What is a SINGLE! (commentary or rant?)

Recently, I was driving with some of my musician friends and playing on my ipod was my personal absolute favorite artist of all times, Terence Trent D’Arby, singing one of his hits from the Wild Card album, to be exact.  Baffled?  If you don’t know, dude is amazing!  One thing I do know is that, as a whole, musicians usually listen to different stuff than the general consuming public.  Why?  Well, that question was answered by the time the sixth song had played.  At first someone from the backseat asked.

“When did this album come out? I haven’t heard from this dude in years, this is crazy!!!”

I replied, “ Well I’ve heard him. I’ve got everything that TTD’s ever put out, I’ve ,even, seen him in recent years”  Soon after, the answer came from the other side of the car, “I see wus up, dude don’t have no SINGLES!”

AH HAH!!!  What exactly is a SINGLE?  Well the first thing that comes to my mind is an incident that occurred a few years ago. I stopped in a convenience store in the hood and some cat in front of me asked for a SINGLE cigarette. WHAT THE FU<K?? They literally had busted open a pack and was selling individual “squares” from a styrofoam cup, SINGLES!!  More recently, I’ve noticed the trend shifting to cigar sales, “Can I get one ‘nim’ black & milds?” Once again, WHAT THE FU<K?

Hit'n with Consequence in London

Hit'n with Consequence in London


Okay, let’s flip this thang back to music and let World Famous put you up on game.  There used to be a time when you could purchase an album and at least 10 joints on it was “yo shit!”, and maybe, even more.  I can remember albums with 13 to 15 crazy joints on them.  Somebody recently told me … “You ‘cain’t’ put no more than 9 or 10 songs on an album… get 5 or 6 singles and 3 or 4 filler songs and wrap it up.”  Also, everything that you heard on the radio sounded uniquely different.  Ya’ll don’t know nut’n bout dat, huh?  So enter the SINGLE.   Somebody at the label tells the artist that they need a song that follows “Formula A”  because some program director at the radio station needs these “ Formula A” songs to fit into his format.  It’s all one big  A(ss) formula, alright!  That’s why everything you hear on commercial radio sounds, so much, alike.  I, once, played one of my joints for this big league P.D. (uuhhhh my bad, program director) and he told me, “that’s hot, but it took too long to get to the hook”.  Well guess what, maybe I wanted a brother to have time to walk over from the bar, look at a hottie in the eyes and asked her for a dance and have time to escort her to the dance floor before I got to the hook …. ’cause I’m cool like that.  You know what, World famous is gonna’ go out on a limb and tell you that COMMERCIAL RADIO IS A JOKE! Most of the music you hear on it is TRASH… in MY opinion, and that’s why I have a blog, to state MY opinion.

Let me translate, all of this for you:  Somebody at the label (who by the way, does not necessarily have good taste in music) tells the artist (excuse me, all the artist) to create a song that follows a very simple formula:  A big nursery rhyme hook  with a few filler words that represent verses that set up the hook (but don’t distract from it), nothing too deep though, only what they’re puny little musically under-developed minds can handle.  Oh yeah, and we’ll get you a track from one of about 6 producers that are hot, this week.  And we’ll sell it for 99 cents a download,  A SINGLE!    When’s the last time you bought a SINGLE roll of toilet tissue?  Don’t laugh, you can!  I’ve seen it.  They go on to say, “let’s  get 4 or 5 of those or whatever and at 99 cents per whatever, we’ll make a grip.”  This is why a GREAT album is hard to find these days.

This is my general rule of thumb.  If an artist can’t give a complete album than that artist is not worthy of 99 cents.  Stevie Wonder’s Song’s in the Key of Life was released in 1976 and til this day, it  can still make the hair on your arms stand up when you listen to it.  Including bonus tracks, there were 21 songs on this album, every one of them …. CA- RAAAAAZEEEE.  I’m gonna take a wild guess and estimate that an album in 1976 probably sold for about 6 bucks.  Twenty one timeless songs, how much value could you really place on that?  For my collection, that would be a few hundred dollars, easy.  ‘Ain’t’ nothin’ in my collection, regardless of how old (and that goes for wax, cassettes, and c.d.’s) that I can’t play today and I don’t get the same feeling from it that I got when I first purchased it.. I have purchased, in recent years, a few c.d.’s that after the second play, I never wanted to hear them again, but I converted them to frisbees.

Let’s get back to my question (it was a real question, not rhetorical), “When was the last time you bought a single roll of toilet tissue?  Somehow I get the feeling that if you’re reading this post, you probably haven’t (cept maybe when you wuz a poor college student, huh? yeah…)  If this is the case you have to ask yourself, Why are you a consumer of SINGLES.  A SIMPLE little formulaic song with a big nursery rhyme hook with very little substance that’s produced by one of only a handful of producers which makes it sound like everything else that’s out, oh, and I forgot to mention covers one of only three subject matters, sex, money, and rims and oh yeah, nothing too deep.  Because to perpetuate this practice would mean that we never, ever want to hear another All is Fair in Love by Stevie Wonder, another What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, another For All We Know by Donny Hathaway, another Devotion by Earth, Wind and Fire, another Human Nature by Michael Jackson,  another Adore by Prince all songs so uniquely different that they have they’re unique place in musical history.  What happened to instrumental solos.  You ever heard of Ernie Isley?  I think some P.D. said that was a little too sophisticated for your feeble minds.

All I can say is thank God for satellite radio.  At least, on satellite radio your intelligence is not insulted, blatantly.  I find that most real aficionados are listeners of satellite radio.  These are the real educated music fans.  I’ve spoken to people that claim to be Kanye West fan’s, until I hit them with the litmus test,” Which songs are you familiar with and which ones are your favorites?” They respond with “the ones they play on the radio”.  THE RADIO?? Ohhh… I see… but was Gold Digger really the best song on Late Registration? NAW!!! just the SINGLE, although it was a pretty good one. Also, I would like to give a shout out to Michael Baisden for his segment he calls the B sides.   One of my favorite artist is Erykah Badu who never fails come with a dope lead single that serves as a good representation of the rest of the album.  That joint Honey off the New Amerykah  album was reeeeal slick.

 Back to the car ride.  With one statement, this whole post went through my mind in two minutes and by now the entire car is involved, “Steve Jobs ruined the game with Itunes and the 99 cents download!” someone else injected. OH??? I’m not so sure, you could always buy singles, they came in the form of 45’s back in the day.  The difference was back then you had radio program directors that understood music as ART and respected every individual artists’ particular form of expression.  He understood that in every house in America, the artwork on the walls varied from house to house, each house was furnished differently and therefore, why should music options be any different.  They understood that the listening audience was sophisticated enough to appreciate true ‘musicality’  to the degree that they might want to hear a good guitar or trumpet solo every now and then. You know, millions, of us were at least in band through junior high.  We GET IT!!

Call this my commentary or call this my rant, but I’m just a soldier for good music (or G.O.O.D. MUSIC), its what I live for and I’m just trying to keep it alive. Believe it or not, there really are some great artists still around that simply don’t get recognized because they just don’t fit into some p.d.’s format.  I’ve found that satellite radio and mom and pop music stores can be the best place to become familiar with them.  So if you don’t know, just ask the World Famous Tony Williams.  I’d love to help you!


Great music doesn’t spoil.  I recently coped Stevie’s Fulfillingness’ First Finale from 1974 because I was recently told that I had slept on it .  This a list of artist and/ or projects that are right at the front of my brain that I think you could probably be sleeping on:

  • Terrence Trent D’Arby … Any album, I’ve got them all.
  • Citizen Cope … Any Album, I’ve got them all.
  • Myron … that’s right, just Myron.  Youtube his video Free.  You also gotta here his joint Can’t Deny from the album Free.
  • Ndambi … My girl used to back up Erykah.  I’ve got all her stuff … You sssoooo  DOPE GIRL!!!!
  • Strange Fruit Project … Youtube they’re song Get Live featuring Erykah Badu.  My D/FW bros, we gotta work mane!!!
  • 88 keys … my Dawg!!!  You gotta check out The Death of Adam.
  • Foreign Exchange … So Soulful while electronic and retro.
  • Donnie … yep, just Donnie. You gotta have The Colored Section if you collect good R&B.
  • Black Milk … Dude has worked with Slum Village, Mos Def,Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch … need I say more.
  • D.J. Jazzy Jeff … Don’t sleep on Return of the Magnificent.  This album features artist like Rhymefest and Raheem Devaugn just to name a few.
  • Sa-Ra … You didn’t sleep on they’re project did you??
  • Nikka Costa … My favorite female rocker, all her stuff is super dope!

You buy singles?  If so you probably missed out on some dope album cuts.  These songs alone warrant that the album is worthy of the asking price.  In fact, they’re probably ten times better than the singles in most cases.

  • Amy Winehouse … Some Unholy War, from the Back to Black album. Home girl is straight shut’n it down with this one.
  • Kanye … he gets one name now. We Major, from Late Registration I think I sang on that one.
  • Anthony Hamilton … The Day We Met and I Did It For Sho, from The Point of It All.
  • Maroon 5 … Nothing Last Forever from the It Won’t Be Soon Before Long album.  See if this one sounds familiar.
  • Kanye again … You heard Street Lights off 808’s??? I think Esthero and I ripped the bg’s on this one..
  • Snoop Dogg … If you didn’t cop Ego Trippin’, you missed out on Waste of Time featuring Raphael Saadiq, as wall as Can’t Say Goodbye featuring Charlie Wilson.
  • Consequence … Oh, you slept on Don’t Quit Your Day Job, you missed out on Pretty Little Sexy Mamma.
  • Musiq Soulchild … If you bought On My Radio, then I know you’re feelin Love Of My Life.
  • Raphael Saadiq … peep Sometimes, from the The Way I See It album.
  • Robin Thick … Dreamworld off the Something Else album is crazy.
  • Estelle … Have you heard You Are featuring John Legend on the Shine album.
  • Jennifer Hudson … don’t trip, home girl got something here.  I like the album ’cause all the songs sound very different and it’s kinda ole school.  Peep Can’t Stop the Rain.
  • Solange … You should hear Would’ve Been The One from Sol-Angel & the Hadley St. Dreams.
  • Bilal … his project 1rst Born Second has a song called Queen Sanity that’s Bananas.
  • Common … Be, you gotta hear It’s You’re World on this one.

6 Responses to “What is a SINGLE! (commentary or rant?)”

  1. May 29, 2009 at 11:23 PM

    I totally agree with you. Singles are meant for you to BUY the album so you can hear more ish. And i knew street lights dope after buying the album, and then hearing it in the Grey’s Anatomy episode. folks are slaves to the system.

  2. 2 jjlouis
    May 30, 2009 at 1:35 AM

    I have too many words for this but can’t quite put them together without writing an essay so for now I’ll just say this:

    Well said.

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