Speak out!

My thesis:

In a post-Imus world where hip hop is under attack (rightfully on some counts), the African American community needs Black rock now more than ever.  Do you agree?  Disagree?  I’d like to hear what you think.

Full disclosure: I’m working on an article for an online publication and I’m using this forum as a means to gather quotes from folks from any and all interested communities: African American, Black rock, music, anybody’s welcome to comment. Go to the comment section below and share your thoughts.  Please include (at least) your first name, age and where you’re from.

Thanks!

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10 Responses to “Speak out!” Subscribe

  1. james spooner May 4, 2007 at 18:17 #

    I love rock music and I love a lot of black people who make and enjoy it. It would be unfair to say that black people need black rock though. Black people don’t necessarily need rock but they do need more than one voice to be fully represented. Black people have a history of inventing new ways to communicate their message to each other. Another one will show it’s black face before we know it.

  2. Jerru Cummings May 5, 2007 at 15:56 #

    Black Rock, and Hip Hop/Rap, has brought the black community down to the level of primitives. It has got to stop or our culture is finished.

  3. Rob Fields May 5, 2007 at 16:40 #

    Thanks for the comment, James. Your words remind me that I need to clarify what I mean when I say that we “need Black rock”. So here goes: It’s not that we need a new style or genre of music, or even to figure out who is an who ain’t. Rather, I’d like to see more of the African American community embrace the promise and invitation of Black rock. Here I’m talking about a broader, fuller aesthetic about what it means to be Black–to be fully human–in the 21st century. It’s about having the confidence that we have as much right to participate in this society–and the world–as anyone else. And, yes, I think it’s a bold embrace of creative freedom beyond the narrow definitions put forth by commercial hip hop.

    So maybe you’re right: Maybe Black folks don’t “need” Black rock. But we do need options, different ways to define authenticity and identity.

    You might also check out an earlier post “What Is Black Rock?”: http://www.boldaslove.us/2007/02/what_is_black_r.html

  4. Rob Fields May 5, 2007 at 16:52 #

    Jerru, thanks for stopping by. In your comment, I sense the frustration that many of us feel. I’d be interested to know specifically where you think Black rock has contributed to this condition. There are some examples and genres that I can guess at, but I’d rather not put words in your mouth.

    Finally, if you don’t mind, I’d also like to point you to the link that I left in the response to James’ comment, as it may clarify what I mean–and where I’m coming from–when I talk about Black rock.

    Looking forward to hearing from you!

  5. The American Race May 9, 2007 at 11:15 #

    Why Black Rock?

    In a post-Imus world where hip hop is under attack (rightfully on some counts), the African American community needs Black rock now more than ever. Do you agree? Disagree? I’d like to hear what you think. —Rob Fields, Bold As

  6. Lester Spence May 16, 2007 at 16:59 #

    This is kind of a sentence fragment to me. What would we need black rock FOR? Would we need it because its sound does something for us that other sounds do not? Does it expose us to new visions or reintroduce us to old ones that we’ve forgotten? In my humble opinion a little house music does wonders for the spirit…but i recognize (gladly) that i’m part of a small group of devotees.

  7. Rob Fields May 16, 2007 at 17:17 #

    Lester, thanks for the comment. I’d say yes to all of your questions. Also, in case you haven’t seen it, please see my response to James Spooner’s comments, which may help illuminate my position.

    I’m also with you on the subject of house music. I’ve always said that the one thing house (at least the best of it, the deeply soulful kind) has over other music is that it’s happy music. We could definitely use more of that. So, no, you’re not alone in your opinion. However, you may certainly have a much broader pool of great examples of it that I do.

  8. The American Race May 18, 2007 at 12:38 #

    Why Black Rock? (oh, and another thing)

    Sometime after posting Why Black Rock? recently, I reran the first few episodes of the mind-opening 1995 PBS series Rock Roll (wasted a half-hour trying to find link to the normally great PBS web page for this classic). I was

  9. The American Race May 18, 2007 at 12:40 #

    Why Black Rock?

    In a post-Imus world where hip hop is under attack (rightfully on some counts), the African American community needs Black rock now more than ever. Do you agree? Disagree? I’d like to hear what you think. —Rob Fields, Bold As

  10. Jean-Paul Bourelly July 28, 2007 at 22:35 #

    First of all I am happy to see a post about this subject.
    Do we need Black rock? No.

    It was about 24 years ago when James Blood Ulmer came out with a record called Black Rock that I first heard the term commercially. Blood was playing a very original jangley style of avant funk blended music. The term to me then, within his domain seemed cool because Blood was original. The music had an authenticity with its heavy blues aura in Harmolodic heaven. A tension between the old and the new.That felt good.

    Black rock, I mean the name, stuck around the BRC name and was a reaction to the appropriation of rock music (electric music born in the Black community ie. Chuck Berry 45 years ago) by the so- called mainstream culture. The term Black rock struck me 20 years ago when I sat on those bleachers meeting with the early members of that organizations as it does today, as insecure.

    And as well 20 years ago,it was a term that was trying to gain acceptance, like today, with that same main stream industry.
    The problem with that was the music industry then and now, is not a place where real cultural creativity can flourish. So it seemed to be more comfortable for those creating the platform in the BRC to emphasis a social political platform;It was; “why can’t my band get signed doing what Van Halen does”-instead of concentrating on creative matters like; How can we push the creative envelope. Innovative content.There was no fever around finding a defining groove or independence moves like just selling your tape at the gig. There were forces steering focus on getting a deal. Putting the decision making in someone else’s hands.

    Of course there was a little experimentation going on and of course there was even a band that did pacify some grumbling by passing through the Matrix to something resembling music industry stardom, then self destructed under the pressure. If you look at it from the “I want to be a star” point of view then it was one chance, one band, you’re out.

    IMHO, the term Blackrock is a reactionary term to the Rock/pop industries definition of rock as white music. Why must we react to absurdity?

    Black artists positioning depends on who’s definition you are following. If one follows a definition that puts you down then you will be trying to prove yourself to aliens, instead of creating some beautifully heavy music within your grasp right now.

    At the time 1988 through the early nineties there was hardly any objective in-depth writing about the music from the community; Michael Gonzales and Joe Wood come to mind and even less getting print space in music publications, which is why this post and others like it are important.

    Instead of using our energy for finding acceptance from the same old people, we need to be using it to create expression. That black gold that has always as James Spooner pointed out resurfaced with something new. It would not stop exploitation but with that potent positioning, we would not be asking the industry for shit. We would be trading something for something.

    If so- called Black rock music or like I used to call it in its highest form, Blackadelics, would acheive its promise, it will be through a stronger confidence in expressing new ideas by any means necessary. Thats what is needed, not another Black rock episode of the 90′s, rock musics version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

    Jean-Paul Bourelly

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