I am admittedly biased about Robert Glasper. He is my best friend and my life partner. He is also a brilliant musician… disclosure and disclaimers aside.
When Robert asked me to write the liner notes for his album, Black Radio, I was honored, humbled, and terrified. I had three days to express a musical ideology of sorts on a project which is, I believe, the most significant creative stance of his career thus far. I took a deep breath, sent up a prayer, and got to work.
Surprisingly, the words flowed unlike anything else I’d ever written. One could surmise that our close relationship had a great deal to do with that; and it very well may have. Yet and still, this would be a half-baked deduction. The truth of the matter is that Black Radio represents something which is bigger than either one of us. It is a declaration, a call to action, and in many ways, a challenge to both those who are fatigued by force-fed commercialism, and those who believe the state of mainstream Black music is in good standing.
As more and more of our music libraries become digital, I realized that many people who follow my writing would not have an opportunity to read my liner notes. I’d like to share them here. I hope they reach you.
System Error: Remuneration for music which is stultifying to the mind, dissuading to the spirit, and unfulfilling to the heart…
“Big bird flying down on a mountain pass,
Only thing to survive the crash…
|noun:||an indestructible device in an aircraft that records technical data during a flight, used in case of an accident to discover its cause.|
For centuries, music from the souls of Black people has been not only the narrative of our experiences, but it has remained the American blueprint for most everything which has followed. Emulated, envied, and countlessly re-imagined by the rest of the world, our music is the pinnacle of inventiveness, and the highest artistic form of ourselves.
We can all point to a profusion of culprits when it comes to the musical polar which we have now found ourselves. Worship of wealth, the lack of a respectable industry barometer, and false realities of what is deemed talent, have all compromised the future of our legacy. The collective “dumbing down” of our music is the greatest tragedy we can impose on generations to follow.
Black Radio represents the veracity of Black music. Like the aviator’s black box, black radio holds the truth and is indestructible. Our music remains innovative and inspiring amidst and despite pop culture’s bleak representation of the spectrum of Black music, especially as it pertains to hip hop and R&B. Jazz, which is at the helm of it all, is the perfect platform and best catalyst to bring that message home.
Additionally, it is a statement that while the overabundance of mediocrity surrounds our present, the solution is not to keep reaching behind us for authenticity. Retrospection should influence, but cannot be the sole definer of legitimacy. Modernism is now! We stand on the shoulders of our predecessors, but fly with our own wings. This is the principle that has driven the best of our innovation. The collaborators found here independently and collectively epitomize the Black Radio Movement; each fearlessly original and undoubtedly gifted.
When minstrelsy fades, and monotony jades, there will still be Black Radio.
Real music is crash protected.