Excerpts from This Morning’s Alphabits: Kneed for Music

Well, party people, I’m getting old. A few weekends ago I found myself writhing in pain due to an inflamed knee that I had aggravated while playing basketball. And it’s been a tough few months for me—I’ve found myself being angry, sad and frustrated and the only thing that seems to move me along out of my somber moods is music. Part of my frustration comes from not being able to play basketball the way I want to. Stupid aging… Anyway, family crises have also been the cause of my melancholy but music still makes it through to my core and settles me somewhat. For that, I stay thankful.

In the meantime, there are two things I’d like to discuss: why in my absence from this column I cannot seem to escape the bubbly digital voice of performers on the radio (Lil Wayne, Akon, Wyclef, Chris Brown, the infamous T-Pain, The Dream, Rihanna, Madonna and others). In fact, the number of people and songs that have that voice effect has grown exponentially.

So, to quell the already mounting frustration in my clouded mind, I’d like to draw attention to the wondrous fact that Thirsty Fish’s “Get Wet” appeared on one of a series of mixtape CDs on another Web site I visit regularly. After missing the roundtable discussion board here on MGF, it’s only right that shortly after reading that article do I discover their presence on another mixtape. The series of mixtapes provides plenty of great artists of different styles lacing tracks wonderfully. But it’s a shame I have to surf the Web or the archives of some of my more cultured friends to come across any new music of quality rather than just being able to turn on the radio and flip through a couple of stations. As I’ve noted before, my trust is waning for the people responsible for populating radio airwaves with the junk I hear on a regular basis.

I hate that people are closing the gap even more so between the talentless and the conforming. To say that I’m a hater is a misstatement. To say that I hate how lazy people will bite a terrible yet popular idea (the digital voice thing) and flood the airways with it would be much more accurate. It hides weak-ass performers who have no talent behind a sound effect that could launch the music career of a blind billy goat being dipped in acid while gargling raisins and thumbtacks. Furthermore, it dims the talent of some that can sing but for the sake of doing what’s “hot”, degrading their true vocal ability and subjecting it (and us) to such a wasted use of technology. Unfortunately, it is profitable and therein, as they say, lies the rub.

My final complaint is how on the rare occasions that I go to a club, the DJ will play something “old school”, meaning, usually nothing that predates “The Humpty Dance” and all the hands in the crowd go up together along with the chant of “Aww sh*t!” in unison. Now, what you may consider to be old school is subjective, although I haven’t been to a club yet where playing Pharcyde’s “Passing Me By” doesn’t get the EXACT same reaction (and yes, I do believe it came out a year before Humpty’s anthem). The problem lies in that when I go to a club the following weekend, I see many of the same people I saw the previous weekend; Shock G’s alter-ego comes on the mic (or FatLip, to stick with the Pharcyde comparison) and the crowd wows again as if they don’t hear that song as being the “old school” jam that is almost always chosen… that and “One More Chance” by Biggie, et al.

I don’t know. Maybe one day my bitterness will dissolve into a pool of creamy residue at my feet while I sit naked on the toilet crying—my Zune hanging from the earphone cord inches away from the water in the bowl below because music will have finally hit rock bottom and Jerry Springer is the host for Yo! MTV Raps. But at the rate we’re going, he and Simon Cowell will be the hosts sending constant shout-outs to their sister station BET where Steven Seagal is hosting In Da Basement. Until then…

Be good.

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