Craig's Pop Life: 10.21.22
Hey, everybody! Welcome to Craig’s Pop Life, a Black, gay excursion into pop culture. Hope you had a good week. I’m headed off to my fave music festival, III Points. James Blake, who is the boyfriend in my headphones, is headlining. I’ll let you know all about it in the next letter.
But if you want to check out some personal faves by my Bluetooth beloved, here’s my playlist.
I know nobody wants to take on another subscription, but I’m a completely independent writer, so reader support is essential. It’s just $5/month or $50/year. (That comes out to around $1/letter.) I really appreciate you showing that the work of a Black gay writer has value.
Stumbled upon this incredible clip from the Detroit ‘80s dance show The Scene. The crowd is partying to the ‘85 Techno classic, “No UFO’s” x Model 500. This is the best example I’ve ever seen of how the original Black Techno audience responded to the music.
This young woman right here is totally my vibe:
Speaking of Techno, I just screened God Said Give ‘Em Drum Machines…
Here are my thoughts…
Jean Carn(e) - Unsung
Yes, I’m a superfan (see playlist below), but objectively, Jean Carn(e)’s “Unsung” is essential viewing for Black music history. You’ll hear about:
* her early work w/ Earth, Wind & Fire
* vocal coaching/producing for Phyllis Hyman, Michael Jackson, etc…
* her friendship with Rick James
* how she inspired Atlanta’s rap scene & much, much more…
The powerhouse vocalist who sang background for fave Chaka Khan, was a member of The Family Stand [“Ghetto Heaven (Roger Ruff Remix)”] , and released the 1996 album Mack Diva Saves The World that produced the witty house anthem “Rise (Maurice Joshua Mix)”
Well, I recently discovered that she had an unreleased album from 1993 on Bandcamp. I purchased it instantly. (Gotta support our creatives, y’all!) The album, which includes production by such heavyweights as Arthur Baker, is excellent, as it draws upon the funk-soul tradition of artists like Chaka.
Currently, this is my fave joint. Check it out!
CRAIG’S POP LIFE ARCHIVES
Fast forward to ‘93…
Diana Ross - “Upside Down (David Morales & Satoshi Tomiie House Remix)”
“It’s important to establish an R&B base. If it reaches beyond, that’s well and good, but I never work with the intention of crossing over. By overshooting, you can aim for an audience you’ll never reach and lose the audience you must have. A record has to cross from something. It’s not amorphic. Once you step over that line, you may lose what you’ve already built.” - producer James Mtume, offering advice that, sadly, most ‘80s R&B acts didn’t heed. (Billboard, 8/16/1980)
Janet Jackson - “Don't Stand Another Chance (12” Mix & Dub)”
s/o to Tim Dillinger for letting me know about the reissue of this great album.
Thanks for hanging out again. I hope you enjoyed the letter. Until next week, be cool, be kind, be creative, be yourself. Love, Craig