Saturday, August 12, 2017

Google’s Hip-Hop Video | Lefsetz Letter

Google Google.

That’s right, just don’t enter your search term in the address bar, which you can do with Safari and Chrome, instead enter “Google,” to go to the main Google search page.

Wait, have I confused you?

What I want you to do is go to the Google homepage, however you want to get there. But I also want to inform Luddites that in Safari and Chrome the address bar is also a search engine window, and you can change the default search engine, but most people use Google, as they should. Google is the Uber of search engines, the one with the most market share, although nowhere near as heinous. But Google did not blink, except in the case of the Damore memo, wherein they caved to the wisdom of the crowd. I’m not saying that Damore was right, I’m not saying women should not be offered the same opportunities as men, but I am saying when issues are complicated you don’t take immediate action, you take a step back and analyze all the facts. I believe this is outlined best by David Brooks in today’s “New York Times” column:

“Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O.”

And I don’t agree with Brooks’s conclusion, it’s not dissimilar to squeezing out Travis Kalanick, but you should read his viewpoint, that’s the problem with today’s society, we’re locked into our own tunnel vision, we don’t explore others’ viewpoints. We don’t have to ultimately agree with them, but we do need to understand them.

Like those of hip-hop-fans.

Too many oldsters believe hip-hop sucks. They know no history, they refuse to listen, all they can do is wince and protest.

Now if you missed the memo, and it’s hard to today, since messages come at you from multiple angles, August 11th has been anointed the forty-fourth anniversary of hip-hop. Is this truly so? Now we know Alexander Doubleday did not invent baseball, so much of what we’ve been taught is wrong, hell, Pluto is no longer even a planet, but that’s not my point here.

My point is Google has this amazing video on the history of hip-hop.

So now you’re at Google’s homepage, if I haven’t lost you already with my digressive diatribe. And you’ll notice, above the search window, where the logo sits, always stylized, always different every day, there’s a pulsating play button.

That’s right, the ubiquitous diamond we got used to on tape decks, that survives in the internet world.

I wasn’t gonna click it. I was researching something else.

And usually, at least in my experience, the logo is usually static. But the “play” icon was pulsating in a rotating vinyl disc, was this really a video?

I decided to find out, I decided to click.

And you should too.

Upon clicking the logo expanded into a video window with a story told by Fab 5 Freddy. And I’ll tell you, I knew most of this story, but not all of it. And just when it starts to get a bit boring, a little flat, when you think you’re ready to go, that’s when the excitement begins.

Fab 5 Freddy teaches you how to mix, on two turntables, albeit without a microphone.

Don’t skip the tutorial, play with it. Move the fader from right to left.

And then you’re confronted with:


And you see an image of a Betty Wright album, but then Fab 5 Freddy tells you to:


And this is when it gets interesting… You see you’re flipping through vinyl, like we did back before it became a fetish, when it was all we had, when the artwork was big and we knew it by heart, could recognize it by its SPINE!

And your instincts tell you it’s gonna be all soul music, urban tunes, R&B, from that spectrum. But I’m flipping through the crate and I see one of my favorite LPs, Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken.” Huh? They’re as far away from hip-hop as can be.

But NOOOOO! Turns out the beat from “Fool Yourself” is the root of multiple hip-hop hits, it’s sampled in A Tribe Called Quest’s “Bonita Applebum,” Lupe Fiasco’s “Till I Get There” and Thievery Corporation’s “Sweet Tides.” “Fool Yourself” has got 153 beats per minute and it’s in the key of D.

Billy Squier’s “The Big Beat” has 102 BPM and is in the key of F, it’s sampled in Jay Z’s “99 Problems” and Run-DMC’s “Here We Go (Live at the Funhouse)” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “We Can Get Down.”

And one of my favorite tracks, covered exquisitely by Stevie Winwood, Timmy Thomas’s “Why Can’t We Live Together,” has 107 BPM and is in the key of Cm and is sampled in Drake’s “HOTLINE BLING”!

You could lose an hour, maybe more shifting through the crate and finding records to mix, learning where they’ve been sampled, playing the originals.

And isn’t it funny the denigrated hip-hoppers have no problem entering the rock world but the reverse rarely happens. But this video will open your mind, wake you up from your slumber and open you up to thoughts and possibilities you never had before.

Kind of like reading the Brooks column.

And now we’ve come full circle.

P.S. If this was all too complicated for you, you can just go directly to the video here:

44th Anniversary of the Birth of Hip Hop

P.S. We no longer live in a top-down society, and far too often the self-anointed gatekeepers are a couple of days and a couple of changes behind the curve. And just like with video games, there are few instructions, you’ve got to fiddle around and figure out how to make things work yourself. Mistakes are cool, they illuminate the software, the game, they make you more adept at exploration and use.

P.P.S. The breakthroughs continue to be made by techies, because they take chances and their parent companies don’t need everything to fall directly to the bottom line.

P.P.P.S. The more people know about something, the more they appreciate it. I didn’t get paintings until I took an art history class. When you know where the artist is coming from, the environment within which they created, you understand, you GET IT!


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