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Thread started 08/19/08 11:56am

gs56ca

Moodmat: An Interview with House Artist Theo Parrish “black roots, white fruits”

http://www.moodmat.com/?p=977

In a new series to Moodmat, I will be asking artists one question and providing their uncensored answer. This inaugural edition I am pleased to have Theo Parrish as our first guest.

Q: Before there was Elvis and rock and roll there was “race music” and Chess records. Before there was Benny Goodman there was ragtime and blues. Given the long standing pattern of “black roots, white fruits” in western music, has dance music fallen prey to this concept more or less than other genres in history?

A: I wouldn’t say its ‘fallen prey’, Id say this has been going on so long, its expected to eventually happen in every known musical discipline, but that doesn’t make it less of a crime, or less irritating. Today, things are just more complicated in terms of the way people try to coexist, but when you get down to basic social dynamics, its not different. The music industry , like most huge industries, is owned by white men. Black men and women(musicians) tend to provide the labor(talent) that makes the product(songs). This isn’t a mystery and nor is it shocking since everyone white, black and otherwise living in the western world lives their respective lives with slavery as a backdrop to everything they do. White folks at their worst will deny it, Black people at their worst will use it as an excuse for stagnation. White people at their best will know of the historical imbalance socially, and act with that in mind when dealing amongst each other and with black folks. Black people at their best will know what is stacked against them, stay motivated anyway, and try not to let cynicism eat them when they deal with White people and each other.

I don’t believe in genre titles. I don’t think they actually describe any kind of music accurately, but I do know the industry uses these divisions to sell stuff and pimp people. In the music industry, each genre has its own pre set roles for Black people to play a part in. Hip hop/rap :as long as your theme is materialistic, violent, or sexual, you can get in. W’ell allow no more than 5 conscious acts per 100(The Roots/Common/Talib Kweli/Mos Def/Lauren Hill. We’ll allow one white rapper per 1000, but he’ll be massive.(Eminem) We’ll fool you into thinking you’ll make some money, and you might if actual sales out do the enormous advances we’ll give you, which is rare. You’ll mainly get paid from tours. You’ll use our management who’ll suggest our lawyers, who’ll sign you up for our suggested stock options, real estate purchases, and life insurance policies. If you get bored with the content of your output and threaten to change direction as an artist , well threaten to pull your budget. If you’re less materialistic than that or if you are so successful that large amounts of black men with guns and not much to lose listen and believe everything you say, If you recognize that and are smart enough to possibly have a plan for them, we’ll have you killed, make you a ‘hood’ martyr, and make money off your product for decades long after your gone. Were not trying to be sponsors of a revolution here…(Tupac/Biggie) Rock/ alt: You can be a black lead singer, but must have a white band (Rufus&Chaka Khan/Tower of Power). Your content absolutely must not have anything to do with social injustices or race, period.(Hootie and the Blowfish).But you can be an all white band with a socially responsible message(Rage Against the Machine) Or of course you could be a white lead singer with a black band, but its a harder sell. Well allow it. Its an easier sell if its a White girl with a culturally mixed backing band(No Doubt).

We’ll allow 3 all black bands per 1000, but we’ll create a subgenre for them ,Rastarock. (Living Colour/Bad Brains/Fishbone)Reggae: Industry still making money off of Bob Marley and his kids, and they’ll probaly keep doing so until their kids pick up instuments. Hence, no new industry supported reggae acts, tons of underground subgenres, though. Country music: not an option, you’re not allowed. R&B: No problem, come on in. No social commentary. Black Sex/love/fun songs only. You must sing and dance, and later sell various soda & automobile products as well. High school graduates a plus. We’ll create a subgenre called neo soul for all of the older, smarter, more talented(D,angelo/Angie Stone/Jill Scott). with a much more limited budget. Pop/commercial: Love/fun/sex songs only. No social commentary. You must dance.You must stay in top physical shape. You must never get old(Madonna). We’ll allow 1 black male artist from R&b to crossover at a time into this genre(Usher) Jazz: anything goes, but well have subgenres for every possible variation not a real moneymaker anymore, so we (the industry) don’t care, you’re not gonna get much of a budget. .Gospel: content must be god oriented of course. But no sexuality and no instrumentals and theres a subgenre for white artists in gospel, Christian contemporary. As for commercial dance music: we’re not allowed. White skinny dudes from the uk or france are preferred(Jamiroquai/Moby), but generally an underground dance artist has to do commercial dance numbers for us to care.(Goldie/Carl Cox)

Underground dance music, which is not controlled by the industry directly, is where we exist, but also have a lot of control, because to get music out we have to start our own labels usually. But the copying goes on here the worst. We don’t have a lot of protection against thieves because their aren’t a lot of lawyers, because there’s usually just enough money for the artists to survive on, unless you helped father the form. There aren’t managers suggesting to artists to do white versions of black songs, but there are white artists with labels doing it on their own. This is one of the few places a thief will try to copy your music, then send it to you calling it a tribute in hopes of you endorsing it. They’ll find the sources of your samples if you use them, and use them verbatim, then try to cash in on your previous successes. The Black producers in this form are a lot closer knit, so there’s a lot of respect for the other producers doing it, and there’s a shared philosophy of innovation as a supreme ethic, you simply would lose respect from your contemporaries if you tried to use the same sources as they did for sampling. The thieves, usually white, are typically the culprits of this phenomena. Its almost as if they want to convince the buying market that since they sampled from where you did then they must be just like YOU, only white! Once they get it ready to put out, they’ll use pictures of little black children, and black women with afros- things they never could be, and never have been -on their cover art to help complete the illusion of having a truly down, soulful product to offer the market. Sometimes they’ll outright sample YOUR song, and copy your drumpattern, send it to a magazine and some adjective limited writer will say the copy sounds ’so-and-so esque’, never making that artist stand on their own, letting the thief who made it ride on the back of original artists.

The curtain that supposedly hides all this is the bullshit illusion that dance music has no race, no gender, that its about the celebration of some sort of utopian concept. This mere notion wasn’t even circulated until some white folks were made to feel uncomfortable at a party they had no business being at, and came face to face with the fact that this music like all other music is originated on african/black experience, and that perhaps they were very much like every other Elvis and Eminem that ever came or went, That perhaps they too, are tourists, but they still want to be superstar-dj-such-and-such. The issue is that its simply too easy to get into dance music without having to pay dues in dedication. There are a few non black underground dance artists that simply have gravitated to the form because its as free a musical form as you can get. They don’t even care who their music sounds like, they are just trying to express themselves honestly and truthfully. I’m not talking about them. They are rare and appreciated. They are original. Whatever success they garner is deserved.

So, in a nutshell, its more like black roots, black fruits, stolen seeds studied, copied and planted… That’s life in the western world. That’s how I see it.

Disclaimer: I posted this article for discussion. I did not write this article. Theo Parrish is a house DJ from Detroit. He mentions Fishbone, yeeeaaah, me loves some fishbone music.
[Edited 8/23/08 14:24pm]
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Reply #1 posted 08/19/08 3:10pm

TonyVanDam

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Interesting! cool
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Reply #2 posted 08/23/08 1:33pm

gs56ca

TonyVanDam said:

Interesting! cool



I know, very very interesting. I know some of these bands, so I can relate to what he is talking. Alot of them did get dropped for absolutely no reason. I wonder what other people think about this , though lol
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Reply #3 posted 09/02/08 4:05pm

gs56ca

hey why isnt anyone here for , huh lol
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Reply #4 posted 10/04/08 12:12am

gs56ca

Everyone is too scared to post to this topic, It is highly opinionated , and some actually is factual. Come on y'all lol. White people where you at? You scared of the truth lol . lol.
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Reply #5 posted 10/04/08 12:47am

Annika

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since everyone white, black and otherwise living in the western world lives their respective lives with slavery as a backdrop to everything they do.


I agree with a lot of his points, but this little phrase here irritates me. No, we don't. I've said it before, but America has a unique attitude towards race, because they have a unique history in that area. White Europeans exploited black Africans, obviously, but once they came to Europe, they were never slaves (legally, at least).

You may think I'm splitting hairs here, but believe me, it makes a huge difference in every day life. We basically have two kinds of black people here: Black Europeans (who consider Europe to be their home) and black foreigners (who live and work in Europe, but consider somewhere else to be their home), and here is the difference: Neither of these groups walks around knowing that their ancestors were considered less than cattle by the white people around them, and that, just a few generations ago, they themselves would not have been allowed to sit down on the bus. They may have been discriminated against, but no more than any other minority (Middle Eastern, Far Eastern, North African, Irish, Catholic, Protestant, whatever), and the discrimination was never officially endorsed. Conversely, white Europeans do not walk knowing that their ancestors thought it was acceptable to own another human being. As a result, the whole thing is a lot less tense here, on both sides.

(Note: I am not saying that we don't have racism in Europe. We definitely, definitely do. But the issue of black/white is a lot more straight foward here than it is in the States, largely because we don't have the history of slavery constantly hanging over us. Racists here may say "I don't like blacks because they look different from me/take up jobs/have a different culture/etc", but never "because my grandaddy owned his grandaddy and I resent the fact that this has changed, and also that I should feel guilty about it". It doesn't make it better, just a lot less complicated to deal with.)

Okay, end rant.
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