“Musical Genius” is on Life Support

January 13, 2017 4:43 am Published by Leave your thoughts

You may have heard the term “Musical Genius” thrown around a time or two. OK, Cool! I’ve used it myself in reference to deserving artist. Now before we go any further let’s establish what a musical genius is because I’m sure 100 people could have 100 different views of what the criteria would look like. For the sake of argument we’ll keep it simple. We know the definition of genius, so to imply one is a musical genius will imply that individual is a genius in two or more areas of the musical category. Example; Great singing ability alone doesn’t make you a musical genius, just a great singer. The same could be said about a songwriter, producer, musician, etc. Now that we’ve established that let’s add another layer to this definition of a musical genius. That is someone who can take their talents within the art form and create something new or different, start something like a social movement, have their music to transcend race, culture, gender, and music genre.

In my mind only a handful of artist have reached this plateau. Unfortunately most of them are now deceased. This is what prompted the title “Musical Genius” is on Life Support. This is not to suggest their are no musical geniuses that still exist because they do. However, it’s very few and looking a little bleak so again reference the title. The rhetorical question I have is who if anyone can rescue “Musical Genius” from life support. Let’s revisit that in a bit because I have a few things to say. First lets name drop a few people that could have this illustrious title.

We are now just several days into the new year and I think about 2 legends we lost in 2016 with Maurice White of Earth Wind & Fire and Prince. They both were Musical Geniuses with everything we determined earlier about the criteria; like being more than one dimensional, their music having the ability to start something like a social movement, transcending all racial, culture, and gender lines as well as music genre. They both have done all of this and then some. Others that come to mind of course Michael Jackson, James Brown and maybe an argument for George Clinton who at the very least did set off a social movement of sorts. Now let’s go back and explore the question of who if anyone can rescue “Musical Genius” from life support. In this new millennial world things are a little different. The next big star is determined by reality singing competitions or you tube. You’ve heard the saying you gotta take the good with the bad. Well, I think young music stars of today are more aware of the business side of things and what they can potentially earn. This was not the case for a lot of the legends of times past with bad record deals and music they wrote and/or produced but not own rights to. In the mist of being more aware of the business side, branding, and how many social media followers they have, something from the art itself is lost. With all of these things added to the mix who has time to work on being great at their craft in multiple layers like the “Musical Geniuses” of the past. As a fan what concerns me as we continue on this path is “that something” that makes certain songs and artist special will be forever lost. OK maybe part of what I’m saying is just me simply feeling a little nostalgic but you gotta admit there is some validity to this. Right now when I listen to some of the biggest artist out there a lot of the music has the same sound. Since the era of sampled music and heavy production with little to no real instruments we need that “Musical Genius” to emerge soon. Kinda like a Super Hero to save the day. Meanwhile we still have examples like Stevie Wonder to remind us what a musical genius is. Sorry I can’t use more contemporary examples but it is what it is. That’s why we need that up and coming individual that will be a legend 30 years from now. Otherwise who will millennials listen to or reference in their later years (just a question)? I do appreciate some of the great singers, rappers and producers like Pharrell Williams, Ne-Yo, and Kanye before all of the… never mind, but again we’re talking about the full scope of a “Musical Genius”. People like Prince and Michael Jackson made the entire industry take notice and step their game up. This is needed to keep everyone honest in the craft and not just business savvy having their hype, persona, brand, or number of social media followers to exceed their talent. If you’re out there put on your cape and make yourself known to the world because as it stands “Musical Genius” is dying a slow death and I don’t know how much longer it’s gonna last.

Dee-Jay K.P.

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