City Paper is not for tourists
Wow. William Jelani Cobb (“Born Twee,” 8/3) gave us a lecture on why he doesn’t care for Craig David and Born to Do It, but he barely reviewed the album, whichcorrect me if I’m wrongI thought was his actual job as music reviewer for the Washington City Paper. Cobb managed to individually cover only three of the album’s 14 songs, even though he had two pages to work with. Of course, because he was more interested in sharing with us his xenophobic views on how wrong it is for David to use a form of music clearly rooted in modern, urban American R&B, I guess I can understand how simply critiquing songs seems insignificant by comparison.
I hope I’m not shocking Mr. Cobb when I tell him that most modern music written and performed by young people in Europe has American roots or ties, and that’s been the case for a while. I mean, clearly, people understand that the Beatles weren’t exactly reinventing the wheel all those years ago. Even Sade, an artist whom Cobb takes time to praise in his review, borrows heavily from music created here in the good ol’ USA. So why should Craig be penalized for getting his inspiration from the music, style, slang, and culture of people on this side of the Atlantic Ocean?
Obviously, I’m more simple-minded than Cobb. I’m just happy to see that Craig David actually sings. It is so rare to find black (can’t call Mr. David an African-American, obviously) male singers today. Whether on the radio, MTV, BET, VH1, or whatever, the black male singer has become as rare as the white professional basketball player. Most seem to want to confine black men strictly in the role of hiphop performers these days, even though they created most styles of music that everyone else (‘N Sync, Limp Bizkit, Sade, etc.) seems to profit from. That alone makes Mr. David a breath of fresh air in my book.
Also, Cobb gave the American audience too much credit when he indicated that originality and uniqueness would serve David better in the future. That sounds reasonable, but I have three words to refute it: Terence Trent D’Arby. He put out two albums in the ’90s (Symphony or Damn and Vibrator) that may have been better than his 1987 debut and certainly superior to and more original than 95 percent of the work that went platinum in the last 12 years. Yet he was unceremoniously ignored by both the media and music fans for his efforts. Perhaps he should have tried rapping instead.