Legendary rapper, Scarface has spoken out about a “conspiracy” which he believes is being aimed against Black people by old-aged “White” and “Jewish” music executives. Speaking to ‘HardKnock TV’ in an interview published online last week (April 25th 2013), the artist was asked his views on the current state of Hip Hop to which he replied, “I feel like we’re losing it, you know what I‘m sayin‘? I feel like the people that are in control of what Hip Hop does is so f*****g White and so f*****g Jewish until they don’t give a f**k about what the culture and the craft and what it really is about.” He continued, “let me say this s**t right… ’cos I want this to be as offensive as I can f*****g make it for these old-ass, er, punks that’s running these record labels, you know, that’s in the powerful positions to dictate what the Black community hears and listens to… like there’s no f*****g way that you can tell me that it’s not a conspiracy against the Blacks in Hip Hop, because you put out f*****g records that make us look stupid.” He also claims that a generation are being “brainwashed” by this “crud” which is churned out by people who’ve never even “been to the neighbourhood” to embrace the culture they exploit. In the video (available below) he elaborates further, and also talks about his memories of Tupac…
Scarface has good reason to bemoan the quality of modern-day Hip Hop music, a genre that was once teeming with articulate, intelligent voices applying their rhymes to topics worthy of further attention such as inner-city poverty, police brutality, racism, drug-addiction, hidden Black history, and the promotion of self empowerment. This social and spiritual consciousness that once prevailed, has now been minimised and marginalised by spitters of lyrical nonsense who celebrate ‘bling, big bucks, big-brands and bitches.’ We’re a long way from the so-called “Golden Age” of the late 80s and early 90s when a movement born on the streets of New York a decade or so earlier ascended to a level of creativity and mainstream commercial success not witnessed before. “It wasn’t expected for Hip Hop to reach this level but when they realised that it would, (Hip Hop) followed the same format as every other music genre,” says rapper, Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers, a group formed during this bygone era. Speaking in an interview for the website, ’RiotSound.com,’ he continued, “Blues, Rock, they all had a political edge when they started but they eventually were over-marketed and commercialised and became what they became. And it’s necessary because, you have to understand, the powers that exist that are ruling the world, they can’t have too much influence in the hands of musicians. There was a time in Europe when it was the arts that actually educated the people. The people were being educated through the arts, through theatre, through Shakespeare and so on and so forth. So they understand that science and they don’t want to let music expand and let the musicians have that kind of power. Just imagine you have a Tupac or a 50 Cent or an Eminem with a political agenda”… Well, we did have a Tupac who was actually in the process of merging his music with a political agenda – before he was shot dead that is. In an interview for the website, ’BlackElectorate.com’ in 2005, Wise Intelligent offered his take on the role of White men in Hip Hop, wryly suggesting that the genre “must be shut down, because it is not going to be long before these so-called ignorant Black men from the ghetto getting all of this money develop some kind of political orientation. It is not going to be long before they put some politics behind that money. And that’s what the problem is. It is a serious issue. They can’t let that happen. When they get some political orientation it is going to be over with. It is going to be over when one of these athletes wake up, one of these Basketball players, one of these rappers, it is going to be an ugly situation, man. And the White man is smart, so what he has to do is, he has to kill all possible seeds. He has to sterilise every seed that is capable of giving birth to a revolution. He has to spray all the soil with some kind of herbicide to kill off the seed. That’s what he is doing. Hip Hop is fertile soil for the propping up of revolution. So they are spraying the soil right now.”
Another high profile Hip Hop figure whose views almost mirror those made by Scarface last week is Professor Griff, a prominent anti-NWO lecturer and researcher, and member of Public Enemy, one of the most commercially successful, critically acclaimed, and politically-charged groups of all time. Speaking in an interview in 2003, he said, “you have to understand one thing: Black people did it to themselves as far as the decay of Hip Hop by not respecting other places around the world opening up for the culture. Black people turned on themselves, but of course the main blame is to be put on the white entrepreneur for ‘niggerising’ Hip Hop. They are the ones who made it look like that if you talk about jewellery, booty, party, you can get paid. As long as you don’t talk about anything political, you are fine. You give contracts and money only to these artists, put them on TV – it was systematic!”
Professor Griff has frequently cited the rise of the ‘Gangsta Rap’ genre in the early 90s as the turning point when conscious Hip Hop began to fade from the mainstream spotlight. He said, “Gangsta Rap was a spit in the face to everyone that has built the culture to the point where it was respected globally. Multinational corporations took Hip Hop to sell water with it, to sell soft drinks, hamburgers, sneakers, underwear. They don’t have any respect for the culture, they use it, chew it, spit it out.” Gangsta Rap was criticised for glamourising urban violence, drug-dealing, and materialism, and also for perpetuating an image of the Black man as a law-breaking thug.
Last year, an anonymous letter alleged to have been composed by a former music-industry insider appeared on the internet. The ’person’ claimed Hip Hop had been infiltrated and corrupted by a mysterious cabal during the early 90s in order to transform it into a genre which would glorify and promote a criminal lifestyle amongst young Black people so wealthy, powerful shadowy business-elites could profit from the building of prisons by privately-owned companies.
As ever, ‘Conspiro Media’ presents the data and leaves the reader to make up his or her own mind:
After more than 20 years, I’ve finally decided to tell the world what I witnessed in 1991, which I believe was one of the biggest turning points in popular music, and ultimately American society. I have struggled for a long time weighing the pros and cons of making this story public as I was reluctant to implicate the individuals who were present that day. So I’ve simply decided to leave out names and all the details that may risk my personal well being and that of those who were, like me, dragged into something they weren’t ready for.
Between the late 80s and early 90s, I was what you may call a “decision maker” with one of the more established company in the music industry. I came from Europe in the early 80s and quickly established myself in the business. The industry was different back then. Since technology and media weren’t accessible to people like they are today, the industry had more control over the public and had the means to influence them anyway it wanted. This may explain why in early 1991, I was invited to attend a closed door meeting with a small group of music business insiders to discuss rap music’s new direction. Little did I know that we would be asked to participate in one of the most unethical and destructive business practices I’ve ever seen.
The meeting was held at a private residence on the outskirts of Los Angeles. I remember about 25 to 30 people being there, most of them familiar faces. Speaking to those I knew, we joked about the theme of the meeting as many of us did not care for Rap music and failed to see the purpose of being invited to a private gathering to discuss its future. Among the attendees was a small group of unfamiliar faces who stayed to themselves and made no attempt to socialise beyond their circle. Based on their behaviour and formal appearances, they didn’t seem to be in our industry. Our casual chatter was interrupted when we were asked to sign a confidentiality agreement preventing us from publicly discussing the information presented during the meeting. Needless to say, this intrigued and in some cases disturbed many of us. The agreement was only a page long but very clear on the matter and consequences which stated that violating the terms would result in job termination. We asked several people what this meeting was about and the reason for such secrecy but couldn’t find anyone who had answers for us. A few people refused to sign and walked out. No one stopped them. I was tempted to follow but curiosity got the best of me. A man who was part of the “unfamiliar” group collected the agreements from us.
Quickly after the meeting began, one of my industry colleagues (who shall remain nameless like everyone else) thanked us for attending. He then gave the floor to a man who only introduced himself by first name and gave no further details about his personal background. I think he was the owner of the residence but it was never confirmed. He briefly praised all of us for the success we had achieved in our industry and congratulated us for being selected as part of this small group of “decision makers”. At this point I begin to feel slightly uncomfortable at the strangeness of this gathering. The subject quickly changed as the speaker went on to tell us that the respective companies we represented had invested in a very profitable industry which could become even more rewarding with our active involvement. He explained that the companies we work for had invested millions into the building of privately owned prisons and that our positions of influence in the music industry would actually impact the profitability of these investments. I remember many of us in the group immediately looking at each other in confusion. At the time, I didn’t know what a private prison was but I wasn’t the only one. Sure enough, someone asked what these prisons were and what any of this had to do with us. We were told that these prisons were built by privately owned companies who received funding from the government based on the number of inmates. The more inmates, the more money the government would pay these prisons. It was also made clear to us that since these prisons are privately owned, as they become publicly traded, we’d be able to buy shares. Most of us were taken back by this. Again, a couple of people asked what this had to do with us. At this point, my industry colleague who had first opened the meeting took the floor again and answered our questions. He told us that since our employers had become silent investors in this prison business, it was now in their interest to make sure that these prisons remained filled. Our job would be to help make this happen by marketing music which promotes criminal behaviour, Rap being the music of choice. He assured us that this would be a great situation for us because Rap music was becoming an increasingly profitable market for our companies, and as employee, we’d also be able to buy personal stocks in these prisons. Immediately, silence came over the room. You could have heard a pin drop. I remember looking around to make sure I wasn’t dreaming and saw half of the people with dropped jaws. My daze was interrupted when someone shouted, “is this a f****** joke?” At this point things became chaotic. Two of the men who were part of the “unfamiliar” group grabbed the man who shouted out and attempted to remove him from the house. A few of us, myself included, tried to intervene. One of them pulled out a gun and we all backed off. They separated us from the crowd and all four of us were escorted outside. My industry colleague who had opened the meeting earlier hurried out to meet us and reminded us that we had signed agreement and would suffer the consequences of speaking about this publicly or even with those who attended the meeting. I asked him why he was involved with something this corrupt and he replied that it was bigger than the music business and nothing we’d want to challenge without risking consequences. We all protested and as he walked back into the house I remember word for word the last thing he said, “It’s out of my hands now. Remember you signed an agreement.” He then closed the door behind him. The men rushed us to our cars and actually watched until we drove off.
A million things were going through my mind as I drove away and I eventually decided to pull over and park on a side street in order to collect my thoughts. I replayed everything in my mind repeatedly and it all seemed very surreal to me. I was angry with myself for not having taken a more active role in questioning what had been presented to us. I’d like to believe the shock of it all is what suspended my better nature. After what seemed like an eternity, I was able to calm myself enough to make it home. I didn’t talk or call anyone that night. The next day back at the office, I was visibly out of it but blamed it on being under the weather. No one else in my department had been invited to the meeting and I felt a sense of guilt for not being able to share what I had witnessed. I thought about contacting the 3 others who were kicked out of the house but I didn’t remember their names and thought that tracking them down would probably bring unwanted attention. I considered speaking out publicly at the risk of losing my job but I realised I’d probably be jeopardising more than my job and I wasn’t willing to risk anything happening to my family. I thought about those men with guns and wondered who they were? I had been told that this was bigger than the music business and all I could do was let my imagination run free. There were no answers and no one to talk to. I tried to do a little bit of research on private prisons but didn’t uncover anything about the music business’ involvement. However, the information I did find confirmed how dangerous this prison business really was. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months. Eventually, it was as if the meeting had never taken place. It all seemed surreal. I became more reclusive and stopped going to any industry events unless professionally obligated to do so. On two occasions, I found myself attending the same function as my former colleague. Both times, our eyes met but nothing more was exchanged.
As the months passed, Rap music had definitely changed direction. I was never a fan of it but even I could tell the difference. Rap acts that talked about politics or harmless fun were quickly fading away as gangster rap started dominating the airwaves. Only a few months had passed since the meeting but I suspect that the ideas presented that day had been successfully implemented. It was as if the order has been given to all major label executives. The music was climbing the charts and most companies were more than happy to capitalise on it. Each one was churning out their very own gangster rap acts on an assembly line. Everyone bought into it, consumers included. Violence and drug use became a central theme in most Rap music. I spoke to a few of my peers in the industry to get their opinions on the new trend but was told repeatedly that it was all about supply and demand. Sadly many of them even expressed that the music reinforced their prejudice of minorities.
I officially quit the music business in 1993 but my heart had already left months before. I broke ties with the majority of my peers and removed myself from this thing I had once loved. I took some time off, returned to Europe for a few years, settled out of state, and lived a “quiet” life away from the world of entertainment. As the years passed, I managed to keep my secret, fearful of sharing it with the wrong person but also a little ashamed of not having had the balls to blow the whistle. But as Rap got worse, my guilt grew. Fortunately, in the late 90s, having the internet as a resource which wasn’t at my disposal in the early days made it easier for me to investigate what is now labelled the prison industrial complex. Now that I have a greater understanding of how private prisons operate, things make much more sense than they ever have. I see how the criminalisation of Rap music played a big part in promoting racial stereotypes and misguided so many impressionable young minds into adopting these glorified criminal behaviours which often lead to incarceration. Twenty years of guilt is a heavy load to carry but the least I can do now is to share my story, hoping that fans of Rap music realise how they’ve been used for the past 2 decades. Although I plan on remaining anonymous for obvious reasons, my goal now is to get this information out to as many people as possible. Please help me spread the word. Hopefully, others who attended the meeting back in 1991 will be inspired by this and tell their own stories. Most importantly, if only one life has been touched by my story, I pray it makes the weight of my guilt a little more tolerable.
Many sub-genres followed in the wake of Gangsta Rap, but rarely (if ever) equalled or surpassed the enlightened but long gone ‘Golden Years.’ Reflecting on the state of Hip Hop in 2005, film-director, Spike Lee told an audience during a lecture at Middle Tennessee State Univerity’s International Conference on Cultural Diversity, “when I was young, cats going to college got as much (love) as the ones who could rap or play ball. Back then, we were not called sell-outs for using our brains. And being intelligent was not frowned upon.” He also said, “young Black kids didn’t grow up wanting to be a pimp or a stripper like they do now. You might think I’m making generalisations, but I don’t think I am. That’s how serious this stuff is.” Professor Griff stunned his audience during a lecture (available on the DVD, ‘The Illuminati Take-over of Hip Hop’) when he revealed the hidden meaning behind the 2007 worldwide hit, ‘Crank That’ by Soulja Boy which also spawned a global dance craze spanning all generations. He said, “when they was talking about doing ‘the Soulja Boy,’ and they talking about ‘super soak that hoe’? You’re talking about masturbating on a woman’s back. It is what your children was dancing to… you see, but you didn’t check it. Because you didn’t know anything about it… we’re left with the responsibility and the duty to bring these things out.”
‘CRANK THAT (SOULJA BOY)’ (lyrics)
Soulja boy I tell ’em
Hey I got a new dance fo you all called the soulja boy
You gotta punch then crank back three times from left to right
Soulja boy off in this hoe
Watch me crank it
Watch me roll
Watch me crank that soulja boy
Then super man that hoe
Now watch me you
(crank that soulja boy)
Now watch me you
(crank that soulja boy)
Now watch me you
(crank that soulja boy)
Now watch me you
(crank that soulja boy)
Soulja boy off in this hoe
Watch me lean and watch me rock
Super man that hoe
Then watch me crank that Robocop
Super fresh, now watch me jock
Jocking on them haters man
When I do that soulja boy
I lean to the left and crank that thang
I’m jocking on your bitch ass
And if we get the fighting
Then I’m cocking on your bitch ass
You catch me at your local party
Yes I crank it everyday
Haters getting mad cause
“I got me some bathing apes”
I’m bouncing on my toe
Watch me super soak that hoe
I’m gonna pass it to Arab
Then he’s gonna pass it to don loc (loc)
Haters wanna be me
Soulja boy, I’m the man
They be looking at my neck
Saying it’s the rubber band man (man)
Watch me do it (watch me do it)
Let get to it (let get to it)
Nope, you can’t do it like me
Hoe, so don’t do it like me
Folk, I see you tryna do it like me
Man that shit was ugly
Aim to clean off in this hoe
Watch me crank it
Watch me roll
Watch me crank that Roosevelt
And super soak that Hoe [x10]
Aim to fresh up in this bitch
Watch me shuffle
Watch me jig
Watch me crank my shoulder work
Super man that bitch [x6]
Even Alvin and The Chipmunks got in on the act…
The uploader of the ‘YouTube’ video below titled, ‘Our Daughter Doing the Soulja Boy Dance’ wrote, “funny kid. She’s two and cracks us up. Finally caught her doing this in her car seat.”
If only they knew…
Surprisingly, Scarface’s suggestion that “Jews” are involved in this “conspiracy” against Black people has attracted very little – if any – attention from the media.
Louis Farrakhan, the outspoken leader of the religious organisation, ‘Nation of Islam,’ would no doubt agree with the rapper’s observation. Both respected and reviled for his controversial views, he’s often been labelled an anti-Semite. In 2010, during a speech in Chicago, he said, “who owns the recording companies? People who call themselves ‘Jews,’ but they are not Jews; they are masquerading. And the so-called ‘Jews’ who run those record companies, they use you, and they’ve sent you all over the world degrading the culture of other nations with your filth and debauchery.” In the video below, he condemns “Satanic Jews” for taking over the channel ‘BET’ (‘Black Music Entertainment’), and ‘Motown.’ He also casts a critical eye over Gangsta Rap, Jay-Z, and the awarding of the Oscar to Denzel Washington for his role in the movie, ‘American Gangster’ instead of ‘Malcolm X’…
It’s unfortunate that Scarface wasn’t asked to elaborate further during his interview last week. For example, how do his opinions regarding a Jewish conspiracy in the Hip Hop industry relate to his role as former president of the ‘Def Jam South’ record label which was run by Israeli, Lyor Cohen? After all, when the rapper stepped down from his post at the music-company, he had nothing but good words to say about his one-time boss during media interviews. So, what gives?
During the interview, he also referred to a particular message he’d posted on ‘Twitter,’ which read: “Hip Hop history re-written like rock and roll history was, and we get to watch it helplessly and hopelessly.” He warned ‘HardKnockTV’ that, unless youngsters protected Hip Hop, in 25 years it would “have a new face, and a new hero… like Rock & Roll got a new face, and new hero… like, let’s save and preserve this s**t, otherwise, Elvis is gonna be, you know, the face on Hip Hop.” He continued, “the only reason why I know that it’s happening like that, is because I got people that was in the music-business back then. You know, Rock & Roll used to be – that was some s**t that… Chuck Berry came up with… You know, the Blues was Robert Johnson and… Eddie Son House, you know what I’m saying?… Now the Blues is f*****g Eric Clapton, you know, Mick Jagger… that’s not the f*****g Blues… Like Hip Hop is gonna be the same thing!” Shortly after the interview, Scarface took to ‘Twitter’ again to clarify his comments stating: “Hip Hop history will be rewritten as rock and roll has been, never said segregate it just don’t s**t on the niggaz like ya did Chuck Berry.”
Although John Lennon was quoted as saying, “if you tried to give Rock & Roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’,” the origins of the genre have been traced back by some music aficionados to 1944 – 11 years before the 1950s legend even set foot in a recording studio. That was when Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s Gospel song, ‘Strange Things Happening Every Day’ was released. Although the lyrics proudly proclaimed that “Jesus is the holy light, turning darkness into light,’ it’s Boogie-Woogie backing no doubt ensured it’s cross-over success in what was then known in the US as the ‘Race Records Chart,’ a term used to describe and market music recorded by African American artists. In 1949, this was renamed ’Rhythm & Blues,’ and now of course shortened to, ‘R&B.’
The debate as to when Rock & Roll began and which song heralded it’s birth is still unresolved. Some believe that honour should go to Fats Domino’s ‘The Fat Man’ released in 1949, however, others credit 1951’s ‘Rocket 88’ by R&B act, Jackie Brenston and his Delta Cats (featuring Ike Turner) as the true starting point. The fact is, the jury’s out, and probably will remain so forever. Incidentally, another contender is the 1947 song, ‘Good Rocking Tonight’ by Roy Brown, who, recalling a conversation with Elvis Presley’s manager, reportedly said, “I remember Colonel Parker making the statement, ‘I believe the White kids want to hear Rock & Roll, but I’m gonna have a White boy do it.’ In other words: If you want to hear ‘Good Rocking Tonight,’ I’m gonna have Elvis Presley do it. A lot of those guys did those things and copied the arrangements note for note, but that way it was accepted.”
Indeed, the so-called “King of Rock & Roll” released his own version of it as a single in 1954 and followed it up with, ‘That’s All Right,’ written and originally performed by Blues-man, Arthur Crudup. Both songs were recorded at, ‘Sun Records,’ the legendary label where Elvis – then a young wannabe from a poverty-stricken background – was allowed the opportunity to make music for the first time. It was also home to Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Roy Orbison to name a few. In a 1973 interview, it‘s boss, Sam Phillips, said, “until Rock & Roll music came along the grossest of all racial discrimination in America was in music. You had Pop music – which was for a certain type of people; you had Country and Western music, which was supposedly for another class, and you had what we called in those days ‘Race’ music. So if you’re talking about segregation there was no better example of it than in music, and I just hope that I played some part in breaking that down in some way. I saw an awful lot of fear in the Black man’s eyes in those days, and how they had come to think of themselves as something different over the years, so that the only things they could do privately were their music and their religion. And I felt that the way they sang and preached just had to have some merit in it.” Of Elvis, he said, “I saw in his eyes that same look of fear that was in the Black man’s eyes, that he might be somewhere off bounds for the likes of him. I knew then there was something distinctive about him. He liked the same music that I did, good gut-bucket Blues, and he really was a student of Arthur Crudup and Leadbelly and people like that, which was amazing in a boy so young. I remember he said he used to practise in his bedroom at night.”
To his credit, Presley did acknowledge the debt he owed to the Black musicians he’d admired and studied during his childhood and teenage years living in Tupelo, Mississippi, and Memphis, Tennessee. He’s been quoted as saying, “a lot of people seem to think I started this business, but Rock & Roll was here a long time before I came along. Nobody can sing that kind of music like coloured people. Lets face it, I can’t sing like Fats Domino can. I know that.” In 1956 he reportedly said, “the coloured folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doing now, man, for more years than I know. I got it from them… I used to hear old Arthur Crudup bang his box the way I do now, and I said if I ever got to the place where I could feel all old Arthur felt, I’d be a music man like nobody ever saw.” A number of prominent Black artists over the years have spoken out in support of Elvis’s contribution to music. Rock & Roll legend, Little Richard is said to have proclaimed, “he was an integrator. Elvis was a blessing. They wouldn’t let Black music through. He opened the door for Black music.” Soul legend, Jackie Wilson purpotedly stated, “a lot of people have accused Elvis of stealing the Black man’s music, when in fact, almost every Black solo entertainer copied his stage mannerisms from Elvis.” Following Presley’s death in 1977, James Brown recorded a tribute version of ‘Love Me Tender.’ During it’s intro, he takes a moment to speak about his “good friend“ and “a man I still love, Brother Elvis Presley.” He continues, “you know, if he were here right now, I’m sure he would say the same thing for me. I loved the man and he was truly the King of Rock & Roll. We’ve always had kind of a toss up. Elvis and I. The King of Rock & Roll and I’m the King of Soul.” Of all the negative criticism that’s been levelled against Presley over the years, few (if any) have been as scathing as Hip Hop’s Public Enemy. The lyrics of their 1989 hit single, ‘Fight the Power,’ featured the line, “Elvis was a hero to most but he never meant s**t to me you see, straight up racist that sucker was, simple and plain, motherf**k him and John Wayne, cause I’m Black and I’m proud.” During an interview last year, the group’s rapper, Chuck D, explained, “yeah, well I mean, my thing was that Elvis was an icon to America but he ain’t invent Rock & Roll. There were other Black heroes. So that whole thing is like, okay, you gotta mention Bo Diddley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry too. He ain’t ‘The King.’ And that aspect was racist I thought, that people just obscured the Black foundation of what Elvis evolved from. I mean, that happens even to this day… here’s another thing, it’s like, there’s a lot of things that are off the record that evolved with Elvis as he became more and more kind of like drunk with himself. He started off being quite humble (I learned) from resources, hearing from people speaking that knew him and knew his beginnings: from Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, I had conversations with Little Richard, Ike Turner. He started out being this cat that loved Black music, the Black environment, the Black way of dress and all that… In the first part of his career he tried to still frequent the spots and still be local to Memphis – lived in a rather modest house. So that was ’55, ’56, ’57, ’58. But, the bigger and bigger his whole legend grew, the more The Colonel tried to keep him away from normal people. And then when you’re kept away from normal people you start getting drunk with yourself and believing all the hype and become Hollywood and all that. Eventually Black people became less of a concern of where his fan-base was.”
There’s no denying the influence that Black Rock & Rollers such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Fats Domino had on young White teenagers of the 1950s who, in the following decade, formed some of the most successful acts in the world ever. Likewise, the careers of The Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton were shaped and guided by old Blues men such as, Robert Johnson, Willie Dixon, and Jimmy Reed. However, if there was – and indeed as Scarface suggests – still is a conspiracy to ‘White out’ the contribution of Blacks in music history, then perhaps the focus of suspicion should be directed towards the powerful record-industry executives, and not so much on artists such as Mick Jagger who was actually responsible for playing a key role in the mainstream popularity of the Blues during the mid-to-late 1960s, as was Eric Clapton? In a 1994 interview, the legendary guitarist described how this music first took a hold of his life. He said, “well, the first thing that rang in my head was Black music; all Black records that were R&B or Blues oriented. I remember hearing Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, Big Bill Broonzy, Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley and not really knowing anything about the geography or the culture of the music. But for some reason it did something to me – it resonated. Then I found out later that they were Black and they were from the Deep South, and that started my education.” He continued, “ the only education I ever really had was finding out about Blues. I took a kind of elementary fundamental education in art, but it didn’t rivet my attention in the same way Blues did. I wanted to know everything. I spent all of my mid to late teens and early twenties studying this music; studying the geography of it, the chronology of it, the roots, the different regional influences, how everybody inter-related, how long people lived, how quickly they learnt things, how many songs they had of their own and what songs were shared around… I mean I was just into it, you know? I was learning to play it as well and trying to figure out how to apply it to my life. I don’t think I took it that seriously, because when we’re young we don’t; it was only when other people showed an interest that I realised that I could make a living out of it. I was so deadly serious about what I was doing – I thought everyone else was either in it just to be on ‘Top of the Pops’ or ‘Ready Steady Go,’ or to score girls or for some dodgy reason. I was in it to save the world. I wanted to tell the world about Blues and to get it right. Even then I thought that I was on some kind of mission.” The so-called “British Blues boom” of the mid-to-late sixties, which was spearheaded by popular groups including, The Yardbirds, Cream, The Animals, and Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, introduced a young White audience to a style of music it had previously been unaware of, and also gave a new lease of life to the men who pioneered it, such as Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, and Sonny Boy Williamson.
In some respects, the current mainstream music-scene is similar to the pre-Blues “boom” days of the late ‘50s and early 1960s when young record-buying audiences were largely unaware of the contribution that had been laid down in the past by the likes of Robert Johnson, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, and others – especially (and ironically) in America. Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards writes in his autobiography, ‘Life,’ “what actually happened was we turned American people back on to their own music. We turned White America’s brain and ears around. And I wouldn’t say we were the only ones…” Perhaps now’s the time for another music-history master-class, a time to encourage young music fans brainwashed on a diet of poisonous, vacuous so-called “Hip Hop” to look back, listen to, appreciate and learn from the enlightened, groundbreaking rappers, DJs, and MCs who, back in the late 1970s through to the early 1990s, were responsible for building the very platform on which cheap modern-day impostors such as Nicki Minaj, Lil’ Wayne, and Flo-Rida (to name a very few) now parade on? As that famous saying goes: “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
Keith Richards. ‘Life’ pg. 176