Posts Tagged ‘Dick Griffey’
Whitney Houston means…how it matters given she’s already gone. Well below you will find it. Recently I participated in an extended conversation with Scotty Reid of BlackTalkRadioNetwork.com to discuss the issues of addiction, mental health, entertainment and their intersection.
Granted, we can’t save those who are already gone but maybe, just maybe we can highlight the larger issues and better understand what needs to be done to save those still with us. The death of Whitney Houston was not just an entertainment issue, but healthcare, addiction and mental health issue that impacts the whole of the African-American community.
Instead of simply praising the quality of the funeral service or pointing the finger at Bobby Brown, let’s get to the heart of the matter. THIS is why The Mo’Kelly Report exists, to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse. We must fundamentally change the way we look at addiction, mental health and addiction or invariably we will lose more and more of our treasured artists…unnecessarily so.
To hear Scotty Reid’s program in its entirety or learn more about BlackTalkRadioNetwork.com, please click HERE.
The Mo’Kelly Report is a syndicated politics and entertainment journal. Visit http://mrmokelly.com for the latest from Mr. Mo’Kelly. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Music legend Dick Griffey has passed away. Everything I do, have done or hope to do is inextricably linked to Mr. Griffey. He will be missed in ways that words (ironically enough) can’t explain.
Back in 1996, while working for NARAS (The Grammy Awards) I wrote my
first-ever published piece. It was one draft, written in about 40 minutes and emailed to the L.A. Times to “chastise” the paper for its coverage of the death of rapper Tupac Shakur, concentrating on if/how the record label Death Row records would survive as opposed to the more important issue of Black on Black crime.
One draft, written in 40 minutes…published in its entirety in the L.A. Times on September 23, almost 14 years ago to the day.
About two days later I received a call from “this guy”…big voice, authoritative…inspiring almost fear and awe simultaneously. At first I thought I was in trouble with the police or something…or made the wrong people at Death Row angry.
(The reputation of the label preceded itself and was very real.)
Anyhow, back to the phone call. He started right in, no icebreaker conversation.
“Saw your article in the Times…we need to talk.”
It was Dick Griffey.
“I’m Dick Griffey…my address is…”
He didn’t give me all of his backstory…and he didn’t have to at all. Any student of music history, much less music in Los Angeles knew of Dick Griffey.
(But just in case you don’t know…get your history lesson HERE.)
In short, he’s the man responsible for much of Soul Train’s success outside of Don Cornelius, created Shalamar, Klymaxx and discovered Babyface. I knew who I was talking to on the phone…and he sought me out?!
I knew my place and humbly followed directions.
Later that week I met him at his offices on Cahuenga Blvd. in Hollywood and we sat for a good two hours and had dinner. I was 26 at the time.
Mr. Griffey was short in his sentences and to the point. He was like twice the size of my father and twice as imposing. Meaing, I paid twice as much attention. Suge Knight wasn’t half as scary as Mr. Griffey.
“You’re doing the wrong thing. You should be writing all the time, not messing around in this music business. THAT (writing) is where your talent is. Your words will matter far more, far longer than anything you’ll ever do in music.”
I just listened, occasionally nodding my ahead in acknowledgment.
Mr. Griffey went on to explain how he funded/helped Suge Knight start Death Row and how my article spoke volumes to him on a personal level.
I just listened. When grown folks speak, you shut up and listen. He didn’t give me all of his backstory…and he didn’t need to in truth. I already knew it.
Mr. Griffey wanted me to promise him that no matter what I’d keep writing and keep telling the truth.
I promised…and then I went back to listening.
In fact, I’ve been writing ever since. There is no “Mo’Kelly” or “report” or any combination thereof without Mr. Griffey. Anyone reading this now, is because Mr. Griffey took time out of his day, his life, to pull a young brother aside and offer words of encouragement, insight and direction. He saw something in me nobody in this world else had.
In between his comments about what I should be doing with my life he expounded on his feelings about the failings of our fellow African-Americans; where we were headed and the brick wall which approached.
Man, I remember it like it was yesterday. I was in awe then and am awestruck he’s gone now.
If I’ve made any positive impact in anyone’s lives through my words as a writer, the credit invariably goes to Mr. Griffey. If you should like or appreciate anything I’ve done in a literary sense over the years, thanks be to Mr. Griffey. If I should manage to touch someone in the future through my words…the credit will still go to Mr. Griffey.
He will be missed, but his impact clearly lives on through me and many, many others. Godspeed Mr. Griffey. As promised, I’m still writing.
Below is the article which started it all, an original copy hangs on my wall in my office…and somewhat sadly enough it’s still relevant 14 years later.
|More Important Issues in Shakur’s Death Than Music Label’s Success|
|Los Angeles Times (pre-1997 Fulltext) – Los Angeles, Calif.|
|Author:||MORRIS W. O’KELLY|
|Date:||Sep 23, 1996|
|Section:||Calendar; PART-F; Entertainment Desk|
|Text Word Count:||699|
“When millions of people have been cheated for centuries, restitution is a costly process. Inferior education, poor housing, unemployment, inadequate health care–each is a bitter component of the oppression that has been our heritage. Each will require billions of dollars to correct. Justice so long deferred has accumulated interest and its cost for this society will be substantial in financial as well as human terms.”
- Martin Luther King Jr.
King never cut a record, nor did he “freestyle” on the mike, yet still his writings were an affirmation of the social ills of American life in his time. Much of today’s gangsta rap is “The New Testament” . . . with a little more or little less elan, depending on your viewpoint. Like it or not, rap music arguably has the attention of more of the collective American youth than King, Malcolm X or Marcus Garvey ever had combined.
Is that all bad?
No, not as long as we teach our children how to separate the message from the misogyny and the information from the insanity. Don’t believe the hype that these concepts are inextricably linked. The signal-to-noise ratio in music is only as strong as the foundation that we have laid for young people.
The death of Tupac Shakur is not a “wake-up call”–a phrase we use more as a cliche than an actual call to arms. It must be a catalyst to exhaustive public action on the problems confronting black men. Another black man died violently long before he was 30, and all that is being talked about is the future being cloudy for Death Row Records (“Future Is Cloudy at Death Row,” Calendar, Sept. 14). Another black mother will spend the rest of her life mourning her son, and all that is being asked is whether Shakur’s recording label will be able to attract new talent. With myself being only 26 and having a mother, this personally concerns me.
Robert Hilburn and Cheo Hodari Coker report that a question being asked is, “Can a relatively small label afford to lose such major players?” I ask, “Can a relatively small race of people afford to lose their fathers, brothers and sons? Can that relatively small race of people continue to accept misguided commentary devoted to the future of a company as opposed to the future of the community that made said company so profitable?”
The deaths of Shannon Hoon (Blind Melon), Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) and Jonathan Melvoin (Smashing Pumpkins) helped stimulate the public debate about the responsibilities of record companies to their artists and the problem of drug abuse. The death of Tupac should not “stir” us to probe the future of Death Row, but instead reassess the responsibilities of the record company to the artist and the community that supports them both.
The entertainment industry and the “war” on drugs are not that dissimilar, where for every bust, or superstar taken away from us, invariably there will be another to take their place. Tupac was very talented, but there eventually will be another. Our youth are not monogamous in their idolatry and soon enough someone else will be the object of their monetary affection. Death Row was successful before Tupac and Dr. Dre left a plethora of talented proteges behind. Somebody called Snoop Doggy Dogg comes to mind.
Instead of hushed-tone criticism of Tupac’s lifestyle or anonymous quotes by . . . well, anonymous record executives, we could do far worse for ourselves than understanding Tupac’s death as a symptom of a larger malady that’s afflicting our society and getting to the heart of the matter. We must address the real issues. Tupac in his own prophetic style said it best.
“I’ve been trapped since birth, cautious because I’m cursed. And fantasies of my family in the hearse. And they say it’s the white man I should fear, but it’s my own kind doin’ all the killing here.”
And remember what King said: “. . . Its cost for this society will be substantial in financial as well as human terms.” Emphasis on human terms. Emphasis on human terms. Emphasis on human terms.
Credit: Morris W. O’Kelly is a Grammy Awards coordinator for the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences
The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant; published at The Huffington Post and www.eurweb.com. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. For more Mo’Kelly, http://mrmokelly.com. Mr. Mo’Kelly can be reached at email@example.com.
Let’s start with the recent quotes and then get straight to the clownin’ of an idiot.
“‘Gangsta rap’ was a ploy to convince black people to kill each other. ‘Gangsta rap’ didn’t exist.”
- Alicia Keys (in an interview with Blender Magazine
In response, Curtis “50 Cent” offered the following ignorance.
“I don’t like Alicia Keys no more though … the same reason why I said that I don’t like Oprah Winfrey,” 50 Cent toldThe Showbuzz. “I’m prejudice. I don’t like people who don’t like me. If you don’t like the content that I write because of my experiences; I am being who I am when I am writing it. I fall into that ‘label’ as far as you considering artists creating ‘Gangsta music,’ we fall into that.
“If she don’t like that, (then) I don’t like that classical music s— she be doing. At some point she’s playing some s— that don’t relate to me. … We listen to it and try to figure out why people actually enjoy it. I am trying to enjoy it. That statement changes my perception of Alicia Keys totally. But the magazine is standing behind it, which means they probably have a tape of her in conversation saying it. It’s just not really a bright comment anyway.”
- 50 Cent (Village Idiot)
First things first. When you fail to construct even one grammatically correct sentence over the course of two paragraphs (in an interview no less) you forfeit the right and privilege to accuse ANYONE of being less than “bright” in his/her commentary. At least be SOMEWHAT articulate in your birth language before grading the “brightness” of someone else’s commentary.
Just a suggestion…
“I’m prejudice. I don’t like people who don’t like me.”
- The English major – 50 Cent
Here’s a question 50…what did “verb conjugations” and “basic sentence structure” do to you? Clearly you don’t think highly of them either. Mo’Kelly just wants to know what they did to get on your bad side because you obviously have beef with them.
It is one thing to thoughtfully disagree or even discredit another’s opinion with facts or with reason and rational argumentation. Although many might disagree with the notion that the advent of “Gangsta Rap” was a ploy to hasten the genocide of African-Americans, it still is worthy of consideration and discussion.
Legal Definition – “Accomplice”
“Someone who helps another person (known as the principal) commit a crime. Unlike an accessory, an accomplice is usually present when the crime is committed. An accomplice is guilty of the same offense and usually receives the same sentence as the principal.
In addition, an accomplice need not be actively involved in the perpetration of a crime. Knowing where the “bodies are buried” and who helped bury them makes one complicit in the crime and is at the minimum, an “accessory.”
In other words, if Mo’Kelly sees a murder and does not report it, he’s an accessory. If he knowingly purchases the gun to be used in a murder, he’s an accomplice. And by law, subject to the same legal ramifications as if he were to have pulled the trigger.
Put a post-it note on the above information…we’ll come back to it later.
Mo’Kelly has worked for a number of record labels, including Warner Bros., Virgin/Rap-A-Lot and Interscope. The very same Interscope Records which serves as the parent company to the G-Unit imprint label which has distributed the whole of Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson’s music career. That would also be the same Warner Bros. Records that released Ice T’s, Cop Killa. Mo’Kelly was mentored by the legend Dick Griffey; the same “Dick Griffey” who mentored Suge Knight prior to Death Row infamy. It was because of an article that Mo’Kelly wrote for the L.A. Times in 1996 on the death of Tupac Shakur that Griffey reached out to Mo’Kelly. We spoke in length about the shameful realities of the music business and “who” is to blame.
So be very clear Curtis (and others) from whence Mo’Kelly’s forthcoming supposed “not really bright” comment comes. Mo’Kelly was working in the world of Hip-Hop long before anybody cared to cavort to the seminal 50 Cent song, In Da’ Club.
You’re WAY out of your league Curtis, attempting to lecture folks on the reality of the music industry, brandishing the tools of indefatigable ignorance to support your misguided point no less. Not only that, you owe Alicia Keys an apology. Not that you ever will give her one, but it needs to be said…and ultimately needs to be done. You are not an honorable man and respect for womanhood is not within you. Nevertheless, you owe Alicia Keys (and countless other women) an apology.
If anyone is really “not really bright,” in his/her comments, it irrefutably is Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson.
The music industry has never been averse to making money, a fact in which we are all intimately aware. Conversely, the music industry has never allowed…yes, allowed the subjugation and debasement of any singular ethnic group, with the exception of African-Americans.
Granted, White hip-hop executives have never demanded a certain “type” of music from their artists, expressly for the purpose of eventual genocide; yet inarguably, did willfully promulgate a music genre which was specifically derogatory, destructive and de-evolutionary in nature.
To Alicia Keys’ point, accessories and accomplices are just as guilty as the trigger men (artists). Going further, it’s not by chance that anti-Semitism is neither promoted nor tolerated in music.
In short, “Gangsta Hasidic (Jew) Music” would never, ever see the light of day or the turntable of any DJ or radio station playlist. There has not been and will not ever be a day in which the degradation of Jews, the misogyny against Jewish women or the celebration of the worst of the Jewish tradition will be sold, promoted or in turn profited from.
Never, not ever.
Subsequently, we can surmise that there is a degree of “consciousness” within the music industry. There is and has always been a conscious choice in terms of the acceptable social collateral damage to African-Americans versus other ethnic groups. If you disagree, might Mo’Kelly refer you to the controversy surrounding the single “Kike” reference in the Michael Jackson song They Don’t Care About Us.
The amount of outrage expressed at the historical misogyny and derogatory depictions of African-Americans has been more than quintuple of that expressed in criticism of Michael Jackson on ONE occasion. Yet and still, only Michael Jackson has been forced to change his lyrics…ever.
“Beat me, hate me
You can never break me
Will me, thrill me
You can never kill me
Jew me, Sue me
Everybody do me
Kick me, kike me
Don’t you black or white me
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us
All I wanna say is that
They don’t really care about us”
– Michael Jackson - They Don’t Really Care About Us
In fact, we can all look forward to the release of Nas’ CD Nigger. But you will never, ever, ever be able to purchase any CD named Kike. Not only will there be zero Jewish “idiots” to record it, there will be zero Jewish “idiots” in which to allow its sale…much less purchase it.
It will NEVER happen.
Along those same lines of contradiction; in 1992 rapper Ice-T endured considerable criticism for his song Cop Killer which principally railed against police brutality. The pressure on Warner Bros. Records was such that Ice-T was forced to remove the song from the forthcoming album Body Count.
Historically and undeniably, “Black people killing Black people” has been an acceptable product to both promote and sell. These are the facts and they are inarguable in nature. “Black misogyny” historically has also been an acceptable commodity to be bought and sold…slavery parallels aside. It too is factual and inarguable. Disparaging remarks about any other ethnic group or government institution have been held to different standards.
The evil committed against (and unfortunately by) African-Americans is conscious complicity by definition. (See post-it note above.)
You too 50 Cent, are an accessory and accomplice to the truths in which Keys spoke…idiot.
Alicia Keys has a music career to protect…Mo’Kelly doesn’t. So Mo’Kelly will “go there” on her behalf. Keys is right and the only person making “not really bright” comments is the idiot on the Interscope record label.
It is indicative of a conscious complicity in the debasement of African-Americans. The promotion of the 90s East/West rivalry by media and record companies alike was also conscious complicity.
Alicia Keys, you may say your comments were “misrepresented,” but Mo’Kelly will gladly pick up the baton and expound upon your intended sentiment.
There ARE limitations in terms of content that will be produced and promoted by record labels…they just don’t apply to the superfluous negative African-American images in hip-hop music.
Alicia Keys is inarguably correct and it is shameful that Curtis Jackson couldn’t see fit to do something OTHER than disrespect an African-American woman. You know, do something OTHER than act like an average hip-hop artist.
If NOBODY else comes to Keys’ defense, Mo’Kelly will. And the next time you feel like picking an “intellectual fight” Fiddy…pick on someone your own size and try not to further diss yourself in the process. It’s noted and noticeable how you’ve never spoken out against Mo’Kelly, despite the many times Mo’Kelly’s clowned you specifically; yet you disrespect an honorable African-American woman, Alicia Keys who never even mentioned your name.
The Mo’Kelly Report is an entertainment journal with a political slant. It is meant to inform, infuse and incite meaningful discourse…as well as entertain. The Mo’Kelly Report is syndicated by Newstex. For more Mo’Kelly, http://www.MrMoKelly.com.
Morris W. O’Kelly can be reached at Mo@MrMoKelly.com and he welcomes all commentary.