip-hop intellectual”? And there’s even “hip-hop architecture.” What the hell is that? A house you build with a Hammer?

This doesn’t happen with other genres. There’s no folk-music food or New Wave fashion, once you get past food for thought and skinny ties. There’s no junkanoo architecture. The closest thing to a musical style that does double-duty as an overarching aesthetic is punk, and that doesn’t have the same strict racial coding. On the one hand, you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against? As it has become the field rather than the object, hip-hop has lost some of its pertinent sting. And then there’s the question of where hip-hop has arrived commercially, or how fast it’s departing. The music industry in general is sliding, and hip-hop is sliding maybe faster than that. The largest earners earn large, but not at the rate they once did. And everyone beneath that upper level is fading fast.

The other day, we ran into an old man who is also an old fan. He loves the Roots and what we do. Someone mentioned the changing nature of the pop-culture game, and it made him nostalgic for the soul music of his youth. “It’ll be back,” he said. “Things go in cycles.” But do they? If you really track the ways that music has changed over the past 200 years, the only thing that goes in cycles is old men talking about how things go in cycles. History is more interested in getting its nut off. There are patterns, of course, boom and bust and ways in which certain resources are exhausted. There are foundational truths that are stitched into the human DNA. But the art forms used to express those truths change without recurring. They go away and don’t come back. When hip-hop doesn’t occupy an interesting place on the pop-culture terrain, when it is much of the terrain and loses interest even in itself, then what?

Back to John Bradford for a moment: I’m lucky to be here. That goes without saying, but I’ll say it. Still, as the Roots round into our third decade, we shoulder a strange burden, which is that people expect us to be both meaningful and popular. We expect that. But those things don’t necessarily work together, especially in the hip-hop world of today. The winners, the top dogs, make art mostly about their own victories and the victory of their genre, but that triumphalist pose leaves little room for anything else. Meaninglessness takes hold because meaninglessness is addictive. People who want to challenge this theory point to Kendrick Lamar, and the way that his music, at least so far, has some sense of the social contract, some sense of character. But is he just the exception that proves the rule? Time will tell. Time is always telling. Time never stops telling.

The top of Manhattan looking north on the Hudson River on a bike ride. I LOVE warm weather

The top of Manhattan looking north on the Hudson River on a bike ride. I LOVE warm weather

Ronnie Spector: ‘When I hear applause, it’s like I’m having an orgasm’

Hi Ronnie! Does anyone ever call you Veronica?
Nobody calls me Veronica unless I go to California. A few people there only knew me as Veronica, such as my ex-husband’s secretary – I was out there [recently] and she left me a card saying: “Hello, Veronica!” But my relatives called me Ronnie. I used to read the Betty and Veronica comics, and Veronica was called Ronnie, so I wanted to be Ronnie too. It’s a cute name.

You’re the original bad girl of rock’n’roll (2). How bad are you feeling today?
The “bad girl” came from when the Ronettes would walk out onstage and we didn’t have a hit record yet and all the other groups did – Marvin Gaye, the Crystals. We didn’t have a hit record, but we had attitude. When the three Ronettes walked onstage, people went nuts because we were different. We wore tight dresses when everyone else wore those flared dresses, we had long hair when people had short hair; it was like the Beatles and the Stones wearing suits – that’s what made them different. The Stones got the long-hair idea from us, when they supported us on tour in the UK in 1964. I love having attitude onstage, and the “bad girl” thing still runs through my entire show .

Half your show is a 1960s-themed singalong and the other half is stories about how horrible Phil was during your marriage. You seem to enjoy the latter part quite a bit.
I enjoy both sides. I talk about Phil, but I say good things about him, too. I did love him. I just tell the truth. It’s the difference between ripping someone’s head off and telling the damn truth, and I tell the damn truth. Before Phil got involved, we were already going over better than some of the other acts, and I had my style way before Phil came along. He did one thing – he gave us hit records .

Did he really have a glass coffin in the basement? (5)
You’d have to ask Phil. He told my mother he had it, but I never went down to the basement. Do you think I’d go down there and look at my own coffin?

Do you ever wish you’d run off with John Lennon? (6)
In a way. He loved my voice and the way I performed and Phil was the opposite – he didn’t like guys in the audience screaming at me. Maybe I would’ve been better off marrying John Lennon or Keith Richards. I always fantasise about that. I would cry myself to sleep at night because Phil wouldn’t let me perform. My [second] husband and I have been married for 31 years and together for 34. He helped me reclaim my life.

Did you make any money from the Ronettes? Lots of 60s groups were royally ripped off.
Yes, when we were performing live. As a matter of fact, we got paid more than any other act for our show. We did the Brooklyn Paramount, the Apollo for a week … We made money from personal appearances, not record royalties. We were the most popular girl group ever for bar mitzvahs – people wanted the Ronettes.

Did you ever look at Amy Winehouse’s beehive and think: “Let me show you how to do a proper beehive”?
Of course! I used to wish I could get my hands on her. She came to one of my shows. I was singing Back to Black and there was a tear in her eye.

Did you meet her afterward?
She was too shy to meet me, but she was so sweet to me. I read articles where she said: “I love girl groups, especially the Ronettes.” I think she liked us because we were different. I had a black and Cherokee mom and a white father, and that was different. And we were pretty. We didn’t have wigs like the other girl groups, it was our real hair. We gave Dusty Springfield a beehive – she’d come in and say: “Can I have a blast of Aquanet [hairspray]?” All that hair is mine today. As you get older your hair thins a little, so you get extensions in the back.

Your show includes a new song called Girl from the Ghetto … 
It’s about me; I’m the girl from the ghetto. It was originally Girl from the Gutter, and I thought: “I’m not from the gutter. I may have been from the ghetto, but not the gutter,” so I changed it. Elvis sang “ghetto” and that was OK. But I stick to my hits, mostly, in the show. When I go to see old shows where people don’t play their hits, I’m so disappointed. You have to please your audience. When I hear that applause, it’s like I’m having an orgasm.

Joey Ramone was a big fan, so you could claim to be the godmother of punk (9) …
I think I was. In the 70s it started, and I’d go to [Manhattan music venue] CBGB and see Blondie and the Ramones, and they were calling me up onstage. I didn’t know punk, but they knew me. Everybody knew me, but I didn’t know anybody – Patti Smith and all those people who were punkers. I didn’t get it. It was like Amy Winehouse, they wanted to be like me.

Footnotes

(1) Phil Spector, currently serving life imprisonment in California.

(2) Her website and Twitter both say so.

(3) Ronnie Spector’s Beyond the Beehive, which she’s been touring since 2012.

(4) Including Be My Baby, Walking in the Rain and Baby I Love You.

(5) Phil threatened to kill Ronnie if she left him.

(6) They had a flirtation on the Ronettes’ first British tour.

(7) Her manager, Jonathan Greenfield.

(8) Ronnie is 70.

(9) He produced her 1999 EP She Talks to Rainbows.

Ronnie Spector: ‘When I hear applause, it’s like I’m having an orgasm’

Hi Ronnie! Does anyone ever call you Veronica?
Nobody calls me Veronica unless I go to California. A few people there only knew me as Veronica, such as my ex-husband’s secretary – I was out there [recently] and she left me a card saying: “Hello, Veronica!” But my relatives called me Ronnie. I used to read the Betty and Veronica comics, and Veronica was called Ronnie, so I wanted to be Ronnie too. It’s a cute name.

You’re the original bad girl of rock’n’roll (2). How bad are you feeling today?
The “bad girl” came from when the Ronettes would walk out onstage and we didn’t have a hit record yet and all the other groups did – Marvin Gaye, the Crystals. We didn’t have a hit record, but we had attitude. When the three Ronettes walked onstage, people went nuts because we were different. We wore tight dresses when everyone else wore those flared dresses, we had long hair when people had short hair; it was like the Beatles and the Stones wearing suits – that’s what made them different. The Stones got the long-hair idea from us, when they supported us on tour in the UK in 1964. I love having attitude onstage, and the “bad girl” thing still runs through my entire show .

Half your show is a 1960s-themed singalong and the other half is stories about how horrible Phil was during your marriage. You seem to enjoy the latter part quite a bit.
I enjoy both sides. I talk about Phil, but I say good things about him, too. I did love him. I just tell the truth. It’s the difference between ripping someone’s head off and telling the damn truth, and I tell the damn truth. Before Phil got involved, we were already going over better than some of the other acts, and I had my style way before Phil came along. He did one thing – he gave us hit records .

Did he really have a glass coffin in the basement? (5)
You’d have to ask Phil. He told my mother he had it, but I never went down to the basement. Do you think I’d go down there and look at my own coffin?

Do you ever wish you’d run off with John Lennon? (6)
In a way. He loved my voice and the way I performed and Phil was the opposite – he didn’t like guys in the audience screaming at me. Maybe I would’ve been better off marrying John Lennon or Keith Richards. I always fantasise about that. I would cry myself to sleep at night because Phil wouldn’t let me perform. My [second] husband and I have been married for 31 years and together for 34. He helped me reclaim my life.

Did you make any money from the Ronettes? Lots of 60s groups were royally ripped off.
Yes, when we were performing live. As a matter of fact, we got paid more than any other act for our show. We did the Brooklyn Paramount, the Apollo for a week … We made money from personal appearances, not record royalties. We were the most popular girl group ever for bar mitzvahs – people wanted the Ronettes.

Did you ever look at Amy Winehouse’s beehive and think: “Let me show you how to do a proper beehive”?
Of course! I used to wish I could get my hands on her. She came to one of my shows. I was singing Back to Black and there was a tear in her eye.

Did you meet her afterward?
She was too shy to meet me, but she was so sweet to me. I read articles where she said: “I love girl groups, especially the Ronettes.” I think she liked us because we were different. I had a black and Cherokee mom and a white father, and that was different. And we were pretty. We didn’t have wigs like the other girl groups, it was our real hair. We gave Dusty Springfield a beehive – she’d come in and say: “Can I have a blast of Aquanet [hairspray]?” All that hair is mine today. As you get older your hair thins a little, so you get extensions in the back.

Your show includes a new song called Girl from the Ghetto …
It’s about me; I’m the girl from the ghetto. It was originally Girl from the Gutter, and I thought: “I’m not from the gutter. I may have been from the ghetto, but not the gutter,” so I changed it. Elvis sang “ghetto” and that was OK. But I stick to my hits, mostly, in the show. When I go to see old shows where people don’t play their hits, I’m so disappointed. You have to please your audience. When I hear that applause, it’s like I’m having an orgasm.

Joey Ramone was a big fan, so you could claim to be the godmother of punk (9) …
I think I was. In the 70s it started, and I’d go to [Manhattan music venue] CBGB and see Blondie and the Ramones, and they were calling me up onstage. I didn’t know punk, but they knew me. Everybody knew me, but I didn’t know anybody – Patti Smith and all those people who were punkers. I didn’t get it. It was like Amy Winehouse, they wanted to be like me.

Footnotes

(1) Phil Spector, currently serving life imprisonment in California.

(2) Her website and Twitter both say so.

(3) Ronnie Spector’s Beyond the Beehive, which she’s been touring since 2012.

(4) Including Be My Baby, Walking in the Rain and Baby I Love You.

(5) Phil threatened to kill Ronnie if she left him.

(6) They had a flirtation on the Ronettes’ first British tour.

(7) Her manager, Jonathan Greenfield.

(8) Ronnie is 70.

(9) He produced her 1999 EP She Talks to Rainbows.

Denzel Washington: ‘The Nigga They Couldn’t Kill’

Steve Albini On The Music Industry

O.A.R. Ticket Price Ruling Could Spell Bigger Trouble for Consumers - ABC News

How are an O.A.R. rock concert, parking and telecom consolidation potentially harming consumers?


In a word: bundling. And things might get worse for customer prices when it comes to items such as concert tickets and telecom services after a ruling this week by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois, consumer advocates say.

Bundling, in which customers have to buy one product to get another, is not illegal, however. Telecommunications providers can do it within legal limits, offering Internet, telephone or television services together in a package. And now concert companies have free rein when it comes to “parking” fees.

Glenn Derene, electronics editor with Consumer Reports, said customer frustration toward telecom firms and concerts have growing similarities when it comes to industry consolidation and fewer choices.

"You’re almost forced to deal with the powers that be," he said. "There’s not necessarily a way around them."

Consumer Reports’ cover story for its May issue, called “Untangling the Bundle,” provides an in-depth look into packaged services. The magazine encourages customers to negotiate aggressively with providers and to cut back on services to save money, such as choosing lower-speed Internet or reducing the number of cable channels.

In the case of concert tickets, the three-judge panel this week affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of Live Nation, which bundled a $9 parking fee in a concert ticket for an O.A.R. concert.

Jason Batson, the plaintiff, bought a ticket for an O.A.R. concert in Chicago from the Live Nation box office at the Charter One Pavilion. After he paid for the ticket, he noticed a $9 parking fee included in the price. Believing Live Nation’s practice to be “unfair,” he sued the entertainment company, calling it a “forced parking charge,” according to a court filing. He argued that it violated antitrust laws against “tying” two separate products.

But the appeals court this week made a distinction between bundling and tying, saying the former is allowed in this case because it could be considered “fair” competition under the Consumer Fraud Act. The judges ruled Batson did not show that Live Nation has so much power over performances to force people to spend money for unused parking rights, so there was no harm done.

"Even if it does, however, Batson has failed to allege anything that would plausibly show that Live Nation’s parking tie-in has affected a substantial volume of commerce in parking," the judges’ opinion stated.

As one judge wrote, “There is no rule that requires everything to be sold on a fully unbundled basis. Nothing could have stopped Live Nation from erasing ‘$9 PRK Paid,’ charging $9 more for the ticket, and announcing that there was ‘free’ parking for all who needed it.”

Jacqueline Peterson, a spokeswoman for Live Nation, declined to comment on the court ruling. Batson and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

The court also said music fans have many other options besides Live Nation for concerts in Chicago.

"There are times when consumers are required to accept a package deal in order to get the part of the package they want," the 13-page opinion states. "An airline passenger with no luggage may prefer the cost of baggage to be decoupled from the cost of a seat, and a law student may prefer to pay lower tuition and avoid ‘free’ pizza days. But while some people may find these bundles annoying, or even unfair, the tie is not illegal unless the standards set forth in the governing antitrust cases have been met."

Chris Grimm, communications director for Fan Freedom, a nonprofit that protects the rights of live entertainment and sports fans, said such concert fees are often decided by the venue, but many are owned by Live Nation.

"This is why it is really important for ticket sellers to be transparent about fees and present fans with the total price, including any and all fees, up front," Grimm said.

While transparency may be good for consumers, it can hurt the bottom line for ticket sellers. StubHub, the country’s largest ticket reseller, Wednesday said sales took a hit after the company moved to “all-in” pricing strategy in January that lists prices with all the fees.

While the court said this week the Chicago concertgoers have multiple choices for music, they likely don’t have a large number of O.A.R. choices. Therein lies the rub for content provided via cable and Internet, Consumer Reports’ Derene says: the provider for both is often the same firm.

And when it comes to information or entertainment in your home, Derene says, many Americans say they can’t live without it.

"There’s a lot of discussion about cord-cutting, but people don’t want to sever all telecom from their home,” he said. “It’s a part of American life. To be really engaged with American society, you need to be connected. You need Internet, maybe TV. And people don’t feel like they have options in selecting these things.”

O.A.R. Ticket Price Ruling Could Spell Bigger Trouble for Consumers - ABC News

How are an O.A.R. rock concert, parking and telecom consolidation potentially harming consumers?


In a word: bundling. And things might get worse for customer prices when it comes to items such as concert tickets and telecom services after a ruling this week by the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Illinois, consumer advocates say.

Bundling, in which customers have to buy one product to get another, is not illegal, however. Telecommunications providers can do it within legal limits, offering Internet, telephone or television services together in a package. And now concert companies have free rein when it comes to “parking” fees.

Glenn Derene, electronics editor with Consumer Reports, said customer frustration toward telecom firms and concerts have growing similarities when it comes to industry consolidation and fewer choices.

"You’re almost forced to deal with the powers that be," he said. "There’s not necessarily a way around them."

Consumer Reports’ cover story for its May issue, called “Untangling the Bundle,” provides an in-depth look into packaged services. The magazine encourages customers to negotiate aggressively with providers and to cut back on services to save money, such as choosing lower-speed Internet or reducing the number of cable channels.

In the case of concert tickets, the three-judge panel this week affirmed a lower court’s ruling in favor of Live Nation, which bundled a $9 parking fee in a concert ticket for an O.A.R. concert.

Jason Batson, the plaintiff, bought a ticket for an O.A.R. concert in Chicago from the Live Nation box office at the Charter One Pavilion. After he paid for the ticket, he noticed a $9 parking fee included in the price. Believing Live Nation’s practice to be “unfair,” he sued the entertainment company, calling it a “forced parking charge,” according to a court filing. He argued that it violated antitrust laws against “tying” two separate products.

But the appeals court this week made a distinction between bundling and tying, saying the former is allowed in this case because it could be considered “fair” competition under the Consumer Fraud Act. The judges ruled Batson did not show that Live Nation has so much power over performances to force people to spend money for unused parking rights, so there was no harm done.

"Even if it does, however, Batson has failed to allege anything that would plausibly show that Live Nation’s parking tie-in has affected a substantial volume of commerce in parking," the judges’ opinion stated.

As one judge wrote, “There is no rule that requires everything to be sold on a fully unbundled basis. Nothing could have stopped Live Nation from erasing ‘$9 PRK Paid,’ charging $9 more for the ticket, and announcing that there was ‘free’ parking for all who needed it.”

Jacqueline Peterson, a spokeswoman for Live Nation, declined to comment on the court ruling. Batson and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.

The court also said music fans have many other options besides Live Nation for concerts in Chicago.

"There are times when consumers are required to accept a package deal in order to get the part of the package they want," the 13-page opinion states. "An airline passenger with no luggage may prefer the cost of baggage to be decoupled from the cost of a seat, and a law student may prefer to pay lower tuition and avoid ‘free’ pizza days. But while some people may find these bundles annoying, or even unfair, the tie is not illegal unless the standards set forth in the governing antitrust cases have been met."

Chris Grimm, communications director for Fan Freedom, a nonprofit that protects the rights of live entertainment and sports fans, said such concert fees are often decided by the venue, but many are owned by Live Nation.

"This is why it is really important for ticket sellers to be transparent about fees and present fans with the total price, including any and all fees, up front," Grimm said.

While transparency may be good for consumers, it can hurt the bottom line for ticket sellers. StubHub, the country’s largest ticket reseller, Wednesday said sales took a hit after the company moved to “all-in” pricing strategy in January that lists prices with all the fees.

While the court said this week the Chicago concertgoers have multiple choices for music, they likely don’t have a large number of O.A.R. choices. Therein lies the rub for content provided via cable and Internet, Consumer Reports’ Derene says: the provider for both is often the same firm.

And when it comes to information or entertainment in your home, Derene says, many Americans say they can’t live without it.

"There’s a lot of discussion about cord-cutting, but people don’t want to sever all telecom from their home,” he said. “It’s a part of American life. To be really engaged with American society, you need to be connected. You need Internet, maybe TV. And people don’t feel like they have options in selecting these things.”

lacienegasmiled:

As Jackson couldn’t fluently play any instruments, he would sing and beatbox out how he wanted his songs to sound by himself on tape, layering the vocals, harmonies and rhythm before having instrumentalists come in to complete the songs.

One of his engineers Robmix on how Jackson worked: “One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. “here’s the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here’s the second chord first note, second note, third note”, etc., etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57. He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Steve Porcaro once told me he witnessed MJ doing that with the string section in the room. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything. Not just little eight bar loop ideas. he would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.”

Reasons why I laugh when people say he wasn’t a real musician.

As Jackson couldn’t fluently play any instruments, he would sing and beatbox out how he wanted his songs to sound by himself on tape, layering the vocals, harmonies and rhythm before having instrumentalists come in to complete the songs.
One of his engineers Robmix on how Jackson worked: “One morning MJ came in with a new song he had written overnight. We called in a guitar player, and Michael sang every note of every chord to him. “here’s the first chord first note, second note, third note. Here’s the second chord first note, second note, third note”, etc., etc. We then witnessed him giving the most heartfelt and profound vocal performance, live in the control room through an SM57. He would sing us an entire string arrangement, every part. Steve Porcaro once told me he witnessed MJ doing that with the string section in the room. Had it all in his head, harmony and everything. Not just little eight bar loop ideas. he would actually sing the entire arrangement into a micro-cassette recorder complete with stops and fills.”
Reasons why I laugh when people say he wasn’t a real musician.

(Source: harrattanparhar, via lacienegasmiled)

Elton John video exclusive: 'I didn't write pop songs until 'Goodbye Yellow Brick Road' – watch | News | NME.COM

lton John has said that ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ was the album which taught him how to write pop songs.

He speaks alongside musical partner Bernie Taupin as they revisit writing ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ over breakfasts in a French chateau 40 years ago, and discuss why Fall Out Boy, Ed Sheeran and John Grant have been chosen to cover tracks from the LP for a re-release boxset. See above to watch now.
Read more at http://www.nme.com/news/elton-john/76339#jCGa5oyJIDa6bzPr.99

filtermagazine:

WHOA BABY


FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More (via FILTER Magazine - News - FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More)

FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More (via FILTER Magazine - News - FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More)

filtermagazine:

WHOA BABY


FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More (via FILTER Magazine - News - FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More)

FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More (via FILTER Magazine - News - FESTIVAL WATCH: Lollapalooza 2014 Includes Arctic Monkeys, Outkast, Spoon And More)

funkso:

Howard Johnson - So Fine

So fine

deephouseclassics:

behindthegrooves:

Born on this day: March 23, 1953 - R&B vocal icon and songwriter Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago, IL). Happy 61st Birthday, Chaka!! We love you!!!

Happy Birthday Chaka...btw I love you

Born on this day: March 23, 1953 - R&B vocal icon and songwriter Chaka Khan (born Yvette Marie Stevens in Chicago, IL). Happy 61st Birthday, Chaka!! We love you!

behindthegrooves:

On this day in music history: March 23, 1978 - “…And Then There Were Three…”, the ninth studio album by Genesis is released in the US (UK release is on April 7, 1978). Produced by David Hentschel and Genesis, it is recorded from September - October 1977 at Relight Studios in Hilvarenbeek, NL. The albums’ title refers to the departure of guitar Steve Hackett who quits prior to the recording sessions, reducing Genesis to a trio of drummer and lead vocalist Phil Collins, guitarist and bassist Mike Rutherford and keyboardist Tony Banks. The album will also see them bridging the gap between their earlier progressive rock roots, moving toward more tightly structured pop songs. It will be their most successful release to date, spinning off two singles including their first US hit “Follow You, Follow Me” (#23 Pop). “…And Then There Were Three” will peak at #3 on the UK album chart, #14 on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.

On this day in music history: March 23, 1978 - “…And Then There Were Three…”, the ninth studio album by Genesis is released in the US

jazzrelatedstuff:

Buddy Rich.


Buddy Rich

jazzrelatedstuff:

Buddy Rich.

Buddy Rich

(Source: thisisnotmiles, via funkillin)

Home training 101

While my kids are running around the house playing or riding in the car, I sneak in some classics. I know they love the songs I play because I hear them singing along after a few plays. Exposure to great artistic expression is as essential to me as great food

B-52s’ Fred Schneider says don’t eat the lobster

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — One of the founders of the quirky rock band The B-52s is using the 35th anniversary of its hit “Rock Lobster” to reiterate his opposition to eating them.

Fred Schneider says he stopped eating crustaceans at age 4 after going crabbing with family in New Jersey and watching them boiled alive. The lifelong vegetarian said in video narrated for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals that he views crabs and lobsters not as seafood but as “sea life.”

Schneider got the idea for “Rock Lobster” when a projector displayed images including lobsters on a grill at an Atlanta disco. He said he thought, “Rock this, rock that… rock lobster!”

The band jammed on the title and the song was born. The band’s other hits include “Love Shack” and “Roam.”