Music: Disclosure - Caracal

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In 2013, a Billboard Magazine article headline heralded Disclosure as, “The New Faces of House Music” -- and they were right. Disclosure can be patted on the back for being largely responsible for returning House music to the forefront of popular culture after it went out of vogue, and disappeared into the underground about a decade ago.

Disclosure were on SNL recently for the first time. While viewing the promos with the triumphant duo, I couldn’t help but think about all the gay DJs and producers that came before that were just as worthy of the booking -- people like, Frankie Knuckles or Larry Levan (before their deaths) David Morales, Junior Vasquez, Danny Tenaglia or any other African American or gay pioneer of House music.

Black gay culture in New York City and Chicago during the late ‘70s and ‘80s created the musical genre that made Disclosure's sound even a possibility, and they -- two straight baby faced brothers from the UK who happen to be white -- profit heavily from. Being heterosexual and Caucasian has its privileges.

Society seems to be drawn to white performers who accessorize attributes from oppressed cultures while these same artists never experience any of the oppression first hand from which these art forms were first born. Many of these same attributes are viewed negatively on the oppressed. With white artists, instead of it being totally gay or ghetto depending on the appropriation, it is seen by the masses as hip, groovy, cool or sick.

There is no denying that Caracal is one the better albums of 2015 and the Lawrence brothers are talented producers of music that can be enjoyed across a large spectrum of the population. They are also very good at marketing themselves. It is kind of telling though that Lorde and Sam Smith joined them on SNL, but Gregory Porter, Miguel, The Weekend and Lion Babe, who also appear on “Caracal” did not.

Why is it that Mary J. Blige’s album “The London Sessions” from late last year which was produced by Disclosure and is just as good as Caracal -- if not better -- did not receive the amount of press, exposure or sales? Mary J. Blige receives 500,000 views and Sam Smith’s Omen attains 55,000,000 plus views. Something is off here and is worth exploring. It could have something to do with the record company’s lack of conviction, but I think it goes deeper.

Much of Caracal is early ‘80s R&B and early ‘90s style deep house and ‘90s R&B. The newness they add is minimal as they pepper new synth sounds here and there throughout, but the bulk is a well done replica of the past and is based in House. For the record Disclosure have been pretty vocal about where their sound came from. Hopefully they will continue to do so. With great power comes great responsibility.

Caracal is a decent album. “Nocturnal” feat. The Weekend is downtempo bliss. “Hourglass” feat. Lion Babe (Vanessa Williams’ daughter) is a late night house stomper that evokes clubbing in the mid 1990’s.

On “Good Intentions” feat. Miguel, it’s hard not to forget when Miguel egotistically flew through the air and landed on some poor woman’s head at the American Music Awards and caused her some serious head trauma. I guess he had “Good Intentions” and admits in the song, “that he is not perfect.” which is obvious. Unlike his personal “Oops up side your head” moment, the song works out even though it is one of the weakest on the album.

Caracal is a well-produced album and Disclosure should be applauded for bringing back quality dance music to the masses. But, are Disclosure honoring black gay culture or stealing from it?

 


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