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  • PERSPECTIVE: The Origins & Purposes of Generic Classifications

         It is important to cultivate or adopt a system of discerning creativity. In the absence of this system, the concept of 'genre' acts as a substitute. Of course, the idea of dismantling the current classification system leaves the music open to the same nonsense rhetoric that empowers corporate musicians and DJs to speak about 'post-experimental-prog-rock and its jazz roots.'  But, since the listener is the sole focus of this essay, let's ignore all that.  For, it is only the listener who can hold the music to a higher standard.  Although the chef is often displeased with his team, all hell breaks loose when a plate is sent back to the kitchen and the big question presents itself.  Where did this mediocrity come from? 

         'Genre' limits the capacity to accept new ideas. Since it is a phantom idea, it can only yield a phantom investment. This can only lead to a phantom community filled with people who would rather photograph the creative reservoir than preserve it.  The purpose of a 'hip-hop community' can only be to hip and to hop communally. The purpose of a gathering centered on 'Soul' music is to cultivate and harvest 'Soul.' This is a lovely concept until the People at the open mic are hungry and the harvest must be auctioned. At that point, you realize that you've literally sold your 'Soul.'  I particularly disapprove of this idea of 'Soul,' which is transferrable via food and music.  It's ridiculous.

         Furthermore, the constant conversation on “finding an audience for 'jazz'” is truly a matter of a slaver looking for a buyer of the slave's amusing 'expression.'  Of course, we've now come to the point where the musician often enslaves and markets himself. The word 'jazz' is not like the word 'Soul' though.  It has a literal meaning.  It means 'shit,' as does the word 'scat.' The phrase “All That Jazz” can be interchanged with the phrase “All That Shit” without causing any confusion as to what the meaning is. It also can refer to 'sex' or any other animalistic impulse (jizz + ass = Jass or Jazz).  If this is true, and it is, then the purpose of a 'jazz community' can only be to bullshit with each other communally, which is what has always been happening, at the expense of the maintenance of the roots. I suppose the assumption is that the only way peace can be maintained is through communal sex, a musical orgy. Basically, I am speaking of a consciousness that is designed to afford male Citizens access to the People's creative reserve and female Citizens access to the energy that supports this reserve.

         It should be noted that the model used to extract 'market-fuel' from the People's creative reserve is identical to the model used to extract literal fuel from the People's land. In addition, it is simply an aggressive version of the extraction process that influenced the Citizen to monetize his own existence. For example, Bela Bartok built a legacy that seems to be revered within its context, simply by collecting the 'folk melody' of regular 'folk' and cultivating it into an exhibition of individualistic 'composition' for rich Citizens. Another example would be the perpetuation of the term “Country” as an identifier for a style of 'folk' music. This thought opens the market to an individualistic Australian “Country Singer” to rise to the top of the market, simply by perpetuating American “countryness.”  Any actually descriptive term would draw attention to the particular Citizens who cultivated the music, why they created it and the source material from which they created it. Of course, this would inevitably draw attention to the great distance between the 'folk' appropriator and the source material, which still stinks of extraction from Stolen Africans. This is the understanding of music that the People deal with when entering the Citizen's marketplace. In trying to navigate a marketplace that can only serve the purpose of extraction, the People risk the loss of their connection to the true source material buried under a pile of the their own discarded ideas, abandoned because of the need to keep moving forward.

         Indeed, we are at a point now where only an extreme few are interested in preserving a connection to the source material from which modern music is created. Often, I've had my interest in the creative reserve insulted as a fetish for novelty or poverty. However, if the boundaries of musical 'genre' are controlled by the market, so are all of the songs coming out of these 'genres.' If the idea that we begin with originates from a market-motivated individual, then the music they are producing must be market-motivated music – yes, even if it is passionate and true. Thinking otherwise will lead you to believe that my music or Michael Jackson's 'Thriller' or Solange's 'A Seat At The Table' are more cultural than marketable. It will have you believe that the words 'American' or 'Black' are representative of a culture, rather than a culturally-based 'genre.'

         I do not intend to desecrate my own work or that of my peers. I do, however, intend to draw attention to the idea that our consumption of music has begun to take a hold on our understanding of how to interact with it. I intend to draw attention to the fact that this can be reversed in many ways, all starting with our producing music in offering back to the universal God, rather than back to the market. In the mind of the true musician, the gaze of the market is only an afterthought.