Berklee Blogs

First-hand accounts of the Berklee experience

Tag: Africana Studies

Africana Studies

Lamar’s Album Grows on You

billb-300x200Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana studies/music and society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist, recording artist, and public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.

After much fuss from and persuasion by many of my students, I decided to take a deeper look at Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. With my first listen in a car riding home, I didn’t like what I heard. It was not just a repulsion of the language and the seemingly thug spirit it seemed to evoke in me, but the language as well and the images inside the CD booklet. I only saw the same dark, twisted, exploited, projected and closed, broken narrative of so many contemporary hip-hop records. But I pushed myself to listen again more deeply with an eye toward the art and arc, and reach of the music.

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Professor Bill Banfield: Being a Musician Today—What’s Your Frame of Reference?

billb-300x200Bill Banfield is a professor of Africana Studies/ Music and Society and director of the Center for Africana Studies and programs at Berklee. An award-winning composer, jazz guitarist /recording artist, and public radio show host, he has authored five books for Scarecrow Press on music, arts, cultural criticism, and history.

The main question I want to pose in this spring season is: What kind of contribution are you really ready to make as a musical citizen in our society, culture?

Nobody ever wanted music to be a drink of holy water, but I came up as a young musician when music was notes played and sung by musicians; that’s music. So what happened to mainstream popular music?

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Alumni at the Juke Joint Fest

In between sets by the Delta Blues Museum’s Arts and Education Program and Grammy-winning Delta blues legend Honeyboy Edwards, I had the chance to catch-up with a couple of people who had spent time on Berklee’s campus.

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