Bzzzzztttt . . .

I’ve only gotten maybe three or four haircuts since leaving Doane Stuart nearly two years ago, letting my hair grow in for the first time in a long, long time. Today I finally got sick of it: the combination of my natural curliness emerging with summer humidity and the inevitable effects of age on the hairline and top of the skull hair thickness had me getting perilously close to Bozo hair. So I went and got it all cut off tonight. My one concession from past practice: I had them use a number four clipper instead of a number two, so it’s not quite as short as I wore it for most of the ’90s.

Interesting Web Site . . .

. . . particularly for those of us blessed with the green eye gene: The Green Eye Project. Gotta love that press release about green eyes being an aphrodisiac! Although, more pragmatically, I actually found this more interesting:

“Around our vast globe, green eyes can exist in almost any ethnic group that has been exposed to another, very different, culture during some time in its past. One could in fact say, that in the new world and the old, the true meeting of cultures can be found in the eyes of their people. Where the Moors once visited France and Spain, and were visited in turn, the green eye emerges. Where the English once set very large foot prints in Africa, green eyes emerge. Where the Chinese, the Mongolian, and the Russian lands meet, green eyes emerge. In countries such as Brazil, where they believe that their multiculturalism and mixed blood lines are their strength, green eyes are far from rare, and exist in the most unimaginable color combinations of skin and hair and facial features. But the key point that can be taken from this work is the acknowledgment that whenever there has been some point in a country or culture’s history where they have interacted, whether commercially, colonially, or competitively, with a group of people physically unlike themselves, the green gene was sown.”

I suppose my green eyes are the most visible vestige of my mom’s Native American roots. I didn’t pass ’em on to Katelin, though, although her eyes are an unusual shade of blue, so maybe the gene didn’t die without a fight.

Rant: Fear of White Radio

Man, it’s really time that somebody pushed the bullshit button on the Beastie Boys . . . and on the rock radio stations that play their music.

I was dial surfing while driving around a coupla days ago and stopped on the local “Modern Rock” station right around the time that they were doing their daily Top Five countdown.

Four of the songs were what you’d expect: Disturbed or Staind or bands that sound like Disturbed or Staind.

The fifth song, however, was the new single by the Beastie Boys . . . and, like most of their songs, it was a simplistic, one-note, one-beat, lowest common denominator “old school” rap song, with those terrible, terrible, terrible Beastie voices yelling at each other on top of the rudimentary musical bed.

I’ve cited Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst as the worst singer in popular music history, but the Beasties are definitely nipping at his heels . . . and there’s three of them, which makes it that much worse. What are the odds of getting three singers with such annoying voices in a single band, and then having that band get popular?

I’ll have to check the back of my Lotto ticket to come up with an appropriate figure.

Now . . . I could have listened to that “modern rock” station all day, and would I have heard any other old school rap songs, or any other contemporary rap or hip hop music?

Maybe another Beastie Boys song or two. And maybe (just maybe) an Eminem number.

But nothing else.

So why were the Beastie Boys (and maybe, just maybe, Eminem) being played there?

Because they’re white.


End of discussion.

Outkast or Jay-Z or any of the many Wu Tang members or Public Enemy or Doctor Dre (without Eminem as his radio mouthpiece) or any other African-American rap/hip-hop artist could put out that exact same Beastie Boys song . . . and it would not get played on Modern Rock Radio.

Of course, none of those artists would put out that exact same Beastie Boys song, because they’re all operating at a production, composing and performing level far, far above where the Beasties operate, not relying on the cliche of “old school beats” to justify (and hide) their rudimentary skills. The music they make is too rich, too varied and too technically sophisticated for the Beasties.

So does that mean that Modern Rock Radio is racist in its programming?

I think it is.

“But,” I hear you say, rising to corporate rock radio’s defense, “They play Lenny Kravitz! How can they be racist?”

They play Lenny Kravitz because he plays what the average, white rock radio listener would consider to be “white music,” exploiting the Jimi Hendrix/Thin Lizzy loophole to commercial rock radio acceptability.

Remember the Public Enemy song “Fear of A Black Planet”? It had a little riff in the middle that boiled racial anxiety down to a simple expression of math and genetics:

“Black man, black woman: black baby.

White man, white woman: white baby.

White man, black woman: black baby.

Black man, white woman: black baby.”

Modern rock radio (“white radio”) follows a similar model:

“White artist, white music: white radio.

Black artist, white music: white radio.

White artist, black music: white radio.

Black artist, black music: black radio.”

So if you’re an African-American artist making music that the average, white rock radio listener (or programming director) would consider to be “black music,” then there’s no place for you on modern rock radio, and apparently you can only appear on pop, R&B or rap demographic radio stations.

Of course, I know there’s not really any such thing as “white music” and “black music,” so I’m using shorthand there, but I think you get the jist of the point I’m trying to make: that there’s clearly a double standard being applied to programming decisions being made on modern rock radio today, and there has been for many years.

And the terrible, substandard Beastie Boys are the living, breathing embodiment of its worst practices. If they’re all you know about contemporary rap, then you’re doing yourself an amazing disservice as far as exposure to quality music goes. As are the radio stations who serve them to you aside your daily doses of Staind and Disturbed.

So, people, please, listen . . .


I suggest you call your local Modern Rock Radio station the next time you hear them play the Beastie Boys and request “Fear of A Black Planet” by Public Enemy . . . then make them explain to you why they can’t or won’t play that song.

It should be an interesting rationalization, I would think.

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