Saturday, August 25, 2007

Tay Zonday on YouTube

Call this post a generation gap inquiry.
I'm, as they say, WAY old to be looking at this kind of stuff.
But the older I get the more concerned I become about where we may be headed as a society. This video was on the first page of You Tube's "Most Viewed" and "Top Favorites" this morning.[This post was first put together August 13.] Here is the link, if your tastes lie that way, but what interests me is not what passes for music, but the lyrics.
[It looks like this video has been pulled...I apparently caught the first showing on You Tube which included the lyrics copied below. Of course I went to a lot of trouble to reformat the content from poetry to narrative, so what you see here is not what I found. This is a prose version.]

"The Only Way"

Attention, all people,Tay Zonday has arrived. I'm the piper of record, beloved and respected, Mack Daddy of all of the down and rejected. I'm the talented tenth, the chill in your spine, the glimmer of hope in the back or your mind. I'm the rising Aquarius, galaxy is the place where I'm ridin' my chariot. Fightin' for lovin 'm fightin' for dance, fightin' to give more people a chance.

Ain't coming from the East...ain't coming from the West. I come from the heart, I come for the best...

[Chorus] Cause the only W-w-w-w-w-wayIs Tay Zon D-d-d-d-d-day The only W-w-w-w-w-wayIs Tay ZonD-d-d-d-d-day [Repeat]

I'm the silent majority: no one's priority, craving deliverance when they stop ignoring me. Wishing on candles, praying on stars'...hating on promises, licking my scars. None for the people; it's trickle-up cash paying more for bottled water than I do for gas. To subsidize a system with oblivious victims make me work so hard that I can't resist 'em. The bread and circus makes me desert us. I party away all the violent urges.

Revolution? I'm watchin my sitcom playin Nintendo' til Kingdom Come. Waitin for a leader to make me believe there's more to life than what they say I can be. I'm aimless dangerous when I start to learn that I'm not served by next quarter's return. Holdin 'back history the Jetsons a mystery...buildin' new electric rail they had in 1880. If it ran on gas I'd have a flying car. Human progress? Gotta look where we are. We consume for profit and run in place or we build a rocket to get outta this place.


Little Man with an alien voice' changin the world by makin' some noise...I'm hydroelectric, always eclectic, fighting disease 'cause I'm antiseptic...
Staccato...mulatto...every day a new motto. Made music in my crib when I ate from a bottle. Ain't wearin any label cause I wasn't able to see myself in the master's fable. Daddy was from Venus, Mama was from Mars...don't know about you, my flag is the stars. And it ain't just fifty --More like fifty billion -- cause the rest of the galaxy ain't doin what we doin': hatin' each other, killin' their brother. They sent me here so we can teach each other. Ain't any excuse for the privilige I have driving SUVs, building third world debt.

But the thing to get is the kid who sweat to make my tee shirt in Bangladesh. We're both 'bein screwed, we're both 'bein used. I get the bouncing car, she gets no shoes. But neither one of us has political power 'til we come together snd face that hour.

[Chorus X 2]

HEheh Every day is Tay Zonday...We all find the wayWith Tay Zonday

As I read through these lines I hear a rant, a frustrated, angry, alienated rant. I hear nihilism, low-grade smugness and more political awareness than most listeners will hear as he chants out the words. They may sense anger or identify with a theme of powerlessness, but I very much doubt that most listeners will understand the truly revolutionary implications of the message, even though the word is actually spoken along the way.

Anyone who reads these words and imagines that young people in America are not ripe for picking by the wrong people is living in a fantasy world of their own. This line of thinking is not being cultivated by alien sources or sinister conspiracies. It grows as naturally as mold on bread if left too long in the wrong environment. And thanks to technology, the rate of growth can be exponential compared with how ideas spread before the advent of the Internet.

This is the message from the author/performer:

Added this video: August 11, 2007
THIS IS NOT A COCKY BRAG TRACK! "Tay Zonday" symbolizes education and consciousness. The lyrical symbolism is pretty deep and this is perhaps the most selfless song that I've written.

Most hip-hop artists seem to do a shoutout song. This is mine. You can buy it on my My Space page [myspace(dot)com(slash)tayzonday] . . . it should also eventually make it onto Apple's Itunes store via tunecore.

Just a few random thoughts from an old guy blogging. Is anyone else listening?
I report. You decide.

Here is the link to Tay Zonday's You Tube channel. He has over 13,000 subscribers. That may not be big numbers by some measures but it looks like a lot of people to me.
And here is a more soothing video he made. More woodshedding needed, as we used to say, but he shows aptitude, ambition and no big problems with self-image. He reminds me of Phillip Glass. Time will tell if his star will rise. There is a lot of competetive talent in this generation.

No reference to Tay Zonday would be complete without mention of his most important and widespread viral production, Chocolate Rain, a haunting stream of consciousness expression aiming yet another spotlight on the unremediated racism of America.

One of the mysteries of our time is how and why the children of slavery in America continue to be the subject AND object of racism, often from within the black community itself.
The original version is everywhere and easy to find, but this four-minute explanatory video translates the message into plain language that no reader can miss.

As a veteran of the movement I'm growing tired of fighting what seems to be a never-ending uphill fight. After spending my adult life fighting racism, I now have to contend with the surly, prejudiced ignorance of a growing number of youngsters who have no sense of history and no experience with the ugliness of the past. I'm not sure if the Chocolate Rain phenomenon is a sign or progress or regression. I know the sentiments are real and the points are on target. I am not convinced that chanting about them without some kind of effort toward amelioration is helpful. Clearly the consciousness of the victims needs no raising. And the subtlety of these lyrics comes across as the same type of double-speak that says the man when the real meaning is established (and presumably un-fixable) racism. Or saying my bad instead of excuse me.

Expectations have a lot to do with racism from all angles.

Putative victims who expect to be targeted are more apt to read messages between the lines that are not there.

Likewise, those of us who expect to find intractible racism on the part of those victims must guard against the same kind of poisonous, inverted thinking.

Unfortunately a growing number of young people see me as an adversary because I am male, white, older and in a position of authority. It is a very sad commentary indeed.

I found this link at a Regina Lewis blog entry.

Her take on Tay Zonday is that of a journalist reporting a pop culture and entertainment story.
I give her good marks for being a good reporter and not taking sides in what is clearly a hot and inflammatory discussion.

A quick look at any of the comments threads will show a level of conflict about racism that I have not seen openly discussed for several years.

Hottest Viral Star: Tay Zonday a.k.a. "Chocolate Rain Guy"

Young man with bizarre voice achieves cult following on web singing "Chocolate Rain."
Real name = Adam Bahner. He's apparently a Ph.D student at University of Minnesota. He graduated from viral web superstar to television by appearing on Jimmy Kimmel. At end of the "Internet Talent Showcase" Kimmel just says, "Wow."

Kimmel performance here

Web performance here

After millions of views online, seems to be what a lot of people are saying. But, am not entirely convinced people know why, since the lyrics are hard to catch & there are only a few hundred views of this explanation, though John Mayer & others have admired the song (see: Chocolate Rain - Wikipedia).
Here are some interesting snips from a Google Cache comments thread.

TayZonday (1 week ago) I still don't think this is doing anything for me in leaving it up. It's too easily misunderstood -- not by haters but by everyday people. Like that 90's single "Lets Talk About Sex Baby" that they changed because nobody realized it talked about AIDS.

UncertainTruths (1 week ago) I disagree, its a good song, I enjoy the lyrics, and I'm sorry if most people are too idiotic to get them.

pchizzle (1 week ago) No, leave it up! Most people don't understand things, but it means a lot for the people who do. We need more educated people out there, and you're one of them. The only way ignorant people are taught is if people keep trying. Keep on trying, Tay Zonday. Sure, your music is fun and humorous, but it's meaningful too. (:

DarkBlazerX (1 week ago) No! Stop pitying him! Anyways they arent funny, they are okay. I would never BUY any of his music though, I mean, Hes no William Hung.

TayZonday (1 week ago) Yeah. But at some point I have to decide whether I want to do good music that marginalizes me at the same time. If people see it as a cocky brag song--and those songs are basically successful because of the "urban" image tied to them, which is not my image-- it's just art that has no place in the existing market.
TayZonday (1 week ago) I stopped promoting this video when I realized that its mainstream reception would not be well-understood :-)

1 comment:

FreeThinker said...

Interesting! Phillip Glass does not have many imitators ... yet!