Let Kanye Be Kanye!

To admire an artist means you are at times forced to defend their non-artistic antics.  To admire Kanye West,  means you’re going to do a lot of defending because for every one memorable musical moment Mr. Kardashian creates two palm-slap upside the head ones.

Kanye’s crap  used to annoy me.  Now after years of not getting it, I’m in on the joke Kanye is playing on everybody else and I approve.

I stopped watching the Grammy Awards ages ago and stopped caring who won longer than that, so I missed Kanye step onstage and scare the shit out of Beck with what looked like a Taylor Swift flashback. Nah. Just kiddin’, folks!   It was a head fake.  Kanye was holding his fire until after the show when Kanye  (aka “Yezus” or just “Ye” to his friends) unleashed a volley on Beck and he wasn’t kidding. Or maybe he was.

I’m not bothered when Kanye jacks these stupid award shows by making it all about him. If we couldn’t depend on Kanye pulling out his dick and stepping on it all we’d have to talk about is how Madonna didn’t look as old and creaky as she did in the Super Bowl halftime a few years ago. All award shows are pompous, self-important, self-congratulatory stroke fests and anyone who needs an Oscar, Tony, Grammy, or Emmy to certify their own tastes has bigger problems than another Kanye rant.

Sing ‘Loser?” Never heard of it.

“Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé,”

I just know that the Grammys, if they want real artists to keep coming back, they need to stop playing with us. We ain’t gonna play with them no more. “Flawless,” Beyoncé video. And Beck needs to respect artistry and he should have given his award to Beyoncé and at this point, we tired of it. Because what happens is when you keep on diminishing art and not respecting the craft and smacking people in the face after they deliver monumental feats of music, you’re disrespectful to inspiration. And we as musicians have to inspire people who go to work every day. And they listen to that Beyoncé album and they feel like it takes them to another place. Then they do this whole promotional event, that, you know, they’ll run the music over somebody’s speech, the artist, because they want a commercial advertising. Like no, we not playing with them no more. And by the way, I got my wife, I got my daughter, and I got my clothing line so I’m not going to do nothing to put my daughter at risk — but I am here to fight for creativity. That’s the reason why I didn’t say anything tonight. But y’all know what it meant when ‘Ye walked on the stage.

Am I the only one who wonders why Kanye is so protective of Beyonce and her divine right to win every award in the world and why he still gets invited to these shows?  This could all be easily avoided.  After Michael Moore pissed all over the Oscars after winning for Bowling For Columbine, the powers that be stopped nominating his documentaries. Problem solved.   Then we can get back to talking about Old Madonna.

Kanye publicly showing his ass has become as predictable as his wife baring hers. It’s what he does and if you can’t see this part him/part performance art, you’re missing the joke. Enter Shirley Manson, lead singer of the rock band Garbage,  who received much online love for delivering a succinct bitch slap to Yeezus in one devastating Facebook post.

“Hi, Kanye. A word?”

“Dear Kanye West,

It is YOU who is so busy disrespecting artistry.

You disrespect your own remarkable talents and more importantly you disrespect the talent, hard work and tenacity of all artists when you go so rudely and savagely after such an accomplished and humble artist like BECK.

You make yourself look small and petty and spoilt.

In attempting to reduce the importance of one great talent over another, you make a mockery of all musicians and music from every genre, including your own.

Grow up and stop throwing your toys around.

You are making yourself look like a complete twat.

P.s. I am pretty certain Beyonce doesn’t need you fighting any battles on her account. Seems like she’s got everything covered perfectly well on her own.”

Kanye considers himself a musical genius to be mentioned in the same breath as Stevie Wonder,  Miles Davis or The Beatles but he’s not about to wait until a decade after he’s dead to get his due.   He’s going to claim it right here and clearly he considers Beyonce and Jay-Z to be among his peers. Taylor Swift and Beck are definitely not.    Is is rude he said so publicly instead of privately?

I’m a bigger fan of Shirley than Kanye, but she was a little hard on him, after all he was only listening to the voices in his head.   “I was asked my opinion and I was given a platform. And when given a platform, it’s very hard as we know – and I’m going to talk in third person like I’m a crazy person – but it’s very hard for Kanye West to not be very true and vocal to what he feels.”

Whether driven by impulse or calculation, if Kanye is predictable at least he isn’t boring like the Grammy Awards are.  It’s like he told Rolling Stone in 2007,  “Rock stars can give their fucking opinion without having to deal with . . . what’s that thing I get dealt with every day of my life? Oh, yeah. Backlash.”

 

The Grammys, Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Week Are All Good Reasons to Read a Book.

Forget it kid. She’s WAY too old for you.

Sunday night.   It’s The Grammy Awards vs.the NFL Pro Bowl. Decisions, decisions…what should I not watch first?  It’s a movie night!  The Grammys vs. The Pro Bowl: Great Moments in Counter-Programming.

1.  I had more important things to do than to watch a show celebrating music I haven’t listened to made by “artists” I don’t care about.  Stuff like peeling a potato or clipping my toenails or something. I’m taking the Public Enemy stance on the Grammys: “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?”

2.  Still trying to figure out why such an utterly ordinary song like “Royals” gets all this slobbery love for Lorde. Back in the day she would have been a one-hit wonder on Casey Kasem‘s America’s Top 40.

3.  For pure superficiality, pomp without circumstance and puerile insignificance, it’s hard to trump the Grammys, or as I prefer to call them, the awards show for the group sitting at the little kids table.

4.  But the NFL’s Pro Bowl (a.k.a. “Thanks for choosing me, but I’d rather stay home and watch The Grammy Awards than play in this bullshit game) comes close.   Roger Goodell has threatened to end this cluster fuck and the only questions are why not and who cares?   The worst part of the NFL is the pre-season where the fans are charged full-price tickets for games that don’t count and have no meaning beyond watching a starting player lost for the year with a blown-out MCL.    The Pro Bowl doesn’t count and what makes pro football great is every game counts.   This isn’t like the NBA or baseball where if you lose four or five games in a row it’s called a bad week.   Lose five games in a row in the NFL and your team will be looking for another coach soon.

5.  Media Day:  The biggest bag of bullshit in the whole bullshit week that is the run up to 6:25 pm on Super Bowl Sunday.  A herd of reporters sticking cameras and microphones in front of a bunch of guys who either have nothing to say or can only speak in jockspeak (It’s gonna be a tough game.  We respect those guys.  We have to play our game.  It’s gonna be a war, blah, blah and more blah).

Then you get someone like Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch who doesn’t want to play nice with others.

This is what I want to see repeated about a dozen times Sunday night.

The media-adverse Lynch only “spoke” to the press for six minutes on Media Day and dropped a “shit” on the NFL Network while speaking to Deion Sanders (well, that’s appropriate.  Neon Deion and the NFL Network is shit).   Oh golly, oh gee, oh gosh!  My Super Bowl viewing experience has been ruined by Marshawn blowing off the media.  Whatever shall I do?

Yawn.  Who cares a lot?  Breathes there a single, solitary soul that has ever found the Super Bowl’s Media Day to be anything but more hype of an already over-hyped game?   I’m sure there must be a reason I should care, but I can’t think of what that reason could be.

6.   On ESPN the big game is a possible NBA Finals preview between the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.   Pass.  There are few things I care less about than the NBA until the playoffs when the players awake from their stupor and get interested.   CBS is striking back with the Super Bowl’s Greatest Commercials.  Seriously?  An hour of 48 years worth of commercials? There must be a book somewhere I haven’t read.  Or need to re-read.

7.   Am I bitter that the 49ers aren’t in the Super Bowl?  Does their absence lessen my interest?  Would I be more into Super Bowl week if Jim Harbaugh was preparing for the game by practicing how he would meltdown on the sidelines at a perceived bad call?  Yes, yes, and yes.   Am I bad loser?  Yes, but I’m a worse winner.

8.   Oh, the President gave his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.   The State of the Union is there ain’t a damn thing getting done if the Republicans have their way and so far they’re having their way.

9.    I guess should make a Super Bowl prediction.   I predict a cold and boring game.  I predict Bruno Mars will be short.   I predict the fans of Bruno Mars will wonder who the hell The Red Hot Chili Peppers are.    I don’t even know why The Red Hot Chili Peppers are playing during the halftime show.  They’re old and when they were young, they still weren’t all that good.

10.   Broncos 31  Seawhores 20.   But I don’t give a damn if it happens the other way around.  It’s just another game.

Payton is pretty fast for a slow old White guy.

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The Grammy Awards Give Jazz the Crazy Uncle Treatment

Rolling in the deep and raking in the Grammys.

This isn’t going to be a long post because it’s about the Grammy Awards. I didn’t watch the show just like I haven’t watched the show for the better part of the last ten years. No, this isn’t yet another “You’re not getting old, the music just sucks” rant. I am getting old and the music does suck, but at least if you’re a jazz fan you don’t have to stay up past your bedtime.

This was the first Grammy program since they cut out most of the major categories for jazz, Latin and other genres that are not pop, hip-hop and rap. Those Grammys are awarded during a pre-broadcast ceremony outside of the TV cameras.   Nobody wants to watch some old jazz cats taking home the hardware for music nobody listens to in America.

My buddy, Rachel Z., writing in support of reinstating the jazz categories dropped by the Grammys said, “Most of the Major labels have in the past 3 years dropped their Jazz Departments.  That is the sole reason why you are seeing a drop in submissions.  Many independent musicians and labels cannot afford a NARAS membership on their own.  Previously votes presented by major labels though a block voting system implemented by the majors.  What would you suggest that I tell my students at the New School who spend their life dreaming of a Grammy that now there is only one Jazz Category?  2/3 less chance to win!  This gives them the same chance as winning the lottery now after the cutbacks in the Jazz Category.  They are competing with people 5x their age in the Jazz Category.  Not to mention putting Latin Jazz next to traditional jazz…???!!!”

When Stanley Clarke and Chick Corea accepted the Best Improvised Solo award for “500 Miles High” from the terrific 2011 album, Forever, I wonder who was there to watch them besides the workers setting up the stage?

Public Enemy once said, “Who gives a fuck about a goddamn Grammy?” and the marginalization of jazz at the Grammys only confirms that sentiment for me. I don’t care about award shows. I’d rather the musicians make a buck or two, but recognition for them is nice.  It validates my taste.  Unfortunately, jazz is treated like a crazy old uncle the music industry would rather keep out of sight and forget about.

"Does this mean we get to meet Adele?"

They obviously don’t want any more Esperanza Spaldings or Herbie Hancocks taking up any of the face time among all the b.s. awards they have to hand out to nobodies and trendy flavors of the month. In fact that’s what they should call the Grammys: This year’s Flavors of the Month.

Jazz is not a genre where here today and gone later today flourishes. Nor is it a form of music where you can get by as a barely competent rapper or studio enhanced singer. You have to be able to sing. You have to be able to play. And if you can’t do either, you can’t play jazz. Period.

A few thoughts about Adele cleaning up at The Adele Awards (formerly known as the Grammy Awards). I’m an agnostic n Adele. Can she sing? Yes, and no Auto-Tune or wearing costumes made of meat are necessary.

“Rolling In the Deep” is a great song (though, please don’t call it soul) , but 21 is not a great album. “Rolling” kills, but after that it’s pretty slow going. Adele will have a nice long career, but she needs better material.

The Grammys are about celebrity and popularity.  If they could figure out a way to give Kim Kardashian an award for record that wouldn’t make them look insane, they would do it. Most award shows are bullshit anyway.  The Grammy Awards finds all new ways to make themselves even more irrelevant to the art form they pretend to be celebrating.