Letter From the Editor
A King’s Speech: TAON is pronounced DOWN
“Raining Bullets” Cover Art Credit – Osaze Okera
By Al Shaw Ki
My mother always told me to use my words. Enunciate. Breathe. Speak slowly and clearly. Pronounce your syllables correctly. To that priceless advice, I never actually listened. I always rushed my words, rushed my thoughts, stuttered and jumbled them together incoherently due to my uncontrollable excitement. My personal diagnosis was that I was too desperate to get the message out of my brain, and I wasn’t able to do it fast enough. I had so much to say! There was so much to convey, but there were too many things going on inside of my head that needed organization.
My mother sent me to a speech therapist and tried to fix the problem when I was around 14 years old. However, it didn’t work. I took several tests with the therapist, and to my surprise, I was calm and I spoke perfectly clear. The therapist told my mom, “Your son speaks fine. After multiple tests and exercises and he has no problem communicating, speaking or enunciating when he takes his time, breathes and focuses on his speech.”
In short, the moral of this story speaks to divine order. Now, nearly 30 years later, I still struggle with speech from time to time when excited or anxious, but the impediment I suffer was a direct result of not being calm, not breathing and not focusing, according to the therapist. Why am I ranting about my adolescent speech issues? The answer is simple. It is important to identify my growth and maturation as a creative. I am a producer, a writer, a journalist, a storyteller and visceral painter of substantial and subversive content.
This is the true reason and inspiration for launching and developing this media product, TAON. The Art of Noise is subjective. It is an unbridled catalog of uncensored creativity, and compartmentalized sensory overload for artists, enthusiasts, tastemakers and curators. It is the pulse and integrity of everything art. It is a journey comprised of the five senses, including sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. It is the serious and the folly wrapped together beautifully to create a symphony or better yet, a synchronicity of expression and ideology.
Synchronicity is the key word in describing the nature of the publication. As life and all things are derived from nature, it is only appropriate that we respect the harmony and nature of art. Life is said to imitate art and art undoubtedly imitates life. Taking a philosophical approach to art and its genesis, the concept of TAON is that of unifying the natural order of the universe ultimately through art, freedom and creative expression. Tao (pronounced Dao or Dow) is the practice of metaphysical principles dating back to ancient Eastern philosophies of Chinese Buddhism, Confucianism and Zen Buddhism that relate to the ‘way’, ‘path’ or ‘route’ of something in harmonious form.
Thus, the spiritual inspiration behind the theme, vibe and title of the media product, TAON directly correlates to the “Tao of Noise”, phonetically constructed as TAON, pronounced Daon or Down. Our mission is to embark on a mythical journey that explores the “way of noise,” finding multi-genre artists and subject matter that does not compromise artistic integrity in the process.
My years of experience working in the entertainment industry including film and television production, music production, artist & tour management, marketing, promotions, publicity and even managing a world famous recording studio has led me to understand the “way” of entertainment business. Shady is one way of describing it. I choose to use the word “unpredictable” to describe the experience. Just as life itself is a mercurial and unpredictable journey, so is the course of art and its inception. From the alpha to the omega, the delivery and response, art is our only lifeline to pure, natural existence.
The original concept began as a comprehensive event series to expose and celebrate art. There was the first event in 2011, which was an homage and birthday celebration tribute for late Jean Michel Basquiat. The second, in 2012 was a celebration of hip hop culture, celebrating pioneers John “Chung” King (of Chung King Studios), Def Jam journalist, Bill Adler and filmmaker, Charlie Ahearn, producer and director of groundbreaking movie Wildstyle. The third event was actually inspired by Taylor McFerrin, our main cover feature for the promo launch. At the time, Taylor and I were hanging out, and he was beginning to work on Early Riser. I was so impressed with what he was doing musically with artist like Jose James, Kenny Muhammad, Ryat and others, I wanted to produce an event featuring him, Jose and Kenny. However that event never happened.
Reinvention is the underlying theme of this promotional issue 0.5. Every one of the subjects we covered in this issue had a spiritual epiphany of some sort, recalibrated their agenda, and risked everything, trusting totally on faith and perseverance. They all believed in something highly regarded and implemented the act of ‘letting go.’ The act of letting go and detachment is a priceless principle connected to Taosim, harmonizing with nature to achieve an “effortless action.” In fact, I can recall meeting the likes of Meghan Stabile for the first time during a concert she was promoting in Harlem, featuring Jose James, Miguel Atwood Ferguson and Taylor McFerrin. It was awesome to see someone so passionate about the integrity of jazz music. In many ways, Meghan reminds me of the legendary jazz and soul veteran producer-promoter, Jill Newman.
Thinking back, I laugh about when I approached Taylor that summer day at the concert about the progress of the new album project Early Riser. Blushing, he commented… “Aw man, I don’t know homie. The album project is kinda on hold right now. I kinda fell in love.” The smile that gleamed over his face was infectious to say the least.
Recently, someone asked me what makes the publication so different. I replied, “Well, there’s a lot of noise and information out there right now. It’s difficult to navigate which way to go. We live in a world of information anxiety.” I continued with a brief statement that summed up exactly why I launched TAON. “Who’s going to curate the curators?” Suddenly, the person smiled while nodding their head. They immediately understood where I was coming from.
The focus of combining the magazine and record label is to optimize the exposure of the vanguard artists, innovators and pioneers of urban culture. Utilizing music as the primary vehicle of communication indicates a unification of purposeful art, as music inspires and is inspired by art itself.
This is merely the beginning of the journey that lies ahead of us. Excited, frightened, relieved, calm and anxious all at once, I truly hope that we inspire you to join us for unique excursions through sight, sound and synchronicity. All you will require for this trip is an open mind, heart and soul. Please enjoy and appreciate this humble offering of art and life. Whenever you find yourself in doubt about your integrity or clouds of adversity crowd your landscape, refer to our mantra here at The Art of Noise.
“Be the noise you wish to hear.”