26. Music Recording Artists

To Music Recording Artists:

There are a few of you black artists who are still doing Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and your craft justice.

Jason Mraz: the artist I'm listening to most right now.

Jason Mraz: the artist I'm listening to the most right now. His live albums are unbelievable.

India.Arie. Musiq Soulchild. Anthony Hamilton. Erykah Badu. Andre 3 Stacks. Common. Jay-Z. T.I. Lil Wayne (the skinny jeans still aren’t cool). John Legend. Ne-Yo. Lupe Fiasco. Kanye West (again, thank you for cutting your hair). Jazmine Sullivan. Eric Benet (still can’t believe you cheated on Halle). Brian McKnight. Mint Condition. Raphael Saadiq. Solange Knowles (your album is killing Big Sis’ latest effort). Eric Roberson (MySpace him). Even Keyshia Cole (God bless her crazy family). I see you all.

You maintain what’s awesome about the music I love most and your efforts are appreciated. But the black recording artists who are ruining the game quintuple you all in number. For brevity’s sake, I’m only naming two: T-Pain and Young Jeezy … And one song: “The Stanky Legg.”

Part of me that wants to write a letter to T-Pain’s vocoder. In fact, I won’t even waste time here. It deserves its own memo. … Jeezy was doing OK until he decided to write a song entitled “My President Is Black,” which has the following ridiculous lyric for a hook:

My President is black/My Lambo’s blue/and I’ll be (gosh darned) if my rims ain’t, too.

What does your president being black have to do with the rims on your Lamborghini being blue? … Can’t come up with an answer? I can: It’s extreme coonery.

On to the one song: I refuse to write anything more than the title “The Stanky Legg” and won’t say anything about the accompanying dance to prove my point. The title speaks for itself.

But even to you most proficient bojanglers I say: Thank you. Why? Because the overall state of black music has forced me to avoid local FM radio. I find myself listening to Pandora.com and the AM dial, which features Rush Limbaugh’s chimp-like ramblings, NPR and a heavy dosage of sports talk radio.

I’ve gone so far as to open my mind/ears up to alternative rock and some pop music. I crave good music the way some of you starve for attention. A few years back, I’d only listen to white artists with “soul” (i.e., Amy Winehouse, Jon B., John Mayer and Robin Thicke). Now, I feed on the music of Jason Mraz, The Fray, Coldplay, Imogen Heap, Jack Johnson, Gavin Degraw, Colbie Caillat, Maroon 5 and Aqualung mixed in with artists at the start of this letter. Hell, I’ll even nod my head to a Dixie Chicks’ track.

Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” is quite possibly the most confusing, yet greatest song I’ve ever heard. I still can’t figure out what it means because it’s that abstract and well-hidden.

I’m embarrassed to admit this, but the ineptitude of black music has forced me to consider the great non-black music I’ve avoided the last 10 years. Some of it is impeccably written. I apologize for being closed-minded for so long.

But I’m not anymore. I love the combination of good writing and good music that much. And I have you all, and Pandora, to thank for this wondrous gift.

Sincerely yours,

Dame (not Dash)

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20 responses to “26. Music Recording Artists

  1. THANK YOU ( I won’t use any exclamation points in my post since I did read your letter about that and I have been known to be a repeat offender) You have just put into words what I have been feeling for the past couple of years. I can’t even listen to the “urban” station because I am constantly assulted by horrible music and when I hear crank that anything a few of my brain cells die. I have opened my ears to all types of new music and now I will never fully return to R&B/rap unless they get their act together.

    Oh, and I’m LIMH (Laughing In MY Head) over that line “But even to you most proficient bojanglers” – hilarious.

  2. Yeah, we’ve had this convo before about how I mostly listen to mixed cds or a few select artists in my car. The radio is absolutely terrible. And, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought that Jeezy did a horrible job on that song. He literally ruined a perfectly positive and inspirational song by inserting lyrics about his lambo and his rims. These two things are two of the most stereotypical images about blacks and rap music and he puts it in a song about our new black president. No words. If Nas hadn’t came in at the end of the song and somewhat saved it I would have written a letter to Jeezy’s record label about this atrocity.

  3. So as per my ADD I started reading this post…then listening to John Legend then took a bath and read then left and now I’m back.

    I do think music is a definite opiate to society. Like you can lose yourself in it and I would like to lose myself in something good and mellow…all the time. But then sometimes I like to shake my tail feather to something I can really feel…which yes sometimes includes T-Pain or Lil Wayne

  4. @jaci: I’ll willingly admit that I do listen to T-Pain. His ish is catchy for the most part. Then again, he never says anything of value. Ever. He went from being in love with a stripper to wanting to buy you a drink.

    Still, I think he owes Roger Troutman royalties, and NO ONE else should be able to use the vocoder. Let me stop before I write that letter here …

  5. cosign 185% on Solange killing the big sister’s album. All the way. She’s infinitely more interesting.

  6. You have missed a lot of good music… one classic, No Doubts “Tragic Kingdom”… plug in some Linkin Park too. Love Jason Mraz, FalloutBoy, All American Rejects… oh and Kid Cudi is a new fav.

  7. @reign: I know. It’s embarrassing to admit, but that’s part of the idea behind this: to push my true self out there to get other people out of their skin as well …

    BTW, I’ve been on Linkin Park since the Collision Course album with Jay-Z … I need to get on FalloutBoy and the All American Rejects …

  8. ok, I was on Linkin Park before they hooked up with Joe Camel Jigga. I actually have one of their older albums with the smash hit ‘In the End’. And, I loved No Doubt waaaay before Gwen Stefani decided to go solo. Nelly Furtado was hot before she hooked up with Timbaland… I mean, I could go on and on. I have no problem letting out my love for the ‘other’ genre….

  9. Yes…to me T-Pain kinda shows everything that’s wrong with courtship today.


    And Solange’s album just did me in..I was in love when they posted the preview…I’ve yet to listen to B’s and I think Sol-Angel did so well because it was more creative and ingenious…

  10. @ Dame: Dude you need to go back to Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” with classics like In the End and Crawling. That album got me threw freshman year in college.

  11. @ Reign: I’m going to take your advice. I’ve heard “In The End” a million times. But need to listen to the entire albums. Trust, I will have listened to those Linkin Park tracks before the week is out.

    And if anybody else has any suggestions, I’m all ears.

  12. Jason Mraz is amazing! Lil wayne though? I dunno about all that lol.

    Today’s urban artists have convinced me to stray more towards alternative. There seems to be more consistency and substance within their craft. Hopefully they don’t screw their genre up too.

  13. @chaterestre: for the longest time Lil Wayne was on my short list of people with whom I wouldn’t care/mind if they were hit by a Greyhound bus.

    Then I realized how brilliant his wordplay is. He still doesn’t talk about (poop) most of the time. But his wordplay and body of work over the last two years can’t be matched.

  14. Well after taking my Solange break and that is between TMCY and I. I should also have taken a break upon realizing you haven’t ever listened to Hybrid Theory. Still to this day it is one of the best travel CD’s I will be pumping it as I head back to KC. I also liked Meteora from Linkin Park. Other suggestions are KINGS OF LEON!!!! I love their new album. Also check out Adele she is more white soul but she is good. For hip hop Little Brother’s entire collection is the truth as well as the side project Foreign Exchange.

  15. I’m a (just stepped out of the) closet Nickelback fan. Their lyrics are funny, thoughtprovoking and emotional all at the same time. The newest one is Dark Horse but I say check them all out.

  16. It is very necessary for those of us that claim to have a love for music to have a wide grasp of most musical genres. I love old school music to the core but at times I need to rock out to some Kelly Clarkson or Creed. Sometimes I don’t want to hear about sex or unrequited love as most R&B songs are about. Sometimes I would like to hear a song about nothing important like Just Dance by Lady Gaga.
    All that to say, Michael McDonald, Teena Marie, and Robin Thicke shouldn’t be the only white artists black people listen to. Whatever the circumstance I’m glad that you decided to play on the other side. Thank God for Maroon 5 and John Mayer!

  17. Firstly, THANKS for placing the Red Pump widget on your blog. You = awesome.

    B. I refer to T-Pain as the Ghost of Coon present (and I’m afraid Coon Future too with his popularity). iCant w/ that caricature of a person. I mean, who’da thunk that Sambo could be epitomized so well in ’09? Don’t get me started on him, lest I have roast tourette’s and write him a letter. Wait… I just may have to.

  18. @Luvvie: awesome is one of my most favorite words. thanks for such a kind reference.

    on The Ghost of Coon present: we will need to compare notes before we write our letters. It needs to be a tag team effort. You clown him and I desecrate his vocoder. lol.

  19. Tag team letter sounds fantastic!

  20. I agree with you that Imogen Heap’s “Hide and Seek” is really good song that make you connect to it deep down without even knowing what it’s really about.

    Here a site that where people try to figure out what a song might mean. Beware though sometimes it’s better not knowing.

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