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Gate Keepers of Black Music

The Gate Keepers of Black Music

I guess you could call this the millennium equivalent of one standing on a soapbox in Speaker's Corner at Hyde Park spouting information to anyone who cares to listen (without the mega phone). As we seemingly get back to some kind

of normality, having gone through the motions of life changing experiences during the Covid pandemic, some things, despite the universal LTD (Love Devotion & Togetherness) being displayed worldwide, do not appear to have changed.

At the height of the 'Black Lives Matter' phenomenon during the summer of 2020 it seemed that the majority were in agreement that melanated people born of African descent simply have not been afforded the same privilege in all walks of life, with the same equilibrium as those that are less melanated. 'Black Lives Matter' paraphernalia was being worn on T-shirts and slogans and emblems of demonstrations around the world were being used around profile pictures on social media. In my lifetime I have never seen such an overwhelming force of universal human nature, showing so much attention to something many of us from the indigenous and African Diaspora heritage have been trying to express in various formations for well over a century. This was all good in the hood to see.

So lets fast forward, like an old school TDK C90 tape, to the present day and ask why is black culture and its legacy and respect, still in 2021, being bastardised and gentrified with impunity? In our two main feature interviews we speak with two pioneering black, early 1970s soul and funk outfit co-founders, FBI's Root Jackson and Cymande's Patrick Patterson. They speak honestly and openly of the control that the 'gate keepers' have on the development of organic Black British music in the UK. Bearing in mind the 1970s after the late 1960s 'No Black, No Dogs No Irish'

and the Enoch Powell 'Rivers Of Blood 'speech it is of no surprise that the institutionalised bigotry and racism would naturally spill into the next decade.

Make no mistake the 'gate keepers' know who they are and not unlike one of my favourite Si-Fi movies 'They Live', they walk amongst us, so in order to see them many of you will need to put the dark glasses on. In the last year or so cognitive dissonance has reached epic levels and it appears to be the norm to gaslight certain very relevant cases in the music industry where 'Black Lives' clearly do not seem to 'Matter'.

Black Music in National Broadsheet Newspapers

Earlier this year two national broadsheet newspapers The Independent and The Guardian gave major coverage on the significance of 'Brit Funk', its origins, its pioneers and promoting a presupposition of an idea that the Brit Funk era was instrumental in the breaking down of 'racial barriers'. Both timely articles came out either side of Tony Sewell Commission on Race and Ethnic

Disparities alarming declaration of finding no evidence of "institutional racism" in Britain on the 31st March 2021.

The Independents article was published 28th March 2021 and The Guardians dated Friday 2nd April 2021. Judging from the social media response although they were embraced with pride by some who lived the experience in the late

1970-mid 1980s, there was also quite a noticeable disparity showing an obvious 'gate keeper' angle and agenda that they were pushing. Coming to conclusions like 'finding no evidence of 'institutional racism 'in Britain' gives further

licence for the gatekeepers to remain prevalent and relevant in their mission to suppress the progress and legacy of black music and its culture.

Both articles continue to purvey the constant and consistent narrative of heavily connecting the gay, punk, and new romantics scenes as though the underground black music movement has no legs to run by itself. Those other aforementioned movements either ran alongside or in some cases were born out of the black music soul scene, so yes there will be some cross pollination. However when a white journalist from The Independent produces an article adopting the continual systemic historical biases in claiming that lan Dury & The Blockheads 'Hit Me With

Your Rhythm Stick' is a bona fide Brit jazz-funk record there has clearly been failure at the first hurdle in claiming that the editorial should be taken as an authentic representation of reality. I would refer to that as 'lazy journalism' particularly given the purported drive in this era to ensure the correct reporting (historically or otherwise) of the significant and consistent contribution from black culture in all spheres of life.

The Guardian article was more in-depth and warmly embraced by many and although some of the undisputed pioneers of Brit Funk movement were spoken to, the article still managed to whitewash the continuing legacy of Brit

Funk, as though it had been laid baron, despite a well documented record of successful bands and events continuing to champion the cause for the last fifteen years. It does beg the question as to why a white rock and pop music editor

who clearly has no affiliation with the subject matter was asked to write the editorial, when they could have asked an experience author and writer such as Lloyd Bradley of 'Sounds Like London (100 Years Of Black Music In The Capital)'.

I wrote an in-depth letter outlining these observations expressing what I felt misrepresented the Brit Funk movement and the irreparable damage that continues to be inflicted on the true perspective of black culture and it's contribution.

The letter was both emailed and mailed to be signed for to The Guardian's Music editor about a week after the 'We Got The Funk' article was published. I explained who I am, my credentials and my concern in preserving the legacy of black music and its culture and how their article with its lack of research, is an example of misleading the wider public about the authenticity of the subject matter they

decided to tackle. To date I have not received a reply despite their manifesto mission statement saying "Our values were set out by CP Scott in his centenary leader in 1921. They are: honesty, integrity, courage, fairness, and a sense of duty to the reader and the community. Our values and behaviours provide the basis of how we work together, how we communicate and what we should expect from each other." If each one can teach one, why the radio silence? I can hear them keys 'Jingling Baby' like LL Cool J!

The gate keeper occupation has had active membership in the music industry for over a hundred years across all genres of black music and here in in the UK, its been rife in the clubs, on radio, across the events and music promotion

companies and in its dealings with black artists. Even the term 'black music' has been obliterated so much so that black music journals and charts have subsequently declined using the word 'black' and have further subscribed to

using the derogatory term and ethos of 'urban'.


In recent weeks it has emerged that BBC Sounds have decided (without apparent prejudice) to overlook authentic and indigenous African Diaspora, UK Windrush R&B soul icons with proven R&B credentials such as Beverley Knight, Aleshya Dixon, Jameiia, Mica Paris and ask white Girls Aloud pop singer Cheryl Cole to present a new 'You Me & R&B' show. Cheryl's defence is that she's always loved R&B, fair enough. However Cheryl Cole was caught up in a racist scandal regarding assaulting and racially abusing an African toilet attendant in a club back in the early 2000s.

Regardless of once being married to a black man, having black friends or relatives or loving the music however does not exonerate you from exercising your privileges with impunity. So when our interviewees Patrick Patterson of Cymande talk about the 'gatekeepers' and Root Jackson advises us on how essential is was to start the BBMA (British Black Music Association) please think before you utter the words 'moaning', 'race card' and 'blah, blah blah', because the jingling of those keys maybe silent to you. Imagine you have invested and naturally inherited all that you have into preserving your family estate, that has been passed on through to you via the generations, and a stranger or a guest decided to acquire it and then claims to own it through various incredulous means and practices. Then they tell you that you can't go into your house of heritage unless they

say you can, whilst they are swinging the keys around in your face knowing they have the privilege or the law on their side?

So let us not get complacent that things have changed, put on those dark 'They Live' glasses and acknowledge there are those that walk amongst us soul survivors who are complicit in their quest to ensure that things remain this

way and remember if you're not part of the solution then you are part of the problem! The struggle continues in preserving the legacy of black music and its culture!


Read the article and much more in issue 94. Available to buy now.


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