Did you know that the month of June is Black Music Month? Really, yes it is! To me it is like celebrating black history month again, only around the summertime. Some of you are asking or saying, so what? So what? You should know where most of the originations of Hip Hop, Rap, Funk, Soul, Rock, R&B, Country, Classical, Opera have really started. – Oh I forgot about Jazz, Gospel, Cuban/Carribean, Jamacian and Inspirational music too. Most of would say the south, or the east coast. Well you’re half right. All forms of music were born and originated in Africa. Everyone should know that. It has been around when slavery was more of a cancer that a state of mind. As well as fighting for civil rights, freedom and the pursit of happiness. But more, (the music) it has generated a mainstream effect in America. Let me clarify with some examples:

First, last summer I was at a family reunion in Detroit, Michigan visiting the original Motown museum. The same museum that housed Berry Gordy, and gave Stevie Wonder, The Tempations, Smokey Robinson, and other Motown legends a voice to America, and the world. Particularly, Black America. I also looked at the pictures of album covers. The first of the four covers I looked at were made by black artists, but they couldn’t show the faces because back then, African-American Artists weren’t allowed to show them. Kind of racist, eh? Also did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. recorded his first Motown record? Yes he did. Go to your libraries and see if they carry his “I Have A Dream Speech” on a 78 record. And by the way, his album cover is displayed at the motown museum. Check this, did you know that Motown gave rock music a voice? I am not lying! Yes they did. They were first label to not only give blacks a voice, but to spread to other races too. Speaking of rock music, never forget that Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino helped gave birth to Rock and Roll music. Yes, Elvis, the Beatles, Led Zepplin, The Doors,  Poison, Guns N Roses, even Whitesnake, were given credit to steamline the rock phenomic blast, but remember it was black musicians that started it all! Take the time to listen to Lenny Kravitz, Prince, Kira, the lead singer from the rock group Sevendust,  Jimi Hendrix, Black Rock Coalition (which is on myspace!) and I dare say Wicked Wisdom also. Just to let you know that there are some black artists out there are embracing the rock! Feel me?

As for country music: not to many sing the genre, but three individuals came to mind: Ray Charles, yes Ray Charles had some country songs in his collection. He also was the first to combine Gospel and R&B music together. Sort of like Kirk Franklin almost. And people thought it was against religion. Charley Pride, often called the first brother of country, sung the genre, and a new person which most of us never heard of is Rissi Palmer. She too has a myspace page, check her out. I would say Cowboy Troy from Nashville Star also, but I think he’s more of an entertaniner than a singer. Just my opinion!

R&B/Soul/Pop: I think of James Brown, Nat King Cole, Curtis Mayfield, Gordon Parks, Quincy Jones, Michael Jackson, (or the Jacksons) Janet, Issac Hayes, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Aretha Franklin (whom by the way sung America The Beautiful twice at Wrestlemania)Sam Cooke, The Isley Brothers, Gladys Knight, Chaka Khan, Tempatations, O-Jays, Levert and others. To me without them, there would be no Usher, SWV, EnVogue, Jade(where they at?) , Mary J. Blige- although she’s been a legend for 15 years, Deborah Cox, Tamia, Ciara, R-Kelly, Tank, Carl Thomas, and countless others that are peeking in the music game. – Even Beyonce. So, know your history!

The Rap Game: This is somewhat easy! With the recent attacks on rap music these days carrying the n-word, we must not forget the fun side of rap music.  I know in my 30 years that rap music or hip hop, has changed my life of being me, period. We can talk about 50 Cent, The Game, Dirty South, Diddy, NWA, Death Row, Bad-Boy, and whatever. We can talk Jay-Z, Tupac, too. And we could bring up Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, in whatever also. And yes Timbaland & Magoo. I want to say that without a doubt, Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel, Sugarhill Gang, Treacherous Three, Public Enemy, MC Hammer, Will Smith,DJ Jazzy Jeff,  Kool Moe Dee, LL Cool J, Run-DMC, Kurtis Blow, MC Rob Base/DJ E-Z Rock, Salt-N-Pepa, Whodini, Biz Markie and others I can think of, there would be no hip hop or rap music right now. Oh, even Doug-E Fresh, Slick Rick, and yes MC Lyte should be added because of their contribution to the game. Just because you have one hit doesn’t make you hot. You need to be hot for atleast 15-20 years of a lifetime. Not MIMS’ lifetime, not Lil Wayne’s lifetime but our lifetime. As far as the languages that are demeaning to women, races, men, gays and all, not all rap music is not against human life, ok? When I think about rappers like Run-DMC, Sugarhill Gang, and Grandmaster Flash/Furious Five they to me were all about party anthems and having a good time. Even D.J. Kool Herc was about this. Never forget, it was Hip Hop Music gave a voice for the poor. It was Hip Hop Music, along with Michael Jackson that gave a boost to MTV when there was no black artists on the channel. The only black person on there in MTV’s beginning stages was the late J.J. Jackson, whom was the first black VJ. (VJ means Video Jockey)  It was also hip hop that gave Run-DMC exposure to Live Aid, Reading Rainbow, WWE, and the first black group on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine, that’s right I said it! Check the record books! Plus, either you like it or not Three-6-Mafia is credited for making hip hop history of “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” from Hustle and Flow. – Oscars that is. Hate him or not, MC Hammer was the first black rapper I saw did commericals before LL, 50, Diddy, Xzibit, Kanye, and Kris Kross came along. And we thought he was a sellout? Gimme a break! To end this, let me say that don’t judge a book by its cover and assume everything is bad about rap. There is some good here, but you just have to listen, take notes, and then decide. Rev. Al Sharpton said at James Brown’s Funeral that Rap Music and Hip Hop Music came from him. When we say: “Check yourself”, or “Shake your money maker” or “Shake what your mama gave ya”(I think),  “Hit It”, “To The Bridge”, and if you hear it in rap/hip hop music, that came from James Brown! God rest his soul. When Chuck D used the rap line “Our freedom of speech, is freedom of death we got to fight the powers that be” guess what? that came from The Isley Brothers. So, Rap/Hip Hop Music does have similarities with the music our parents grew up listening to. Based on the beat, lyric, and sound.

As for Jazz: There was a time that Jazz that was considered “the devils music”.  But thanks to Duke Ellingtion, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Cab Calloway, jazz is not devilish, it is a state of mind and poise of soul. I only wish that some of today’s folks could embrace it than abandon it. I know it has gotten smooth, as in Smooth Jazz. Like rock music, although white artists have given credit for the craft, never forget it was african americans that started it.

Opera has been overlooked. Really it has! I don’t know too much about black opera singers but one sticks out the most was the late Marian Anderson. She was an opera singer, probably the best there was.  In 1939, there was a controverisal thought of not allowing blacks to perform at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. by the Daughters of the Revolution. This also involved her. But Marian’s craft carried her over the barriers of hate since 1955. And since then many few african american opera singers have kept the door open since.

So, in conclusion, the month of June is in effect. And so is black history, musically.


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