Music Musings: Sony Music Forges New Ground in Africa

On this February 29th and last day of Black History Month for the United States, it’s always important to take some time and celebrate the many contributions African-Americans have made in the country.  Certainly that rich legacy must include the many accomplishments of President Barack Obama, as his historic time in office nears its end.

But even as Americans look back at the Obama legacy, it’s also important to leap forward and see the ways this President has forged a path to the future.  The President and First Lady have worked very hard to strengthen ties with nations in Africa, and today’s news shows that the U.S. music industry may be following this lead. Here’s the news from Gil Kaufman of Billboard Biz

Sony Music announced last week that it is opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria, the first step towards establishing a footprint in a West African market that Adam Granite, Sony’s president of Northern/Eastern Europe & Africa, claims has huge growth potential.

“West Africa has a population of 340 million, and Nigeria alone has 150 million of that. It’s a very big country that has historically had a very large music market,” Granite said. In the ’70s, the nation had one of the largest music markets in the world, but piracy (analog then, digital now) has ravaged the music business, a situation Granite says is beginning to turn around, thanks to the expansion of the mobile market in region.

Sony and other majors haven’t traditionally had much, if any, market share in Africa. Until recently, the only way for most consumers to hear their product was either on the radio or through piracy. That’s one reason why Sony is in “very active discussions” with the Johannesburg-based mobile giant MTN Group’s Music+ streaming and download service, which will offer content to the service’s 2.5 million subscribers.

Rotimi Fawole, the head of business development for the four-year-old Africa-centric streaming and downloading service Spinlet, tells Billboard he is excited to have a major company in the country. “We expect that their efforts and promotions will lead to higher standards locally, not just with music production but also things like reporting, metadata, artist management, et cetera,” Fawole says. “Hopefully, they will set examples for local music companies to follow and the local industry should be the better for it in the long run.”

President Obama’s work to promote U.S. trade and investment in Africa is being done partly in an effort to catch up to China, which has worked to aggressively forge ties across the continent for over a decade now.  But one area which still remains relatively quiet?  The music industry.

As countries across the African continent experience a relative “gold rush” of technological and economic investment, it seems a very smart move by Sony to get in the game.  In an era of uncertainty for the established Western markets, the opportunities present as hundreds of millions of consumers lead themselves into the digital music age are exciting to say the least.  By following the President’s lead, it appears that Sony Music is doing something right.

Before the University of Houston GOP Debate

In February of 2016, It’s no surprise that the political world is at a frenzy right now.  But what is different for those in the University of Houston community?  That frenzy has taken over the campus this week.  Set for Thursday, February 25th, the Republican Party’s Super Tuesday’ Debate will be held at UH’s Moores Opera House. Even before the candidates arrive, the debate has caused a firestorm across Houston as party faithful, students and media all try to land coveted tickets into the 800-seat venue.  With the race cut down from an historic 17 candidates to just 5 remaining, this week’s debate could prove a pivotal turning point in the GOP contest.

So the Republican candidates we be at the University of Houston.  But, will the candidates have an opportunity to actually see the University of Houston?  If so, maybe they would be quite surprised by what is going on around them.  The institution is much more than a stage… it’s a window into America’s future.

Perhaps they would see that, as the Number 2 most racially/ethnically diverse university in the nation, people of different races, ethnicities, backgrounds and faiths really can live, work and play together without fear or suspicion of what they don’t always understand.  Maybe, instead of calling for a wall on our Southern border, or a ban of all Muslims into the country, they would see that diversity forms an important asset to the UH community.

Perhaps they would see an institution that not only educates, but supports undocumented students and families.  One that believes “all Texas high school graduates should enjoy equal access to our state universities and the opportunity to obtain a college education, becoming better informed and more productive contributors to our community,”.

Maybe they would even see a campus that not only supports the LGBT community, but stands up for full equality even when it’s not convenient.

UH Before Debate

Make no mistake… it’s a distinct honor for UH to become just the third site in Texas to host any form of Presidential debate.  But even better would be if the university’s value could have some role as well.

In any event, Texas will be watching.


With #SCOTUSBlock, Senate GOP Ignores Constitution, Discredits Scalia Legacy

To the nation’s Conservative movement, he will always be a legendary figure held in the highest regard.  To the nation’s Liberals, he may very well have been the bane of their existence.  But no matter one’s opinion of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s notorious views, it’s a safe bet that he always managed to provoke a strong and immediate reaction.  This was perhaps the Justice’s greatest strength.  If you were on the fence about a particular issue, Scalia knew how to make you choose a side.

At the heart of those controversial views was the rigid principle of Textualism.  Here are the Justice’s own words on textualism from a 2012 PBS interview

I have been very much devoted to textualism and to that branch of textualism that’s called originalism. That is, you not only use the text, but you give the text the meaning it had when it was adopted by the Congress, or by the people, if it’s a constitutional provision.

Although I have written a lot of opinions on the subject and spoken on the subject, and even written on the subject, I have never done hit in the depth that this book does.

The book is in two parts. one is — expresses, you know, my philosophy of judging and Bryan’s philosophy of judging. And the second part is a how-to-do-it part. Assuming you are a textualist, how do you go about doing it?

The process is not novel. I didn’t make it up. It shows that it is historically what American judges did, what English judges did. And it’s the other modes of interpretation that are novel and have to justify themselves.

So that was Justice Scalia’s firm belief, and the cornerstone of his judicial legacy.  But that legacy, which Conservatives say that they hold near and dear to their hearts, is currently being dishonored by the Senate Majority.  Just today, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated that there would “be no hearings” for any Supreme Court nominee that President Obama would put forward.

Washington (CNN) In an unprecedented move, Senate Republicans vowed to deny holding confirmation hearings for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee — even promising to deny meeting privately with whomever the President picks.

The historic move outraged Democrats and injected Supreme Court politics into the center of an already tense battle for the White House.

“I don’t know how many times we need to keep saying this: The Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended to me that there be no hearing. I’ve said repeatedly and I’m now confident that my conference agrees that this decision ought to be made by the next president, whoever is elected,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday.

So here’s the problem with the Senate GOP’s attitude.  Barack Hussein Obama is still the President of the United States.  His term does not end for another 331 days, and a new President will not be sworn in until January 20th, 2017.  Given the immense caseload and important decisions that must be made by the court, 1 year is far too much time for the American People to have to wait for another Supreme Court Justice to be confirmed.

Directly from the White House, here’s what the Constitution says about the President’s duties…

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate,shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Basically, the President is planning to do his job, while the Republican-controlled Senate (in which each Senator gets paid  $174,000 /year, in case you forgot) has publicly stated that it has no intention of doing its job.

If you or I decided one day, that we just didn’t want to work for a minimum of 331 days, what are the chances that we would even HAVE a job on January 20th??

Senator McConnell and his Republican friends are completely out of line this time.  If you don’t like the President’s nominee, reject them.  That is the Senate’s responsibility.  If they don’t want to confirm another Supreme Court Justice during President Obama’s remaining time in office, they don’t have to!  But what MUST do is hold hearings, give that person an up or down vote, and be ready to explain to the American People WHY they were not confirmed.  This should be a no-brainer for these many experienced Senators.  And if they can’t find the time to do their jobs, maybe the American People should find someone else that can.

And as for that $174k a piece that we’re shelling out??  Doesn’t seem very “Conservative” to pay people for NOT working.  Texas Leftist wonders what Senator McConnell and the rest of the GOP think on that.

End the #SCOTUSBlock!!



2016 Democratic Primary Recommendations

As many readers are aware, Early Voting for the 2016 Texas Democratic Primary started today.  Texas Leftist has decided to wait on the formal endorsement process until the General Election. But for those interested, here are recommendations for the Primary Election…


President:  Hillary Clinton


Texas Railroad Commissioner:  Lon Burnam


State Representative

District 126: Joy Dawson-Thomas

District 131:  Alma Allen

District 139:  Randy Bates

District 137:  Gene Wu

District 148:  Jessica Farrar


State Board of Education, District 6:  Dakota Carter


Harris County Sheriff:  Ed Gonzalez

Harris County Tax Assessor:  Brandon Dudley

Harris County Commissioner Pct. 3:  Jenifer Rene Pool


14th Court of Appeals:  Jim Sharp


District Judge

11th:  Jim Lewis

61st:  Julie Countiss

165th:  Josefina Rendon

174th:  Hazel B. Jones

176th:  Shawna L. Reagin

177th:  Robert Johnson

178th:  Kelli Johnson

179th:  Randy Roll

215th:  Joshua A. Verde

333rd:  Daryl Moore

351st:  Greg Glass


Justice of the Peace 

Pct. 1, Place 1:  Eric William Carter

Pct. 3, Place 1:  Joe Stephens

Pct. 7, Place 7:  Cheryl Elliot Thornton


Good luck with your choices, and make sure to VOTE!!!


Texan for Hillary




Music Musings: Janet Jackson’s Control– 30 Y.O.

Long before Adele or Taylor Swift were household names, All eyes and ears in the pop music world were affixed to the one and only Janet Jackson. Through iconic albums like janet., The Velvet Rope and Rhythm Nation, she broke barriers regarding race, gender, artistic expression, and celebrity involvement in social justice.

However to get to the point of icon, Janet first had to make an impact, and enter the mainstage of pop culture. Thirty years ago today, Jackson forged this path with the release of Control.

Here’s how Brannon Smith of Ebony Magazine celebrated the album back in 2014…

If Beyoncé is “the album that is going to launch a thousand women’s studies papers,” then Janet Jackson’s Control is the album that launched a thousand feminist music careers. Nearly 30 years after its initial release, the groundbreaking album still stands as one of the boldest statements in the history of Black feminist music, and Janet’s storied career remains an often-referenced blueprint for a legion of female performers following in her fearless footsteps.

In August 1985, Janet Jackson left the glamour of her show business upbringing and set out for Minneapolis — the home of former Prince protégés Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. By this time, 19-year-old Janet had starred in three TV shows, been married to and split from an addiction-plagued James DeBarge, and fired an overbearing Joe Jackson as her manager. She was coming into her own as a woman — and she, Jam and Lewis were determined to chronicle that evolution on her third studio album, Control. Unlike the music of her safe, bubble-gummy debut, Janet Jackson, and its follow-up, Dream Street, Control was largely autobiographical — relaying honest, raw stories born out of real-life events.

Though Jackson had recorded two albums before Control (in addition to an already impressive acting career), the collaboration with legendary producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis stood out because it was Janet that co-wrote the songs, and spoke the truth about her life at the time.

30 years on, Control still resonates as the quintessential ‘Janet Jackson’ album. From the sensuous, sultry moans of Funny How Time Flies, irresistible club starters like The Pleasure Principle, the tight vocal harmonies and surprising character voices of Nasty, to the delightful  interlude opening and jazz pop fusions of What Have You Done For Me Lately?, all the elements of how we understand Janet Jackson as an artist can be found on Control. And oh yeah… Don’t ever forget those FINGER SNAPS!!

Basically, with Control, it was clear that Jackson and her collaborators had found the recipe for success, and we as a music-loving public are all the better for it.


And in case this post has you wondering ‘What Has Janet Done For You Lately?’, then you need to check out her new album Unbreakable. If you haven’t bought it yet, go get a copy along with a new copy of Control, and play them back to back. You might be surprised at what you hear.  And the Unbreakable World Tour??  Not to be missed!!

During this Black History month, what better way to celebrate with a truly impressive milestone. Thank you Janet Jackson for releasing your masterpiece to the world, 30 years ago today.

Control 30

Texoblogosphere: Week of February 1st

The Texas Progressive Alliance is ready to be able to ignore Iowa again as it brings you this week’s roundup.

Off the Kuff highlighted how the tables got turned on the video fraudsters who tried to sting Planned Parenthood.

Libby Shaw is quite pleased to learn that in Texas justice can trump politics, in the most ironic way. The Texas Blues: A Stunning Royal Backfire.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Texas Republicans love business owners way more than citizens. Why else do they allow dangerous companies operate next to schools?

With the Iowa caucuses looming, a pair of Clinton-supporting bloggers played the “soshulist” card. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs is at least glad to see that some Democrats know how to find — and push — the panic button.

From Bay Area Houston Can the Party carry Sanders’ socialist message? And win?

With words like “pragmatism” now on the table, SocraticGadfly looks at who the more “can-do” Democratic presidential candidate is, and shows that it’s Bernie Sanders.

Neil at All People Have Value considered both everyday life and the full picture at the intersection of Main & Cosmos in Houston. APHV is part of


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Harold Cook reviews Jay Newton-Small’s book Broad influence; How Women Are Changing the Way America Works.

Keep Austin Wonky interviews Travis County Commissioner candidate James Nortey.

Raise Your Hand Texas quantifies Texas school enrollment.

Raj Mankad rides along on a driverless car test drive.

Rainey Knudsen pens an open letter to the other 49 states.

Grits for Breakfast wishes he had been wrong about the effect of a new law allowing police to use license plate readers.

Francisca Ortega reports that many child brides are still being forced to marry in the United States.

Rick Campbell tells of a quest to help Houston preserve its music history.

Katharine Shilcutt sets the record straight on Texas food.

The Makeshift Academic explores ways to limit the potential damage of the Friedrichs decision.