Jazz inspires the developers of the WordPress software this blog uses. Since 2004 each major new version is named after a jazz musician, the first being Miles Davis. 10 years before he made the hip-hop/scratch pioneering Rock IT, Herbie Hancock was involved in another pioneering effort as one of the musicians who recorded On The Corner with Miles .
Both sides of the record were based around simple, repetitive drum and bass grooves (the track delineations on the original album were arbitrary), with the “melodic” parts snipped from hours of meandering jams. These techniques, refined via the use of computers and digital audio equipment, are now standard amongst producers of electronically-based music.
Even the album cover art spoke to a digital theme:
In keeping with the sci-fi theme of African-American Music Month here on STEM Drum, On The Corner “sounded” like a soundtrack for a sci-fi movie. One writer wonders whether Miles actually invented the sci-fi/cyberpunk genre of William Gibson(inventor of the term cyberspace)
There’s also something cybernetic about that sound. The 1972 technology probably didn’t have many computers in the mix, but you can hear the hints toward sampling and digital editing. It is the street finding it’s own use for technology, but to a beat that William Gibson never imagined. It’s the shape of funk to come, pointing the way to rap, hip-hop, techno, the Afro-pop of King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuit.
Last but not least , Don Cheadle is using the tech-driven Indiegogo to help fund his Miles Ahead movie. Supporting these kinds of efforts will help keep more of the value of our innovation in the village.
It takes Apple about a week to generate $3B in revenue and less than a to month to accumulate $3B in profit. Based on recent Apple trends and projected wearable trends, it’s not unreasonable to project that the combination of increased Beats Electronics revenue and “cool factor” boosts to iWatch and other Apple products will be significant. Expect to see iPads, Airbooks, AppleTV, iWatch et al in many of the places we currently see celebrities rockin Beats headphones. For the sake of this discussion let’s say Beats increases Apple revenue 1 percent a year for the next 3 years. That will pay for the acquisition – every dollar tied to Beats after that is gravy. Bargain is putting it nicely though it pales in comparison to the previous occasions when Apple(and others) had to pay little to nothing for access to “cool”. Clearly the Village will benefit. As noted in the previous post, Will.i.am has the right idea about what to do with the money and Dr. Dre/Jimmy Iovine have previously given an inner city university – USC an endownment of $70M to launch a STEAM oriented business undergraduate degree program and we can expect more. At the same time, it has to be noted that most of the money is going outside of the Village because the technology was not developed here and the majority owners are not from here. This is not new – African-Americans have not possessed the means of production for any of our great assets. Going back to the 1950’s Motown had only a small recording studio and no manufacturing or distribution capabilities. So the “cool” intellectual property had to be sold at a great discount in order to get it produced and into the market. By the time we began to get access to the means of production and distribution, technology had changed the nature of the game(again – can you say ProTools? iTunes?) so we’re right back where we started – more like DJay than we’d like to be.
A similar situation has been seen in film as this must-read Washington Post article on culture change and reparations shows. It makes the case that Gone With The Wind reached far more people than 12 Years A Slave and that it’s not even possible to achieve numbers like Roots which is still one of the most watched TV series in history. The article
Numbers like these are released every year. I have cited them constantly during my time as a professional critic. But “The Case for Reparations” provides us another way of understanding why these figures are so critically important. Even if the fight to give African-American artists more opportunities to make television, film, music, and books — and to do so with greater autonomy — succeeds, that victory comes with different rewards than might have accompanied it in the past. What are we winning if African-Americans get access to the machinery of cultural production precisely because they can attract niche audiences, and because their industries have given up on the idea that their work, or anyone else’s, might have truly mass appeal?
This is not quite the equivalent of turning a neighborhood over to prospective African-American homeowners as its property values crater, one of the dynamics Coates describes in his essay. But the idea that artists of color would gain access to the tools that might help them change our culture just as those tools become less powerful is terrible to contemplate. It may not be too late to advance the dream of reparations. But the swords and plowshares we might have used to fight the cultural battles that would make such a reconciliation possible are not what they once were.
So like post-WWII Israel, we could use some infrastructure investment. However, we can’t afford to wait on the political process. There’s enough knowledge and financial capital within the Village to make a meaningful impact – just remember to aim high!
I know how many STEM centers I can open with it I know what I can scream from this little hill I’m on,why it’s important for kids to get involved in some type of STEM education so they are not looking for jobs but they can create jobs.I have proof now you shouldn’t just try to be a musician and an athlete if you’re in the inner city but try to bring a consumer electronics product to market – it’s possible. The giants are the giants and the giants didn’t see Beats coming and now we dominate a market. … as crazy and as limited as it may sound it changed airports – before Beats were on everyone’s neck, you did not see headphone stands and Beats played a big role in that. So the next big thing is probably going to come from an unlikely candidate Some kid in some inner city or some developing world is going to come and triumph and bring something to market that could potentially even shake an Apple. (emphasis mine)
This should help the last post make more sense. In the movie Hustle & Flow, DJay is a pimp/hustler in Memphis who is fed up with “the life” and starts creating rap tracks in a makeshift home studio to try to get out. His sound technician tells him they need a better microphone to get a good enough quality sound that can get radio play. DJay is frustrated because he has no idea how or why the equipment works, but the sound technician insists so he goes to the store to pick up a microphone but doesn’t have enough money for the really good one. Again, not knowing anything about STEM he says:
I just don’t understand why I gotta pay so much more money for that microphone right there when the one right next to it look just like it but cost half, man.
Caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place, DJay falls back to his pimp resources to pay for the good mic.
It’s great that Kanye West doesn’t want to be constrained to the rap category and that he sees his future possibilities in the context of people like Steve Jobs and Howard Hughes.Both of them had STEM backgrounds and surrounded themselves with great engineers. Their artistic successes drew heavily upon their STEM resources and successes. Perhaps Kanye will come to realize that STEAM could help him make an end run around the established fashion industry. He could catapult the emerging 3D printed fashion industry to mainstream recognition. To be clear, we need not wait for celebrities to embrace STEAM, we can identify and support artistically inclined STEM students and professionals who will create the next big successes in healthcare, climate change, education as well as entertainment.
When you don’t love STEM, you can’t make or distribute your own products.
When you can’t make or distribute your own products you have less control.
When you have less control you make less money.
When you make less money, you get desparate.
When you get desparate, you resort to pimping.
When you start pimping, you end up like D-Jay.
Don’t end up like D-Jay.
Along withGerhard Sessler, West developed the foil electret microphone in 1962. Nearly 90 percent of the more than two billion microphones produced annually are based on the principles of the foil-electret and are used in everyday items such as telephones, camcorders, and audio recording devices among others.
Beyond participation, folks currently underrepresented in the STEM fields should thing big, be leaders! From Sun Ra to P-Funk to OutKast and Janelle Monae black scifi has always been innovative, has always had an impact on the community. Now, with the power of the internet, we have an opportunity to connect innovative artists with innovative STEM pros. This combination can go a long way towards rescuing black and brown folk, the planet and maybe the entire universe! Imagine a world where where creative STEAM geniuses collaborate on “instruments” that not only play music, but heal, transform pollutants and manage marketplaces.
This power to imagine is the first step in changing the world!
“Black To The Future” Walter Mosley
In the late Amiri Baraka’s “Answers In Progress”, a group of aliens land in NewArk, NJ looking not for the political, business or space industry leaders, but for the great jazz drummer Art Blakely.
Typically we see the relationship between math and music from the perspective of applying mathematical ideas to music but Listening To Mathematics explores the notion of music informing math. That’s a powerful idea our lives may depend on. As JazzHopRevolution says in The Myth: It’s all math and history every gun battle.