SNIPPED & F*CKED: THE GRAMMYS 2008—REWIND ON THE HEADLINES
asting time is a grand pastime in the “modern” world, especially in the most “modern” society of them all—you know, the one that tells you it’s the “greatest country in the world,” despite all evidence to the contrary. And what greater way to throw the hours, minutes and seconds into the incinerator than to have watched the music mafioso Recording Academy’s Grammy Awards, shelled out on Feb. 10th. Now, it is this writer’s intent to avoid that propaganda program to all avail, and avoided it was with ease. After all, in our book WARRIOR SONG we state that “GRAMMY” acronymically stands for “Getting Rid of Afrikan Made Music Yearly.” But if it don’t be goddammy-d, the electronic headlines following “Music’s Biggest Night” bombarded “mainstream” and “black” news sites, taking as many visual casualties as possible from the media missiles. Celebrations all the way to/for the “winners” from the Academy, but once again those who lost out are the rightful heirs of Afrikan musiculture, and once again those walking away with the gramophone statuette are some of the biggest cultural losers one could ever attempt to find. Indeed, the headlined awards that fateful February night were not recognition for some artistic feat or musical milestone; the night was ceremony for the increased symbolic denigration and desecration of the Afrikan female. *** On to the obvious: There was a minor yet necessary outcry over crack-headed multiwinner Amy Whiteho’s “victimhoodization,”
the crazy in-yo’-face double-standard of the Academy’s preference for artificial over art, the spoilt milk drop backed by her chocolate coons for the innocent-by-association legitimization gimmick. Oh, she sounds “like” us. Well, what the fuck about us? But that’s the blatantly obvious. What emphasized the atrocity was the “great white hope’s” “competition” she was pitted against, redbones Beyoncé and Rhianna, who possess, to be generous, marginal overall talent at best, their sound flanked by heavily digitized/commercialized overproduction— R&B lite(-skinned), so-to-speak, leaving the impression that Winehouse has more (or a) “soul,” is or is more “authentic,” than the negroes nominated (supposedly to represent our best), as if marginalized young Black artists aren’t still holding on to tradition; as if Black artists from that old school era aren’t around still performing in the tradition. The music industry again bestows the title of keeper of the Black music flame to a white girl (Check the parallels to Janis Joplin making the rounds; half-breed Alicia Keys can only be so much, well, only half as much, to them.), and True-Black isn’t even in the back, but off the music map. Winehouse finds the “X” marking the spot and gets the gold trophies, all due to the directions laid out on her album’s title, Back to Black, amplified by Tina Fey’s “Saturday Night Live” non-veiled feminist racial “fashion statement,” “bitch is the new black.” Bitch, please. It’s all oh so regretro. *** Our next loser is… Herbie Hancock, because he didn’t win, his album did, a recording in
tribute to a white girl, Joni Mitchell, the first “jazz” album to win since 1965, the last one going to Getz/Gilberto, by two white boys who rode off the popularity of a “hit” single (“The Girl from Ipanema,” also about a white girl) based on Afrikan music in Brazil (Samba diluted to “bossa nova”), which also won for song of the year. Hancock has been musically and culturally compromised for decades, and we question his intent behind his titling of an early “hit” of his, “Watermelon Man,” and the naming of his group, Head Hunters. Hancock also appeared in the movie Round Midnight, which promoted the “jazz” musician as drug addict, hanging around white girls after gigs. He won an Oscar for the score. Go figure. Put in his decades-long marriage to a white girl and we see that’s all he’ll revere and be rewarded for. The ties with Hancock and Mitchell go back to another confused “jazz” musician, Charles Mingus, whose parents both had white blood in them, and who was married to a white girl as well. Topping it off was Hancock’s acceptance speech, his speaking of “a new day” at the Grammys, quoting a slogan from the Barack Obama presidential campaign, “Yes we can,” and yet another dimension of white female worshipping through that genetically and politically recessive figure gets blasted through the airwaves and cyberspace—like a “Rockit.” *** Next down is damn Kanye—or Can’t-nay— West, a superego obsessed with white and half-white girls (not to mention a white “Jesus”) and his woeful elegy to his darkskinned mother, who died from the effects of taking on the values and habits once associated primarily with upper-class white women, the neo-negro “nip and tuck” syndrome. The unfortunate circumstances of Donde West’s death underscores the
genocidal cultural deviation of Afrikans’ quest to go outside of ourselves in order to be other than ourselves, and the exponential dangers of utilizing mechanical manipulation in that pursuit, be it sonically, cosmetically or otherwise. *** Bottoming out the barrel is Beyoncé again and her Tina Turner tumbling act, doing what keeps them in the “mainstream” media scope: shaking it up for them white folks. Turner, in an outfit that looked cut out from the one Sly Stone wore at his (hopefully) last Grammy debacle, gets brought in from the pasture, it seems, as a reward to celebrate her ex’s recent death. Now, before any feminegroes get bent out of shape, Tina’s abuse from Ike was very serious and she did what she felt she had to do. (Nevertheless, what good can be expected from a cokehead, male or female?) But we are so blindsided that we go to the enemy to address our problems as she did with her book and movie. Her book collaborator was straight-up racist Kurt Loder of Rolling Stone magazine and MTV infamy, who defended Elvis Costello’s 1979 drunken racist tirade by calling us “niggers” just like Costello. The flick What’s Love Got to Do with It is a major media weapon to demonize Black males and further antagonize the white-induced Black femalemale rift, and is accepted as history instead of the overhyped myopic fictionalized biopic that it is. Even Tina had to admit the movie’s treatment of Ike was unfair. How ironic that the person who fearlessly tore up the bull brought out by Tina, Oprah, Whoopi, etc., for their anti-Ike, a.k.a., anti-Black male, campaign was white boy Phil Spector, even referring to us as “brother” and “sister” in the process. Maybe that’s not ironic, but the pitiful state of our reality, an irony in and of itself. Whatever Ike’s faults, Ms. Turner hasn’t accomplished anything since being
with him in the 1960s except tramp around onstage for white boys like the Rolling Stones and the Who, and tramping offstage with white lovers, like Ike, too. What they got to do with us? Look for Ms. Knowles to continue Tina’s “legacy.” *** Without even watching the televised event, the newswires, white and negro, assured the Grammys’ semi-subliminal assassination of the Afrikan female image by cultural agents and traitors made a worldwide run that’s certain to circulate until next year’s attack. What the years ahead will behold the enemy’s anti-Black music menu remains to be seen or heard, but unrest assured it won’t be worth the guaranteed pain of viewing or listening to. —Djehuti wa Kamau 3/5/2008 Djehuti wa Kamau is a cultural journalist and the author of Warrior Song: A PanAfrikan Centered Handbook for Cultural Liberation and Salvation via the Medium of Music, published by First Scribe Books (www.firstscribebooks.com).