Hey y’all…

Finally got my Bandcamp site up and running. Here are some tracks that you can listen to in your leisure time. Hope you enjoy them.

 

Bandcamp has the highest quality of the songs, but they are available elsewhere (see below).

This is a concept album born of my dissertation and love for music. The first half covers the gamut of the struggle to come to terms with the depths of injury, death, and meaninglessness in our world. And the second half seeks to explore and engender the hope and spirit needed to struggle against and transform those depths.  As you will surely hear, though the roots of this album is in hip-hop, my musical tastes are all over the place. It took a year and a half to write, compose, and record these songs from the summer of 2010 to the winter of 2011. I defended my dissertation in the Spring of 2012. I had been meaning to publish this for awhile, but life, trepidation, and tweaking kept coming up… I am thankful for those who helped me with this project and encouraged me to put it out here…

In order to give some context to this album, I’m gonna use a quick excerpt from my dissertation from pages 239-241…

“Although The Infinite Struggle is based in hip-hop, the instrumentation and verses resist the confines of rap music. Standard hip-hop songs contain three verses, which normally have “sixteen bars” (sixty-four beats), and an eight bar chorus/hook after the verse. Rarely, if ever, do my songs proceed with such a scheme. It was also important that the album include multiple voices, a range of tempos, and a number of different musical keys. Even though I wrote the majority of the lyrics, there are only six songs where I appear by myself; one cannot participate in the infinite struggle by oneself. Although no one can control how a listener will “hear” one’s music, I intended for the songs to be listened to in order (at least the first time). There is a “natural” progression from song to song. In different forms, the phrase “can’t won’t don’t stop” is repeated, but based on context the phrase might signal injury, death, and meaninglessness or life-giving resistance.

I wrote the songs in various keys and tempos because the project is concerned with concomitance and variegation. Concomitant keys and tempos, concomitant voices, various styles all comprise one particular album that somehow coheres… Very few songs in The Infinite Struggle contain hooks or standard, repeatable composition. For instance, in the song, “Injury, Death, Meaninglessness/This Is the Most Beautiful World,” Rob J and I, begin the song with a hook, but it never comes back until the final line of the song, which has no musical accompaniment. In between the hook and the final line are four different beats: 1) an old school hip-hop verse where Rob J and I exchange lines and rhymes; 2) Rob J’s verse (new instrumental); 3) my verse (new instrumental, no percussion); and 4) the last verse, which has us rapping together but separately (new instrumental). In each verse, the subject matter is different, we move from the characteristics of injury, death, and meaninglessness, to personal experiences of injury, to personal and historical experiences death, and then communal and cosmic understandings of meaninglessness.

Although I wrote the majority of the lyrics, it was important to include multiple voices on the album, since the album is a testimony to the fact that every situation is different and that we need all the compassionate, prophetic, and hope-filled responses we can get. For instance, the song, “The Infinite Struggle of the Sundry,” plays off the fact that music has been a part of me since I was a young child; however, just because this is so, it does not mean that I can make it alone or do music alone. I do not have the singing ability of Magenta Jazz or Shaneé. Neither do I have the poetic genius of Ms. Mimi. And that is a wonderful thing to be celebrated and used in order to resist. The first verse starts off with my own personal reflections and moves to Magenta singing, to me rapping, to Shaneé singing, and to Ms. Mimi speaking. The next vignette features the powerful voices of Shaneé and Magenta, who sing about Jesus’ and our temptations and help that the Holy Spirit provides. The next section has us speaking in unison (almost), the vocals are panned so that no one’s voice completely overlaps the others. At this point, the song breaks into a spiritual and what Magenta referred to as “cotton-pickin’ funk.” Call and response ensues on two levels, Shaneé and Magenta call and respond respectively, while Ms. Mimi and I respond to Shaneé and Magenta. The last verse has an old school hip-hop feel that begins to move back to my own drive for music. The move from a little kid, to a grown Jolowmight(x) Cervantes, to a cacophony of voices, to spiritual-funk, to old-school hip-hop and back to the little kid, is a dizzying experience, and there is no one way to interpret this song; however, this song performatively displays the concomitance and variegation the dissertation highlights.

The album begins with “Can’t Won’t Don’t Stop,” which serves as an introduction to the first half the album. “Exhibit A: It’s So Cold” offers an “objective” reality check and highlights the ways in which folks evade feeling the coldness of the world. Underneath the unceasing refrain, “It’s so cold,” one can hear the response, “And we don’t want to think about it.”  “A Violent Loss of Perspective” is my “subjective” account of getting robbed at gunpoint. The song plays off a sample of me, saying my name with confidence and swagger: “JoDavid.” The people who robbed me didn’t give a damn about my name. Admittedly, that experience runs underneath the dissertation and the album; however, the song, particularly the last verse, does not stay at the level of my own story. “You Think You Got It Figured Out” is written in direct response to temporal retribution; the song is dedicated to unmasking the theological violence it creates. The song has a simple hook, a bridge, and two verses. Projects of singular possibility coopt resistive projects all the time; “Kaleidoscope” explores the various ways cooptation works and how systems of oppression uphold false necessity and immutability. Two voices play off of each other, taking what was previously said, and adding a new spin on it. “Oh! The Terra” is an instrumental track that calls into question narratives of anthropocentrism through the use of samples, the first of which is the selfish statement, “Now, there’s a world just for you.” “Prophetic Intensity” laments and denounces the presence of absurdity, death, and damage and the absence of justice, mercy, and peace. Those who refuse to shut their eyes and ears to the reality around them are labeled “Sucka MCs,” the nadir of all rappers. The song is a mixture of poetic verse with a small bit of rapping. Although it has two different tempos and two different styles, “Concomitant Factors” is one song; the interplay between the lyrics and the styles are meant to underscore how various forces comprise any idea or situation. The first part of the song looks at the possible factors that comprise freedom. The second part of the song explores the mundane act of pouring a glass of water. In the midst of all the concomitance, the response is clear: “Remain hid.” The first part of the album ends with “Injury, Death, Meaninglessness.” The song switches beats four times, remains unrelenting in the description of catastrophic suffering. Aesthetically, the first verse pays homage to old school hip-hop.

Enter “Inspiration,” the first song on the second part of the album. With the first half of the album in mind, this song introduces the remainder of the songs with guarded hope, and this is the first song to explicitly reference the Holy Spirit. “Even Though/If” is almost like the centerpiece of The Infinite Struggle. The resolve to resist despite all odds is tempered with a sober realization of the challenges one must face. “The Infinite Struggle of the Sundry” ranges from old-school hip-hop to spirituals in its musicality, and juxtaposes my own love of music with the call to join others in the struggle for life-giving possibilities. And although the struggle is found in community, “Throwdown” displays that inner-resolve and personal creativity and are also indispensable. “The Soundtrack” is hard to categorize; more than anything it recounts the divine and human sources of the call to resist. And then there is the sarcastic, dance-crazy, melancholy “Creepy Body Rock.” The tempo and beat of the song suggests funky, lighthearted dance number, but the lyrics are caustic. “Hero” is a deconstruction of the Hollywood protagonist who takes on the world’s problem by himself or according to his rules. The process of resistance, although infinite, also has its “other sides.” “The Other Side” speaks in the two voices of my hip-hop alter ego. The more aggressive side, Cervantes, goes first, followed by the more reflective Jolowmight. “Chakra, Ki, Reiatsu” is my own utopian performative. It is a song that I have been working on for over ten years but never had enough musical equipment and sounds to pull off. The song is long and thoughtful. I will leave it up the to listener to derive the meaning from it. But the album ends as it began, with the refrain “Can’t won’t don’t stop.” Except this time, the mood is noticeably upbeat and hopeful. I sincerely hope the listener and reader are able to perceive how the album and the dissertation relate to one another.

This generic explanation in no way exhausts the meaning of this album or every lyric written or every sound heard. As always, it is up to the listener to hear and to decide….”

 

If you like what you hear, please consider purchasing the album from Bandcamp, iTunes, Google Play, and soon to be on Amazon.

Faith, hope, love… and thank you…

© 2011, 2012, 2016 M. J. Sales

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