Music News: Reggae added to UNESCO list of protected cultural traditions

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Bob Marley
A portrait of reggae icon Bob Marley. (official website)
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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — a.k.a. UNESCO — has added the musical genre of reggae to a list of protected cultural traditions. "Its contribution to international discourse on issues of injustice, resistance, love and humanity underscores the dynamics of the element as being at once cerebral, socio-political, sensual and spiritual," said UNESCO in a statement about reggae, which joins other protected genres like Dominican merengue, Slovakian bagpipe music and Vietnamese xoan singing.

A short video documentary, released by UNESCO along with the announcement, explains the core elements of reggae using Bob Marley's "I Shot the Sheriff" as an illustration. (Rolling Stone)

Jay-Z cites paucity of black arbitrators in Roc Nation brand battle

Jay-Z has asked for a halt to arbitration proceedings in a battle over his Roc Nation brand. The reason? A meager number of eligible African-American arbitrators. Out of 200 potential arbitrators in Jay-Z's conflict with Iconix Brand Group over the rights to the name Roc Nation, the hip-hop mogul notes, only two available arbitrators are black. As Jay-Z's lawyer put it, the racial imbalance of the arbitrator pool "deprives litigants of color of a meaningful opportunity to have their claims heard by a panel of arbitrators reflecting their backgrounds and life experience." (New York Times)

Billy Strayhorn archive headed to Library of Congress

18,000 documents from the files of famed jazz composer Billy Strayhorn have been acquired by the Library of Congress. The documents, which are now available to the public, include gems like an original manuscript of "Take the A Train," a Strayhorn composition that became Duke Ellington's signature song.

Scholars anticipate the archive will increase public appreciation of Strayhorn's invaluable contributions — as arranger, performer, and composer — to Ellington's music. The two worked closely together, and it hasn't always been easy to tell who did what. (New York Times)

Can you own the idea of an onstage roller coaster?

Mötley Crüe's Tommy Lee has accused rapper Travis Scott of stealing his idea for an onstage roller coaster. For years, Lee used stage devices to play drums upside down during Mötley Crüe shows, and on the band's final tour he had a roller-coaster device to fly out over the crowd. Infamously, he even got stuck upside down during the band's final show on New Year's Eve 2015.

On Scott's current tour, he takes a chair on an upside-down ride using a track similar to Lee's — and he has a roller coaster too. "Not one rip off but TWO," wrote Lee on social media, warning Scott that he'd better "lawyer up!" (Consequence of Sound)

A representative for Scott responded, "Tommy didn't invent the concept of a roller coaster on stage and there's no legal basis for his accusatory outburst. The actual creator and owner of the system has granted Travis all rights to use that equipment to complement his original stage design." (Pitchfork)

Apple Supreme Court case could give Spotify a boost

The music world is closely watching a Supreme Court case involving Apple's pricing model. At issue: does Apple have an illegal monopoly with its App Store, the only place to buy iPhone apps without voiding the device warranty? If Apple is forced to open app sales to other retailers, it will mean the end of a 30% commission on in-app sales, which has been sharply criticized by streaming services like Spotify and YouTube that compete with Apple Music.

Right now, streaming apps have to choose whether to raise their prices for iPhone users (like SoundCloud Go does), accept less revenue from those users (like Pandora Plus does), or just force them to pay outside the App Store (like Spotify Premium does). There's a lot of money involved: one analyst calls the App Store income Apple's "get-out-of-jail-free card" to help make up for potential losses on other products and services. (Rolling Stone)

Donald Glover spotted in 2004 Beastie Boys concert film

A college-age Donald Glover has been spotted in the audience in a Beastie Boys concert film. The film, which was filmed in 2004 but came out in 2006, was called Awesome; I F-ckin' Shot That and relied entirely on fan-shot video of the hip-hop trio's Madison Square Garden concert.

A Reddit user noticed that during the song "Three MC's and One DJ," you can spy Glover — who was then a student at NYU — rapping right along to the lyrics "Y'all gather 'round to hear my golden voice/ 'Cause when it's time to rhyme, you know I get noice." The Beasties were an important influence on Glover, who went on to launch his own chart-topping career as Childish Gambino. (Billboard)


Songs sampled in podcast
Jahzzar: "Comedie" (CC BY 4.0)
BoxCat Games: "Against the Wall" (CC BY 3.0)
Duke Ellington: "Take the A Train"
Mötley Crüe: "Dr Feelgood"
Mac Miller: "Nothing from Nothing"
Beastie Boys: "Three MCs and One DJ"
Chronixx, "Smile Jamaica"


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