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September 27, 1990 - Image 9

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-09-27

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The Michigan Daily -Thursday, September 27, 1990 - Page 9
Green claims 'venegance is mine!
Elvis controversy
rages on

by Forrest Green III
A couple of actors and actresses
who write a couple of lines
on what Black is~
Then they look at me as sin,
when a brother just speaks from
@1guess I'm blacker than a shadow in
the darkest alley and they're
always scared to go in.
-X-Clan, "Funkin' Lesson"'

T he above quote is not cited in
order to make the issue of Presley-
mania any more race-oriented than it
already is. But still, it does nail
down the gist of my reply to yester-
day's article, "Rock music: a bastard
form." It refers to N. Mustafa Zu-
.beri's callous, Judasian misinterpre-
tation of my article on the deifica-
tion of Elvis Presley. N.Z. implies
that I should learn how to rage; actu-
ally, he should be read.
N.Z. insists that my article is
little more than a trouncing of Pres-
ley's already soiled reputation. On
the contrary, I am more than willing
to let the man rest in peace. My
problem is actually with those who
*keep reviving the corpse, determined
to see poor Elvis walk the Earth
again. The article simply argues that
the mindless reverence given to the
erstwhile "King" be dropped. Crown-
ing Elvis the king of a music created
by both Blacks and whites is a
racially narcissistic act that bluntly
denies the actual and, yes, authentic
history of rock 'n' roll.
N.Z. plays me like a sucker,
,imlying that I have somehow
forgotten the roots of rock 'n' roll:
the blues I-IV-V structure, African
rhythms, aspects of country, pop and
In this context of balancing the*
scales of racist Amerikkka, the con-
cept of an insular "cultural authentic-
ity" actually does take some mean-
ing. It would be great if Black folks
weren't forced to believe in a white
God, as well as an immortal, om-
nipotent, white king of rock 'n' roll.
N.Z. then cruelly accuses me, of
all people, of trying "to erect racial
boundaries in music." Cultural
authenticity is not an ideal to strive
for. It is simply a virtue that Blacks
happen to be searching for, both cul-
turally and musically. Whether A

Tribe Called Quest sample Indian
sitars or Teena Marie does R&B is
perfectly fine and good.
My point in the article is that
Black artists like Living Colour are
reclaiming genres previously
whitewashed in the past two decades.
One need only listen to bastard
travesties like Kenny G, UB40,
Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet," the
"blues" albums, Led Zeppelin I and
II, or David Byrne's simply horrible
Rei Momo album to understand the
value of legitimate cultural
knowledge. Get it right, N.Z.
Sure, whites can do African-
American music forms. Whether
they do it right or not is a different
thing altogether. I am not and have
never advocated Naziism in music;
then again, I'm sure Public Enemy's
audience is simply rapturous of
Vanilla Ice. And sure, Elvis sang a
mean tune. But considering his in-
fluences, the man could've been a bit
more reverent.
The quote from Elvis which I use
("The only thing niggers can do for
me is buy my records and shine my
shoes") is authentic; if N.Z. refuses
to believe his idol's snide statement,
he- should give Chuck D. or Greil
Marcus a call. Or even better, I can
have Presley call Zuberi. Eddie
Murphy, a fervent fan of "the King,"
refers to the statement in the recent
issue of Spin.
Perhapsreferring to the tragic
bluesman as a charlatan could be
considered a bit harsh. Coming from
the Public Enemy song "Who Stole
the Soul," my argument is basically
attacking all white music biz people
that contributed to the ripping off of
Black musicians. In this militant
context, calling the opportunistic
Presley out isn't so unfair.
In attempting to glaze over cer-
tain individual truths and differences,
anxious mediators frequently stretch
actual reality to find a common
ground. In the exchange, we sacrifice
legitimate confrontation, the only
way to reach a common understand-
ing. When a brother just speaks
from within, as the quote at the be-
ginning reads, N.Z. looks at me as a
sinner, a fascist, even a racist.
He represents the proper, safe
perspective that tells Blacks to be
patient and good. His options are
either diluting the beauty of African-
American pride or making me a new-
age Nat Turner. I would like
scientific, anal-retentive scholars of
respected forms of African-American
music to take a step back and accept
Blackness for what it is.
And sure, Public Enemy does not
represent an entire race of people.
But Elvis...?

Down home boys
From the musical breeding ground
that is Holland, Mich., the
Dushanes leave their cozy nook
and head for the town of trees.
Having once committed the
harmonic sin of performing as a
cover band, the boys have seen the
light and now wow crowds with
their original tunes. Those tunes
can be heard tonight at Club
Heidelberg. Doors open at 9:30,
cover is $3.

Jason Jimerson
B.A. Sociology, Earlham College
M.A. Sociology, University of virginia
Ph.D. Candidate, Sociology, University of Chicago

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