Payn's Ponderings Black History Month Music Edition

payn

Legend
Greetings,

I am a huge music fan and amateur player myself. I really look forward to February every year to explore some of the impactful and incredibly talented musicians we have here in the U.S. I am going follow the format of 89.3 The Current and list a new artist each day, Talk a little and share my favorite track. I owe you a few days so this OP will have bonus tracks to catch up.

Feel free to contribute in any way you see fit. Love to hear about your experiences with music and love for it!

2/1 Outkast
As a teen, I recall seeing OutKast Aliens in my friends CD case. I had no idea what I was looking at. I had to ask "is this a rap album?" I was told it was great, and it was! The thing that knocked me out was this comicbook story that came along with the album. I knew these guys were something interesting. Something that perhaps transcends genre or is just down right fun. Enjoy a selection from OutKast Aliens

2/2 The Time
This group helped create the 80's R&B and Hip Hop scene of Minneapolis. I hear they sometimes collaborated with this guy named Prince? Fun story; The Time's self titled album has the group out front of a condo. I just happened to live in said condo for a few years. Enjoy the funk!

2/3 Etta James
When you hear Etta James you probably think of wedding DJs and first dances; and I mean why not? Timeless and classic songs about love that make you just want to grab someone and slow dance. Though, she really had a rebel side. It might seem tame by todays standards but Etta James raw and daring lyrics helped set the scene for Rock 'n' Roll. A real blues queen and delight to hear. Enjoy!

What about your stories? Who do you love? What's in your playlist this Feb?
 

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Smackpixi

Adventurer
I was really struck by how Prince-like The Time’s song was, wow, Minneapolis really had a sound. This motivated me to relate that when i went to the U of Minnesota in the mid-90s, there were at least two people on my floor of the dorm who’s entire reason for attending the U of M was to be near Prince, one was my roommate, who once claimed when he was 15 to have played in a Rick James cover band that opened for Soundgarden, and ater the show he smoked a bowl with Chris Cornell. People would go to Prince’s club, Glam Slam, because there was a rumor that maybe Prince might show up and do a song, maybe, but probably not, I can’t remember anyone ever coming back and saying he did. Must have occasionally.

Anyway, I was motivated to look up The Time and see if I remembered anything they did. And while doing that, I discovered this gem about their first album that probably explains the sound…

“With the exception of singer Morris Day, who was required to follow Prince's guide vocals note-for-note, none of the band played on their debut album. Prince instead played all the instruments himself, crediting the production to his alter-ego, "Jamie Starr", and Morris Day.”
 

billd91

Hobbit on Quest (he/him)
People would go to Prince’s club, Glam Slam, because there was a rumor that maybe Prince might show up and do a song, maybe, but probably not, I can’t remember anyone ever coming back and saying he did. Must have occasionally.
According to a friend of mine who is a long-time resident of Minneapolis and grew up there, Prince was the local Bigfoot at parties in the 1980s. He occasionally showed up at clubs, bars, even house parties - but you could never really expect him to show up.
 

payn

Legend
I was really struck by how Prince-like The Time’s song was, wow, Minneapolis really had a sound. This motivated me to relate that when i went to the U of Minnesota in the mid-90s, there were at least two people on my floor of the dorm who’s entire reason for attending the U of M was to be near Prince, one was my roommate, who once claimed when he was 15 to have played in a Rick James cover band that opened for Soundgarden, and ater the show he smoked a bowl with Chris Cornell. People would go to Prince’s club, Glam Slam, because there was a rumor that maybe Prince might show up and do a song, maybe, but probably not, I can’t remember anyone ever coming back and saying he did. Must have occasionally.

Anyway, I was motivated to look up The Time and see if I remembered anything they did. And while doing that, I discovered this gem about their first album that probably explains the sound…

“With the exception of singer Morris Day, who was required to follow Prince's guide vocals note-for-note, none of the band played on their debut album. Prince instead played all the instruments himself, crediting the production to his alter-ego, "Jamie Starr", and Morris Day.”
Great story thanks for sharing. Its true Minneapolis had a great sound. Check out this early '75 album by 94 East (Prince early work. Name is from the interstate that cuts through the twin cities.)
 

In the late 90s, my band played a bunch of shows with another band out of Baltimore, Chapelblaque. Tony was the heart of the project, doing everything but sing (and sometimes that, too). Anyway, they were a gothic metal band, but I'm going to go with this instrumental piece, which was 100% Tony. It's got a baroque Dead Can Dance-by-way-of-synthesizer vibe that I still dig:

 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
The reason Morris Day & The Time sounded so much like early Prince is because Prince formed the band to play stuff in his early style while he tried other things. "Jamie Starr” was an alias used in the first album’s credits- he played all the instruments. Day was forced to follow Prince’s vocal directions note for note.

(Edit: Ninja’d!)

FYI, part of OutKast’s success comes from them hiring a phenomenal but turbulent Dallas-area group called Whyld Peach as their backing band. WP was a punk/funk group with talent similar to Fishbone. I saw them in the 1999s at SXSW, and thought they would be hot on the tails of Fishbone, RHCP, and Faith No More, but their…”issues” kept them from breaking through until they hooked up with the Atlanta area rappers.
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Let’s see, which primarily American artists/bands were all-black or with a prominent black contribution can I mention that we haven’t really hit on yet?

Jimi Hendrix
James Brown
John Coltrane
Duke Ellington
Ramsey Lewis
Miles Davis
Doug/Dug Pinnick (King’s X and others)
Fishbone
Mother’s Finest
Parliament/Funkadelic
Follow For Now
Eye & I
Bodycount
Ice T
Ice Cube
Dr. Dre
Mos Def
Bad Brains
Tony MacAlpine
Eric Gales
John Butcher
Esperanza Spaulding
Gail Ann Dorsey
Meshell Ndegeocello
Thundercat
Sister Rosetta Tharpe
Sly & the Family Stone
Bustah Rhymes
De La Soul
A Tribe Called Quest
Peabo Bryson


In some of the groups listed, you’ll find musicians who have carved out their own careers as solo artists as well, like Bootsy Collins (who played with James brown and Parliament/Funkadelic, plus dozens of other solo projects and collaborations).
 
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Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
You have a typo here. It is Mos Def.

As for others:

Tricky
Sade
Seal
Terrence Trent D'Arby
Coolio
Thanks for that catch! Fixed it.

OTOH, I got the impression the OP wanted to limit things to American musicians. On your list of talents, only Coolio is from the USA.

However, you’ve inspired me to add:

Maxwell
D’Angelo
Erykah Badu
Billie Holiday
John Legend
The Roots
Darius Rucker
Alicia Keys
Stanly Jordan
George Benson
Marvin Gaye
Aretha Franklin
Chaka Khan
Roberta Flack
Ritchie Havens
Donny Hathaway
The Fugees
Public Enemy
Missy Elliott
NWA
Queen Latifah
Jimmy Smith
The Neville Brothers
Kool Keith
Del the Funkee Homosapien
DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid

Roberta Flack is a special one for me. She’s one of my Mom’s favorite musicians, and she wore out FIVE copies of First Take teaching music to HS students. So that was one of the first CDs I ever bought her.

This is one of her favorites from that album:
 
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Taste is all very subjective, of course. That said, if we're doing requests, I'd nominate:

O.V. Wright
Robert Johnson
Bill Withers
Nina Simone
John Lee Hooker
The Ohio Players
Cab Calloway
Muddy Waters
Parliament-Funkadelic
Ella Fitzgerald

and Stevie Wonder. And then some more Stevie Wonder.
 


payn

Legend
2/4 Kendrick Lamar
I really enjoy the 90's jazz influenced style rap and dont mind sample culture. Not so much gansta and especially not the autotune stuff. So hearing Kendrik Lamar was a breath of fresh air. This cat can lay it down, speaking of cats, he also had Thundercat playing bass on his album and thats just next level cool.

 



dragoner

solisrpg.com
Like Ryujin, I have Billie Holiday on my player in the car. Others, such as Lead Belly, Otis Redding, and the Supremes; for sure Motown still is massive. More modern music is diverse, as one doesn't see a segregated music scene, though here is one song, shares the title with what is happening in my Solis setting:

 


Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Skin, as I recall, is a Brit. Damn talented though!

Not only is she a powerful vocalist, I saw her judging on the Italian (?) version of one of those talent contest TV shows. There was a contestant in the process of being booted, but instead of simply letting him walk off stage, she stopped him and asked him to sing some more.

And after he did so, like a good vocal coach, she broke down WHY he was voted off and what he needed to do if he wanted to be a professional singer.* It was tough love, but he left with a blueprint for how to improve his singing.




* he absolutely couldn’t hold a note more than a couple seconds without using vibrato, and it negatively affected his ability to stay on pitch. That gave his singing a kind of seasickness-inducing quality.
 


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