Sunday, November 07, 2004

crouching stanley, hidden gangsta

You will remember the Fozzie Bear like bearded character from the JAZZ TV (or DVD) series by Ken Burns, his name is Stanley Crouch and he's renown as an outspoken and articulate conservative jazz and music writer.

In his book The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity, he sticks the boot into rap music, amongst other things, calling it “neo-Sambo … mugging or scowling” with “gold teeth, drop-down pants, and tasteless jewelry.” He bravely chastises producers and “artists” who peddle the same “bullying, hedonistic buffoons” D. W. Griffith portrayed in Birth of a Nation.
Read more in a review by Stefan Beck assistant editor of The New Criterion.

A sample of Crouch's writing from JazzTimes:
(He) ..accuses white critics of elevating white musicians "far beyond their abilities" to "make themselves feel more comfortable about . . . evaluating an art from which they feel substantially alienated." Crouch also claims that white writers, who were born in "middle-class china shops," ensure "the destruction of the Negro aesthetic" by advancing musicians who can't swing at the expense of those who can.....

Last year Crouch got fired as a writer from JazzTimes.
Read a bit more about it here in Village Voice.
The Voice called police and sacked Crouch about 10 years ago for snotting a fellow writer in a disagreement about rap music.

Scott Timberg of The Boston Phoenix reviews Crouch's book
A choice quote from Crouch: " Prince? He's a "Minneapolis vulgarian and borderline drag queen."

Crouch has also dissed latter day minor saint Spike Lee as: "a nappy-headed Napoleon"

More quotes from an interview:
CROUCH: What can Snoop Dogg do? He can't sing. He can't write. His ideas are so pedestrian. If there's an intellectual highway, there's also an intellectual subway. The only difference between an intellectual subway and the real subway is that the real subway actually goes faster than the cars on the street. In the intellectual subway, not only is it below ground, it actually moves far slower. So we're talking about somebody who's intellectually moving at the pace of a worm moving in very hard soil and somebody who's in a Lamborghini. That's the difference between Duke Ellington and Snoop Dogg.

Rap actually comes out of punk rock, not black music. It's not really connected to James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Little Richard, the Supremes

FXH Comment: Crouch is surely wrong here. It doesn't take much of an ear and brain to see that rap owes a lot to Mr James Brown.

Crouch on the
death of Ray Charles.

A bit
more about Crouch. Listen to Crouch talking about his view that the concept of authenticity is not easy for all Americans to grasp. He dissects the dilemma in his book The Artificial White Man: Essays on Authenticity. The July 2004 Village Voice article by Ta-Nehisi Coates that I pinched my title from Crouching Stanley, Hidden Gangsta. There is a bunch of Crouch columns, not on jazz, at Salon

A more sympathetic view of Crouch is here in a
Salon piece by sometime friend Amy Alexander