Sunday, May 17, 2015

The passing of the lengendary BB & how music influences young people.

The music world lost a true American institution with the death of BB King. His death was on the scale of that of the loss of other American icons such as Jimmy Hendrix,, Frank Sinatra, Michael Jackson and James Brown.

Growing up in Baltimore, my mother use to play blues music from time to time. BB King was one of her favorites. I was driving around town Saturday taking care of business, and I happened to tune to the XM Satellite blues station, and the DJ was playing all of BB King's hits in tribute to his life and career, so I listened for awhile. While driving and listening, I started to think about several things especially how music does indeed can have a postive influence on people but also it can have a negative one. There has been an ongoing debate in the black community about whether gangster hiphop music has had a negative influence on young blacks especially males in their behavior. I have never backed down from my belief that gangster hip hop music is audio poision to black youth. Of the countless records BB King has produced over his historic lifetime, none of his songs has ever had one curse word, glorified killing people, selling drugs or treating women like garbage. None of his alblums ever needed a parental advisory label on them like for example the former rap group (N.W..A) which stood for "Niggers With Attitudes". These are the lyrics from their song "straight out of Compton"

                   'Cause the police just like fuckin' with people, you know.
                    They stop you, throw you on the ground and shit.

Put a gun to your head, and shit, you know what I'm saying.
They just fuck with you for no reason...
Anyway, fuck the police.
Fuck the police coming straight from the underground.
A young nigger got it bad 'cause I'm brown...
They have the authority to kill a minority.
Fuck that shit cause I ain't the one,
For a punk motherfucker with a badge and a gun to be beating on.
Searching my car, looking for the product.
Thinking every nigger is selling narcotas

How many gangsta rap songs that have been produced saying to "F" the police, disrespect them or kill them as in Ice T's song "Cop Killer"? I bet there are a lot, and young black teens listen to those songs, and we wonder why there is a police problem in the black community, go figure on that one. Of course no urban gang banger or drug dealer has ever listened to BB King, and that's my point. I'm sure these people know the lyrics to every gangsta 50 cent song or rappers like him but how about musicians like BB King, Otis Redding, Bobby Blue bland etc?The young black generation know as little about BB King as they know about Jimmy Hendrix or Duke Ellington etc, The problem with black youth in America has to do with the "ghetto hip hop mindset culture"! I had to pause, when I heard to wizards of smart in the media and in politics claim happened with the riots here in Baltimore was a result of "economic frustration". No, what was only display was the ghetto hip hop cultural mindset. For the longest time, I've said that the problems in the black community among it's youth is internal, and this is ground zero. When I was a teenagers in the 80's, black teens during that era didn't act like they do now and have been acting over the past 25 years. Then again, the hip hop music was completely different back then and it was just becoming mainstream at the time. I use to listen to the Fat Boys, RunDMC, Ladi Dadi, etc. Young teens had "break dancing" battles as their form of expression through the music, they weren't trying to kill people back then. It was  positive music which spawned a positive movement for urban teens and teens alike.

BB King was a true musician in every sense of the word and his place in music history is rightful deserved. I read how BB King growing up use to go to bed listening to Frank Sinatra records. So yes music does have the power to influence young people.


Anonymous Indigo said...

Baby Boomer Boombox. Growing up in the 1960's and 70's I heard a wide variety of music. In the 60's it was The Supremes, The Temptations, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, then Jackson5 and other Motown sounds. Then came different sounds such as The Beatles, The 5th Dimension, The Friends of Distinction, and The Main Ingredient. Besides singing time in grade school, for several years up to early teens I played clarinet. Religious songs were heard in denominations. At home was mom rehearsing piano and choir, and playing much religious, including Mahalia Jackson, along with some easy listening like Don Shirley and O.C. Smith. I had siblings that were playing Wes Montgomery on jazz guitar, Jimmy Smith on jazz organ, and Lou Rawls singing long before he was well known for pop in the 70's. During summer vacations, from the car radio I was enchanted by the violin sounds of Theme From a Summer Place by Percy Faith Orchestra. In the late 1970's I started listening to Shirley Bassey, and Barbra Streisand. The 1970's was full of creative r&b bands, and in high school and college years I would also make tapes of them, including O'Jays, Stylistics, Isley Brothers, Chaka Khan, Three Degrees, Patti Labelle, and many others. (to be continued … )

5:17 PM  
Anonymous Indigo said...

( … continued)
Then came smooth jazz. Many times I played the album Chain Reaction by Jazz Crusaders, and two 1970's favorites in the genre of “Fusion Jazz,” Visions Of A New World by Lonnie Liston Smith and Stepping Into Tomorrow by Donald Byrd. Then there were saxophone players Grover Washington, David Sanborn, and John Klemmer. My favorite soul/r&b/ pop band of the 1970's was Earth, Wind & Fire – with their upbeat vocals, melody, instruments, and rhythm. My main genres were light pop, light country, smooth jazz, and Latin samba like Sergio Mendez and Gloria Estefan. In 1980's I heard with Liza Minelli live on stage two favorites, Sammy Davis Jr. and Frank Sinatra. Another belter grabbing my ear was At Last singer Etta James. Later on I listened to classical and Tschaikowsky (Nutcracker) seemed to stand out. Well, that is a sketch. Since the 1980's I have enjoyed acapella singing spiritual songs to God and to one another as a member in the church of Christ.

(p.s. You will notice the absence of gangsta rap or hip-hop. I do recall an interesting talking album by “The Last Poets” @ the early 70's. From the time I first heard rap in the late 1980's I disliked it. I later found it non-musical, hard on my ear, and often savage.)

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Al Anon said...

His early songs are really what I like, "Boogie Woogie Woman" and "3 O'Clock Blues" and many others. I think like many, he came from Clarksville Mississippi or near there at least, Sam Cooke was born there, I think that is the home of Delta Blues, Good stuff without a doubt. Maybe someone can correct me if I am wrong.

12:49 AM  
Anonymous Vincent said...

I like all music, but if I had just one choice to listen to for the rest of my life it would have to be the Blues.
Wonder if BB was buried with Lucille?

What I can't wrap my head around vies a vie the Hip Hop generation is the juxtaposition between the predominant theme of the music, capitalism and hustling, and who and what they continue to support politically.
Dr.Dre,Snoop Dog and "Holla at ya boy"- Jay-Z have much more in common with a Mitt Romney than a Barrack Obama.

11:38 PM  
Anonymous Indigo said...
At the above linked article, columnist Clarence Page includes how early on BB King got booed and insulted by a young black audience, but got a standing ovation by a white hippie audience. King said at one point in his career he would have starved if it had not been for some white people. But King's fame steadily rose, among all people. Here are some article excerpts:
"His career blossomed with new fans far from his genre’s Mississippi Delta roots. His 1970 hit “The Thrill Is Gone” has become a classic. He became a multimillionaire and a brand, with a chain of nightclubs bearing his name."
"Historian Thomas Cahill wrote: ".... B. B. King helped me to appreciate the role that white blues fans played in keeping his genre alive.... King showed me how the blues, like jazz and country music, emerge from this country’s simmering stew pot of cultural diversity and continue to bear new fruit. We only cheat ourselves, I realized, when our quest for what’s new causes us to lose our appreciation for what’s worth keeping around — or even turn it off without giving it a listen."

I once worked in a music and guitar store and was surprised to learn how popular BB King is among young white male musicians. And I (Indigo) say a generation can be cheated and isolated if they miss the history & continuity not only of civilization, but also of its music. The point I make is that music is one of the universal things (smiles, thankfulness, food, music) that amuses and soothes people when they have it and when they let it. Music can help melt barriers between generations, cultures and nations.

8:56 PM  

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