Eli “Paperboy” Reed

Shopping in the sweltering desert heat in California lead me to Eli “Paperboy” Reed. My girlfriend and I were in a Kate Spade store on El Paseo – a shopping district located in Palm Desert, California – and Eli “Paperboy” Reed came through the store’s speakers. My foot started tapping and therefore caught my attention. I was a little hesitant to ask the store clerk the name of the song, but my curiosity (and the song’s vibe) got the best of me and I asked the clerk during the song’s closing horns. Unfortunately, the lady who I had asked had only caught the last few seconds of the song and told me the song was either “Eli papaboy or paperboy”, I input this information in my phone and continued shopping.

Earlier today, I remembered I had recorded various artists names and artist’s albums in my phone and completed an internet search, particularly one for “Eli+paperboy” on trust-worthy Google. Instantly, Eli’s name came up and attached to it were numerous YouTube videos. I clicked on the first I found “Come and Get It”, and there it was, the track from the Kate Spade store!

Eli “Paperboy” Reed – “Come and Get It!” (2010)

I remember my original thought about the song on that warm, sunny day in California, which was that I could tell that the song was released very recently. Mainly because contemporary soul has a polished and often times over produced vibe to its tracks; such is the case with Eli “Paperboy” Reed. Today, this was amplified. The song didn’t strike me the same way as my first experience with it in California. I managed to listen to all tracks from Eli “Paperboy” Reed’s 2010 album Come and Get It!

My verdict? It’s good, not great, just good. Don’t get me wrong, Eli’s got a great voice. At times, he can sound like Wilson Pickett! However, I feel as though his swag is directed at nostalgic baby boomers, rather than soul fans. Eli’s style reminds me of Michael Buble, in that his target audience is the middle-aged women…lame! Come and Get It! (2010) is missing that “umph”, that drive, that force that makes you sweat, or feel…it’s missing that soul. I want to like this more than I do, I just can’t!

Try it out for yourself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dDaWLExW3c&feature=relmfu

Soul Fillin’ on CJSR 88.5 FM

It’s certain that there’s always something special happening on Edmonton’s university radio station. CJSR (88.5FM and http://www.cjsr.com) is a publicly funded, volunteer-run radio station that dedicates itself to challenging the status quo and prides itself in its eclectic programming. However, if you’re a fan of soul music and find yourself struggling to find “new” soul music, there’s one particular show on CJSR that’s especially for you. Every Friday night, from 11PM-12AM, a fine gentleman by the name of Sam Barrett spins rare and hard to find soul music. Now, when I use the word “spin”, I mean Sam actually spins 45″s and LPs. Analog, huh? YA!

Don’t go looking for these tunes on PirateBay, or other torrent sites because you certainly won’t find them! And good luck finding CD versions! Your most likely source to listen to these fine, sugary tracks is to tune in every week. Or, be that lucky caller on one of the nights Sam decides to give a record  away; be prepared to answer a question though! Or, actually go on eBay and find and purchase and wait weeks for these rarities. So it makes sense to just tune in to Sam “The Record Man” Barrett every week…

Aside from just playing music, Sam gives listeners in-depth historical and interesting facts about each track he plays. Whether the information is about the musician, the song at hand, or the region the song is from, Sam makes sure to give the listener valuable background information about every piece of soul magic. I thought soul music was a genre that I was well versed in (hence the reason for making this very blog). Turns out, I know very little. Listening to Sam and his mighty fine selections has been both a humbling and rewarding experience. It’s redefined the entire soul genre for me, and has caused me to reevaluate my entire music selection. To put it simply, I’ve barely scratched the surface of this pulsating genre.

I’ve featured on Sam’s show a few times, and look forward to collaborating with Sam in the near and far future. Even if I merely sit in the DJ booth and vibe to Sam’s selections, or add to the radio banter, Sam’s concept is just too cool to not be around from near or afar.  What’s just as cool as his concept and execution of his show,  is his retro 45″ box, where Sam keeps all of his not-so-hidden-anymore gems. Tune in, 88.5FM in Edmonton or around the world at http://www.cjsr.com!

Sam’s blog: http://www.soulfillin.wordpress.com
Soul Fillin’s Twitter: @SoulFillin

My “Blackophilia”

For some time I held a laughable and juvenile existentialist belief that the reason I like “black music” or black artists so much is because at one point in time, say a past life, I was an African American. This cruel belief isn’t because I aspired to be one, but more so because I found a strong attraction to the music created by Africans as well as their force and magnitude in both American history and popular culture astonishing. Yet, blackness is essential to both me and my music library. I consume black music daily. In fact, when searching for new music I strictly look for blackness first, but why? After a critical review of myself and of my music collection, I am determined to find an answer in what black music offers white listeners, using myself as a microcosm. Furthermore, through exploring myself, the topic of black commodification may unfold.

Aside from its entertainment value, music others other forms of art represent place. These mediums increasingly define landscapes and places, can identify acceptable or culturally normal behaviour, address new cultural phenomena, and discuss themes of both belonging and alienation. As such, a listener of music for example, can relate, or perhaps be taken to new worlds whilst being shown what is (un)acceptable. For example, today’s most popular music form conveys “the return of the ghetto as a central black popular narrative [which] has fulfilled [international] fantasies about violence and danger…” (Rose, Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America, p. 11). Through the creation of this imaginary space, an artist is able to extract the listener and travel aurally to these worlds. In the case of hip hop/rap genres, a white suburban male listener is immersed in a place vastly different from their realms of experience. This new space offers dissimilar dialogue and subject matter. Listen to “N.Y. State of Mind” and try to not imagine of projects, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Perhaps white music isn’t edgy enough for me, that it’s themes don’t elicit the same subjects in my familiar spaces. For the most part, especially in black hip hop and rap, this seems true.

This may in fact explain white consumption dominance in black music. It’s easy to listen to music that both glorifies and demeans other social groups. This type of entertainment away from the ordinary acts as surreality or a type of voyeurism. For example, a white male who resides in suburban yeg will listen to N.W.A.’s “Fuck tha Police”, a song that represents both police brutality and discrimination, and will likely fail to fully relate to the song’s intent. Though I don’t fully relate to this song, the song is catchy, and entertaining. It appears as though “black” spaces and places are becoming more interwoven into popular culture and our social fabric.

It is the case that rap and hip hop often allude to “entertaining” scenes of violence, expressions of profanity, as well as other “cheap thrilled” entertainment. However, there are other reasons why I, I both actively enjoy and listen and search for black music (not restricted to hip hop or rap), namely rhythm and groove. In Black Music, White Business: Illuminating the History and Political Economy of Jazz, Frank Kofsky strives to discuss both the history and politics, and economics of early jazz scenes in America. In the sixth chapter, Kofsky attempts to “scrutinize” Martin Williams (a white jazz critic). Williams states in one of his books The Jazz Tradition: “that Negroes as a race have a rhythmic genius that is not like other races, and…that this genius has found a unique expression in the United States” (Kofsky, Jazz Tradition: Black Music, White Business, p. 101). Though Kofsky quotes Williams odiously, I don’t think it’s too far fetched to reach Williams’ idea (except for Williams’ problematic concept of race). Norman Kelley mentions in his work Notes on the Political Economy of Black Music that “[President] Bush [concluded in 2001] that black music is ‘always easy to enjoy, yet impossible to imitate’” (Kelley, Rhythm & Business, p.18). Kelley mocks Bush for stating black music is “always easy to enjoy”, as if almost describing a “soft drink”, yet Kelley doesn’t reveal or acknowledge that black music is in fact impossible to imitate. For example, Eminem doesn’t speak to me the same way Nas, or Biggie do, why is that? I think I hold a similar belief to both Williams and Bush, and I think there are others who would agree. I think what both Williams and Bush are trying to state is that there seem to be subliminal rhythmic or groovable undertones immersed in black music. Black music has always pushed Western music to the brinks of accepted paradigms. Syncopation standards, vocal effects, and polyrhythmic layering (Rose, Black Noise, p.66), and many other musical effects are both different and prominent particularly in African American music, all which are derived from African roots. As part of music’s overall value, I believe music’s worth can be largely dependent on its dancibility or groovability, something I feel can be rooted in black music. This may explain why I and others like Williams or Bush always enjoy music with a rhythm or a pulse, something I feel black music can readily offer.

I’m sure if I regularly followed Billboard’s Top 100, I would notice that greater than 50% of the charted artists would be in some way connected to African America. Is being black sexy, or are black artists modern day minstrels (Strausbaugh, Black Like You, p.320)?  For example, when I first listened to Adele’s 21 last year, immediately I thought of 60′s R&B. The reason Adele was so successful this year was because I believe 21 draws close parallels to black music. White consumption, white interest, and white overhauls have always been present in Black American music (Rose, Black Noise, p.5). Such was the case from minstrel shows to blues and jazz movements, but as both capitalism and North Americanism continue to increase their chokehold on all markets, commodifying blackness will continue. This is especially true when popular music has such strong bonds with defining ourselves through black music, and romanticizing black music’s themes and sounds. There seems to be a greater power at work here, whether it’s capitalism, dominant American culture, or the combination of the two. Nevertheless, the resonance of blackness and North America’s blackophilia (Yousman, Blackophilia and Blackophobia, p.366) fetish will forever exist. Perhaps it’s time to embrace something Strausbaugh suggests. Perhaps what we’re witnessing is culture-sharing: “all and everything the American experiment means” (Strausbaugh, Black Like You, p.323). We all file-share, why not culture-share?

Sources:

“Blackophilia and Blackophobia: White Youth, the consumption of Rap Music and White Supremacy – Yousman – 2006 – Communication Theory – Wiley Online Library.”
Wilely Online Library. N.p., Web. 18 Feb. 2012
<http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2003.tb00297.x/abstract&gt;.

Kelley, Norman. R&B, rhythm and business: the political economy of Black music. New York: Akashic, 2002. Print.

Kofsky, Frank. Black music, white business; illuminating the history and political economy of jazz. New York: Pathfinder, 1998. Print.

Rose, Tricia. Black noise: rap music and black culture in contemporary America. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, 1994. Print.

Strausbaugh, John. Black like you, blackface, whiteface, insult and imitation in American popular culture. New York: Jer

emy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2006. Print.