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Summer life and Conscious Music
What do Gloria Estefan, Martha Stewart and Snoop have in common?...
Hello, Greetings to everyone — plus some new readers of this newsletter out there — hope your summer is starting off well! Things have been especially busy over here…. you can probably imagine!
So heading into the holiday weekend, I’m sharing some thoughts beyond the news…
In the hall already
I just attended the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Manhattan, which was a treat. The honorees included Gloria Estefan, Teddy Riley, Snoop Dogg and an acoustic performance by Post Malone.
They sat me next to Martha Stewart, who was there for Snoop. Naturally.
The event is not televised, which means its looser, and runs wayyy longer, than typical award shows (like Grammys or Oscars). There’s no external pressure to keep a TV schedule, or end by any time. Also, some people in music tend to party longer and have incredible stamina, if one were to generalize. So this thing ran over 6 hours, no joke.
Teddy Riley told me he was very nervous to speak and accept his award, which is interesting, when you consider how many times he’s been on stage. But he said the moment, and talking rather than performing, made it different.
He also performed, though, rocking out with the “human beatbox” Doug E. Fresh, who recently joined us with Mayor DeBlasio, and Keith Sweat (any R&B fans out there?).
From Rookies to The Hall of Fame
It’s also striking to reach an age where some of the artists we grew up on are now the “senior statespeople.”
Take Snoop Dogg. His first album dropped when I was about 13. I had the CD. We played it endlessly. He was the rebellious Rock Star — with the supposedly wild, dangerous personae to match. In fact, I remember him as the more “reckless” party figure on the Death Row record label, while 2Pac was the more political, militant figure. In school, we looked at them on two levels; they were like adults — stars living out their lifestyle — but also generationally relatable — they were actually only a few years out of high school themselves.
Now Snoop is 51.
He is a fixture in American culture, from music to movies to talk shows to his “buddy” dynamic with Martha Stewart. He has evolved far beyond the limited public role he played in his young 20s. And now, he’s entering this Hall of Fame, with other music legends as his peers.
For his part, 2Pac was tragically murdered at the age of 25.
The son of a Black Panther activist, he made a mark with music that was socially conscious, militant, aspirational — and also at times violent and degrading — and made an impact with his activism at a young age, taking the Oakland Police Dept. to court over the kind of brutality people still protest today. (I recommend the new documentary “Dear Mama” on Hulu, if you’re interested in his story.)
We will never know how much more he could have become, though, if he had been allowed to live out the rest of his life. So those were some of the thoughts running through my head at the ceremony, about those artists’ legacies, and also the roads not taken.
As for other summer activities… I recently spoke at the Tribeca Film Festival for the first time, for a panel on prison reform marking the debut of “Exposing Parchman,” a somber documentary about that notorious prison.
I’m not directly involved in the documentary, but I spoke with some of the lawyers and advocates working to reform that prison and fix some of the horrific conditions there.
Who’s in your music hall of fame? Comments!
If you have thoughts or questions about this post, or other things you want to bring up, drop a comment and I will respond to some when I can, as always!