Here is a hypothetical question. What if all the people who created and performed hiphop and rap music were musicians first and everything else was about musicianship foremost. I realize hiphop and rap music came from a subculture where musical training wasn't available and records were more accessible. As i am writing this im listening to a podcast from some Bay area artist discussing the state of hiphop at this point in time. Nothing in the discussion had to do with music. I would love to say everyone that performs hiphop has to focus on wordplay because thats the primary thing they are crafting but at the end of the day we are creating music. Would it be acceptable for a quarter back to not understand the fundamentals of his game and still make millions of dollars? Of course not. With the accessibility of instruction via the internet there really is no reason for anyone involved in the music industry not to learn music. Heres the story of how i started back learning piano after many years of laying off because of my job in the health care industry. I was deep in the woods of Montana during a cold winter day. I ordered an acoustic piano which was delivered to my house and occupied most of my living room when it was put in place. After that i went to the book store and bought music theory for dummies to refresh my music theory knowledge. I also went to believe it or not jazz which was headed by a gentleman named Scott Raney if im not mistaken and i started learning left hand voicings for jazz piano. I spent the next 5 years of my life locked up in a montana cabin with that piano until i learned the basics. I had already been doing spoken word for years and was part of the movement in New Orleans that produced Sister Sonney whom i saw on Def poetry Jam one day to my delight..( Im not name dropping im just letting you know i learned my craft before i started putting it out there.)
It never occurred to me to start producing jazz or hiphop music before i had the basic skill set available to me. For me its simply a matter of loving music that much. If the fans start holding the artist to a higher standard and stop supporting things that are tearing down the community and creating personages that are not leaders in music or the community or producing quality and timeless art, then maybe we will be on the road to turning things around. I went on to study music at the university level and have shared the stage with some world class legends. I am living proof that you can learn your craft slowly and achieve your goals in music slowly without compromising the craft. I apologize if there is a tense undertone to this blog but its simply as a result of my love of music in all forms, and specifically jazz and hiphop.   J. Gray