Archive for the ‘Elijah Wald’ Category

Hip Hop and Blues

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Elijah Wald, Miscellaneous, Rap

Author: Elijah Wald

Source: http://www.elijahwald.com/hipblues.html
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Blues fans would seem to have a natural affinity with rap. After all, while fans of the Beatles or Beethoven can complain that it’s just some guy talking over a repetitive, monotonous rhythm, we consider John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillun” a classic. As for the content, it is true that a lot of rap is violent and misogynist, but we have heard Robert Johnson singing, “I’m gonna beat my woman till I’m satisfied,” and have learned to appreciate his strengths despite this. A lot of modern gangsta lyrics might be dismissed as over-the-top boasts about how tough the rapper is, but how different are they from “Hoochie Coochie Man”? Indeed, as many historians have pointed out, there are examples of rap in the work of artists as varied as the Memphis Jug Band, the Golden Gate Quartet, and Bo Diddley — and that’s not to mention all the versions of “toasts” like “The Signifying Monkey.”

 

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Further reading: here

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Author : Elijah Wald

Source : http://www.elijahwald.com/johnsonspeed.html

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“I have no idea why this story seems to surface every few years as if it were news, but we are clearly on another round. The claim was made back in 2004 that all of Robert Johnson’s recordings were issued at a speed that was about 20% faster than he actually played. The most recent reappearance of this claim, in the UK Guardian newspaper, adds the completely spurious claim that this is the “consensus” among musicologists. So, to start at the beginning: No, it isn’t. It is possible that some musicologists believe Johnson’s recordings are at the wrong speed, but I am not aware of any. At this point, the consensus among experts on prewar blues–musicologists and musicians alike–is roughly what I will outline below. Of course, we could be wrong, and I am not suggesting that a majority vote should end this debate, but for the moment the consensus is that some of Johnson’s tracks may have been issued at the wrong speed, but it is wildly improbable (bordering on impossible) that all of them have been issued at a single, consistent, wrong speed.

Here are some reasons to rule the “slowed down” theory out:”

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