My Favorite Book Cover
...I love Carrie Fisher and her new book cover is pure genius.
It’s so easy to hate Alicia Keys. Besides being fine as crystal, the sister knows how to construct soulful pop songs with the flair of Stevie Wonder and the pop sensibility of Burt Bacharach. Yet, even with three best-selling albums, a truck full of awards (five Grammys in 2002 alone) and songcraft for days. Even if you give her a pass for those frequent Prince swipes (click these links to weigh the evidence and draw your own conclusions), there are still folks who believe Alicia Keys is an R&B poser.
In 2007, when Keys’ last joint All I Am dropped, my spiritual godfather Greg Tate wrote an inspired review called “Extensions of a Woman,” wherein he praised her for being damn-near a genius. Some of the villagers got a little rowdy, and like a scene out of Frankenstein complete with pitchforks and torches, one angry voice berated the singer/songwriter/producer by calling her “dumbed-down, mainstream, and utterly irrelevant as they come.”
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As a card-carrying member of the Black Rock Coalition since 1986, I take much pride in the advancement of alternative Black music filtering into the mainstream. From those nappy haired superstars of the scene The Roots (you mean you really thought them cats were hip-hop?) and avant-rockers TV On The Radio to newcomers like Lil Wayne (what, somebody told you that dude was a rapper?) and the formidable Santigold, the movement is going hard, and no longer relegated to crowded downtown clubs after midnight.
At last month’s Afro-Punk Music and Art Festival in Brooklyn, it was fantastic seeing small children dancing to the blare of Earl Greyhound and Tamar-Kali, groundbreaking artists you will never hear played on segregated “urban” radio.
Like hip-hop, being “Black Rock” involves aesthetic and lifestyle choices that can’t be easily pegged. Veterans like Living Colour and Fishbone are still holding it down under the broad umbrella of “Black Rock,” while newcomers Gnarls Barkley and Saul Williams are busy expanding on their own ideas of alternative music. And does it even need to be said? You know they’ve all got soul.
With the Black Rock Report, it is our plan to report on upcoming releases, interview folks behind the scene (singers, producers, and writers) and school the masses on classic artists who continue to define the Black alternative milieu.
illustration copyright (c) Jermaine Rogers