james tyler – process part 197
Ethnicity, culture, and life experiences are the primary components that shape & mold my musical art form. My father happens to be of African/Native American descent while my mother is Filipino/Chinese; a mish-mash of distinct cultures. In spite of these differences they share many similarities when it comes to music. Rather than go down a long list citing specific analogies, I’ll concentrate my focus toward musical aspects.
The composition titled ‘Amerikkka’ is fused with rhythms from Africa & influences from Asia intertwined with elements of Jazz, Blues & Gospel. These musical influences are genetically encoded within my DNA as are my physiological traits and personality characteristics! The use of percussion instruments (i.e. cowbells, a go go, woodblocks banging away at excessively high volumes) was deliberately done to create tension and stress throughout the song. As many of you already are aware, disparities still run prevalent in America between the rich & poor and many of the ethnic minority groups that are all viable components of America. Yes, it’s true that in 2009 we elected our first “Black President” of the United States, however, that event didn’t transform America into a colorblind society overnight!
On March 3rd 1991 Rodney King, an unarmed black man, was arrested for alluding police officers during a high speed chase along Los Angeles freeways. After finally being stopped and forced out of his car for what was supposed to be a routine traffic violation, the situation quickly escalated into a brutal savage beating by LA’s finest. This event sent anger and shockwaves across Black America. In New York I vividly recollect being let out early from work that day as management was worried for our safety in the event that riots were going to ensue, especially upon news that LA was being torched and pillaged by angry black mobs! This didn’t happen! Despite passage of Civil Rights Legislation the struggle continues! This tragic & shameful event gave me the inspiration to write the music and lyrics for ‘Amerikkka’: Amerikkka home of the brave land of the free, Amerikkka Mista Jim Crow steady holdin’ onto me.
The remaining 4 songs selected are all original compositions. I owe a great deal of gratitude and appreciation to Desmond Deis, and Jeffrey Young for contributing their musical talents and abilities on several of these tracks utilizing Texture Music Composition Software. Audiophiles please bear in mind that these songs were recorded on a 4-track cassette Tascam Portastudio back circa 1986-92 in a studio apartment in NYC so the sound quality is somewhat compromised. It will be immediately noticeable as soon as you open the music files. Again, this music was composed pre-digital age (wav/aiff/mp3 files) which is the high fidelity standard for today’s music. Some of you may have a difficult time sitting through an analog song converted to a low-fidelity mp3, file but if you would kindly indulge me and try to focus your concentration more on the musicality rather than the low-fidelity you just might be able to enjoy the music!
One last acknowledgement, I would like extend a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks to Benjamin Brunn who, by the way, is an incredibly gifted musician and composer! He is primarily responsible for encouraging me to share my music with you! These tracks were sitting in a box on a closet shelf for over 15 years until just a month ago when I started an email correspondence with Benjamin via Sound Cloud! Last December, I gathered up my courage and reluctantly sent him a song in low fidelity mp3 format to get his feedback. After not getting a response for several days I was convinced that he wasn’t going to bother with a novice like me. Besides, why would he care about an unknown artist? Well to my disbelief and surprise I got a reply which excited and shocked me at the same time! He was diplomatic, kind and encouraging which I didn’t expect from an accomplished musician of his caliber! Were it not for his patience, kindness and constant positive reinforcement I don’t believe I would be here now sharing this music with you. Benjamin Brunn: a BIG THANK YOU! Tobias, thank you too! Also, I would like to thank Rayna deNiord for giving me this opportunity to participate in Modyfier’s Process Series. A BIG THANKS to you too!