In one of several pieces published today about the recent wave of editorial hires at MTV News, Rob Levine, a contributor to our sister publication Billboard, wrangled an interesting quote from Jessica Hopper. Hopper, formerly with Pitchfork and website Rookie, was recently installed as MTV News’ editorial director of music.
From Levine’s piece:
As an example of the kind of work MTV News wants to do, Hopper points to critic Greg Tate’s essay about David Bowie’s influence on black music, which puts the star in context ‘in our electric church’s Afrofuturist pantheon of demiurges.’ “The fact that we could publish Tate on that was in itself a success,” Hopper says. “If you put out good work, traffic comes to you.”
Tate’s Jan. 12 analysis is one we missed. Here’s a bit more of a taste:
Bowie’s Soul Train apearance offers insight into his enigmatic ability to groove with The People and levitate above the fray, somewhere way beyond the pale. That visit to the Mecca of televised urban Terpsichore came two years after the two biggest pimp-thug cats at Coolidge High, Robert Parrish and his boy, came back from the Capital Center raving about seeing the Ziggy Stardust tour. This was before we knew about the deep and abiding relationship between louche hustlers and transgendered folks in the ’hood. Not long after Bowie dropped “Fame,” George Clinton begrudgingly tossed off this riposte on Mothership Connection’s ”P-Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up)”: ”I was down south, heard some main ingredients like Blue Magic, Doobie Brothers, David Bowie. It was cool — but can you imagine Doobie in your funk?”’ Cite the absence of any snap on Bowie, Starchile Clinton was giving the Starman some major props. Not least because Bowie inspired all of rock and funk ’n’ roll to go more glam, glittery, and avant-haute in the ’70s.
If one measures the engagement of Tate’s article by the number of reader comments (1), Hopper still has her work cut out. However, it must be said that the lone comment at press time is outstanding:
michael: Great, great piece. I saw DB in Cleveland in 1976. I was one of probably 10 black people in a 10,000 seat auditorium, but when he did Fame, you could hear every one of those black folks hollering. He will be missed. By the way, Gino Vannelli (also legit) was the first white act on Soul Train.