The state of music can always be debated depending on a person’s personal tastes. That said, there’s no doubt the bar has been lowered if not obliterated completely in some genres. Today’s rap / hip-hop music is deep in misogyny, promotes violence, drug use, getting drunk, glamourizing death, overtly sexual themed lyrics, how big a woman’s ass is, pumping date rape – as if it’s cool. I’m appalled – where did it all go wrong? Some are heralded for going to prison. Really? It’s one thing to live your dream but it’s another to sell your soul so low without regard for the message or influence just to be ‘popular’ or to make millions of dollars. It’s an outrage that corporations i.e major labels put a lot of money behind these artists and their “messages”, while those with quality and a true love for music and the message languish without support. The fact that these songs are pumped up and out a full blast in shopping malls and boutiques is beyond comprehension as little ones in tow with their parents are subjected to the profanity laced obscenities. It’s a shame really and I’d go as far as to say plain evil. I’ve been an artist for 3 decades and I ask myself what’s really going on in the music business? I believe parents have the primary responsibility for the influence over their children and this goes for extended family and friends, however one can’t turn a blind eye to not just a lack of balance but to the messages being highly promoted and sponsored. An agenda? I say yes.
My song with “Friends” was the first collaboration between a Pop/R&B artist and hardcore hip-hop/rap to feature the custom 16 verse ( I called it a duet when I pitched it at the time) to crossover and become Top Ten Hot 100, R&B Soul and Dance..and all with a timeless message and zero obscenities. I just wanted to make a great song about betrayal. In my head I could only hear the tones of Rakim – it took some convincing to make my label get it. They always wanted me to be “more urban, more ghetto, more street..” – all of which I found marginalizing and insulting but couldn’t see how I related to Eric B and Rakim, I just said ‘trust me – it will work because it’s real.” Luckily, Rakim loved it and was onboard along with Eric B. That’s why I know how artists get sucked into the ‘corporate’ mindset of the imagery they’d like black artists to project. I was never having that and fought to maintain my authenticity.
The video notably blends b-boys, drag queens, and a variety of party people in unity for a good time capturing a slice of New York nightlife at the time. I’m in Jean Paul-Gaultier couture fresh off he Parisian runway that year. A great time was had by all on that sweltering summer day in the village in 1989. Fabulous and street in it’s realness without pandering, being contrived or sending a negative message, certain stereotypes or coonery. Proud.
I’ve been married – and it ended in a turbulent divorce of staggering heartbreaking disappointment, heartache and pain.
That said, at least I was able to have that experience with my ex-husband and decide for myself if I’m ever inclined again. I came away with believing more in the importance of integrity, honesty, respect, and commitment in a relationship more than ‘marriage.’ My fantasy was left tattered and in shreds. Same sex couples can and are committed for decades and then not have a legal right to your partner among other things; which is what it comes down to if it doesn’t work out. This is a civil rights issue, not a religious one, as I feel those things are personal to each of us. There are great and important issues impacting society that need attention more than trying to stop people who love each other from getting married and able to celebrate, share and honor the commitment of their chosen ‘real love‘ with their family and friends.
I’m for marriage equality and have been a long time advocate for gay rights. Two cases were being heard in the Supreme Court today, though they may be wary of making a ruling according to media reports such as Reuters.
The quality, sanctity and vows of marriage are violated everyday whether same sex couples marry or not for those who use religion as an argument.
Upcoming concerts April:
April 10-11, 2013 – Billboard LIVE Tokyo, Japan
April 12, 2013 – Billboard LIVE Osaka, Japan
April 19, 2013 – Brooklyn, NY | Brooklyn Bowl Special Guest Appearance with French Horn Rebellion
April 27, 2013 – Los Angeles, CA | CHURCH Special Guest Appearance with Mark De-Clive Lowe details forthcoming.
As a live performer, it’s important for me to be like a kaleidoscope and show different sides. Reinterpreting some of my songs keeps things fresh for me as well as the audience; it’s fun to flip the script and be creatively fearless. Of course, there’s always a risk that fans won’t get it, but I’d hate to be that type of artist afraid to try new things and look at your songs in a different light from time to time.
In collaborations, it’s great to be able to say – let’s do something that is….and have the ability to pull it off whatever ‘it’ is. “..Orchestral, dramatic and haunting – Ryuichi Sakamoto as inspiration meets Jody Watley ” as conveyed to my longtime collaborator, co-producer, music director and keyboardist Rodney Lee just felt right and he nailed it, coming back with “–like this?!” My spoken word lyrics to this new arrangement of “When A Man Loves A Woman” was one of the many highlights of my Saturday night experience at Yoshi’s Oakland. I can’t wait to perform it again!
We all know that every day isn’t a bed of roses (I even wrote a song with UK band 4Hero about it), however I do believe that if an effort is made to make our lives better in large and small ways that type of attitude can create a better and more fulfilling life. I’m not talking about money, because I’m certain there are rich people not happy and miserable with their lives or simply empty in their soul. There’s too much emphasis on materialism and who’s making what, who has what and so on – but that’s another blog. Focus on the things that contribute to a positive loving atmosphere and feeling of joy in the grind of life. How you feel about yourself (teach your children and grandchildren and little nieces and nephews), your job or career, good friends, laughter, healthy relationships and so on. Those are places to begin. Do the things that make your corner of the universe better to live a life you love.