Age gives people the license to say exactly what they feel without worrying about how others will take them. When someone who has had tremendous success in their chosen field, they, too, get the liberty to express themselves. Quincy Jones, the 81-year-old music great, falls under both of the aforementioned categories and he picked up his passes to use them to speak candidly on today’s music.
In a chat with The National, the Thriller producer expressed his displeasure with the current state of music, more specifically how pop greats of today pale in comparison to generations before. He also took the time to let it be known how he feels about the rise of techno, EDM DJs and the like who make more than traditional musicians.
What’s your take on the current talent in the music industry today?
Music has gone so far down lately because everyone is going after the money. People are making songs to sell all sorts of things such as tyres [sic], clothes and alcohol. When you go after the money, God walks out of the room, trust me. I never went out after the fame and money. I was just doing what I loved and the money came. You gotta do what you love and really believe in it because that is your truth. I plan to stay like that.
Can you give examples of music that you feel is product-driven?
I don’t like techno at all. That’s just noise. I can try it because there is nothing to it but I just don’t think there is anything to learn from it. Now all these DJs are making more money than rock groups. They don’t even need bands anymore. People such as Skrillex and those guys get half a million to a million dollars a show all over the world from Las Vegas to Brazil. As a musician it is extremely frustrating. Because that’s just music to sell products.
How about today’s pop artists? How do they stack up to the legends you worked with it?
Let’s get real, man. When you come from the era of Ray Charles, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin, Frank Sinatra and Michael Jackson, it gets hard to get used to Lil Wayne. I just can’t handle it. There are some good singers out there. Mary J Blige can sing, so can Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera. I know who they are. I also know who they aren’t, too.
Is Q bitter because he’s old? Out of touch much?
Maybe, but not really.
He’s been to the mountaintop, having seen and heard it all. Jones is the all-time most nominated GRAMMY artist with 79 nominations and 27 awards. He’s been hands on – as an artist, producer and executive – for multiple shifts we’ve seen in not just urban music but pop music as a whole. While his opinions could be seen as sounding abrasive, they still have to respected as words coming from a man who’s been an industry leader for decades.