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Greg Tate

Related: music journalism - black rock - black science fiction


Burnt Sugar Creator, Greg Tate is a founding member of the Black Rock Coalition and a staff writer at the Village Voice.

His writings on art, music and culture have also appeared in the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Washington Post, Premiere, Wire Magazine, Downbeat and Artforum.
His books include; Flyboy In The Buttermilk (Simon and Schuster, 1992) Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (Acapella, 2003) and Everything But The Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture. (Broadway, Random House, 2003)

Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring

One of the things that's interesting about The Rite of Spring in particular, it seems to be the most treasured piece of the the European canon by jazz musicians, it seems to have always been that way since Ellington, it has basslines, it has this staggering percussion going on. --Greg Tate, Wire Magazine, Feb 2004

Black rock [...]

Blacks have composed, played, and performed rock music since its emergence in the 1950s, but the term “black rock” came to be recognized around 1985. At that time, guitarist Vernon Reid and music journalist Greg Tate joined with a small group of black musicians and music industry professionals in New York City to found the Black Rock Coalition (BRC).

Vernon Reid

Reid was a young but accomplished musician whose work with avant-garde jazz artists such as Ronald Shannon Jackson had drawn critical attention. More significantly, he had recently formed the ground-breaking rock band, Living Colour, an all-black heavy rock band that would eventually score a string of minor hits on rock radio. BRC co-founder Greg Tate was beginning to establish himself as a journalist through his writing on black music in the Village Voice and to build a reputation as one of the major theoretical voices of the burgeoning hip-hop movement. Reid and Tate rightly recognized that the structure of the American popular music industry limited the growth of many black artists’ musical intentions, since throughout the era of rock ’n’ roll, the American music industry engaged in a kind of commercial segregation, placing black performers in tightly regulated categories designed to appeal to perceived demographics of the music audience, and it was rare to find a black musician given official sanction to perform the same with white rock.

Black Science Fiction [...]

In his book More Brilliant than the Sun Kodwo Eshun gives a concise summary of Afro-Futurism's history:
"AfroFuturism comes from Mark Dery's '93 book [Flame Wars], but the trajectory starts with Mark Sinker. In 1992, Sinker starts writing on Black Science Fiction; that's because he's just been to the States and Greg Tate's been writing a lot about the interface between science fiction and Black Music. Tate wrote this review called 'Yo Hermeneutics' which was a review of David Toop's Rap Attack plus a Houston Baker book, and it was one of the first pieces to lay out this science fiction of black technological music right there. And so anyway Mark went over, spoke to Greg, came back, started writing on Black Science Fiction. He wrote a big piece in The Wire, a really early piece on Black Science Fiction in which he posed this question, asks "What does it mean to be human?" In other words, Mark made the correlation between Blade Runner and slavery, between the idea of alien abduction and the real events of slavery." -- Kodwo Eshun

Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (2003) Greg Tate

Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and the Black Experience (2003) Greg Tate [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Village Voice staffer Tate says this is a "book bent on making philosophical judgment calls regarding [rock guitarist Jimi Hendrix's] race, his romance, his tools"; a book "obsessed about the Blackness of Hendrix." So Tate and his informants munch on the "social meaning," "sexual mystery," and "scientific inquiries of Jimi Hendrix" to produce a "Jimi Hendrix Primer for Blackfolk." Whitefolk needn't feel left out, though, for Hendrix's adoration by whites is at the center of much of the discussion. Tate's own spiel runs out in 70-odd pages, after which he yields to various "witnesses" offering their insights and memories. Record producer Craig Street demonstrates forthrightness by remarking of Hendrix-influenced Led Zeppelin, "none of them are particularly strong on their own, but here are four guys who . . . form something powerful": straight talk, indeed, to Jimmy Page's and John Bonham's head-banging devotees. Though a little slapdash in places, this is thinking persons' rock criticism, commendably committed to understanding Hendrix's ongoing hold on his audience, and it should enliven any collection. Mike Tribby, via Booklist

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