22 December 2015

Radio Silence, Dead Air and No More Nonesense

For over two decades, mainstream radio has been damn near dead to me; its heartbeat--rhythm and beats, has been beeping away on life support. Earlier this month, I finally killed it. It no longer exists in my life. It is now a, "was." 

What caused me to finally to finally end my relationship with the talking musical box? iHeart Radio's decision to remove The Tom Joyner Morning Show from its Savannah station, Love 101.1. All is not lost, because the TJMS does have an app. But in Zarmunda, a.k.a., Savannah ('cuz it's hot as Africa during the summer), wi-fi can be a sticky situation. And for those living in the outer counties, suburbs, etc., it can sometimes be non-existent.

While at first extremely displeased, disgusted, disheartened (pun intended) and downright ticked that iHeart Radio would pull the Hardest Working DJ from the airwaves in Georgia's First City, their decision gave me cause to pause. I've been a loyal TJMS listener for about 17 years (except for the 2 years I listened to Frank Ski in Atlanta, and the Pre-App Days when I was stationed in Germany). After some serious thought, I admit I have become dependent upon radio--too dependent.

Actually got to thinking about how much more time I would have in the mornings if I took back the four hours I faithfully, and freely gave to Mr. Joyner, Sybil and Jay. While they are on, I get some multi-tasking in, but not to my satisfaction. And carrying them around so as not to miss Chris, Huggy, Jackie or whatever guest is on, is not always the best idea; I've almost dropped my iPad in the shower twice.

And, whenever possible, afternoons for the past seven years have belonged to Michael Baisden (when his show was on), Doug Banks (alson on Savannah's Love 101.1) or D.L. Hughley. But I recently confided in a close friend that more often than not, I find the topics on these shows adolescent and repetitive. In the paraphrased words of Dead Prez, I had become a radio freak, mindlessly allowing myself to be programmed.

Yet even in my Drunk In Love with Radio Haze, I clearly recognize mainstream radio's horrible demise and that entities like iHeart Radio do not have the listeners' best interest at heart (again, a weak, yet painfully true pun). They are supporting area favorites like the late great Frankie Crocker, who blazed trails in NYC on WBLS (in stereo). Or, Donnie Simpson, who has a 35-year radio legacy in the greater Washington, DC area. Best known as the longtime VJ of BET's Video Soul (1983-1997), he started as a DJ in the DMV back in 1977. Simpson has managed to stay on the air despite all the bullshit (Note: Simpson officially retired in 2010, but returned to the airways August 2015).

In my humble opinion, iHeart is all about cookie cutter stations spinning whatsonever it takes, regardless of content to have butts shaking, and minds empty.

Moreover, I find iHeart Radio's mini-audio documentaries on various artists of color a joke and insulting. Most, but not all, artists of color featured has one issue or another, which is highlighted at some point in the audio piece. For instance, Kelly Rowland's absent father is said to be an alcoholic and abusive. The tragic automobile accident that Luther Vandross caused back in 1986 is damn near front and center on two of his three iHeart audio docs. The one on Marvin Gaye explains how the R & B singer's father murdered him, Gaye ran off to Europe to avoid tax evasion charges and mentions his drug problems--things we already knew, but damn! And at least two of iHeart Radio's mini-audio docs on hip-hop artists state that they have fathers who, "left the family."

We should never sugarcoat, or omit the facts. Ever. But these iHeart Radio produced pieces do little to inspire or uplift the race. They appear to have a slant that says, "Yeah, they made it despite all the bullshit." Maybe I'm too thin skinned, but I find that to be a backhanded compliment.

It has only been a few weeks, but so far, the limited sounds or silence in my hooptie has been a welcome challenge. I check out non-iHeart Radio stations, such as Savannah State University's WHCJ, or go through what's on my iPad. And out of sheer coincidence, I've cut my Pandora time in half.

But it's during the quiet that I am most creative. Driving through the south, that silence is eerie, especially for a Native New Yawker. While driving, I am usually accustomed to the sound of somebody else's vehicle bumping, sirens, subway trains, or something! No noise is quite overwhelming; but I dig it. 

19 December 2015

♫Twenty Questions To The Beat (PT. 7) ♪

1. How many of us are still digging, “Hello,” like a fresh glass of cool water in the middle of the Sahara Desert? Who, “knows that they know, that they know,’ as it were—every time Lionel hears it, he mutters, “Dayum,” in admiration? 

2. Who can legitimately brag that they have been an Adele fan since, “19”? 

3. By a show of hands, who was glued to their TV during the live performance of, “The Wiz?” and could not help but sing along to almost every single song? Thoughts of Michael, Nipsey, and Luther cross your mind during the performance of, “You Can’t Win,” “Slide Some Oil To Me,” “What Would I Do?” and “Brand New Day,” respectively? 

4. Who thinks Ne-Yo needs to do whatsonever he has to in order to get, “What Would I Do,” on his next CD? 

5. How many of us are disappointed, but not surprised that with the exception of Kendrick Lamar and a few others, most modern day artists are not speaking to the times, like Marvin Gaye, Public Enemy, Gil Scott Heron, KRS-One, N.W.A., or Sister Souljah? 

6. Did we not dig Eddie Levert’s performance during the Soul Train Music Award’s Cypher moment? 

7. By a show of hands who deems the Chrisette Michelle/Laylah Hathaway, “Cypher Moment,” reminiscent of the Badu/Scott moment in, “Dave Chappelle’s Block Party (“You Got Me”)?” Who is earnestly waiting—arms folded, for a Chrisette Michelle/Laylah Hathaway post-Cypher duet? 

8. Have we gotten used to auto tunes? Or, still holding out hope it will eventually die a terrible death and we can act like it was just a bad dream? 

9. Still vibing off the sultry sounds by The Weekend, but aching to know what, exactly, he tells his stylist when he sits down in the chair? His success a true testimony of not judging a book by its cover? 

10. By a show of hands, who has spent half their house note, or all of their car note to go see Janet (Ms. Jackson if you nasty!) in concert? 

11. Has soul music been officially revived by Laylah, Andra (Day), The Weekend, Sam (Smith), Marsha (Ambrosius), Christette, Daley and Emeli (Sande)? 

12. How pray tell, did radio show host Tom Joyner get both Patti LaBelle and Diana Ross to perform on his 2016 Fantastic Voyage? Why can’t he get Prince to agree? 

13. Saddened, surprised or simply disgusted that the press is not flooded with news about Chris Breezy donating a small portion of his new CD’s proceeds to the Children’s Miracle Network Hospital? Will the press remain radio dead-air-silent if he winds up in trouble again? 

14. Because he is talented and was found not guilty, are we earnestly going to give R. Kelly a pass? Or will we forever deem him the creepy uncle you cannot leave alone with the children? 

15. Will recently engaged Cee-Lo Green get a pass? 

16. Was the overdosing of Aretha Franklin tracks on this season’s, “Scandal,” a Jedi Mind Trick to make viewers forgot that the plotline has become critically weak and the episodes have all lacked Olivia Pope actually, “fixing,” stuff? 

17. Disappointed, betrayed or not surprised by, “Empire’s,” lack of musical punch and semi-predictable storylines this season? 

18. By a show of hands, who is impressed with, “Being Mary Jane’s,” diversified, sensual and soul massaging soundtrack? Who has to Google every episode because Mara ‘n ‘em spin artists that mainstream radio sleeps on? 

19. Were we surprised that after only 2 years on the air in the DC area, Frank Ski unexpectedly, unceremoniously and immediately dipped when legendary DJ/VJ Donnie Simpson made his return in the same area?

20. Digging the talent, and creativity, or lack thereof on Spike TV’s, “Lip Sync Battle?”

31 December 2013

♫♪ Twenty Questions To The Beat (PT. 6) ♪♫

1.  Are you motivated, moved, mesmerized or feeling, “meh,” over Beyonce’s latest musical feats?

2.  By a show of hands, how many of us think that folk—specifically Harry Belafonte and other African-American activists/critics, hold Jay Z to a higher standard and rake him over the coals more than they do Sean Combs? By a show of hands, how many of us could give less than two damns what Jay Z does politically, for, “The People,” mankind, etc.?

3. Excited or not impressed with the comics turned afternoon Radio Show Hosts DL Hughley, and Earthquake?

4.  By a show of hands, how many of us think that Radio, in general is truly dead and resurrection is out of the question?

5.  By a show of hands—and this is for the old schoolers and true lovers of music, how many of us wish that Hip-Hop would just go ahead and die, too?

6.  By a show of hands, how many of us think that Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor (a.k.a. Lorde) is wise beyond her years and boldly speaks-the-truth regarding today’s music via her cut, “Royals”?

7.  Do the continuous sensual and hip-shaking hits by Justin Timberlake and Robin Thicke have African-American women doing a double-take and whispering, “All White, now…!”

8.  By a show of hands, how many of us think that no matter how many hits he has, Robin Thicke does NOT get a pass for claiming he did NOT sample Marvin Gaye on, “Blurred Lines?”

9.  Wasn’t the GoldieBlox versus The Beastie Boys fight both sad and insane? Moreover, was it not the PERFECT example of how simple disagreements can get out of hand?

10.  Is Pharrell Williams the quiet, but infinitely talented, non-drama dude you would want to invite to the crib for drinks and have long discussions about real life situations and shit?

11. By a show of hands who believes the rumors that OutKast will finally release a project together in 2014?

12. Sad, disappointed, not surprised, or just don’t give a damn, that Nikki Minaj’s minimal talent was overshadowed by classless behavior and disrespect for her elders on American Idol? How many think the entire rift and subsequent disses-slash-on-air disagreements had to be a publicity stunt staged by Fox and Nikki was paid to behave that way?

13.  By a show of hands how many of us think it was not a coincidence that both Michael Baisden and Frank Ski were removed from the airwaves just months before the George Zimmerman verdict? Excited, “meh,” or “whatever,” that Frank Ski has returned to WHUR?

14.  By a show of hands, who is waiting on the Pope to open up his own club, offer Communion and Blessings at the entrance, and confessions with a complimentary mix CD at the exit?

15.  How cool was it that out of all the people to sing at President Nelson Mandela’s funeral, they called on Kirk Franklin?

16.  By a show of hands, how many of us, from the first note to the last, are digging, “The Best Man Holiday,” soundtrack?  Is the 2013 movie and soundtrack better than the first (1999)?

17. Inspired, intrigued, or feeling, “meh,” that Steve Harvey has transformed from Standup Comedian, to an Original Kings of Comedy, to actor, to radio show host, to author, to movie producer, to Family Feud host, to TV talk show host in just under 25 years?

18. By a show of hands, how many of us will admit waiting on bated breathe for the, “Strawberry Letter,” along with the response from Steve, his crew and callers?

19. Excited, or feeling, “meh,” over the return of Arsenio Hall’s TV show? By a show of hands, how many of us love Aresenio but are just too worn out to stay up that late?

20. By a show of hands, how many of us simply wish for love, peace and soul in 2014?