A Mild History of Music

Hip-hop is more about attaining wealth. People respect success. They respect big. They don’t even have to like your music. If you’re big enough, people are drawn to you.
Jay-Z


A Mild History of Music

The wonderful thing about new music is that it seems to pop up like a surprise party. Let’s look at some very loose history of music and then wonder at some conclusions.

Thanks to historians, we can put a finger on the start of a new music genre. This does not mean that the very start was when it was embraced in popular culture, but by it’s nature it was a soon time event.

Jazz: 1902, New Orleans. Let us be straight up and say that Jazz is Swing, Swing is Jazz. Jazz started in whore houses and “jazz” was a term for sex. We still say “jizz” today, over a hundred years later. The musicians, very rightfully so, did not want to be called sex music and called it Swing.

Jazz began in New Orleans and moved north to St. Louis and then to Chicago. It reached wide-spread popularity it the Roaring Twenties. Dance Halls featured swing bands, some great fun and some kind of sad. There were Taxi Girls who would dance with you for ten-cents-a-dance during the Depression.

Popular Ballad Music: 1927, Showboat. The musical theater began in 1927. The “ballad style’ song has not gone away, musicals were simply the first vehicle to define and create the ballads. Today we have the theme song from Titanic and Adele because it has kept it’s place solidly for decades.

Jazz over the decades has seen variations. Bebop, improvisation etc., but what was so cool is that there was respect for the different genres. Jazz musicians would play songs from the musical theater, happily! Miles Davis covered My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music or Louis Armstrong covered Cabaret.

Rock and Roll: 1956. Historians can quibble, it was either Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley and the Comets or it was Rocket 88 by Ike Turner as the “first” rock song. Tracing roots to rockabilly and such does not do it honor; Rock and Roll came out of no where and exploded.

Rock and Roll was and is earthy and honest. It embraced all cultures. From the very beginning we had white rockers, black rockers, women rockers, gay rockers, English rockers, French rockers, etc.; there was never anything to exclude anyone. It was about freedom, liberation, expression and acceptance.

Like Jazz, Rock and Roll evolved with variations on the theme. Metal, Speed Metal, Punk, Funk, Electronics with liberal use of the influence of blues, reggae and many other styles.

Like Popular Ballad Music which paralleled Jazz, Motown and Soul Music paralleled Rock and Roll. The same world-wide acceptance was seen as civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights all moved forward on the waves of rock and soul music.

Disco: 1974. Boom, another explosion of a new music. Very much due to the synthesizer and it’s little brother the drum machine, Disco came out of nowhere with The Love Train by the O’Jays leading into a tidal wave of big beats, new dances and; really, a new culture. This culture was about showing off, clubbing, fucking and feeling good!

If Bowie and Twiggy began the androgyny era, I’ll never forget the Brady Bunch men all getting their hair permed. Disco was a bit mystifying but it was a non-stop party. The party ended in 1980 and really ended in 1985 with the AIDS epidemic; bad news, shocking stuff.

1990: Hip Hop, Rapper’s Delight . This began on the streets in Brooklyn with record-scratching, spray painting walls with graffiti and break dancing on cardboard. I’ve heard Historians follow threads back to Africa and try to claim that Hip Hop is very old and has been around forever but, no: 1990.

Candidly, I didn’t think Hip Hop would last. I thought that the fraud, brutal misogyny, theft of others music, lack of any technique (like singing) would betray a flash in the pan. I was so wrong!

Hip Hop is pride without dignity. Hip Hop is masturbating in front of a mirror with a microphone. It is ugly in that women are bitches and whores, a celebration of crass violence and prison chic, like neck tattoos. No hip hop star has ever worried about “selling out”, it is the first thing on the agenda: get rich. The success of Hip Hop has made everyone a lot of money, for the first time in history; there is an entire fashion industry. Hip Hop cologne, booze, wine, watches, head-phones; sold out.

Are all the songs about my beautiful big ass or my anaconda? About shooting cops and slapping women? Yes, they are. And homophobic to the extreme.

I wonder and pine for the next new music; lets look at the time frame.

  • 1920 – 1956 = 36 years, Swing Era
  • 1956 – 1974 = 18 years, Rock Era
  • 1974 – 1990 = 16 years, Disco Era
  • 1990 – 2016 = 26 years, Hip Hop

Looking at the progression, we should have had a new music explosion in 2002. We are in dire need of a new music and we don’t know what it will be, we never do, it is always a surprise. This weekend is the Tony Awards with Hamilton (a hip hop musical) up for many awards; you’d think that this would be the death knell for any music like hip hop — just too much money.

Music genre’s don’t die. Jazz is still popular. Gospel, Blues, Country, Rock, Disco, Pop, Ballads and more are all doing fine. Hip Hop will be around forever too. I’m anxious for the next new things; hopefully it is cleansing and positive music!

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