In 2021, Nenez (using their recent romanized name with a “z” instead of a “s”) celebrated their 30th anniversary with the release of the indies album, Gajumaru. Founded in 1991, the group has seen a number of line-up changes, with three of the current quartet joining in 2019. The ever changing line-ups are comparable with groups such as the American all-women trio, The Three Degrees, which dates from 1963 and is a brand that continues to this day. Indeed,
brand Nenez (or Nēnēzu, to use the transliteration of their Okinawan name) has gone through several phases that have transitioned from a world music act of the 1990s to live-house entertainment in their most recent guise.
People who write often think there are rules that you more or less have to follow. Or should follow. I see a lot made of how much time people spent on their book, and their heaps and heaps of research. I guess maybe I should start by saying that the time in which I wrote the book probably didn’t much resemble the time frames of most other writers.
Let’s talk about Sam Cooke and singing and what it means to be a singer-writer. Or a writer-singer.
What does it mean to sing?
I know, I know—you sounded sublime this morning in the shower, when you channeled your inner Robert Plant and delivered a knockout “When the Levee Breaks,” or maybe you were Billie Holiday, with a soul-pasting version of “Lover Man.”
When you talk about drum machines and Paul’s Boutique, there are two things that even casual listeners can probably hear. The first is that you don’t hear a lot of drum machines on the album. A big part of the record’s legacy is its sampled beats, assembled into intricate, polyrhythmic collages by The Dust Brothers and Matt Dike.
But Matt Dike thought it was less a song than an opportunity. “When I heard it,” he told me, back in 2005, “I knew they were in trouble.”
Macbeth, of course, is a literary oldie. It’s an oldie that still informs our world. Vaulting ambition and all. I mention Macbeth and the idea of relevant oldies for a reason. Sam Cooke is often dogged by the oldies label. Oldies are a genre, right? You hear “Wooly Bully” and “At the Hop” and, yes, Cooke’s “You Send Me,” on the oldies station in the car, and all seems right with the world. These songs are where they should be. You’re having a nice Sunday drive with the windows down in early autumn.
Guest post by Colin Fleming Take the Sam Cooke path and be a VL (Voracious Listener)—it will serve you well in every aspect of life. Hello 33 1/3-ians! I’m back for guest blog entry number two, with this dossier of supplementary Sam Cooke materials. Let’s get to it! Do you remember the age you were when you first got into a given artist or work of art that you care about a lot? I bet you probably do. And you can pinpoint what it meant to you at that moment.…
Greetings 33 1/3 readers! I’m excited to be talking with you here in a few blog posts I’m going to do pertaining to my book in the series on Sam Cooke’s Live at the Harlem Square Club, 1963. I imagine I’m likely speaking with some wise, veteran readers in the series, but perhaps some sagacious newcomers too, to whom I say welcome! I do a lot of writing on my own blog over at my website, so this seemed well up my street and I’m stoked to get started with you.
Janelle Monáe’s work has never been confined to only one medium. She is a singer and musician first, of course, but the stories she tells have always worked best as joint musical and visual projects, where their grand scope can best shine. It’s with Dirty Computer and its accompanying visual album that this impulse fully materializes, but even with The ArchAndroid music videos were an important addition to the Cindi Mayweather story. For that reason, speaking to music video director Wendy Morgan felt like a crucial part of researching a…
With so much of The ArchAndroid coming out of Janelle Monáe’s own Wondaland Arts Society, there’s one song, “Make the Bus,” that stands out as a little bit different. The song is the brainchild of Kevin Barnes, founder of the indie pop band Of Montreal, and a free-wheeling ode to the creative partnership that existed between Of Montreal and Monáe’s inner circle in the lead up to The ArchAndroid’s release.
ALYSSA FAVREAU, AUTHOR OF JANELLE MONÁE’S THE ARCHANDROID, ON THE POSTHUMAN SUBJECT One of my favorite things about this book is that it gave me the opportunity to put The ArchAndroid into conversation with a wide range of ideas and thinkers. The album is not only a musical masterpiece, it also lends itself very well to being read like a work of literature. In the book, I talk about how Monáe’s persona, Cindi Mayweather, is a perfect example of the cyborg as conceptualized by Donna Haraway in her “Cyborg Manifesto,”…