Rafa Selase

Acid Jazz Songs About Freedom 

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Acid Jazz | Spiritual Music | Songs About Freedom

Spirituals are songs that were original creations of African Americans. Negro Spirituals was another name used to categorize this music. It originated from their beliefs, combined with their struggles of subjugation, oppression and the brutality associated with slavery. African American music of that time was sung in a group, and included chants that are very similar to the choir songs heard in some of today's Black Baptist churches. It's also worth mentioning black poets have always written poetry that was consistent with negro spirituals.  

Origin of the “Spiritual Songs”

Wikipedia states that Blues, gospel music, country music, jazz and R & B were direct derivatives of spiritual music. In simple terms negro spiritual music is music that influences the spirit, but for educational purposes I will give a more thorough review of the origins of African American spirituals. Upon doing a little research I was fascinated with the connection between spiritual music, poetry and jazz, their origins and the historical experience of the so-called African American.

I was personally creating music about life that spoke to some of my experiences, observations and perspective while highlighting significant historical events. Obviously I was influenced by my upbringing but it was amazing to realize what I was creating was connected to a rich musical history and from something deep in our collective history. Again songs which I like to call poems (psalms) in written form is where is all started.  Written form is the poem, vocal is the spoken word or song. 

Our lives are poems, how we live is our poetry, and the music we produce and listen to is our  spiritual language. Is that too much? Music speaks to us in a way that words cannot. It pierces the heart! 

Sound, beats, bass, and the sound of strings is a language. A spiritual language! Music sets the foundation for your emotional state; it allows you to be more accepting and connected to not only the message of the music, but also your own thoughts and body. Music opens the heart and overrides the clutter. Music speaks to the soul!  An example is music that is played constantly on the radio eventually turns into messages that are played over and over in your mind, which over time will influence your behaviors.

Spiritual music is rich, powerful, compassionate and a beautiful history that is shared among all people. It has influenced the hearts of the stubborn, maintained hope for many, and reminded us all of passionate wisdom. Here are some examples of well known artists within the jazz, soul, hip hop, country, and R&B genres. Below are just a few artists that were not typically classified as gospel artists or negro spiritual music, but their music was indeed based in African American negro spirituals. 

Some of the artist include:

John Coltrane - I'll wait and pray

Billy Holiday & Nina Simone - Strange Fruit

Hugh Masekela - His Entire Collection

Lauryn Hill - Conquering Lion

Donny Hathaway - Someday We'll Be Free

Willie Nelson - In God's Eyes

Bob Marley - Thank You Lord

Patti Griffin - Up To The Mountain (MLK Song) 

Spiritual music is African American music it is the original American music genre; it is freedom music and it is deeply seeded in the historical and present day experience of people world wide. It is a music that is both educational and spiritual. Spirituality and freedom go hand in hand! Freedom will require you to access, challenge and move your spirit. NOTE: I am not saying only negroes or blacks can create this music, but rather this type of music originated from the African American experience. Furthermore white, yellow and brown people have continued to make enormous contributions to this foundational music genre.  Music is colorblind!

HIP HOP Influence -Drums have been used in Africa for many forms of communication. When the colonizers realized the power link between drums and communication, drums were no longer allowed! It is quite interesting that drums and that beat were one of the main elements that drives hip hop music.

My music in general is as much poetry as it is spiritual, is as much freedom as it is jazz and is as much folk as it is alternative hip hop. It is music that is rooted from a spiritual experience while also holding on to those things that we value. And that is freedom. My songs are simply songs about freeing your mind, living powerfully, songs about life, songs about struggle, and ultimately freedom songs about victory! Just music, man...It's my sound, my voice! 

Acid Jazz the grandfather of Hip Hop

Acid Jazz the grandfather of Hip Hop!

Jazz was a direct derivative of spiritual music. Jazz represented the freedom not only in the physical form but in thought. As African Americans slowly progressed from slavery, through reconstruction, lynching, and Jim Crow. Artist started to express themselves in ways those living in North America had not seen. This expression through music created Jazz music.

America was not the only country to experience this opposition to musical freedom.

Dave Brubeck said, “Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.”

Acid Jazz involved  two groups of musical movements. The first was disc jockeys DJ’s releasing  rare Jazz tracks, particularly from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. These tracks included live recordings form performances by American artists touring in Europe and other not so known artists. The second was DJ’s mixing these conventional Jazz tracks with electronic, percussion and other club beats. Groups were inspired and influenced by these jazz recordings and focused on creating a groove and consistent rhythm method to music. Something to dance to. Free but not as conventional jazz! Thus this was the creation of acid Jazz. To bring the beauty of Jazz into the dance club.

Acid jazz uses components of jazz, blues, funk and hip-hop. Jazz was considered the foundation of live musical creative expression. Acid Jazz implemented a lot of percussion, live music, and specifically a consistent melody so it was danceable. The focus on keeping a dance groove aligned it with funk, hip-hop, and club music.

Acid Jazz in simple terms is Jazz but rhythmic enough to dance to. It combines the electronics, club beats and percussion with the unique freedom and precision of jazz.

The last element is adding a lyricist/vocalist that sings and raps. Acid Jazz combines many elements of all genres but has the electronics combined with  live instruments that have been a part of Jazz since the beginning.