Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Black culture on the skids

Remember what black radio used to be? Black radio used to be the coolest thing in your life. It was the thrill of hearing that brand new Parliament single for the first time. It was commercials like this one... or this one.

Black radio was Donnie Simpson proclaiming that this guy was gonna be “the next Stevie Wonder.” (Didn’t turn out to be true, but “Mama Used To Say” was the bomb.)

Then, in the 21st Century, black radio sank to this:

“Smackfest” was banned a couple of years ago by the state of New York, and Hot 97 (WQHT-FM) was slapped with a quarter-million-dollar fine. But YouTube has plenty of old Smackfest vidclips, including multiple postings of the one above. Because the Man wants us to look bad, ya see...

(Hat-tip: The Assimilated Negro.)

By the way... do you wanna download some old blaxploitation commercials on MP3? Click here. They might not seem like much to be proud of. But compared to Smackfest, they were the Golden Age of Radio.


CJB said...

It isn't just black radio that isn't what it used to be. There isn't much out there on commercial radio stations anymore. Every market and genre has plenty of stuff to make you cringe in embarrasment.

As far as music, I've discovered more cool stuff from the UBM collection in the last few months than I have from my car stereo in years.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I thought I was the only jonesing for yesteryear.

I had a hearing out of town. Four hour drive both ways. I decided that I was going to listen to only Black music from 1973. Some gems from that year: EWF - Head to the Sky, Herbie Hancock - Headhunters, Sly - Fresh, The Meters - Cabbage Alley, Marvin Gaye - Let's Get It On, The O'Jays - Ship Ahoy, Tower of Power - Tower of Power (feat. What Is Hip? & Soul Vaccination), James Brown - The Payback, and Stevie Wonder's masterful Innervisions. Drive didn't seem so long.

Next week I'm moving on to 1974. Will probably stop at 1982 when everybody seemed to crossover, go disco, or left the scene.

odocoileus said...

Tame compared to what was on Stern any day of the week.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Sad state of Black affairs. I hadn't even watched this episode of self-hatred when I took my trip down memory lane.

Silly and worse than stupid. Entertainment is watching two sistas try to slap the s**t outta each other? This is the real blaxploitation.

That Superfly/Shaft/Dolemite s**t was comic book. This Flava of Love stupid.

runeba said...

How is this any different from the sort of shit that goes on Howard Stern all the time?

Roberto Rivera said...

As a DC native, UBM, you might enjoy my Donnie Simpson story: I sat right in front of Simpson at the first Major League game at RFK in 34 years. We talked and enjoyed ourselves but no more than when Chuck Brown was brought out for the 7th inning stretch. The grins on our faces could be measured in miles.

I grew up listening to the Stylistics, O'Jays, Main Ingredient and, yes, Bootsy, George Clinton and the roving village that was Parliament/Funkadelic. I even listened to Kathy Hughes after I moved to DC.

What happened? I have a yet-thought-out hypothesis that Robert Johnson and BET contributed to this sad state of affairs. I'm not saying that he was primarily responsible -- I'm saying that he helped commodify black culture in a way that led to its demise.

My .02

Undercover Black Man said...

Odocoileus and Runeba: I'm not a big Howard Stern fan, but I've seen my fair share of the old cable TV version of his radio show, and I never saw anybody get struck. Never ever.

If I need to explain what's so degrading about Smackfest, then we're all in trouble.

The Crisis facing the black community today is the culture of violence. And it's not white people's problem to fix... it is ours. (Unless you believe that black people will always be a child-like dependent caste in America, with no responsibility for their own progress.)

So FTDS... and fuck Stern too. What does Stern have to do with the Crisis? We need to devote our intellectual and organization energies to this Crisis the way previous generations focused on abolition, and on combatting lynching, and on securing voting rights.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

Dave, you are on to something there, brotha. That's a damn good observation. I'm gonna put my mental energy into dissecting that one.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

BTW, I was funkin' up in forgetting to mention two other 1973 classics: Funkadelic - Cosmic Slop and the Isley Brothers - 3+3.

I'm doing 1973 marathon today. 1974 starts tomorrow.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Rags to Rufus!

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I thought about that one as well as Skin Tight but my cds say 1974 for both. I could've sworn I heard both those when I was nine (being born in 1964). My parents were zoned out in those days so they wouldn't be able to tell me. I gotta go with the cd dates (which I know can be wrong).

Bruh, we should do a 70s Black radio piece.

In any event, the marathon is on! Listening to Let's Get It On right now.

Undercover Black Man said...

Oh, I was talking about '74... giving you something to look forward to, DeAnge.

'74 has always been my favorite year when it comes to the funk.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

roberto, good catch on the BETzation of televised Black entertainment. Coulda, shoulda been something better. Bob was about the bottom-line. It says a lot that he thought scraping the bottom of the barrel would achieve that. I'll give him props on BET Jazz even though that's veered from hard core jazz showcasing under-exposed geniuses to soft jazz and so-called retro-soul.

Cathy Hughes' TV1 is doing a decent job countering that.

Both hailing from the Chocolate City, which, being a former resident, symbolizes both the wasted potential and fortitude of the Black population there.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

74 is a damn good year! Can't go wrong 72 - 76 with the Funk.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

On second thought, 72 - 78.