Call for Papers “Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince”, Media City UK, University of Salford, Uk May 2017

Dr Kirsty Fairclough

I’m very pleased to announce the following call for papers:

“Purple Reign: An interdisciplinary conference on the life and legacy of Prince”

A two-day international conference hosted by The School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK and the Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University, USA 24th- – 26th May 2017 Media City UK, University of Salford, UK.

Convenors:

Dr Mike Alleyne, Dept of Recording Industry, College of Media & Entertainment, Middle Tennessee State University

Dr Kirsty Fairclough, School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK

Tim France, School of Arts and Media, University of Salford, UK

Proposals are invited for a two-day international conference on the life and legacy of Prince.

This conference aims to provide fresh perspectives on the creative and commercial dimensions of Prince’s career, re-examining the meanings of his work in the context of his unexpected death.

This conference seeks to address the issue…

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Music 4 the Next 1, 12/3/16: “Find Your Wings” by Tyler the Creator

Tyler the Creator has emerged as one of the foremost independent Alternative Hip Hop music impresarios of today. He’s done this with an eclectic, comical, cartoonish style and taking full advantage of social media technologies in building his audience. In his approach one can see 21st Century George Clinton aspects, and his collective has already helped bring major artists like The Internet Band and Frank Ocean to the fore. Tyler’s last album, last years “Cherry Bomb” was hailed as a Stevie Wonder, Neptunes influenced suite of ambitious, socially motivated music. “Find Your Wings” is a great song and video featuring the maestro of Jazz Funk vibes, Roy Ayers. Roy Ayers was himself both a musician and an impresario of music, using his bands and albums as platforms to introduce other players and singers. Of course, his influence through his smooth yet funky jazz funk songs featuring Fender Rhodes and Vibraphone tones were a huge influence on the Hip Hop and R&B of the 1990s. Songs of his like “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and “Daylight” by RAMP have come to be seen as classics that define whole approaches to music. “Find Your Wings” both channels Ayers musical style and, in true Tyler the Creator fashion, the visuals of the video channel Roy Ayers as well, taking off of Roy and his bands classic Soul Train appearance. Tyler is a totally modern post Michael Jackson/MTV musical creator in the way images are always as essential to his music as the components of the music itself, and here he creates a totally appropriate fun ’70s send up to accompany his song.

“Find Your Wings” begins with a rubato rhythmic passage, with some pretty Rhodes chords laying a foundation for Roy Ayers vibraphone work and a muted trumpet. A sensuous jazzy/R&B type vibe is immediately set. As the chord progression is expanded on a high lead synthesizer also plays a melody that outlines the chords, and an acoustic bass sound is added that supports the progression as well. The addition of the synthesizer reminds me of many of Stevie Wonders mid ’70s peak synthesizer jazz mood tunes. Another synth is added that plays a melody, along with the muted trumpet riffs and Roy Ayers vibraphone scales. The next time the progression returns in full string backing is added. To introduce the song in earnest, the drums play a thunderous tom tom run, reminiscent of the beginning of Roy Ayers classics such as “Searching.”

As the vocals come in, they add the hook of “Find Your Wings”, which the whole arrangement supports rhythmically, and which also has a rising chord progression that supports the uplifting feeling. Tyler arranges a chorus of female voices including The Internet’s Syd the Kid and Kali Uchis, also reminiscent of the beautiful female backing provided by singers such as Dee Dee Bridgewater on Roy Ayers productions. As the main verse of the song comes in a rhythmic sing song style, a synth lead worms its way around supporting the melody. In a very rhythmic way the artists provide an old school song of inspiration, telling the intended audience “Suppose to fly and take control cause you’re the pilot”, and “The Skys your home, theres no limit, you know you gotta go, Find your Wings.” Tyler sends the next section of the song into a new key and a new arrangement with a new baseline that sets the singer off nicely, as the instruments continue to make statements in and out of the main body of the music as the song ends on a triumphant sounding major cadence with the tom tom drums leading the way.

“Find Your Wings” is a very successful evocation of the silky smooth Roy Ayers 1970s style and the whole school of positive, uplifting ’70s Black music as a whole. Tyler, throughout his young career, has already proven himself extremely successful at setting a table for other young men and women to eat off of. With a song such as “Find Your Wings” he shows himself to be a very capable creator of innovative positive soul music himself, taking the renowned mellow funky soul vibe of Roy Ayers and translating it to a song of inspiration in the 21st Century. The song and video were a pleasant surprise to me, and I eagerly await more material by Tyler the Creator in the future!

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Tommie Smith, Athletic Protest, and the Greatness of the Raiders

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This past Monday night was a very special one as both a Raider fan and a Black history buff. My hometown Oakland Raiders went down to Mexico City to play a Monday Night Football contest and defeated the Houston Texans. This was special on several levels. For one, it was a unique experience to see an Oakland Raider game played in Mexico. Many of the most die hard Raider fans in the Bay Area and L.A are of Spanish descent, including many close friends, and some of them even made it to the game. I could tell from the social media posts they were sharing that to be able to explore the country of their ancestors while also enjoying their hometown team play (and win) a football game is an experience that touched them deeply. It was also special validation of the Raiders to win a big international game on Monday Night Football. During the Raiders decades of dominance in the 1970’s and ’80s they were especially known for their excellence when the lights shone the brightest, on prime time Monday night games. Those Monday night games exposed the nation to the pirates, bikers, soul brothers, renegade drinkers, central casting running backs (Marcus Allen and Bo Jackson), and reckless hitters who together created the Raider mystique. Winning on an internationally televised stage legitimatizes what we’ve known in the Bay Area all year, The Raiders truly can play! But Raiders owner Mark Davis did something else that made a very powerful statement.

Colin Kapernick, starting QB for the 49ers has drawn both haters and lovers for his National Anthem protests this football season, with some even dubiously claiming they are behind the NFL’s current ratings drop. Those protests have evolved from simply remaining seated to taking a dignified knee, and he’s been joined in them by members of his own team, as well as players on other teams and in other sports. The motivation behind them has been the nearly unceasing stream of officer involved, racially motivated shootings by police officers against Black men and women during the past few years, which leads back to the legacy of Jim Crow and America’s history of racial repression. With Kap’s proud Afro and Ethiopianesque visage, both his image and his stance remind one of the Black sports heroes of the 1960s in particular, people like Jim Brown, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Muhammed Ali, and many other athletes of that time. He has been counseled in his sports activism by a Soul Survivor veteran of the Civil Rights and Black Power days, Dr. Harry Edwards, who organized a legendary boycott by black athletes of the 1968 Mexico City Olympic games.

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Those games are legendary for the manner in which they highlighted the racial tensions of the time. Dr. King was killed in April, and America endured it’s largest scale racial rioting in its history. The phrase “Black Power”, unleashed by Stokely Carmichael right next to Dr. King in 1966 had resounded with a powerful echo in the worldwide Black community, and James Brown had already released his anthemic “Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m proud.” The Black Panthers had been around for two years and were fixtures on the nightly news, and every force in Black life, from the right, left, and center were being galvanized on where they stood on the new wave of Malcom X, Marcus Garvey, Third World Liberation Black militant thought that had finally come to the forefront.

It was in this environment that Dr. Harry Edwards called for a boycott by Black Athletes of the ’68 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Muhammed Ali had already provided the greatest example of a star Athlete resisting racial and governmental tyranny by refusing his induction to the draft in 1967. By the late ’60s professional sports had emerged as possibly the largest positive reflection of Black people in the United States and increasingly the world, with the way paved by stars such as Bill Russell, Jim Brown, Don Barksdale, Woody Strode, the great Jackie Robinson, Althea Gibson, Bob Gibson, Willie Mays, Joe Louis, Muhammed Ali, and many others. Many of these stars were very explicitly socially and politically active, but even those who were not were very useful to demonstrate the fact that Black people had the ability to do great things in modern society. Back when Jesse Owens owned the 1936 Olympics, it was suggested by Adolf Hitler and his Nazi propagandists that “Blacks lacked the intelligence to run”, which is an absurd claim considering people of African descent are known for our athletic prowess today. But it represents the totalitarian thinking on race that gripped the 20th century and would exist today if not for the obvious exploits of so many great Black people.

What made a larger impression on history was not the boycott, but two Bay Area sprinters who actually competed in the games, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the Bronze and Silver winners of the 200 meter race. Their black glove raised protest, feet shorn in black socks standing on the podium in victory, provided possibly the greatest visual of the Black Power era, an image that matched Brown and Mayfield and Franklin’s music and Malcom X’s speeches. This action, though celebrated now, resulted in death threats and ostracism from the Olympic and Track and Field establishments.

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History has been very kind however to the legacies of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, and Raider owner Mark Davis added to that on Monday Night. He invited Dr. Tommie Smith to fly with the team to Mexico City to light the torch that a Raider great lights before every home game in honor of his father, Al Davis. This was significant on several levels because Tommie Smith (who had a very brief NFL career) never played for the Raiders but is like the Raiders, a Bay Area legend who is a symbol for standing for what you believe in. The man who’s torch he lit that night, Al Davis, was perhaps the supreme maverick of NFL history, a man who drafted a Black Quarterback in the first round and hired one of his former players, Art Shell, to be the first Black NFL Head Coach in 1989. Davis was also known to be one of the first men in professional football (along with Bill Nunn Sr. of the Pittsburg Steelers) to regularly scout the HBCU’s, where he found Hall of Famers like Gene Upshaw and Art Shell.

The symbolism and the reality of this action shocked me for several reasons. While I know Al Davis and the Raiders have always been a very progressive team socially and culturally, they are also a very “blue collar” team. In fact, Im pretty sure that the small numbers of people who voted for Donald Trump in the Bay Area had many Raider fans among them. But the Raiders also represent a powerful coming together of Black, White, and Mexican working class people in the East Bay Area of California, other places like Los Angeles and the rest of the country. The Raiders have strong Mexican associations such as their legendary theme song, and the original name of the team was slated to be “The Senors” before a little girl suggested the name “Raiders.” They wear Black, just as Smith and Carlos did in Mexico City in 1868, and just as that other great Oakland institution, The Black Panthers, and another one, The Hell’s Angels. And they also always had the renegade vibe of the Hells Angels with players such as Ken Stabler, John Mutusack, Ted Hendricks and many other Raider greats.

The Raiders did this in a Bay Area sports world that has always been as progressive and nonconformist as the Bay Area as a whole. The Bay Area has had wild sports visionaries like Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley, who clad his team in the perfect “Have a Nice Day” 1970s uniform of Green and Gold while winning three straight World Series. It also had my favorite coach, the visionary Bill Walsh of the San Francisco 49ers, who elevated offensive football to a science and also instituted a minority coach apprenticeship program in the NFL that led to Black NFL Head Coaches like Dennis Green, Marvin Lewis and Ray Rhodes. Walsh did this while employing and being advised by the organizer of that ’68 Olympic boycott, Dr. Harry Edwards, who also advises Colin Kaepernick almost 50 years later in 2016.

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In the end, Tommie Smith’s Al Davis torch lighting was an incredible moment for the NFL, The Raiders, Black athletes and the legacy of Bay Area sports. When Colin Kaepernick began his protests, I had the feeling no Oakland Raiders would be able to participate as freely in the protests. In fact, two players did raise a fist before a game and caused some friction among the team. Mark Davis has stated that he did not mind his players protesting but did not want them to do so, while in uniform, which he felt would tarnish the Raider brand. However he had met Tommie Smith through his father when he was in college and had a great appreciation for what those men did on that day. The Raider fan base is unique, probably containing both Donald Trump supporters with Black militants and Obama supporters, and some of those same Mexican Americans and native Mexicans Trump wants to build a wall to exclude. What unites them is an independent, hard working, that provides an example of how united America will be once the old divisions can no longer be used to run games, which is what the best of sports does as a whole. While I don’t want Dr. Tommie Smith’s torch lighting to be used to suggest all Black struggle is a thing of the past and not relevant when modern day athletes express their desire to see social change happen today, I applaud it as the most “Raider” thing I’ve seen in too long of a time!

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Music for The Next 1, 11/19/16: “Day to Day” by The Robert Glasper Experiment

Robert Glasper has pulled off something very thrilling within the past decade that has great meaning for a lover of variations of R&B, Funk, and Hip Hop that have space for the type of swinging improvisational music known as “jazz.” Just as Miles Davis, Weather Report, Herbie Hancock, George Benson, Charles Lloyd and many other luminaries did in the ’60s and ’70s, he has sought out, with his band, an instrumental jazz form that maintained the root rhythmic appeal of popular Black music. He’s advanced the type of instrumental fusions championed by Herbie Hancock, Joe Zawinul, and Quincy Jones, by opening up Jazz improvisation to the more modern R&B variants of Neo Soul and J-Dilla influenced Hip Hop. Now mixtures of Jazz and Hip Hop are by no means new, with Herbie Hancock striking gold with “Rockit” in 1984, and Miles Davis final “Doo Bop” album with Easy Mo Bee, in addition to the way artists like George Duke and Norman Brown in the smooth jazz idiom embraced New Jack Swing beats as a foundation for improv. What makes what The Robert Glasper Experiment unique is by virtue of age, its members are just as much Hip Hop people as they are Jazz/instrumental people. So they have no qualms giving a song exactly what they feel it needs, as opposed to viewing a songs primary purpose being as a vehicle for improvisation. While I have not always liked everything they’ve done, feeling they’ve tended to rely more on setting a head nod mood in the vein of ’90s Neo Soul, “Day to Day” is truly a standout cut from their latest album, “ArtScience.” The band does something unique on this song, which is far more frequently done across the pond than here in the lower 48, which is craft a disco-jazz influenced dance floor vocal song in the vein of Herbie Hancock’s work in the late ’70s. “Day to Day” was a groovy surprise to me and is our featured song of this week.

The song begins with a rock solid, march step post-disco dance beat, accompanied by an off beat cowbell riff. Corey Benjamin’s vocals come in at a somewhat surprising spot, before the introduction has finished it’s 8 bar cycle. His first lyrics are “Its Now…”, which combined with his earlier than expected entry, helps magnify the funky sense of urgency. When Benjamin comes in, he’s accompanied by some middle aged piano chords. Benjamin’s vocals also are coated with a slight layer of auto tune which forcefully send one note into the next. After he gets through one verse, the bass guitar is introduced, and it plays an interesting variation on Michael Jackson’s classic “Billie Jean” bassline, but instead of repeating the pumping 8th note riff on the same notes, the bass player moves the baseline through the chord change sequence. At the chorus uplifting chords are introduced along with the hook, “I’m living day to day/show me the way to your heart.” The bass also gets in some Paul Jackson style fills, while the arrangement adds Fender Rhodes to its acoustic piano tones. During the next verse a funky rhythm guitar riff is introduced along with strings as the arrangement begins to build in intensity. By the next chorus the strings are more lively, as is the background singing, as the chorus adds some extra repetitions. This is followed by a bridge section where Benjamin sings accompanied by Glaspers Fender Rhodes runs. Which then falls off into an interlude where Glasper plays a simple but funky single note Fender Rhodes rhythm part supported by string stabs. After which, the chorus comes back in with its vamps, which puts the record solidly in the mode of late ’70s dance records. As the record vamps on and on Glasper has more space for the Herbie Hancock like Rhodes playing. Glasper plays his steady Rhodes parts in the interlude as the guitar plays a chopping octave part. The guitar continues to vamp on in that vein until it fades away to the sound of the guitar player playing a bluesy riff.

“Day to Day” is a unique disco/funk/jazz song. Most musicians who reference the fusion era of jazz tend to go for the more experimental, solo heavy side of it. But there was a whole other school of funky jazz that also toyed around with disco rhythms and structures at the end of the ’70s on into the early ’80s. Herbie Hancock played with this style on his albums like “Sunlight”, “Feets Don’t Fail Me Now”, and “Monster.” And this song screams Hancock, from Corey Benjamin’s vocoder like auto tune, to Glaspers Fender Rhodes noodling, to Paul Jackson like bass playing. What makes it unique is that these jazz men who play brilliant straight ahead on the rest of the album, here find the song craft and production sheen to play a straight dance oriented song with vocals. Bringing back the sound of quality dance music played and produced by well trained musicians, something lacking in today’s music that was so common it was taken for granted in the ’70s and ’80s. Lets hope that highly eclectic and diverse band continues to mine this as one of their musical sounds on into its future!

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Miss Sharon Jones

Sharon Jones passed last night, adding to the incredible litany of artists and important people we’ve lost in 2016. Miss Jones death is in its own way, is just as significant to me as those of Natalie Cole, Maurice White, and the many other incredible artists we’ve lost this past year. Along with the funky New York band, The Dap Kings, Miss Jones brought incredible down home soul and funk to the world in the early 21st Century. That is a true accomplishment in a time of such disposable sounds and music.

Sharon is an artist who had to wait many years for her big break in the music industry. She hailed from the same city as the Godfather of Soul himself, August “G.A.”. She worked regular jobs for years to have money to send back home to her family. Finally she hooked up with the Dap Kings and along with them made music that perfectly captured the classic soul sounds of the ’60s and ’70s.

Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings have been very important to my own musical enjoyment and growth over the past ten years or so. As a musician I had the same goals that The Dap Kings did, which was to produce music with the spirit and sound of the classic funk and soul era. I also had a thing for working with older artists and vocalists, but me and my music buddies never hit on a soul vocalist as incredible as Miss Sharon Jones. Together they did something that was almost unthinkable, finding a strong audience for classic soul sounds in the present day.

I’ve mentioned Miss Jones and The Dap Kings music several times on this blog as an example of why the Internet is the home of good music today. Miss Jones music should truthfully have been a mainstay of classic soul stations and R&B stations in general. She has the type of music you could play for a soul fan that would immediately set them to trying to remember when they heard it back in the day. And I’m sure you’d have a hard time convincing them it wasn’t some old 45 they used to dance to in the living room. With Miss Jones energetic, Tina Turner/James Brown type performance style and the bands dapper, sharp suited musical precision, they were one of the premier touring bands in the world. But without the radio exposure and big hits, they mostly played either small theater type shows by themselves, or opened for bigger bands. Exposure on the Adult Contemporary formats could have given them the bigger profile that they deserved. Together they had a sound that would have been music to any Soul fan or lover of good music’s ears.

Yet, the musical story of Sharon and the Dap Kings is not a sad one at all. It’s also proof of what the new world of the Internet, and the old staple of a vigorous live show can do for an artist in the 21st Century. It’s almost a prototypical modern music story. Without major radio play, without the saturation of televised videos, Sharon and the Dap Kings were able to become one of the most popular live acts in the country, they were able to play television shows such as Conan, Jimmy Fallon, and Ellen. They were able to share stages with Prince. They got write ups in major magazines and newspapers. They were a highly visible “underground” music act, one who’s reputation was unimpeachable when it came to the question of musical quality. All of this came from a sure, certain musical ethic, a family style organizational structure, careful Internet marketing and the creation of brand loyalty through quality performance, and a dynamic lead singer finally getting her opportunity beyond all shallow notions in Ms. Sharon Jones. Even though their music spoke to the best of the ’60s and ’70s, their success could only truly happen today.

I’m greatly saddened by Sharon’s passing because I felt she had so much more to give. She was a relatively young proponent of classic soul and funk in a time when so much classic soul and funk has already left us. But truth be told, she gave so very much when she was here. And she left us a body of work that shows it’s still possible to dig deep into the soul to bring forth music in the digital age. Her success has been one of the best musical events of my lifetime and I hope many other talents will take her example as a call to never give up, and also to bring that old school soul in concert with the younger generations!

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Heil Trump, Mein Imperial President

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Last week’s Presidential Election marked one of the most incredible political turn of events of my lifetime, as Donald J Trump, the real estate tycoon who’s rude antics I’ve been a witness to the majority of my life, won the Presidency of the United States with a solid electoral college victory, while losing the popular vote. Count me among the ranks of those who, although not energized by Hillary Clinton as a candidate, thought that she would triumph after watching the Trump campaign make one blunder after another. But no bullying, rude remark was enough to quell the wave of white resentment at the center of Donald Trump’s appeal. As Adolph Hitler once wrote, “The mentality of the masses has no use for half measures and weakness. It recognizes only ruthless strength and brutality.” Or as Donald Trump would say, “Take the oil.” It’s very clear that Barack Obama’s caution and gift for nuance might seem next to Trump, only a more successful, two term version of Jimmy Carter’s, coated in carmel. Trump in this scenario fulfills the American taste for heroes of old, bold white men who dictated terms to the rest of the world rather than asked. But in the 21st Century, the image of the dictatorial white man has changed. It is no longer the swaggering cowboy of old, represented by Ronald Reagen during his Presidency, it has now been replaced by an eastern business tycoon. And “The Donald” has convinced a winning plurality of working class (and college educated) white people that he is the most qualified person, inherited billions and all, to look after the common man. Now there have been rich champions of the working class before, such as FDR and JFK. But neither represented the visceral pull of Trump in this past election.

In reality, Donald Trump’s victory, though shocking, is many years in the making. The dominant political narrative, brought to the American people in its greatest form by Ronald Reagen, is that “big government” has become the problem in American life. My argument has always been that we never heard one peep about “big government” until Blacks and other minorities began to be seen as benefiting from government programs. Reagen and his advisors brilliance was to tie hatred for government into racicalized issues such as affirmative action, school busing from black to white districts, employment laws, minorities studies programs, welfare programs, jobs programs, and any other measure directed at fixing or mending racial inequality in America.

This wave is a very old one, that was brought to the fore by George Wallace and Barry Goldwater in 1964. Before that it had been seen in the violent “whitelash” after Reconstruction in the post War South. Trump emulated one of the most divisive of American politicians, Richard Milhaus Nixon, on his way to victory last Tuesday. Except with even less grace, playing to the reality TV deadened American mob of the early 21st Century. As much of the rest of the world denounced Trump’s antics in revulsion, a certain segment of American’s rapturously cheered his every rude, ill tempered tirade. Here finally was a person running for office who “kept it real.” Even some Blacks, who knew that Trump inspired the most vile and blatant racism seen since the 1960s, found Trump and his supporters real hate refreshing.

The great writer Playthell Benjamin wrote an essay on the unique American appeal of Donald Trumps brand of neo facism. It can be read here https://commentariesonthetimes.me/2016/03/14/is-donald-trump-a-uniquely-american-fascist/. Benjamin raised a fascinating point, which is basically that these extreme right wing movements, playing on simplistic ideas of going back to some lost glorious past (Make America Great Again!) and steeped in ethnic and racial chauvinism, need leaders who fit the history, myth, and temperament of the nations they’re attempting to mislead. And that Donald Trump, business tycoon and reality television star, has a personality and background uniquely suited for a number of Americans to trust him enough to turn over unprecedented power to.

Trump has, since his rise to celebrity during the 1980s, represented the American ideal of a bold, wheeler dealer businessman. This figure has replaced the cowboy and soldier as totems of American masculinity, with business and the competition for dollars seen as the true warfare. In this America, even wars such as the one’s we have conducted in the middle east are seen clearly as conquest for material resources, that all add up to money and prosperity. As Herbert Hoover was once reputed to say, “The business of America is business.” Trump is also a much different figure than the internet geeks who are much wealthier than he. Compared to them, he seems to have more of the patriarchal American boldness that is imprinted on our acquisitory history.

It seems that Americans have been running away from Democracy for many years. Benjamin Franklin was said to have remarked after the forming of the United States that he and the founding fathers had created “A Republic, if you can keep it.” The strength of the American Republic will be tested as it has not for a long time. The supporters of Donald Trumps argument, as well as right wing movements around the globe, is that the increasing wave of globalism, in which borders are undermined and resources do not find their way to actual citizens of the nations they’re supposed to be there for. This argument is problematic, as Its always been my point that the wave of globalization began with the creation of the Atlantic world, and was set in motion years ago by tragedies such as Slavery, Colonialism, and Native removal. As Malcom X said, “The Chickens are coming home to roost.” I will continue to use this blog as a space to monitor the coming changes in America, as a journal to advocate for things I believe are beneficial to human beings of all persuasions. And we will all need to remain vigilant as we’re being driven in the most sophisticated car in the world, by an elderly first time driver.

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Donald Trump, Political Version…..

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Like most American’s, I’ve been eagerly following this nightmarish Presidential Election. I have not been able to get myself enough together to write about it, but trust me, I’ve been talking about it with friends, family, and random people in the street who will listen. The threat posed by Donald J Trump to American Democracy is a unique one. Mainly because although his “winning” right wing Demagoguery threatens to unhinge Democracy as we know it, it also springs from the unique nature of American popular Democracy. And the one thing Trump has going for him (besides his money and his melanin deficiency) is his money. Maybe the size of his mouth and the brain attached to that mouth, but that’s clearly a double edged sword. Some Republicans claim shock at Trumps antics, but that’s merely because he’s foolish (and smart) enough to say in public what they’ve been uttering in private for many years. As an episode of Roots the Next Generation once had a character mention, the classical post Civil Rights act Republican politician has generally been one who’s had the dignity to use code words (Welfare Queen) when they want to signal out the word “Nigger” (or “Arab”, or “Liberated Woman”, or “Hispanic”) to their base. But Donald Trump is that child who curses in public. From the way the child cusses, you know how his Parents speak in private. As polarizing as Trump is to those who oppose him, he’s just as much of the right candidate for those who support him. He’s ridden a wave of racial anxiety brought to the surface by President Barack Obama’s election in 2008. This is a wave that has been building for a long time. It had such warning signals as George Wallace’s campaign for the Presidency, Richard Nixon’s 1968 campaign. George H.W Bush’s “Willie Horton” ad. Ronald Reagens whole Presidency. In the 1990s we saw it in the standoff at Ruby Ridge and Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma. We saw it in Pat Buchanan’s failed run for the Republican nomination in 1992, and his more upfront twin, David Duke. We even saw it in President Obama’s election in 2008, in the fire bombing campaign of Sarah Palin. As soon as Obama got elected we got more of it in the Tea Party, and Birthirism, through which Trump finally found his entire onto the legitimate American political scene. It’s the same attitude Carol O’Conner immortalized on television through his portrayal of Archie Bunker back in the ’70s, but the election of the first Black President, and the changing Demographics of America have made it even more desperate.

One of my best friends told me about a saying he grew up with in San Francisco back in the ’60s. He told me that he and his friends would talk about buddies they had who could “play something all the way to the bus stop.” These were dudes who were guilty of one crime or another and would still maintain their innocence after they were released from jail, all the way out of the jailhouse to the Bus stop to go back home, long after other people had accepted their guilt. Donald Trump is that kinda dude. When you catch him in a lie, he lies some more. When he’s wrong, he argues. If he’s guilty, he’s gonna show why you’re guilty as well. Nothing particularly new about that, we all probably know someone similar. The problem with Trump is that a certain section of America, which claims Democracy, would actually view Donald Trump as “strong.” For me? Donald Trump is a three card monty player. He’s a used car salesman. He’s a boss with camera’s in the bathroom. He’s not strong in the slightest, in the traditional moral and spiritual definitions of strength, he’s simply a hustler who does not respect anything but the dollar and his own reputation.

There have probably been political candidates throughout the years who have been as ugly as Donald Trump. But the scary thing about this particular moment is the way the media, celebrity, racism, legitimate economic problems, and the American worship of the false God Mammon, has led to this moment where the most spectacularly unqualified individual to ever run for the Presidency stands perilously close to the Oval Office.

Donald Trump has been a name I’ve known all my life. He was the epitome of fast talking, New York City wheeler dealer wealth in my youth. In the 1990s, I saw him from a different angle, as I watched my Hip Hop heroes like Russell Simmons, Puff Daddy, the RZA and several other figures “politic” with “The Donald.” And it was quite a fitting connection because I realize Trump is just like those figures in many ways, with less talent, and millions of dollars in seed money from his father. I grew up in the ’90s when “Trump tight” was a hip hop phrase of praise! But the Donald exemplifies Jay Z’s eternal line, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!” He also exemplifies the paper rich economy created by Reagenomics. The economy that does not truly produce any value. Trumps business is Trump. The image of success, be it real or illusory. Just like the rappers who admired him, he’s done television shows, started clothing lines, and ejaculated his name across any willing surface if it would make him a dollar or two.

And that’s part of the reason some people respect him. The first time I saw it assumed that a businessman would run the country better than politicians was in the candidacy of Ross Perot in 1992. George W Bush ran on the same idea and actually “won” in 2000. But the idea itself is actually an old Republican one expressed during the days of Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover.

But Trump isn’t simply a businessman, he’s a fast talking, trash talking white man, and an entertainer. He’s just as much of an attention whore as any reality television star the country claims to be tired of. And any attempts he’s ever had to spread his business acumen have been frauds because his business acumen has been more personality based than technical. Yet, Trump sits very close to the Presidency.

I don’t believe Donald Trump will win this coming election. But it matters little whether he wins or not because he has already broken the hymen of Lady Liberty. Some Americans believe that a billionaire who’s catchphrase is “you’re fired” is the most capable person to look after the needs of middle class and working people. All because at the end of the day a white guy with orange hair is the one they feel they can trust.

This is by no means an endorsement of Hillary Clinton, mind you. But a diatribe against “The Donald.” I was a critic of The Clintons in my teenage years during the 1990s! I was always appalled at the term of praise laid on Bill Clinton, “The first Black President.” I was also quite aware of the provisions of the 1994 Crime Bill, as many of them were originated right here in California, including the “Three Strikes and You’re Out” law. The Clinton’s contribution to American politics has been for many of us a terrible one, which is a Democratic Party that was no longer Liberal. This was not some new decision that came on a whim. Bill Clinton was chairman of an organization called “The Democratic Leadership Conference” that formed after the Dems lost two elections badly to Ronald Reagen. That organizations goal? To destroy the Democrats reputation as the party of the poor and minorities and make it more appealing to the “Reagen Democrats” a group of Middle Class voters who voted for Ronald Reagen, but were traditionally Democratic.

What were these policies? A focus on “Middle class tax cuts” instead of cash handouts. In education, things such as charter schools and vouchers to combat the Republicans call for Private school choice vouchers. A get “tough on crime” stance that included both policies Republicans hated such as assault weapons bans, and policies they loved, such as sentencing laws that would disproportionately affect minorities. And for the most part it worked. Clinton caught the good wave of the Internet boom to preside over the best peacetime economy America has ever seen. He also managed to do something, win the White House twice, that was thought to be impossible for a Democrat post-Ronald Reagen.

But even though Clinton won the White House twice, he did so with a minority each time. Also the agenda he ran on left little room for the Democrats to enact their traditional social agenda’s. This was seen when GWB won the White House pretending to be a “Compassionate Conservative.” Some people say the damage had been done however, as some Democrats had finally accepted Ronald Reagen’s America, an America of limited government, as the framework for American life. Of course the racists support “Limited government” because it would mean no Department of Education, no Affirmative Action, no student loans, no Head Start, and no other program to challenge the unfair advantages gained during the bloody founding of our nation.

As a person who was there at that time, getting my first lessons in politics, it is through that sense I see Hillary Clinton. She got her first lessons in this way before Ronald Reagen was elected, in 1972 when George McGovern lost to Richard Nixon by a landslide. The message was clearly that the 1960s, with its activism and hopes for equality in America, was over. She’s been a politician ever since, even though she has only been an elected one since the early 21st Century, conflicting with Trumps charge that she’s been in office “30 years.”

The claim that she’s been in office “30 Years” is a part of the sexist energy that has always made American uncomfortable with Hillary Clinton. People forget that when she came on the national scene she was still known as “Hillary Rodham Clinton.” Which meant that she was one of those “unmastered” women who still held on to the name their daddy’s gave them. I saw men like Pat Buchanan get up on Republican stages and attack this woman simply because her husband respected her opinion.

One of the interesting features of this election is Black people’s outlook on it, which is the outlook I’m most concerned with. Some of the ill will that was built up for Hillary during the 2008 election cycle when she ran a dirty campaign against Barack Obama has not subsided. Also, many people in the Black community are finally getting hip to the Clintons mixed record on racial relations.

However, I’m not sure if Hillary is to blame for Bill’s history of triangulation and neo Liberalism. To me it seems to be a classic case of “blame the woman.” My mother always told me, from experience, one of the hardest things for a woman to do is be the wife of a charismatic man. A charismatic man’s wife is the ultimate “Bad cop.” Hillary has always been the “bad cop” in her relationship to Bill, the scapegoat for all his failings and even his biggest failed policy, the 1994 Health Care Bill. “Super predators” comments and devilry in Haiti aside, I see that as Hillary’s main problem politically, the bright light that her husband shone and the way she comes off in comparison.

At the end they’re both people after power for their own reasons. But a Trump Presidency is simply intolerable for me, and I believe anyone else as well, whether they currently know it or not. My only sentiment is the same one Stokely Carmichael used to raise, “Are you ready to survive America!?!?!”

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