Try being born in Detroit where it is more profitable to burn a house down rather than to sell it, where it is easier to encounter a ghost than an open supermarket. Try being the inventor of a genre everyone is boasting about, but that has been marked as an abomination for subhumans for more than ten years. A genre considered the last sign of degradation of the “black” culture in the city once flag carrier of the American industrial power – HQ of GM, Ford and Chrysler – and where the best Motown artists went to play.
Yes, you should try with a synthesizer and a bunch of crazy folks to mime an overwhelming UFO landing, delivering to the history of music one of its happiest pages and, if you are not too tired yet, you can try to directly influence the Madchester from the ‘90s, the Hacienda, the Rave Culture and that cultural continuum that spans from Primal Scream all the way to Prodigy. Yes, try being Juan Atkins. Impossible? Of course.
“This new negroid genre with Atkins and Saunderson as maximum exponents is a small musical parenthesis that will hardly have a future in the music industry”, so wrote the WSJ in 1985. Now Juan is 54 and plays just like he is 20, with the passion and strength of an immortal language, between funk and electronic.
So study. Study a lot, because if you happen to be in Rome next Saturday, the Master is gonna be schooling you on the Digital Revolution and it would be a dishonour towards History to be unprepared. No, we are not worthy. But we will try.
And if you want to know Detroit better, read Francesca Berardi’s book. After visiting six times the city once flag carrier of the American industrial power – HQ of GM, Ford and Chrysler – and where the best Motown artists came from, she wrote a book about it: Detour in Detroit.
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