MUSIC: Three Tune Tuesday 120 - 3 Songs on the Theme of “Urban Music” (Hive Open Mic Week 179)

Hello everybody on HIVE, and especially the Music Community. My name is Jasper and I'm writing to you from Cape Town in South Africa!

This is my 55th week in a row contributing to "Three Tune Tuesday", an initiative started by @ablaze. It is week 120 overall!

My new pattern for how I will be contributing to TTT is to take the Hive Open Mic challenge Theme of the Week and give suggestions on how I would tackle it!

For those of you who are not familiar, the Hive Open Mic is a weekly challenge on the Hive Open Mic community for anybody who loves to sing. You don’t even need to play an instrument, a backing track or a cappella is also fine as far as I can tell!

Different artists are given the chance to choose a “Theme of the Week” that the posts should be based on. Often it can be difficult for people to think about easy songs that might fit that theme… so let me see if I can be of any assistance to the people who still might not know what to try by the time Tuesday comes around!

All right! Let’s get cracking!

Here is the post inviting everyone to participate in this week’s Hive Open Mic (Week 179): @hiveopenmic/hive-open-mic-179-worldwide-live-music-event

As you can see, it was the turn of @jetta.amaya to pick a theme, and this week the theme is “Urban Music”!

“Urban Music”? What is that? Songs about cities like “New York New York” by Frank Sinatra or “Philadelphia” by Bruce Springsteen? Is that what she wanted?

Perhaps she wanted an entire week devoted to covers of songs by Keith Urban! Hahaha – well, then she should be more specific!

So I asked my good friend Google what it thought… and it turns out that “Urban Music” is another name for what used to be the “Urban Contemporary” classification of music (like at the Grammy Awards…)

Apparently the phrase “Urban Contemporary” has been criticized lately for its racial undertones… The classification has been seen to put all music that is stereotypically for an African-American audience (more likely to live in the inner-cities of the USA than in the countryside) and music by African-American artists into a single box, even though it can include a variety of genres from R&B, to Hip-hop, to rap, to funk.

The ”Urban Contemporary” label is seen as problematic. By the early 2000s, a lot of these genres were popular with the mainstream (and not just African American people) anyway. Also, some African American artists have had their songs classed in this category when they don’t identify with it and think their song would be classified in a different genre if they had been a “white artist” instead (more on that later).

In fact, major record labels and the Grammys themselves have started describing the genre(s) differently in recent years.

So! What songs would I recommend that you try for this theme? How about “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio? This song was released in 1995 and certainly contributed to rap music going mainstream. The rapping might be a challenge, but the bridge and chorus are wonderful to sing, and if you play an instrument, you might be surprised to find that the basic structure of the music is 4 chords repeated throughout!

How about “Hey ya!” by Outkast? That was actually one of the songs that was suggested on the Wikipedia page about Urban Contemporary music. I love Outkast, and wish they were still putting out music with their infectious energy and creative music videos. If you like the one below, be sure to check out the videos of “Roses” and “Ms Jackson” as well and go on a nostalgia trip!

Finally, I would suggest “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X featuring Billy Ray Cyrus. This song was an absolute smash hit a few years ago and dominated charts. However, while reading up on the problems associated with the “Urban Music” classification ( I learnt that this song was denied a place on the Billboard Hot Country Songs Chart for lacking “enough elements of today’s country music.” Even the guest artist, Billy Ray Cyrus, who is Mr. Country Music himself (he is the man behind “Achey Breaky Heart” and happens to be Miley Cyrus’s father) said that the decision “smelt of cultural gate-keeping”. In my mind, he is saying that the song would be a country song… if a white artist had released it!

It is a lovely fun song to sing, and if you play an instrument, you will find that it has a basic four-chord structure, so maybe give it a try! I’ve never done “Old Town Road” for the Hive Open Mic… and it also has the word “Town” in it for the other more conventional “Urban” meaning, so maybe that’s two great reasons for me to give it a try later this week!

So that's week 120 done and dusted! I hope that gave some people some ideas on how to tackle the Hive Open Mic Challenge this week? Perhaps I’ve even inspired one or two new people to give it a try? Please let me know!

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