Monday, November 08, 2021

I'm really tired of the every day racism (Ann)


I'm really tired of the every day racism.

As an African-American woman, I'm get really tired of the racism, the every day 'soft' racism that exists and largely gets ignored.  Kat's "Alexis Petridis LIES about Diana Ross and her chart history" rightly calls out the White Brit critic who lied about Diana Ross' single career in the UK, insisting that it screeched to halt after 1986 when Diana had the number one hit with "Eaten Alive."  As Kat documents, after "Chain Reaction," Diana went on to have -- from 1992 to this year -- 18 more top 40 UK singles -- including hitting number 2 with two different recordings.  

Just to comparison shop, Paul McCartney, in the same period, had 14 top 40 UK hits on the singles chart.  Like Diana, Paul emerges on the charts first in 1964 -- Paul with the Beatles, Diana with the Supremes.  The two are contemporaries.  Paul had to team with Rihanna and Kanye for one of those hits (meaning if Cliff Richards had replaced Paul on that song, it still would have been a hit) and with Kanye solo on another (ibid).  Another?  A Christmas song -- one where he's a vocalist . . . along with Bono, Chris Martin, Dido, Robbie Williams, Joss Stone and many, many others.

So grasp that.  On the UK single charts, Diana, in the period for 1992 to present, has outperformed rock legend and UK homegrown boy Paul McCartney but the Brit Priss wants to claim Diana's singles career ended in 1986.  It's stupidity.  

Is it also racism?  It may be.  

That's what C.I. is talking about in Friday's snapshot:

Kat's bothered by a review THE GUARDIAN gave Diana's album and, as Kat demonstrates, the pompous and overpraised critic didn't even get Diana's post-1986 chart history in his own country correct  More to the point, Diana's often gotten bad reviews upon release.  The Brit priss Kat calls out calls out the lyrics.  Truth for those who don't know, if you're presented with a new album and you're being paid to review it, the quickest way to do the review is to focus on the lyrics.  You can read them on the sheet and don't have to actually experience the album.  That's for all artists.

Diana?  She's like Bob Dylan at this point.  Everyone's invested in her that listens to her and they all know the album she should make.  They just know it.  And when she releases a new album (or he when Bob releases one), they're listening with one ear towards what's been released and one ear towards what they wished she'd record.

But the specific point I want to make here is the Brit priss doesn't like the lyrics and laments that they're not the same quality as the ones on 1980's diana.  When that album came out?  There were reviews savaging it for . . . the lyrics.  In fact, Nile and Bernard were never praised for their lyrics in real time -- not for their work with Diana ("Upside Down," "I'm Coming Out," "My Old Piano," etc), not for their work in their band Chic, not for their work with Debbie Harry, not for their work with Sister Sledge, not for . . . 

No one wishes Diana would go into the studio with Valerie Simpson again more than me (Valerie and her late husband Nick Ashford produced many great albums with Diana and their work together is among the best of Diana's career -- including the hits "Ain't No Mountain High Enough," "The Boss," "No One Gets The Prize," "Surrender," "Remember Me," "Reach Out And Touch (Somebody's Hand)," "It's My House," "Ain't Nothing But A Maybe," etc.  But that's not where Diana is right now.  She's produced an album during the pandemic that's attempting to get your dancing and smiling and to highlight some of the pleasures that we can find at a very crazy time in this world.  

It's a great album.  Elaine and I are on treadmills working out as I dictate the snapshot and Diana's THANK YOU is what we've got blasting right now.

I get it and you may too.  There's a revolution that's taken place in the music world in recent years.  A number of 'classic' performers -- White men who were given top placing on ranked lists -- now have to compete because we don't embrace the racism that rewarded them.

It's the racism that keeps Diana's accomplishments from being recognized.  It's the racism that would like to hold down Beyonce.  They claim it's about authorship.  But it's not.  Singer-songwriters? True ones, people like Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, etc?  Musical geniuses.  They tap into the human spirit and create songs that move us.  

But let's not confuse their art with the sound rhymes that a pedestrian poser, like James Taylor -- talking about the White man, not the lead singer of Kool & The Gang -- serves up. Yet for years, that hack has made various lists while real artists didn't get on those lists.

And the 'defense' was 'authorship.'  He wrote his own songs.  He wrote his own bad songs, America, Mona (his love for the dead pig he shot) and all the other crap where he pretends to be something he's not -- a limo driver, a truck driver, a person with actual feelings.

Now while he was being ranked highly, gender kept his then-wife from being ranked at all.  Carly Simon was the talent of that marriage.  She is a singer who could have had a huge career in the big band era because she can actually sing.  More to the point, she's one of America's great songwriters -- and she has multiple inductions and multiple awards (including Grammy, Oscar and Golden Globe) to prove how amazing she is as a songwriter.

There are talented White men.  John Lennon immediately springs to mind.  I think Chase Rice is one of the strongest male performers making music today.  Robbie Williams is someone my husband and I have many, many albums by.  The late George Michael is another (though we have less because he released far fewer albums than Robbie).  Sadly, the music 'canon' includes countless White men who are not talented at all.

So to promote skin color, not art, the music rankings were based on 'authorship' which didn't mean melody and didn't mean dance-ability.  It meant did some aging boy in a man's body write bad lyrics that we could pretend aspired to the poetry of Robert Lowell.  

And that's how the list was made.  

And if you were Smokey Robinson -- a great songwriter -- you got left out because (a) you weren't White and (b) you wrote songs people actually liked and could dance to.  

And that's what C.I.'s noting on the reaction to Nile Rogers and Bernard Edwards' work -- with Chic and with the various artists that they worked with.

They wrote "We Are Family," an anthem to this day.  Many people have forgotten the group (Sister Sledge) but the song remains which is how we know it's amazing.  

But Niles and Bernard are African-American men.

The Guardian's reaction to Diana's album that C.I.'s talking about -- rush to the lyrics and judge it by that?  It's racism and that's what she's pointing out and that's why she's highlighting the critical reaction to Niles and Bernard.  

I'm really tired of the every day racism that we have to put up with in this world.

Cedric and I have listened to Diana's Thank You non-stop -- we bought it for streaming -- since yesterday and we love it.  And the failure to accept this as a dance album because it's a dance album goes to the racism that says anything that African-Americans are more talented in (like dance) must be racism.  

And even the dance issue, I've read a few reviews of Thank You by other White critics, oh my goodness.  Does every White critic do that overbite 'dance'?  I thought that was a stereotype of White men but apparently not.  Because it is a dance album.  Some of them are some dance and ballad.

White guy critics, do you know how to dance?  Do you not grasp that there's a form of dancing known as slow dancing?

Are White guy music critics just a bunch of nerds who never pressed their bodies against someone they desired?  Is that why they look down on dancing so much?

I don't know.

But Diana's released an amazing album and the words fit the music.  They may or may not thrill you if you try to read them as poetry.  But they are meant to be sung.

I'm really tired of the every day racism.  Be sure to read Kat's "Once upon a time AMAZON revealed they were a liar" and let's all do our part to stop the racism.  

If you're not aware of how far we've come, grasp this:  Rolling Stone put Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in their top ten albums of the 500 best albums of all time back in 2020.  We did that.  We forced that.  By refusing to accept racism and demanding music be judged on its own merit and not skin color, we made that happen.  The year it came out?  In 1998, Rolling Stone gave its critics awards to . . . the Beastie Boys -- whose Jerry Lewis shtick had already aged poorly -- for Hello Nasty -- not an album anyone really listens to anymore but, hey, they were White guys and in 1998, that mattered more to Rolling Stone than actual music accomplishment.


This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"


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