New Jacks Swinging

New Jacks Swinging

In part 2 of our BMM series, EBONY chats with young icons Salaam Remi, Brian Michael Cox and 9th Wonder about the past, present and future of Black music

Chris Williams

by Chris Williams, June 25, 2012

New Jacks Swinging

Salaam Remi, Bryan Michael Cox and  9th Wonder

of J. Dilla and how he pushed the envelope on production because mainstream media won’t allow it. Some of us get discouraged and say ‘Why should I keep pushing on if no one is going to appreciate it?’ I think there’s a responsibility of musicians to push the envelope whether it’d be inside of the music or taking the music to higher education like I’m trying to do. I think those are some of the ways you can push the envelope besides selling a million records. You have to do more than sell a million records. Selling a million records is one thing, but to get music to become a study in an institution is another thing.

BMC: Yes, but I also believe in evolution. I believe as an artist you have to evolve. From producers to songwriters to artists, we’re all artists in our own right. We have to be in that place where we’re willing to evolve. We have to not be stuck in the past, but use the past as a blueprint to create something new. We have to be willing to become trailblazers or things will become stagnant. Once you’re creativity become stagnated, you might as well quit. I believe it is our duties to keep pushing the boundaries of our respective genres. It’s also our duty to not only push the boundaries, but share the boundaries. I feel like that only happens when you accept and embrace to concepts of evolution and not live in the past.

EBONY: Why is there a perceived lack of authenticity in artists of today and a lack of artists who can master an instrument?

SR: There’s not a lack of talent, but there is a lack of talented executives who know what to do when they get the talent. I see talent all of the time. There is talent everywhere. I don’t feel like there’s a lack of people who know how to do it, but they need some guidance and need some machine to allow them to progress and be who they are. There needs to be places available for them to market these acts to make it work. It takes a little bit more time to get this in motion, but it needs to happen as soon as possible because at the end of the day that’s what going to still live regardless of marketability.

Right now a lot of people performing aren’t artists realistically. They need more training in being an artist or to become an artist or singer. Only certain people know how to inspire an artist. When you have a robot, you can program them. When you look at labels, they’re full of robots. Their robots go out and do the shows and they bring the money back, but they also have interchangeable music and not a real point of view. There are many artists who have sold ten million singles, but you don’t recognize them without an entourage. There are certain people who are artists who aren’t exposed and may not be getting the most from their artistry. For me, I try to blend art and commerce, but I realize I have a unique perspective because I come from a different time when there was artist development.

EBONY: How can we recapture the essence of Black music for generations to come?

BMC: I think it starts with our culture and our people. The problem with Black music right now is that Black folks don’t buy records anymore. We’re so used to have something tangible in our hands. Once they started shutting down the mom and pop record stores and the major chains, it’s no secret why Black music started flopping in sales. With our culture we like to see things and go to the store and pick them up. We’re consumers through and through when it comes to music. A lot of Black people don’t like buying records off of the computer. When I was home for Christmas, many of my friends that I grew up with in Houston, Texas went out to breakfast and they asked me the same question, ‘What’s going on with Black music? How can we get back to the way it was?’ I told them that we’re not going out and buying our records. I told them you can go online and buy records. You can visit I-Tunes, Amazon, and different sites to buy our records. Their response was ‘I’m not giving the computer my credit card number.’ As a culture, we’re just coming into our own when it comes to finances. We’re really first generation millionaires or hell even thousandaires. There are trust issues because once you make your money, you don’t want anyone stealing it. We’re really particular with our money and I think that’s a major problem. I still have a

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